Millions in Uncovered Costs Already Incurred by Local Health Departments for Coronavirus Response

 In China, COVID-19, Local, P5, Healthcare and Public Health

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), on behalf of the nation’s 3,000 local health depart­ments, spoke out today urging the Trump Administration to request and for Congress to pass emer­gency sup­ple­men­tal fund­ing to suf­fi­cient­ly sup­port the work of local health depart­ments to pre­pare for and respond to the coro­n­avirus.

Despite the rel­a­tive­ly low number of con­firmed cases in the U.S. to date, local health pro­fes­sion­als are already work­ing above and beyond the call of duty: work­ing with health care providers to ensure they know how to assess and report sus­pect­ed cases; con­tact trac­ing per­sons of inter­est who of have recent­ly trav­eled to China or who are exhibit­ing symp­toms; mon­i­tor­ing anyone who has been in close con­tact with people under inves­ti­ga­tion; and arrang­ing for iso­la­tion and quar­an­tine when nec­es­sary.

In far too many local­i­ties, that means divert­ing staff and lim­it­ed resources from other projects — strate­gies that are not sus­tain­able and which run the risk of com­pro­mis­ing other crit­i­cal work.

Among other things, local health depart­ments need new, ded­i­cat­ed resources to sup­port vital isolation/quarantine relat­ed activ­i­ties, includ­ing trans­porta­tion and lodg­ing and wrap around ser­vices like behav­ioral health sup­port or even neces­si­ties like food and toi­letries. They need the sup­port to locate and mon­i­tor the health status of patients that are cur­rent­ly under inves­ti­ga­tion, pro­vide trust­ed out­reach to the gen­er­al public (includ­ing trans­la­tion of public health mate­ri­als) and health­care facil­i­ties, and they need per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment.

To date, local health depart­ments have not received any reim­burse­ments for the work they have done to address the coro­n­avirus, but the bill keeps get­ting longer. Emergency sup­ple­men­tal fund­ing — both for the fed­er­al response, but also direct­ed to local and state activ­i­ties — is absolute­ly crit­i­cal to sup­port cur­rent response activ­i­ties as well as future work to combat this pow­er­ful virus.

On Monday, NACCHO joined other public health organizations, includ­ing the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) to for­mal­ly request action on and inform the for­ma­tion of an emer­gency sup­ple­men­tal request that would help expand and strength­en local, state, fed­er­al, and global capac­i­ty and coor­di­na­tion to ade­quate­ly respond to this infec­tious dis­ease out­break. Read the letter here and the fund­ing request here.

Source: Global Biodefense

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