2/25/2020 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – After Trump Administration officials held a closed briefing today for members of the U.S. Senate, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, urged the White House to be more proactive in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the novel coronavirus and to dedicate additional federal funds to help stop the virus from spreading.

The coronavirus has already spread to 30 countries, including South Korea, Italy, and 53 confirmed cases in the United States. Officials at the World Health Organization are now warning world governments to begin preparing for a pandemic.

Senator Reed is urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation providing at least $3.1 billion in new federal funding to respond to concerns over the coronavirus, which is more than double the $1.25 billion in new funding the Trump Administration claims is sufficient.  He is also urging President Trump to appoint a scientist or public health professional as the point-person to lead the federal response and get functioning and accurate testing kits to Rhode Island and other states.

Today, Senator Reed stated:

“The coronavirus is a reality and the Trump Administration has failed to lead.  It is sending mixed messages and seems more concerned with the political optics than the public health response.

“This isn’t a time to panic, but it’s certainly a time to prepare and that means the President needs to step up to the plate and beef up his response.

“I urge Congress to protect public health and our economy by dedicating the necessary resources to stop this outbreak.  President Trump should throw out his proposal to slash CDC funding by sixteen percent and instead work with Congress to fully fund the agencies that help keep Americans safe and healthy.  President Trump should appoint a scientist or medical professional as the point-person to lead the federal response and get functioning and accurate testing kits to Rhode Island and other states.

“Congress should swiftly pass $3.1 billion in emergency coronavirus funds that will help combat the spread of the disease without taking away from efforts to stop the spread of Ebola or other infectious diseases.  The funding must also include a commitment to reimburse state and local health agencies for addressing the outbreak.

“This is an evolving situation and there is still time to get it right, but that requires a bipartisan commitment to providing adequate funding and being more proactive in preparing for the pandemic.”