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NYC Is Mandated By Feds To Do What It Does Best & Act As Vanguard In The Coronavirus Fight—But City Is Currently Expending Local Funds To Prevent, Prepare For & Respond To Virus; This Could Rack Up Millions Of Dollars In Costs Over Next 60 Days

NYC Asked Feds For Clear Sign They’ll Be Reimbursed, Just Like With Ebola; But Has No Clear Answer From HHS; Schumer Demands Feds Publicly Commit To Reimbursing NYC As Prevention, Treatment & Quarantine Directive Costs Add Up

Schumer: Local Coronavirus Costs Could Hover Around $1M A Day—And The Feds Must Cover It  

While New York City continues to meet its federally-mandated responsibility to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the novel coronavirus, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed today that the city has already spent more than $1,000,000 and could spend millions of local dollars more over the next 60 days to help tackle the virus. Schumer further revealed, that despite the hefty costs, the city STILL does not have any guarantee from the feds, particularly the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that it will be reimbursed for public health expenses that, in fact, benefit the nation. Schumer demanded the feds ‘sign on the dotted line’ and commit to reimbursing the city for the expenses it has already incurred and the ones it could incur going forward as it relates to tackling the novel coronavirus. Schumer pointed to his successful fight to deliver more than $32 million in reimbursements to New York State amid the Ebola crisis as precedent.

“New York City is quite literally leading the way in tackling the novel coronavirus, and all that work costs money, and the federal government has a real duty—along with a history—of ensuring local dollars spent on national public health emergencies are reimbursed,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “We need the feds, specifically HHS, to sign on the dotted line because New York City has already spent more than a million dollars on public health activities of national importance to tackle the coronavirus, and could, if the need develops, be looking at a one-million-dollar-a-day tab. The City needs public assurance from the federal government that it will be reimbursed for this mandated work, these life-saving public health efforts, and the expenses that coincide.”

Schumer’s push for local reimbursement comes on the heels of his successful effort to cajole the administration to declare the novel coronavirus a public health emergency. The designation opened a critical Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reserve account that allowed for millions of dollars to be used in the fight against the outbreak. Schumer, today, urged the feds to follow the same reimbursement model he worked on during the Ebola crisis and explained how local costs could soon spike to roughly a million dollars a day. He said New Yorkers alone should not pick up the public health tab as he detailed where their costs originate from and the response required to protect public health.   

“We were able to tackle Ebola aggressively because we were also able to guarantee that expenses would be reimbursed, and I fought hard for that, but right now we need the same kind of federal support to appropriately tackle the coronavirus,” Schumer added.

Schumer detailed that costs within the next 60 days would most likely originate from:

  • Specific dollars for the New York City Department of Health, similar to the Ebola response, for prevention and surveillance activities
  • Specific dollars to New York City’s hospitals that would be used to staff doctors, nurses, security and overtime, along with diagnostic and lab testing, equipment, supplies and gear.
  • Specific dollars to NYPD for additional security assistance.  

Schumer explained the costs of the aforementioned could hover around one million dollars a day, as he made the case for a federal reimbursement commitment.

As of February 6th, there have been at least 638 deaths from the coronavirus. All but two of the deaths were in mainland China, with the other two deaths occurring in the Philippines and Hong Kong. More than 31,000 people worldwide have been infected with the novel coronavirus, with confirmed cases in the following countries: Australia (15), Belgium (1), Cambodia (1), Finland (1), France (6), Germany (13), India (3), Italy (2), Japan (25 plus 61 people quarantined on a cruise ship docked in Japan, including 3 Americans), Malaysia (15), Nepal (1), the Philippines (3), Russia (2), Singapore (33), South Korea (24), Spain (1), Sri Lanka (1), Sweden (1), Taiwan (16), Thailand (25), United Arab Emirates (5), United Kingdom (3), Vietnam (12).

In the United States, there are currently 12 confirmed cases across six states: Washington, Illinois, California, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. An Illinois case marked the first instance of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus in the United States. The New York Department of Health cautions people that the current epidemic shouldn’t be confused with common coronaviruses that can be tested for at local labs. The only way to test for the new coronavirus is through special testing arranged in partnership with the CDC.

The novel coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV” by CDC) can cause a wide range of symptoms, from those similar to the common cold to more severe respiratory illness that can be fatal. There is currently no direct cure-all, but a vaccine is currently under development at the National Institutes of Health. According to the Washington Post, Chinese officials first detected this new strain of the virus on December 31 in Wuhan, China. They initially linked it to an unsanitary food market where seafood and mammals were sold for human consumption. Scientist said people who were sickened were likely to have eaten something infected with the virus.  

To protect against infection, the CDC, along with media reports, recommend basic hygiene techniques such as frequent hand washing, staying hydrated, and coughing into one’s arm or a tissue.