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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Democratic US Senators urge decisive action on coronavirus outbreak

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Following the Trump administration’s request for $2.5 billion to address the growing novel coronavirus outbreak, Democratic U.S. Senators this week urged that appropriate resources be put in place to guarantee an effective response.

“The highly contagious and rapidly spreading Coronavirus outbreak is a serious threat to our public health and safety,” U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) said in a statement. “As Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I continue to press the Administration to take decisive action. Having the right resources in this emergency is critical, and I am concerned that the Administration’s request for additional funds is not sufficient to effectively protect Michiganders and Americans from this deadly virus.”

Earlier this week, Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the National Center for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases told reporters that it’s no longer a question of if COVID-19 will hit the U.S., but when, and warned of potential disruptions to public life.

Peters’ critique of the budget request followed a joint request undertaken with Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) earlier this year for details as to the Administration’s response to COVID-19. Both had called for the Trump administration to fully fund pandemic preparedness and response efforts in the 2021 budget, though the 2021 budget inevitably ended up slashing a great deal of funding to such efforts. Peters and his colleagues have likewise called for the appointment of a global health security expert to the National Security Council — a position that has been vacant for nearly two years.

“I urge the Administration to work with Congress to ensure we have appropriate resources to develop and distribute vaccines and stockpile much needed medicine and protective equipment,” Peters said. “We must also provide the necessary support to state and local governments, including those in Michigan that are assisting with quarantine and other response efforts.”

In Illinois, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) was doing just that. In meeting with Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady this week, he discussed local public health priorities and how to address the coronavirus in Illinois. Like Peters, Durbin has called the administration’s funding request inadequate, though he has praised efforts in Illinois.

“I am grateful to CDPH as well as the Illinois Department of Public Health – for quickly responding to the two cases of coronavirus in Illinois,” Durbin said. “I will continue to support federal assistance that helps keep Illinoisans safe and healthy in their homes, schools, communities, and neighborhoods as we confront this public health threat.”

The World Health Organization has reported more than 80,000 cases of infection by COVID-19. While most cases remain within China, the virus has affected 34 other nations to date.