Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday urged federal officials to declare coronavirus outbreak in the US an emergency so millions more in funds could be made available to fight the deadly bug.
The senator appealed to the Department of Health and Human Services to make the declaration in order for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to access $85 million that is allocated to fight infectious disease.
“Should the outbreak get worse they’re going to need immediate access to critical federal funds that at present they can’t access,” Schumer told reporters at his Manhattan office.
He said health officials will then be able to act quickly should the flu-like virus continue to spread in the country.
There have been four cases of the coronavirus detected stateside with the latest in Los Angeles, California. The case follows confirmed reports of the illness in Orange County Calif., Chicago and the Seattle, Wash., area.
The additional funds could be used for screening, to increase public awareness and for tracing the virus.
“We aren’t here to propel panic or stoke fear, but to rather keep a good proactive effort by the CDC from going on interrupted,” Schumer said.
The mystery illness originated last month in the central Chinese of Wuhan, where millions of people are on lockdown as officials race to prevent its spread, officials said.
Schumer said Sunday that a Stony Brook University professor who was visiting family in Wuhan is among those trapped in the country as a result of flights being suspended.
“My office is working with the State Department and embassy officials to ensure the Stony Brook professor is in constant contact with U.S. officials and we are all working to arrange a flight home for him ASAP,” Schumer said.
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