Mayor Durkan Statement on Congressional Approval of $8.3 Billion in Funding to Address COVID-19

Initial Resources are Critical to Testing, Small Businesses, and Local Response

Seattle (March 5, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan commends the successful vote in Congress to approve funding for public health efforts to address COVID-19 in addition to the State’s passage of emergency funding.

“It’s critical for cities like Seattle to have resources for the emerging COVID-19 public health crisis. I also want to thank Governor Inslee and the State legislature for approving $100 million in emergency funding. These developments from our state legislature and congress will go a long way in ensuring we’re fully prepared as the situation continues to evolve.

“Among the key elements is funding to help test, track, and implement mitigation strategies. While I am grateful to hear that the University of Washington Virology Lab announced their plans to ramp up capacity to test for COVID-19, I know they cannot do it alone and that the federal government and state must continue to ramp up resources in the state and across the country to increase the testing capacity.

“This bill also directs more than $1 billion toward small business relief to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our community. This funding will be critical, and I will work with our Congressional delegation to ensure these funds are released as quickly as possible to stabilize our small businesses who are already skating on razor thin margins.

“The City of Seattle has been preparing to respond to COVD-19 since we all learned of the first global confirmed case in January, but we know that our local resources alone will not be enough to slow the spread of COVID-19. Especially as we provide new resources for our most vulnerable population, we will need to support of the state and federal government to meet this public health emergency.”

Early last month, Mayor Durkan sent a letter alongside other mayors to the federal government expressing our concern about inadequate resources to properly respond to COVID-19 in our communities.

The legislation provides $8.3 billion in all new funding for a robust response to this public health emergency. That includes $950 million for state and local health agencies to conduct vital public health activities, including surveillance, laboratory testing, infection control, contact tracing, and mitigation.

Among its provisions, the emergency supplemental includes:

  • More than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics;
  • $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness, and response, $950 million of which is to support state & local health agencies;
  • Nearly $1 billion for procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, to support healthcare preparedness and Community Health Centers, and to improve medical surge capacity;
  • $435 million to support health systems overseas to prevent, prepare, and respond to the coronavirus;
  • $300 million to respond to humanitarian needs;
  • $61 million to facilitate the development and review of medical countermeasures, devices, therapies, and vaccines, and to help mitigate potential supply chain interruptions; and
  • Allows for an estimated $7 billion in low-interest loans to affected small businesses.

The emergency supplemental also contains other strong provisions to ensure a full response and keep Americans safe. The bill:

  • Requires that funds are only used to fight the coronavirus and other infectious diseases;
  • Allows seniors to access telemedicine services for coronavirus treatment;
  • Helps ensure that vaccines and treatments for coronavirus are affordable; and
  • Ensures that state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response.

Additionally, the bill includes a requirement to reimburse $136 million to important health accounts, including mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention and heating and cooling assistance for low-income families, that was transferred by the Trump administration to support its response.