Congress passes $8 billion coronavirus spending bill, NC gets $13 million

Congress passed an $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus spending bill which President Trump is expected to sign.

“I just wanted to touch base with you and make sure that you’re getting the things you need from the state and federal government,” Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Concord) said during a phone call with hospital officials. On Thursday, Hudson phoned several hospitals in North Carolina.  “I work for you so I want to make sure I’m focused on what I need to be focused on to help you.”

“I was reassured our hospitals are prepared and have contingency plans and protocols in place for if or when the virus hits our communities,” Hudon later said in a statement. “I will continue to work with our local and state partners to make sure our communities are properly funded and prepared.”

Lawmakers are working to address growing concerns over the novel coronavirus. Hudson introduced a bill which he says will address drug shortages in the US as a result of factor shutdowns and shipping problems in China due to COVID-19.

On Thursday, the Senate passed the emergency coronavirus bill, which had already passed the House. Among the key provisions:

  • $3.4 billion to invest in developing and producing vaccines and making sure hospitals are prepared.
  • $490 million to ensure Medicare recipients have access to remote and telehealth services.
  • $20 million for disaster assistance loans for small businesses impacted by the virus.
  •  $13 million goes to North Carolina for “emergency preparedness,” according to Tillis.

The money will boost the CDC’s response efforts, provide make diagnostic tests more broadly available and support treatments to ease the symptoms of those infected, Hudson’s office said.  One billion dollars will go to the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to protect Americans abroad and help mitigate the spread of the virus worldwide.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the federal government will send out 1.5 million coronavirus testing kits to hospitals across the US.

So far, there are 129 known COVID-19 cases in the US and 11 deaths, the president tweeted Thursday. He said, worldwide, there are approximately 100,000 cases and 3280 deaths. There is one known case in North Carolina.

“It’s vital that our state and our nation are well prepared,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) in a video statement.

Tillis is looking into the threat of the virus on our military and their families stationed overseas. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Tillis wants to know what emergency treatment plans are in place after a servicemember in South Korea contracted the coronavirus. Tillis asked Esper in a letter, sent last week, if there are enough medical personnel and supplies to handle a widespread infection and what is being done to mitigate the risk.

Tillis expressed confidence in North Carolina’s hospitals to handle the outbreak.

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“They’ve demonstrated great success with the treatment of highly infectious diseases,” he said. “And I’ll make sure they have the support they need.”