PROVIDENCE, RI – As the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve and spread across the U.S., Rhode Island today became the ninth state to declare a state of emergency to try and combat the virus.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed said the declaration, issued by Governor Gina M. Raimondo, is a needed, proactive step that will help ensure the state can expedite the purchasing of medical equipment and public health supplies and that the legal designation will enable Rhode Island to access federal assistance to further prepare the state’s health care system.

“I support the Governor’s decision.  The declaration isn’t cause for alarm.  It activates legal mechanisms allowing the state to better coordinate the response and get more medical resources swiftly and effectively in the event that they are needed.  Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of all citizens and this declaration will ensure the Governor has all the tools available to protect people and public health,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who helped pass an $8 billion emergency coronavirus spending package to help state and local agencies effectively respond to this public health crisis.

“I am in constant contact with state and local leaders, hospitals, and public health officials to ensure federal funds are getting where they need to go to help.  I am also urging the Trump Administration to be more proactive in helping Rhode Island and other states increase their testing capacity.  In order to stop the spread of the virus, public health officials must have a firm grasp of how prevalent the disease is, how fast it is spreading, and where it is spreading.  The lack of testing kits has hampered that effort and it needs to be addressed.  We must all work together to protect people, especially the most vulnerable among us,” stated Reed.

Last week, Senator Reed sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) to expeditiously approve the Rhode Island Department of Health’s (RIDOH) request to ensure the availability of personal protective equipment and other critical medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile.  According to Governor Raimondo, that request has now been granted.