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Cole Responds to Wuhan Strain of Coronavirus in United States

January 25, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) issued a statement today in response to confirmed cases in the United States of a Coronavirus strain originating in Wuhan, China. Cole is the former Chairman and current Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS).

During his tenure as Chairman, Cole in fiscal year (FY) 2017 proposed creation of an Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund to be used for quickly responding to a future or imminent infectious disease crisis that endangers American lives. Originally proposed at $300 million, the fund was ultimately initiated with $50 million in FY 2019 and the ability for unspent funding to accumulate over time. During the most recent Ebola virus outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was able to utilize up to $30 million from the fund in FY 2019 for rapid response efforts. As a result of Cole’s leadership, the CDC currently has immediate access to over $100 million in this reserve, including funds carried over from FY 2019 and $85 million from the most recent FY 2020 appropriation. 

“Whenever an infectious disease emerges in the world, the unknowns related to its cause and spread can be alarming. Fortunately, we have some of the best defenders of the public health in the United States at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Cole. “While the risk of a U.S. outbreak of this Coronavirus appears to be very low, I have great confidence in CDC’s ability to effectively monitor the situation, advise health providers and keep us all educated and informed. And thanks to the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund, I am relieved that CDC has access to immediate funding to support emergency response efforts.

“The fact that the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund has already been used twice in the less than two years since it was established shows the wisdom of creating it and maintaining CDC’s ability to respond immediately to the outbreak of diseases that threaten American lives anywhere in the world. I will work hard to ensure that this vital emergency reserve is maintained and expanded in the years ahead,” concluded Cole.