Containing Coronavirus in Our Communities
The coronavirus outbreak is a quickly evolving situation, and now is not the time to play politics. On March 8, Suffolk County confirmed its first case of coronavirus and served as a reminder for all levels of government to work closely together to try to contain coronavirus as much as possible.
At a time like this, fear can oftentimes outweigh facts, and we are even more susceptible to fear when the facts are hard to come by, such as when many students were recently sent to our district from affected countries. Clear, open and constant communication is key to effectively combat this outbreak.
Last week, immediately before casting my vote in favor of $7.8 billion in emergency funding for an even more robust response to the coronavirus outbreak, I concluded my latest coordination meeting and briefing with those leading the federal government’s response to coronavirus, including the Vice President, Dr. Fauci, Ambassador Birx and other leaders. Over the last several weeks, I’ve been in constant contact with my colleagues in government to ensure this is a whole-government approach - at every level - to do all in our power to contain this threat as much as possible.
That’s why it was critical that Congress passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, emergency funding that included $4 billion to make diagnostic tests more broadly available, support treatments to ease the symptoms of those infected with the virus, and an increased investment in vaccine development and procurements of vaccines when they become available.
One of the populations most susceptible to the coronavirus are our communities’ seniors, which is why it was so important that this legislation also expanded Medicare telemedicine services so seniors, who are disproportionately vulnerable, have access to the treatment they need.
In working together with state and local governments, the federal government delivered over 1 million new testing kits across the country this past weekend, including 23,000 to New York City’s Public Health Laboratory to the point where it was actually declining additional shipments. It also approved the State of New York’s request to carry out testing in state labs, and, on March 8, approved Northwell Health Labs’ ability to test for the virus right here on Long Island.
This is the type of bilateral cooperation that must continue, and I look forward to continuing to work together as we ensure those who need it across the state have access to fast and accurate testing results.
As I continue to work with all levels of government in the coming weeks and months, in order to keep you armed with the most accurate and up-to-date information to keep you and your family safe, I created a one-stop-shop of Centers for Disease Control information on my website. Whether you’re a healthcare professional, a frequent traveler or concerned about preventing exposure, Long Islanders can find critical information at zeldin.house.gov/coronavirus.
Congressman Lee Zeldin represents New York’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.