As New Jersey grapples with its first presumptive case of coronavirus, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, and Cory Booker announced the awarding of $1,750,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reimburse the State of New Jersey’s Department of Health (NJDOH) for its response and preparedness efforts to combat COVID-19.
The senators are working to pass an over $8 billion supplemental funding package, approved yesterday by the House of Representatives that, in part, will provide additional federal funds to states that are devoting resources towards personnel, lab equipment and medical supplies to fight the virus. Once passed, the funding package will also bolster efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to combat the virus and develop a vaccine.
“I applaud New Jersey’s efforts in combating COVID-19 and ensuring the public is both informed and protected,” said Sen. Menendez. “The federal government has a responsibility to reimburse states, like New Jersey, that are devoting significant resources in order to respond to this public health emergency and protect the public. This funding is a great first step and I will continue working to ensure New Jersey receives the funding and resources it needs to combat the spread of the coronavirus.”
“Coronavirus is a serious and sobering public health threat – we need to be investing in the appropriate resources needed for preparedness and response in order to mitigate it. This federal funding is key as we work to support our state and local health departments, which are on the front lines of dealing with this threat. I’m pleased the CDC rightfully recognized that New Jersey is a state bearing one of the largest burdens of responding to this virus,” said Sen. Booker. “Sadly, if this Administration had taken this threat seriously from the start, rather than bungling the rollout of testing kits, dragging its feet on appointing a single official to coordinate response, and allowing political personnel to overrule recommendations from the CDC, it’s likely we wouldn’t be in the precarious situation we now find ourselves.”
Having one of the most robust response and preparedness efforts in the country, New Jersey was awarded this funding to offset the cost of monitoring travelers, data management, lab equipment, supplies, staffing, shipping and infection control. There have been several individuals in New Jersey who have been required to undergo testing for COVID-19, including a Central Jersey patient last week and several patients who were tested and quarantined after getting off a cruise ship last month in Bayonne.
Sens. Menendez and Booker have been leading efforts in Congress to ensure New Jersey has the resources to combat the coronavirus outbreak.