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Health & Medicine

Onondaga County and Community Partners Prepare For Any Cases of Coronavirus

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Onondaga County Health Department officials are working closely with community partners in preparation for any cases of the novel coronavirus.  Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta says they’re in regular contact with state and federal partners, and sharing information with local health systems, hospitals, school districts, and universities.  

She says the same precautions apply to prevent the spread of any virus.

Hand hygiene, cough etiquette, staying home if people are sick, and seeking care at the right time,” Gupta said. “The only difference is that here local health departments play a significant role in trying to make sure they are connecting all of the dots in order to take care of the patients as well as protect the family and the community at the same time.”

Gupta says there is a detailed plan in place in case someone fits the criteria for the coronavirus, including travel history and symptoms.  She encourages everyone to educate themselves about what’s happening using reliable and trusted sources like the state and county health departments, as well as the CDC and WHO

People need to be very vigilant, they should be very curious, they should be very willing to learn, but not to get overly anxious about that,” Gupta said. “Having coronavirus in our community is still a low probability, but never say never in medicine...we know that. We have more likelihood of people getting infected by the flu.”

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Credit Italy's Department of Civil Protection
An italian government worker scanning plane passengers for coronavirus.

And, Gupta says, that’s what’s happening in Central New York.  As of last week, there had been more than 2,100 confirmed cases of the flu this season.  She says unlike the coronavirus, there’s a vaccine and treatment. 

There should be no confusion that what is front of us, our worst enemy at this point, is the flu, so we should take all the measures to protect ourselves to prevent the flu from getting to our homes and in bodies,” Gupta said.

Whether it’s the flu or new coronavirus, Gupta says if people are asking questions and taking charge of their own health, that’s half the victory for public health.   More information on both illnesses is at ongov.net/health.

GOVERNOR CUOMO ASKS FOR FUNDING TO SUPPORT RESPONSE

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s asking the legislature for $40 million in emergency spending to help the state combat the corona virus.

The governor says there have been no confirmed cases of the corona virus in New York so far.  Twenty-seven people have been tested, and 26 of those results have been negative. One case is still pending.

Cuomo  says no one should be surprised, though, if it happens.

It is highly probable that you will see a continuing spread of this virus,” Cuomo said. “It’s highly probable that we will have people in New York State that will test positive.”

Cuomo says the state health department was briefed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and will be meeting with local health department in the coming weeks to establish protocol for possible quarantines, at people’s homes, or , if they are flying into the airport and not from New York, at hotel settings.  

And he says the legislature has already told him they will have no problem approving the emergency spending bill.

The Greater New York Hospital association’s Ken Raske says hospitals have been preparing for weeks, and stocking up on protective gear, like masks and gloves. He says most of those items are made in China, so they expect disruptions in the supply chain. State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker says the state has stockpiled millions of masks, and he advises the public, don’t buy the masks , he says save them for the hospitals and for people who are actually sick.

The governor says during his tenure, the state has gone through a number of public health crisis successfully, he says there’s no need for “undue fear”. 

SEN. SCHUMER DETAILS $8.5 BILLION PROPOSAL FOR FEDERAL EMERGENCY FUNDING

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has an $8.5 billion plan that he says mirrors earlier congressional appropriations for the Pandemic Flu in 2006 and H1N1 flu in 2009.  

"Congress must act swiftly to confront the threat of this global health crisis,” said Schumer in a release. “This proposal brings desperately-needed resources to the global fight against coronavirus. Americans need to know that their government is prepared to handle the situation before coronavirus spreads to our communities.  I urge the Congress to move quickly on this proposal. Time is of the essence.”

Schumer says his request will address the following, as provided in his release: 

1.      $1.5B for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Including for the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund and Global Health Security

a.       CDC is at the front lines of America’s domestic and international response to the coronavirus.  This funding is needed to strengthen critical support to state and local health departments, bolster laboratory work, and more.  Other activities, like the evacuation of American citizens from China, deployment of CDC staff to states and ports of entry, and the purchase of protective and laboratory equipment and supplies, have been supported by the IDRRRF, depleting this fund.

2.      $3 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund

a.       The Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund helps drive our nation’s medical and public health preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters and public health emergencies. These funds would ensure our Department of Health and Human Services has the resources need to do the job and help contain the spread of this new virus.

3.      $2 billion set-aside for State and Local Reimbursement

a.       State and local health departments are on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. Many cities, like New York, have already spent millions on personnel, lab equipment, and supplies. Additional expenditures are expected to include supplies for hospital triage and isolation spaces, as well as lab testing. Additionally, there’s significant need for staff and other resources to support the public health and healthcare response, including implementing the federal quarantine order. These activities require around-the-clock staffing, temporary housing, transportation, cleaning contracts, and wrap-around services.

4.      $1B for the USAID Emerging Health Threats—Emergency Reserve Fund

a.       The global health community is actively fighting the dual threats of Ebola and coronavirus in the midst of a potentially severe influenza season.  This global response is a resource intensive effort. The international effort, led by the United States, is severely underfunded. The Emergency Reserve Fund allows USAID to respond to emerging health threats that pose severe risks to human health.

5.      $1B for the National Institutes of Health—Vaccine Development

a.       For the preclinical and clinical development and testing of vaccines and other medical countermeasures for the coronavirus.