The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced it will provide $2.75 million in initial funding to support Hawaii’s response to the new coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The funding will be provided through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“State and local governments are the backbone of our public health system,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a news release. “They have been essential partners in the ongoing work to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. The Trump Administration is acting swiftly through every avenue we have to ensure state and local governments have the support they need to combat this outbreak.”
With the funds, CDC said it will award an initial $25 million to states and local jurisdictions that have borne the largest burden of response and preparedness activities to date.
These are jurisdictions requiring immediate assistance for activities such as monitoring of travelers, data management, lab equipment, supplies, staffing, shipping, infection control, and surge staffing, the CDC said. Then support will be provided to all states and local jurisdictions for a variety of critical public health activities.
Another initial $10 million will go to state and local jurisdictions to begin implementation of coronavirus surveillance across the U.S., by building on existing influenza activities and other surveillance systems. It will be for a limited number of jurisdictions, however. Then additional support will be provided to all states and local jurisdictions to enhance testing and surveillance.
Separately, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said today that Hawaii is in line to receive at least $4.5 million in additional federal funding to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. That funding is part of a $8.3 billion emergency spending package that is expected to pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the president this week.
“While there are still no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hawaii, this federal money will help fund our state’s response efforts and give us additional resources to keep people safe,” said Schatz in a news release.
That $4.5 million comes under the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program, according to U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, for activities that include surveillance and monitoring, laboratory testing to identify new cases, tracing for additional positive cases, and infection control and mitigation activities.
“Confronting a growing coronavirus outbreak in the United States requires a concerted, whole-of-government approach that includes a robust federal response and close coordination with state and local governments,” said Hirono in a separate news release. “This bipartisan, bicameral spending agreement is a significant down payment to fund vaccine research and development, invest in critical public health initiatives, provide assistance for affected small businesses, and support state and local efforts to combat the virus. I will support this package when it comes up for a vote in the Senate and will continue to advocate for a swift and aggressive federal response to this public health emergency.”
The Hawaii state Senate this week approved $10.5 million in emergency funding to allow the state respond to the virus over the next four months.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige, meanwhile, has appointed Lt. Gov. Josh Green as the state’s liaison to health care providers for activities related to the COVID-19 preparedness and response.
The governor said Green, who is uniquely qualified as a physician, will evaluate the medical community’s readiness to deliver care to those who test positive for COVID-19. Green will also evaluate the supply of equipment, coordinate efforts to get additional equipment as needed and advocate for state and federal funding.