After Wednesday morning’s regularly scheduled virus response meeting at the White House, Health Secretary Alex Azar advised that the administration is recommending “aggressive” action at the state and local level to contain the spread of COVID-19. There are steps “they should be taking.”
White House advises ‘aggressive’ steps
Health Department Secretary Alex Azar told Fox news, “You’re going to hear from CDC today and the White House that we’re going to be making recommendations to those local communities about aggressive steps that we think they should be taking.” States and localities are the front lines of this battle.
Some places are going to have to close schools and businesses. It could become a challenge keeping food on the grocery store shelves. For instance, in New Rochelle, New York, the entire community is on lockdown but the national guard is making sure that everyone has supplies.
Support from the top
Vice President Mike Pence will be working directly with hospital executives. Then, after lunch, will be joining President Trump for a meeting with bank executives. At the federal level, they are working to ease the economic pain while also ensuring that the state and local governments have the information and resources they need.
FEMA and the CDC are working closely with Health and Human Services, “providing support to state partners,” including things like “gloves, hand sanitizers and masks.” In the nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C., public health officials “recommended that any gatherings of 1,000 or more people be canceled or postponed through March 31.”
The hardest hit places here in the U.S. have been Washington, California, New York, Massachusetts and Florida. So far, 17 states have declared formal emergencies. That lets them waive red-tape regulations.
Federal State of Emergency
Last week, President Donald Trump signed a $8.3 billion response package crafted by both parties to fund the war. On Wednesday, sources with knowledge of the situation report that the President is considering a formal national disaster declaration.
Such an order would free up another $40 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds that the administration could target relief to the states and local communities dealing with the worst of the outbreaks. Secretary Azar already declared a “public health emergency” at the end of January to clear the way for state funding.
To date, Johns Hopkins University is reporting 1,025 confirmed U.S. cases of COVID-19. So far, 28 deaths were reported. Aggressive steps taken now will save a lot of grief later. All non-essential gatherings, like conventions and conferences should be canceled wherever there is an active outbreak.