ILLINOIS CONGRESSWOMAN UNDERWOOD DISCUSSES CORONAVIRUS PREPAREDNESS WITH HEALTH OFFICIALS

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[COVID-19\ Coronavirus Response]
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
Photo: YouTube

Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14) today held a conference call with local public health officials and health care providers to discuss coronavirus preparedness, response, and how the public can best protect themselves from infection.

Underwood, a public health nurse who worked at the Department of Health and Human Services on the Department’s responses to Zika, Ebola, and the Flint water crisis, has first-hand appreciation for the essential role of local public health and health care providers. Participants included representatives from county public health departments, northern Illinois health systems, and community health centers. Guidance for preventing the spread of coronavirus in homes and residential communities from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found in multiple languages here.

Underwood’s remarks kicking off the call are copied below.

“Thank you for joining me today for a call on the novel coronavirus outbreak. I have appreciated the opportunity to meet many of you over the course of the last year, and I if I haven’t met you yet, I hope to do so soon. As many of you may be aware, I come to this role with training as a public health nurse, and prior to joining Congress, I worked at as a Senior Advisor to the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. In that role, I worked on the Department’s responses to Zika, Ebola, and the Flint water crisis, and gained a first-hand appreciation for the essential role of front-line providers and local public health. To that end, I understand how incredibly busy you all are keeping our communities healthy and caring for patients, so I promise to keep this call to less than 30 minutes.

“I have two main goals for our call today: First, I want to ensure you understand you have a clear line of communication to my office as our community prepares for COVID-19 response. Most of you received the invitation to this call directly from my Chief of Staff. You can reach her directly, any time, on her cell.

“Second, I would like to better understand your organization’s needs as Congress considers emergency funding to respond to COVID-19. As you know, on Monday evening, the President requested $1.8 billion in additional funding and $2.5 billion in total resources to respond to COVID-19. I expect Congress will respond as soon as next week with a much more robust funding package, and I want to understand what your needs are as we develop this package.

“Yesterday, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer stated they expect the package to be entirely new, not reprogrammed, funding that ensures: The president cannot transfer these new funds to anything other than the coronavirus and fighting infectious diseases; Vaccines are affordable and available to all that need it; Interest-free loans are made available for small businesses impacted by the outbreak; and the state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“With that, I’ll open up the line to you all for comment and feedback. What are you hearing from your patients and partners on the ground? What are your most critical funding and information needs? What is keeping you up at night?”

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you have visited China within the past two weeks and start to feel ill, call your doctor. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Wear a facemask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

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