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Important Coronavirus Update

March 2, 2020
Newsletter Archive

Good afternoon. I am sure you have seen news coverage of the global outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the tragic deaths of at least six Americans from this disease. I want to take a moment to directly address this very serious issue.

With at least ten confirmed Coronavirus cases in Santa Clara and Alameda Counties and over 100 nationwide, there is no doubt that the Coronavirus is here in our community. The most important thing we can do now is stay calm, protect ourselves with good hygiene, and immediately seek testing and medical care if we feel any of the symptoms of Coronavirus: coughing, shortness of breath, and fever.

Here are several steps you should take to prevent the spread of germs:

Practical Prevention Techniques

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Vaccinations - Stay up to date on vaccinations, including the influenza vaccine.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Maintain at least six feet of distance from anyone exhibiting obvious symptoms.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Face Masks

  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including Coronavirus.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. As a practical matter, if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should not be reporting to work and should seek appropriate medical attention.

For more information, including travel guidance, please visit the CDC’s website. For locally focused information, you can also check the websites for the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Alameda County Public Health Department.

Fighting Discrimination

It is imperative that we do not panic or discriminate in our response to this crisis. I have been deeply saddened by reports of Asian-Americans who have been verbally and physically assaulted due to incorrect assumptions about Coronavirus and race. Asian-Americans are not more likely to contract Coronavirus and Asian-American-owned businesses are not more likely to harbor the disease. We must stand united as a community against this outbreak and refrain from all forms of discrimination.

Congressional Action

Successfully combating Coronavirus will require massive federal investment and collaboration between the public and private sector. This week, the House will vote on legislation that will provide new funds and guidance for the federal government’s response to the outbreak. Here is my five-point plan stop the spread of Coronavirus in the U.S.:

1)      Topline Investment of $15 billion

  • $4 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund, Advanced Molecular Detection Program, and Global Health Security
  • $3 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—Vaccine Development
  • $3.5 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund
  • $2.5 billion for State and Local Response Grants
  • $2 billion for the USAID Emerging Health Threats—Emergency Reserve Fund

2)      Developing a Vaccine

We must bring together scientists in both the private and public sector from across the country and world to rapidly develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Relying only on private industry to develop the vaccine will be slowed by siloed information. The NIH will serve as the central hub, with participating private actors compensated for their help in development, production, and distribution of a vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration will need to fast-track all clinical trials.

3)      Increasing Testing Capacity

We must invest in rapid and scalable testing methods with resources distributed across the country, with a focus on ports of entry and population centers. This includes instrument-free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostics at point-of-care which can identify the virus at an RNA level in under an hour. Currently, diagnosis is slowed due to centralization and physical technology capacity. Investing in solutions that can be broadly distributed, operated with minimal training, and can test many samples simultaneously will be necessary to address the scale of the outbreak.

The first case of novel Coronavirus in Solano County, CA was not tested until four days after the patient arrived at UC Davis Medical Center, despite an immediate request to the CDC. Putting testing in the hands of medical officials on the ground will allow them to quickly identify and respond to new cases.

4)      Increasing Treatment Capacity

As we reckon with the possibility of a Coronavirus outbreak in the United States, we must ensure that our health care providers on the ground are adequately equipped to handle a massive influx of patients. Boosting the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund will directly fund the Hospital Preparedness Program, the Strategic National Stockpile, and the National Disaster Medical System.

5)      Protecting Health Care Workers

It is vital that we take all necessary precautions to protect health care workers on the front lines of this fight. We must ensure that hospitals and other health providers adhere to infection control protocols, that providers have the protective equipment necessary, and that cases of infected workers are handled swiftly and with top-of-line care. 

My District Office stands by to help provide further guidance and support – your safety is our priority. We can be reached at 408-436-2720 or Khanna.house.gov/contact.