Today, Congressman Michael Guest (MS-03) voted to approve emergency supplemental appropriations for the United States to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act  provides $4 billion to increase the availability of diagnostic testing and to fund research and development of a vaccine. These funds will also be used to treat symptoms of patients who have contracted the virus and to support the Food and Drug Administration’s work to ensure that medicine and food products manufactured overseas will not reach shortage levels.

The CDC will receive $2.2 billion to support state and local response activities and ensure that any large outbreak will be met with swift countermeasures to control additional spreading and treat those impacted. Another $1.25 billion will be given to the State Department to protect Americans abroad and to assist efforts to mitigate the coronavirus internationally. The legislation also included a provision that could increase the use of telehealth in coronavirus response.

“After meeting with Vice President Pence today to learn more about the White House’s plan, I am confident the United States Government is taking all necessary steps to help prevent further outbreaks of the coronavirus, and this funding is a critical part of that effort,” Guest said. “My colleagues and I heard from scientists who are actively studying the effects of the virus and working to develop a vaccine, so I am encouraged by the strong plan in place to address this threat. This supplemental appropriations bill will fund a large, united effort to protect American citizens, treat those individuals impacted by the coronavirus, and help stop the spread of the virus in other countries. The American people should be comforted by this significant and bipartisan response to the coronavirus threat, but it is important that we all continue to stay vigilant and take proper sanitary precautions in our everyday lives.”

On Tuesday, Congressman Guest questioned Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on the efforts of the United States Government to prevent the additional spread of the novel coronavirus. Acting Secretary Wolf discussed the role of the Department of Homeland Security’s Chief Medical Officer, the importance of screening at ports of entry to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and the practicality of telehealth in identifying and treating the disease.

“Following my conversation with Acting Secretary Wolf, I’m confident that the Department of Homeland Security and Congress are taking the appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the American people,” Guest said. “My office and I are in contact with Mississippi and federal health officials, and we will continue to release relevant information as it arises.”

Congressman Guest indicated that telehealth could play a role in the identification and treatment of COVID-19 if it were to reach Mississippi. “Mississippi is a national telehealth leader, which will help us respond quickly and easily without the risk of further spread. Right now, the most important activity we can all do is continue to wash our hands, keep our hands away from our faces, and seek the advice of a healthcare provider if displaying symptoms,” Guest said.

Congressman Guest plans to provide updates from his work on the Committee on Homeland Security and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. You can access these updates by signing up for his newsletter by visiting his website.

Congressman Michael Guest Press Release