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The Federal Response to Coronavirus

By: Representative John Carter

Originally appeared: Round Rock Leader, March 9, 2020

Whether you’re reading the newspaper, scrolling social media or watching TV, everyone is rightfully talking about the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

It’s important that Texans are informed and prepared to deal with this new virus, but over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of finger pointing, politicizing and misinformation spreading. So I wanted to take the opportunity to update my constituents about the federal government’s response to COVID-19.

Despite widespread rumors peddled by some in the political area, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was not defunded by President Trump. In fact, the CDC recently received an increase in funding. In the 2020 appropriations bill, the CDC received an additional $636 million for an annual budget of $8 billion.

But understanding the risk that coronavirus presents for the United States, Congress went to work to allocate additional funding. Last week, Congress passed an additional $7.8 billion in emergency money to respond to the coronavirus threat. Over the last couple of weeks, I worked with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee where I serve to come to an agreement on a clean COVID-19 funding bill, and the bill was passed by both chambers with support from both Republicans and Democrats.

Within the bill, more than $4 billion is allocated to help agencies and researchers develop a vaccine, increase the availability of diagnostic tests and support treatments for those infected with the virus. An additional $2.2 billion is directly for the CDC and local and state health departments to respond.

Lastly, $1.25 billion is for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to protect Americans abroad, including facilitating evacuations and maintaining consular operations overseas in countries impacted heavily by the virus.

We do have confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Texas, so it’s important to follow the CDC’s guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, maintain a safe distance from others, sneeze or cough into your elbow and, most importantly, stay home if you’re feeling ill.

Staying up to date on COVID-19, the risk factors and active cases is important. The most straightforward information comes from the CDC, the World Health Organization and state and local health departments.

I encourage everyone to steer clear of viral and misleading social media posts, rumors and news reports from untrustworthy sources. Instead, seek the truth, be aware and follow the CDC’s guidelines to protect yourself.

Remember, Coronavirus symptoms include respiratory issues, fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. So if you’re experiencing any of these signs, seek guidance from a health care professional. If symptoms progress, the infection can cause pneumonia, kidney failure, and death, according to the World Health Organization.

As your representative, the health and safety of my constituents is paramount, and as a member on the Appropriations Committee, I’m tasked with ensuring that agencies have the appropriate funding to deal with this potential crisis.

Rest assured, I will do what needs to be done to keep Americans safe.

Rep. Carter represents Texas District 31, which includes Fort Hood, the largest active duty armored military installation in the free world. He serves as co-chairman of the Congressional Army Caucus and Ranking Member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Appropriations. Prior to his service in the United States House, John Carter was Judge of the 277th District Court in Williamson County for 20 years.

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