U.S. to spend up to $66m in efforts to counter coronavirus: health officials

HHS says the U.S. government plans to spend up to $66 million in its initial response to the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

HHS says the U.S. government plans to spend up to $66 million in its initial response to the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). That figure, disclosed in a notice sent by HHS to Congress Sunday, is more than one-half of the funds in the Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund, which was created by Congress to help the agency respond quickly to outbreaks. Under federal law, HHS must inform Congress about its spending plan within 15 days of using the fund. The $66 million sum does not include any other funds HHS or other agencies have spent responding to 2019-nCoV. Under the plan, CDC will spend an estimated $30 million evacuating more than 800 American citizens from Wuhan, China, and screening, isolating, and quarantining those people in the United States. CDC also plans to spend $36 million sending staff to states where 2019-nCoV cases have been confirmed and Americans are being quarantined; supporting surge staffing at ports of entry where travelers are being screened; and buying protective and laboratory equipment and supplies. The HHS plan notes there is at least $39 million in the fund for future needs. While legislators and public health experts have expressed concern that the administration has not yet asked Congress to approve emergency funding to respond to and prepare for 2019-nCoV, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Friday it is too early to talk about requests for additional funds. "It's premature to be talking about any additional needs for money at this point," Azar said. "There are still so many unknowns about the situation."