Coronavirus Spending Bill Sails through Congress

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives (415-2) and Senate (96-1) both overwhelmingly passed an emergency spending package to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has been spreading throughout the United States. President Trump signed the measure this morning at the White House.

The $8.3 billion spending bill provides funding to various federal agencies responsible for fighting the virus and includes $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The measure provides funding to the National Institutes of Health for worker-based training to prevent virus exposures for health care workers and emergency first responders as well as funding to federal HHS to purchase medical supplies and any vaccines developed to treat coronavirus once available.

Of particular interest to local health departments, $950 million of the total directed to the CDC is to be appropriated to States, localities, territories, and tribes to carry out surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications, and other preparedness and response activities. Of that amount, $475 million must be allocated within 30 days of enactment. This funding will be directed to every grantee that received Public Health Emergency Preparedness funding for FY 2019, and the measure included a provision that allows States and localities to be reimbursed for costs they incurred responding to COVID-19 starting on January 20, 2020, through the date of enactment of the bill.