U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby on Thursday applauded the Senate’s passage of an emergency supplemental funding package to deal with the coronavirus.
The legislation provides $8.3 billion in total resources to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 strain coronavirus.
“I am pleased Congress has swiftly passed this emergency supplemental to combat the dangerous Coronavirus,” said Shelby, the chair of the Senate appropriations committee. “It includes what our experts say they need. It attacks the crisis at the local, state, federal, and international levels. And it brings to bear the full resources of the federal government. I want to thank my colleagues for their support and cooperation in advancing this package, and I look forward to President Trump signing it into law. As I have said before, this is not about politics; this is about doing our job to protect the American people from a deadly disease.”
The legislation was filed and passed Wednesday in the House of Representatives by a vote of 415 to 2.
A cluster of cases was first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China on Dec. 30.
The new strain of coronavirus was first identified as the cause of the illnesses on Jan. 6.
All efforts to contain the virus to this point have failed and it has now affected 91 countries, including the United States. At this point, nearly 100,000 cases have been diagnosed worldwide. There have been 3,300 deaths, and 3,042 of these have been in China with 30 reported in just the last 24 hours. Italy has reported 148 deaths, Iran 108, South Korea 42, France 7, Japan 6, Iraq 3, with a number reporting one death.
At this point, there have only been 233 cases in the United States, though 12 were diagnosed in the last 24 hours. There have been fourteen deaths thus far in the U.S. with two patients dead in just the past 24 hours. The deaths thus far have been in Washington and California.
There have been no diagnosed cases of coronavirus in Alabama as of yet, but it has been diagnosed in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.
The package will allow for necessary precautions, prevention, and treatment at the local, state, federal, and international levels. The funding in the legislation is specifically designated for Coronavirus prevention, preparation, and response efforts. 85 percent of the money will be spent domestically.
The package provides funding through the Departments of Health and Human Services ($6.497 billion) and State ($1.25 billion), as well as the Food and Drug Administration ($61 million) and the Small Business Administration ($20 million). Further, the package authorizes an additional $500 million in mandatory spending for telehealth through Medicare.
The legislation passed the Senate 95 to 1. It now goes to Trump’s desk for his signature.