WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives today approved an $8.3 billion emergency funding package to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus and the Trump Administration announced new steps to protect seniors in nursing homes from the virus. 

“This funding package will help ensure that our health care providers and public health professionals have the tools and resources they need to continue to address the outbreak,” said Congressman David Rouzer (NC-07).

In addition, the sweeping new standards for nursing homes and long-term care facilities will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Specifically, the Administration is implementing new guidelines for officials to follow when surveying facilities with confirmed or presumptive cases of coronavirus.  All inspection efforts will focus on ensuring nursing homes in North Carolina and across the nation are complying with infectious disease protocols that have been put into place by the federal government.

“Based on data obtained to date, we know that seniors – particularly those with underlying health conditions – are particularly at risk,” said Congressman Rouzer. “Properly implemented by long-term care facilities, these new standards will help decrease the exposure of seniors to this virus.  I commend the Trump Administration for the many proactive measures taken to protect the American people.”

Today’s action follows a series of other important steps the Administration has taken to aggressively respond to the coronavirus outbreak, including:

  • Making available test kits sufficient to test more than 1.5 million Americans for distribution across the country, including in North Carolina.  Just yesterday, North Carolina announced that the State Laboratory of Public Health is now able perform testing for the virus, enabling the state to more quickly take steps to respond to a presumptive positive test result.  Because of the greater availability of tests, the CDC has issued new guidance enabling any American to be tested if a doctor suspects the virus. 

  • Restricted entry to the U.S. of any foreign nationals that have been to China or Iran recently.  U.S. citizens and certain others who have returned from China aresubject to screening, monitoring or possible quarantine for up to 14 days.  Additional travel advisories have been issued for affected areas in Italy and South Korea, and airport screenings have been expanded to identify individuals showing symptoms of infection.

  • Declared COVID-19 a public health emergency and utilized reserve funds to support response efforts.

  • Mobilized multiple agencies, including the CDC, FEMA, HHS, HUD and others to assist state and local governments in dealing with the outbreak.  The CDC is working hand-in-hand with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.  FEMA has readied more than 50 response teams available to deploy to states and territories that may need assistance.

Details of the emergency spending package approved by the House of Representatives include:

  • More than $4 billion to make diagnostic tests more broadly available, to support treatments to ease the symptoms of those infected, and to invest in vaccine development and distribution. 

  • Nearly $1 billion specifically for state and local response efforts – with half of the funds going out in the next month.

  • $300 million for the CDC’s Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund to prevent, prepare for and responds to diseases.

The Senate is expected to pass the funding package this week and the President is expected to sign it into law.

This funding package is in addition to major investments made by Congress in recent years to bolster investments in healthcare and disease prevention and treatment.  Since 2015, Congress has boosted funding for:

  • The National Institutes of Health by 39%

  • The Centers for Disease Control by 24%

  • Advanced Biomedical Research by 35%

  • The National Stockpile by 32%

  • Created a new Infectious Disease Response program and increased funding by 70% in recent years.