Dear Colleague to All Members on Coronavirus Preparedness
Sadly and prayerfully, today, we learned of the first death from the coronavirus in the United States. The American people expect and deserve a well-coordinated, whole-of-government, fully-funded response to the coronavirus threat that addresses this public health crisis in a smart, scientific and strategic way.
An important step that Congress must take is to ensure the government has the resources needed to combat this deadly virus and keep Americans safe. To that end, House appropriators are working to advance a strong emergency funding supplemental package that fully addresses the scale and seriousness of this public health crisis, which we hope to bring to the Floor next week.
Any emergency funding supplemental the Congress approves must be entirely new funding, not stolen from other accounts. This package must also ensure that the President cannot use these new funds for anything other than fighting coronavirus and infectious diseases.
The supplemental must also ensure that vaccines are affordable and available to all who need them, that SBA loans are made available for small businesses impacted by the outbreak and that state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Although there are no current indications of widespread infections in the United States, the Chief Administrative Officer, House Sergeant At Arms, Attending Physician and Architect of the Capitol are engaged in a comprehensive, coordinated response to mitigate any impact on Congressional operations. They have suggested continuity of operations plans (COOP) that will help you consider the actions and resources needed to continue to operate in the event of an emergency. For more information, I encourage you to consult the linked letter from Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren and Ranking Member Rodney Davis. Sample continuity of operations plans have been provided by the Sergeant At Arms and more information can be founded in the linked memo from the Sergeant At Arms.
For information on preventing the spread of the coronavirus, I encourage you to consult the following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. As there is not currently a vaccine to prevent coronavirus, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to this virus. Please also consult the Office of the Attending Physician if you need a flu shot or have personal health concerns.
As this public health emergency develops, the House will continue to take strong, strategic action to keep Americans safe and ensure the functioning of Congressional operations. Updates will be ongoing.