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U.S. Congress Votes Up $8.3 Billion for Coronavirus Fight, as Cases Spread in U.S.

March 4, 2020 (EIRNS)—The House and Senate today reached a bipartisan agreement to allocate $8.3 billion to fund the response to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The House was expected to approve the bill later today, on a bipartisan basis. This amount is significantly larger than the $2.3 billion the Trump Administration originally asked for.

The $8.3 billion includes $7.8 billion in discretionary appropriations, and $500 million for Medicare telehealth mandatory spending, allowing Medicare providers to provide telehealth services to seniors. Reportedly $2 billion will be allocated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), $3 billion to a public health emergency fund and to the National Institutes of Health for development of vaccines, treatment and testing of the coronavirus, the New York Times reported. A final announcement of the legislation has not yet been released.

Across the United States, confirmed cases amount to 148, with 11 deaths. Today, California reported a death from coronavirus, the first in the U.S. outside of Washington State. Four new cases in New York state are connected to a previously-diagnosed Westchester County man. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced a state of emergency for Los Angeles County after six new cases were confirmed on Tuesday. The declaration will help the county access state and federal funding to assist with preparedness, Garcetti said.

It was announced yesterday that the CDC will lift all restrictions on who can be tested. Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said on March 2 that by week’s end, close to 1 million tests will be able to be performed, although many public health laboratories say that they can’t process that many tests within a week; 15,000 daily is a more reasonable estimate, as of now.

In comments to reporters yesterday, President Donald Trump saidhe intends to tighten restrictions on foreign travel, but said that at this time didn’t foresee restrictions on domestic travel. He also said he’s not actively considering restrictions on travel to Mexico.

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