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Latest News: Public Health News

All About Coronavirus

Saturday, February 8, 2020  
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Last Sunday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency related to the novel coronavirus (nCoV) first detected in China. This enables the federal government to take temporary measures to contain the spread of the virus including a mandatory two-week quarantine for U.S. citizens who have been in China's Hubei Province in the past 14 days. Yesterday, the World Health Organization announced plans for a global research and innovation forum next week to identify and coordinate international efforts to find therapeutics and vaccines for nCoV.


Local health departments are engaged in screening passengers coming into the U.S. through any one of 11 airports and monitoring travelers once they enter the U.S. They are also responsible for quarantining any travelers who show symptoms of the virus.

We need your feedback! NACCHO is gathering information about local health department preparedness and response activities in order to advocate for additional federal support to advocate on your behalf. To submit information about the cost of preparedness and response activities, please email Ian Goldstein, Senior Government Affairs Specialist.


On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to the first diagnostic test to detect nCov. The authorization allows the test to be used at any Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-qualified lab in the United States. Additionally, HHS announced on Tuesday that it will expand an existing collaboration with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to develop multiple monoclonal antibodies that can be used to treat nCoV. Under the emergency use authorization, the real-time RT-PCR test can be used for patients who meet the CDC criteria for novel coronavirus testing. Labs are expected to receive the tests this week and to start testing samples next week.


HHS Secretary Alex Azar also announced plans this week to transfer as much as $136 million from other agency accounts to combat the coronavirus. CDC reports that the agency has already tapped $105 million in funding from the existing Infectious Disease Rapid Response Fund to combat the spread of the virus


Congress House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations (LHHS) Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) sent a letter to HHS this week urging them to request emergency supplemental funding to combat the coronavirus in their FY2021 budget request, which is expected to be released Monday.


Congress also held its first coronavirus hearing in the House Foreign Affairs' Asia subcommittee. Administration officials including Rebecca Martin, director of the CDC's Center for Global Health, were invited but did not testify at the hearing. Witnesses included Jennifer Nuzzo, Ph.D., Associate Professor & Senior Scholar, Center for Health Security, Johns Hopkins University, Jennifer Bouey, Ph.D.Senior Policy Researcher & Tang Chair in China Policy Studies, RAND Corporation and Ron KlainFormer White House Ebola Response Coordinator, 2014-2015 discussed lessons learned from past epidemics, including a call for one point person in the administration to be named to lead the response.


Podcast from Washington: Public Health 3.0 with Carol Moehrle and Molly McNamera

In this week's episode of Podcast from Washington, Government Affairs team members Ian Goldstein and Eli Briggs discuss the latest news on the novel coronavirus outbreak. They also discuss the State of the Union address, as well as a hearing with e-cigarette manufacturers.


Later in the program, Ian sits down with Molly McNamara, Training Officer at Maricopa County Department of Public Health and Carol Moehrle, Health Director at the Idaho North Central District, to talk about Public Health 3.0, and what it means to be a Community Health Strategist