RI secures $500K in funding to combat coronavirus

Coronavirus

FILE – This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Health officials hope to avoid stigma and error in naming the virus causing an international outbreak of respiratory illnesses. But some researchers say the current moniker, 2019 nCoV, which stands for 2019 novel coronavirus, probably won’t stick in the public’s mind. (CDC via AP, File)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation announced Wednesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided the state with $500,000 to ramp up its efforts to contain the coronavirus.

The funding will be used to monitor travelers, collect data, purchase lab equipment and supplies, implement infection control and surge staffing.

“This initial funding from the CDC is a down payment to immediately bolster efforts already underway to protect Rhode Islanders from the coronavirus,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said.

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“This initial funding comes at a critical time for our state and will provide much-needed support for response efforts,” Congressman Jim Langevin added. “I’ll continue to advocate with my Congressional colleagues for adequate resources to confront this crisis.”

The state will also receive a minimum of $4.9 million as part of the $8.3 billion emergency supplemental aid package recently passed by the U.S. House. The funding package is expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Donald Trump as early as Thursday.

“This bipartisan bill is a critical down payment that includes needed investments in vaccine development, support for state and local governments, and other measures to help stop the outbreak,” Sen. Jack Reed said.

“This public health crisis requires the swift action and collaboration of government at the local, state and federal levels,” Rep. David Cicilline added. “I will continue to fight to ensure that Rhode Island gets our fair share of federal assistance as we work to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.”

Cicilline had previously sent a sharply-worded letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield, criticizing the agency’s reporting methods. In the letter, Cicilline urged the CDC to notify states of travelers returning to the United States from countries with reported coronavirus outbreaks.

There are only two cases of the coronavirus in Rhode Island; one of which has been confirmed by the CDC.

The R.I. Health Department said Wednesday they’ve tested nearly 20 people for the virus. Eleven of those tests came back negative while seven are still pending. In addition, state health officials said approximately 200 Rhode Islanders are self-quarantined.

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