Suzan Shows Up for Public Health
On Thursday this week, my colleagues and I on the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar. This was a particularly timely discussion since Washington state is dealing with the emerging threat of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus.
Our state and local public health departments are using their own limited resources to manage this threat and I believe it is crucial that Congress and the Administration provide funds to backfill our state local agencies. In our hearing, HHS Secretary Azar agreed with me that state and local governments are doing the critical frontline work in containing the spread of this disease. Already, the Washington State Department of Health has spent over $1.8 million (as of Friday, 2/28/2020) managing the emerging threat; Snohomish County has spent $200,000 just to manage and monitor individuals who came into contact with one man diagnosed with COVID-19; and King County is spending $56,000 each day to identify, monitor, and quarantine possible patients. You can watch me question Secretary Azar HERE.
Local health officials need reassurance that the federal government will backpay and provide ongoing financially support to combat this disease. With the first death of an American from COVID-19 reported today, it is important local health officials have all the resources they need. This is a national burden that our communities cannot carry alone.
If you have questions or concerns about the virus, the Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. The number is 1-800-525-0127 and press #. Other helpful resources are your county public health office (King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom) or the CDC’s website. The US Department of Education has put resources for schools HERE. You can find county-specific contact numbers below:
· King: 206-296-0100
· Snohomish: 425-339-5200
· Skagit: 360-416-1500
· Whatcom: 360-778-6000
As always, I am here to help you. If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my Bothell office at (425) 485-0085. For more updates on what I’m doing for WA01, you can follow me on social media at the links above.