CDC Updates: Novel Coronavirus Monitoring & Preparedness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. A number of countries, including the U.S., are actively screening incoming travelers from Wuhan. 

Update – February 14, 2020

This week the World Health Organization (WHO) officially named the Novel Coronavirus “COVID-19.” The virus has now killed more than 1,000 people worldwide. Chinese health authorities have begun reporting clinically diagnosed cases of COVID-19 — more than 13,000 new cases in the past two days. The WHO, however, is only reporting laboratory-confirmed cases: 1,826 new cases since Feb. 12. There are currently 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US. 

On Wednesday, the House Labor, Health & Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee was briefed by officials from the CDC, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other public health officials to learn how the agencies are managing COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and a bipartisan group of 16 Senators sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar requesting the establishment of guidelines for state and local governments to be reimbursed for costs incurred in the federal response to the COVID-19 outbreak. More than two dozen senators, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Patty Murray (D-WA), sent a letter to the National Security Council requesting the appointment of a global health security expert to address COVID-19. The position of global health security advisor on the National Security Council has been vacant for two years. 

At least 25 public health laboratories around the country say they’re unable to test for COVID-19 cases because a test kit distributed by the CDC is delivering inconclusive results. Director of the CDC’s Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Dr. Nancy Messonier said that CDC is working closely with these states and localities to find a remedy. CDC initially made 200 of the diagnostic kits available to US labs last week after receiving emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

In addition, a group representing major U.S. airlines sent a letter to the administration yesterday offering solutions for gaps in COVID-19 data collection, in response to a CDC directive issued this week requiring carriers to collect and submit certain data to the agency about airline passengers. CDC says it needs names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers for contact tracing.  

NACCHO continues to update the media about the local health department response to COVID-19. NACCHO CEO Lori Tremmel Freeman was quoted this week in a HealthDay News story, “Coronavirus in America: Keep Your Panic in Check.” We need your feedback! NACCHO is gathering information about local health department preparedness and response activities in order to advocate for additional federal support to advocate on your behalf. To submit information about the cost of preparedness and response activities, please email Ian Goldstein, Senior Government Affairs Specialist. 

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