Pingree Statement on Coordinated Government Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Washington, March 2, 2020
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today released the following statement about Maine’s coordinated state and federal response to Coronavirus:
“I applaud Governor Mills for proactively assembling a Coronavirus Response Team. Although Maine does not currently have any confirmed cases of coronavirus, it is critical that Maine has the resources and coordination in place to respond effectively. At the federal level, I am working with my House Appropriations Committee colleagues to advance a significant funding package that addresses the coronavirus epidemic at the federal, state, and local levels without taking funds from essential existing programs, as President Trump has proposed.
“Last week, I met with Maine CDC Director, Dr. Nirav Shah, to discuss our coordinated response to the global outbreak of COVID-19. We are in frequent discussions about the state’s progress around prevention and test kit availability as well as other critical health supplies. The US CDC and Maine CDC are encouraging all of us to take preventive action to stop the spread of coronavirus. From washing our hands and not touching our faces to staying home when you’re sick if you’re able, we all should be vigilant about our individual hygiene. For the sake of public health, workplaces should also make accommodations to allow employees with symptoms to stay home.
“I am extremely troubled by reports about the high costs incurred by people who’ve done the right thing and proactively gone to hospitals to be tested for coronavirus. These costs could deter people who’ve been exposed to this highly contagious virus from getting care and further spread the virus. For the same reason, when the vaccine is finally developed, it should be affordable to people across income levels and widely available. I will be monitoring these issues and others at the federal level and providing updates to state officials.
“The bottom line is that we need a fully-funded, coordinated government response to confront the COVID-19 epidemic. After the Ebola outbreak of 2015, federal pandemic response teams were established and the Trump Administration eliminated them as a cost-saving measure. This shortsighted approach has put our nation at a significant disadvantage in handling the global spread of COVID-19. It’s crucial that the Trump Administration establish clear chain of command for coordinating the response and act swiftly to restore the global health security teams at the National Security Council and Department of Homeland Security that are charged with managing pandemics.”
The US House is expected to vote on a funding package in response to the coronavirus later this week.