Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, M.D., addresses the media on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan regarding the coronavirus.
By Forum Staff
The City has already spent more than $1 million, and could dish out lot more over the next 60 days, to help the federal government tackle the novel coronavirus—but the de Blasio administration still has not received any guarantee from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that it will be reimbursed for public health expenses that, in fact, benefit the nation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Sunday.
New York’s senior senator has demanded that the feds commit to reimbursing the City for the expenses it has already incurred and the ones it could incur going forward as it relates to combating the coronavirus.
Schumer said that costs over the next two months would most likely originate from:
Specific dollars for the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, similar to the 2015 Ebola response, for prevention and surveillance activities
Specific dollars to the 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.
“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,” Schumer added. “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.”
As of Wednesday, Feb. 12, more than 1,100 people worldwide have died from the novel coronavirus. More than 31,000 across the globe have been infected. In the U.S., there are 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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The novel coronavirus 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 no direct cure-all, but a vaccine is currently under development at the National Institutes of Health.
To protect against infection, the CDC has recommended basic hygiene techniques such as frequent hand washing, staying hydrated, and coughing into one’s arm or a tissue.