WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – With coronavirus now in Tennessee, health officials in Alabama are bracing for the deadly virus to cross the border.
However, members of Congress say that should not cause citizens to panic because help is on the way.
“This is a crisis that could grow into an even greater crisis if we are not careful,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-TN. “It’s going to take dollars. We realize that.”
After a week of debate over the amount, President Trump signed into law Friday the $8.3 billion emergency funding package for prevention and research.
“I asked for $2.5 and I got $8.3,” Trump said during the signing. “I’ll take it.”
At least $2 billion will support more public lab testing, isolation and quarantine costs, sanitization of public areas and tracking the virus. More than $3 billion will go to expediting a vaccine.
“In the short-term, I don’t want folks to panic,” said Rep. Terri Sewell, D-AL.
With reported cases already in Georgia and Florida, Sewell is preparing for the virus to hit her home state of Alabama next.
She and Fleischmann say the approved funding is vital to rural states like theirs to make sure those areas don’t fall behind with testing and treatment.
“We want to make sure that we get to hard to hit areas,” Sewell said.
With more and more rural hospitals closing, Fleischmann said he is prepared to fight for even more funding, if needed, to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
“We want to reassure rural America and all Americans that in the event of a crisis of this magnitude or in the future that they will have adequate access to healthcare,” Fleischmann said.
For the latest on the coronavirus outbreak across the U.S. and world, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.