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Lawmakers request money to fight COVID-19 in the event of major outbreak

Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) is requesting funds to financially support both local and federal efforts
Posted at 4:36 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 16:36:45-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus grow inside the United States, healthcare providers and lawmakers in West Michigan are aggressively trying to stay ahead of an outbreak.

Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) told FOX 17 Tuesday that he was requesting funding to help support both the local and federal virus efforts.

“We’ve been requesting full funding to support local efforts, where a lot of the care occurs especially with local health departments. We want to make sure that we can use telemedicine," Senator Peters said.

He says that while local resources are essential in a time like this, securing federal funding is also important. “We obviously need those resources, but there are also a number of other critical supplies we need to stockpile and we’re afraid you’ll find shortages at some point. And those are things like masks, gloves, as well as antibiotics."

In addition to Senator Peter's announcement, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday that she had formed 4 different task forces to approach the situation with the COVID-19 virus.

“While there have been no confirmed cases in Michigan yet, we must recognize that this virus has the potential to impact nearly every aspect of our lives,” the Governor said in a statement Tuesday.

While politicians work in Washington DC and Lansing to secure the funds needed to wage a fight against the virus, healthcare officials here in West Michigan are hard at work determining best courses of action.

FOX 17 sat down Tuesday with Priority Health's Chief Medical Officer, Dr James Forshee, to talk about preparations. “We actually had a request from the Governor's office and her team about what are we doing and what kind of coverage do we have for things, like for example virtual visits, people who have a severe illness and whether they need to be quarantined or not,” he said.

If the virus spreads as officials with the Centers for Disease Control expect it to, Dr Forshee says we could see some sectors of West Michigan life be temporarily closed.

“I think we’d see school systems close, childcare closing. We would certainly see business organizations making or asking people to work from home. And all those things are really important," Dr Forsgee said Tuesday, "they may be excessive but I think that's going to happen."

You can visit the CDC's website for the latest updates on the COVID-19 virus.