Amid Years of Funding Cuts to Public Health, First US Case of China’s Coronavirus Detected
Public health advocates say state, local, and federal agencies are underprepared to cope with the spread of a new infectious disease.
By Julia Conley
Officials in Washington State reported Tuesday that a resident was diagnosed with the coronavirus which was first detected in Wuhan, China last month, leading federal public health agencies which have suffered billions of dollars in cuts in recent years to issue warnings and post information about the illness.
“This is an evolving situation and again, we do expect additional cases in the United States and globally,” Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Washington Post.
On social media, observers in both the U.S. and Canada noted that the spread of the coronavirus follows cuts to the CDC and other agencies.
As the new coronavirus arrives in our shores, a reminder that DT stripped CDC of funding to fight such diseases and diverted that funding for more facilities to separate families at the border. https://t.co/xQux7JQRZT
— Kendyl Hanks (@HanksKendyl) January 21, 2020
Public health protects us from deadly things like the new coronavirus & SARS. Doug Ford’s Conservatives have taken a sledgehammer to Ontario’s public health system. Last year they cut $200 million from PH and are cutting $1 billion from Toronto PH. #onpolihttps://t.co/ygAvmhk2k0
— Tyler Watt 🇨🇦 (@tylerwhat16) January 16, 2020
The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a nonpartisan public health advocacy group, published a report last April saying that public health efforts are currently underfunded by $4.5 billion.
“Recent increases to funding for public health emergency preparedness, including for weather-related emergencies, have not made up for resources lost in earlier years, let alone emerging threats,” the group wrote. “The CDC also lacks sufficient dedicated funding to adequately support the cross-cutting, foundational capabilities that form the backbone of comprehensive public health systems at the federal, state, and local levels.”
As Modern Healthcare reported at the time, the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) provides state and local health agencies with the bulk of their funding, but the fund has been slashed numerous times in recent years.
In 2012, President Barack Obama signed a bill that diverted more than $6 billion from the fund over nine years to make up for cuts to Medicare physician payments. President Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in 2017 slashed the fund by $750 million.
The budget bill passed by Congress in 2018 cut the fund by $1 billion over 10 years. The Trump administration in 2018 further diverted millions of dollars from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“When CDC funding is cut, state and local governments are often forced to reduce funding for critical programs including those to prevent chronic and infectious diseases, to protect environmental health and to provide vaccinations for children, among many others,” said John Auerbach, CEO of TFAH, last year as the group released its report. “These are programs Americans need and support. They shouldn’t be constantly on the chopping-block.”
Public health cuts in recent years have already sent federal officials scrambling to allocate funding in the midst of potential crises, according to Modern Healthcare. The CDC had to request emergency funding in 2014 when a number of people in the U.S. contracted Ebola during West Africa’s epidemic, and in 2016 to fight an outbreak of Zika.
“That kind of funding impedes the ability of public health to actually prevent risk or to respond in a timely manner,” Auerbach told Modern Healthcare. “If the funding comes in the midst of an emergency you’re quickly doing catch-up.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) is meeting Wednesday to determine whether the coronavirus should be considered a global health emergency.
The respiratory illness has killed at least six people in China and has sickened nearly 300 people there, as well as several in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.
The risk for the general population in the U.S. is considered low, according to the CDC; older adults with health conditions may be at increased risk for infection.licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Gun Rally Underway at Virginia State Capital – LIVESTREAM
In Virginia, large crowds are gathering at the state’s capital for a gun rally. The protest is in opposition to gun control laws, and has come with many threats of violence, prompting Gov. Ralph Northam to declare a ‘state of emergency’. They began the morning reciting the second amendment, and are dividing into two groups, those willing to lay down their weapons to enter the capital and those that wish to stay armed in the streets of Richmond.
We may add information as it comes.
Watch Live Stream Here:
‘Pete Takes Money From Fossil Fuel Billionaires’: Climate Activists Disrupt Buttigieg Rally in New Hampshire
“We are really concerned about candidates who have taken money from fossil-fuel executives. So that includes Joe Biden as well as Pete Buttigieg.”
By Jon Queally
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was interrupted at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Friday by climate activists angered by the former South Bend, Indiana mayor’s lackluster approach to the climate crisis and his campaign’s continued reliance on fossil fuel money.
“I can’t make out your song, but we definitely want the same things,” Buttigieg told the group of climate action advocates who broke out in song and held up signs reading “Pete Takes Money From Fossil Fuel Billionaires” during the candidate’s remarks at the event in Concord.
Buttigieg countered the protest and criticism by tell the crowd there was some “inaccurate information going up here” and noting that he “took the fossil fuel pledge” and is “determined to bring about solutions on climate change.”
While Buttigieg has, in fact, signed the “No Fossil Fuel Money” pledge, critics of the candidate point out that his continued openness to PACs and high-dollar bundlers means it’s impossible to know exactly which individuals and what kind of corporate interests are backing and funding his campaign.
Climate activists crashed this Buttigieg event with signs that referenced his reported fossil fuel hypocrisy pic.twitter.com/f3GhiRSEqT
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 17, 2020
It has been widely noted that billionaire Craig Hall, host of the infamous “wine cave” fundraiser for Buttigieg late in 2019, amassed much of his fortune with investments in the fossil fuel sector. Mayor Pete’s campaign, as HuffPost reports, has argued that someone like Hall doesn’t count against the pledge “because he is a real estate executive who invested in fossil fuels, not the other way around.”
Pete Buttigieg had a fundraiser held by Craig Hall, who owns an energy investment firm that has made billions from fossil fuels. Can we trust him to act on climate? #NoFossilFuelMoney pic.twitter.com/tB9frJZpRZ
— 350 New Hampshire Action (@350NH_ACTION) January 17, 2020
Griffin Sinclair Wingate, a spokesperson for New Hampshire Youth Movement, one of the groups behind the protest, told Fox News: “We are really concerned about candidates who have taken money from fossil-fuel executives. So that includes Joe Biden as well as Pete Buttigieg.”
Buttigieg, said Wingate, “hosted a fundraiser in a wine cellar or wine cave with Craig Hall, who runs a firm that funds fossil fuel infrastructure projects. As a young person who’s really concerned about climate change and knows that our lives are threatened by the climate crisis, we cannot have a president who is taking money from fossil-fuel executives.”
Kevin Donohoe, the campaign’s New Hampshire communications director, pushed back on the accusations. “We do not accept contributions from registered federal lobbyists, corporate PACs or the fossil fuel industry,” Donohoe said, “and the only promise any donor will ever get from Pete is that he will use their donations to defeat Donald Trump.”This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License