COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Background & Additional Information

March 10, 2020

TAC News

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The following information about COVID-19 (coronavirus) was provided to TAC by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs:

Background: Under the leadership of President Trump and Vice President Pence, the full weight of the U.S. Government is working to protect the health and safety of the American people. Decisive action from President Trump at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak—including prudent travel restrictions and an early containment strategy—has given State and local officials and private sector partners time to prepare. In January, the President formed a Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence and comprised of subject-matter experts, to organize a whole-of-government response. The Coronavirus Task Force and broader Administration have worked and will continue to work with State-Local-Tribal officials and private sector and non-profit partners in preparing for and responding to the Coronavirus. It is important to note that at this time, the risk for the average American remains low, and all agencies are working aggressively to monitor this continuously evolving situation and to keep our partners and the public informed.

Up-To-Date Information: The most up-to-date information and guidance can be found via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Disease 2019 website: HERE. The Coronavirus Task Force holds frequent national briefings which can be viewed live: HERE. You are also encouraged to follow HHS, CDC, and other agency social media channels for up-to-date information.

  • What You Should Know (here)
  • Travel Information (here)
  • Preventing COVID-10 Spread in Communities (here)
  • Higher Risk & Special Populations (here)
  • Healthcare Professionals (here)
  • Resources for Healthcare Facilities (here)
  • Resources for Health Departments (here)
  • Laboratories (here)
  • Communication Resources (here)

Agency Resources and Contact Information: Below, please find agency-by-agency information, guidance, and contact information.

Resources – Below, please find agency-by-agency resources and guidance.

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (here)
  • U.S. Department of Education (here)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (here)
  • U.S. Department of Labor (here)
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security (here)
  • U.S. Department of State (here)
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (here)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (here)
  • U.S. Department of the Interior (here)
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (here)

Contact Information – Below, please find contact information for our Intergovernmental Affairs colleagues across the federal family. As State and local elected officials, they are your primary points of contact.

  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Darcie Johnston (Phone – 202-690-1058 / Email – darcie.johnston@hhs.gov)
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Cherie Short (Phone – 202-893-2941 / Email – cherie.short@hq.dhs.gov)
  • U.S. Department of State: Bill Killion (Phone – 202-647-7595 / Email – killionw@state.gov)
  • U.S. Department of Transportation: Sean Poole (Office – 202-597-5109 / Cell – 202-366-3132 / Email – sean.poole@dot.gov)
  • U.S. Department of Education: Susan Falconer (Phone – 202-320-6837 / Email – susan.falconer@ed.gov)
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Thayer Verschoor (Phone – 202-461-7385 / Email – Thayer.verschoor@va.gov)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Britt Carter (Phone – 202-440-0728 / Email – carter.brittanys@epa.gov)
  • U.S. Small Business Administration: Ryan Lambert (Phone – 202-615-6570 / Email – ryan.lambert@sba.gov)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: Lillie Brady (Phone – 202-845-3872 / Email - lillie.brady@usda.gov)

Local Preparedness Tips: Responses locally executed, state managed, and federally supported.

  • Ensuring clear, open lines of communication with the public and making information and guidance readily available.
  • Sharing and disseminating verified and accurate guidance and information.
  • Coordinating with State and local health authorities.
  • Reviewing local preparedness plans and strategies.

What You Need To Know: President Trump and the Administration Are Taking a Whole-Of-Government Approach to Protecting the American People

Top Line

  • The risk to the American public remains low.
  • The Coronavirus Task Force is marshalling a whole-of government response to COVID-19 and driving collaboration between Federal-State-Tribal-Local stakeholders.
  • The Federal Government has been able to provide tests to all the state jurisdictions and labs that have requested it. In addition, all state labs have the test and are empowered to conduct the test themselves. Complementing these efforts, leading commercial laboratories in the country will soon have tests available for local doctors, pharmacies, and broadly to the American public.

President Trump has made the safety, security and health of the American people his top priority from day one.

  • There is no higher priority for President Trump than protecting the health and safety of Americans.
  • In 2018, President Trump signed the National Biodefense Strategy, which improves speed of action in situations such as this.
  • While additional cases are expected, the general risk to the average American remains low, and the Administration is taking measures to keep the threat low.

Since the very beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the President has taken an unprecedented whole-of-government approach to protect the American people.

  • President Trump took unprecedented action and suspended all travel into the United States from China and has issued subsequent screening measures and guidance on travel from other impacted areas across the globe.
  • Issuing a public health emergency declaration on January 31.
  • Establishing the White House task force to combat the coronavirus spread. The Task Force is coordinating and marshalling the full resources and capabilities of the Federal government to respond to the coronavirus.
  • Forging relationships and collaboration between the public and private sectors.
  • Remained in close contact with our Nation’s governors and other key stakeholders.
  • The Washington Times: Thanks to Trump Administration, the United States has a Coronavirus Plan of Action.
  • Dr. Marc Siegel: Coronavirus Public Health Response Has Been Handled Well.

While the overall threat to the American public remains low, the President has directed the White House Task Force to take all steps to ensure the health and well-being of the American people and we are well-prepared.

  • Americans do not need to change their day-to-day lives but should stay informed and practice good hygiene.
  • There are good tried and true hygiene practices which can be very effective to reduce the chance of getting sick.
  • Travelers are encouraged to always exercise healthy travel habits when traveling and to follow appropriate guidance (see here). At this time, there are no domestic travel restrictions in the United States.
  • We are working rapidly on therapeutics and vaccines and have launched the first U.S. clinical trial for an investigational antiviral.
  • The Federal Government has been able to provide tests to all the state jurisdictions and labs that have requested it. Between March 2nd and 5th, more than 900,000 tests were distributed across the country.
  • The United States has the finest public health system in the world and knows the playbook to respond to infectious disease outbreaks.

Local, State, tribal, & Federal coordinated preparedness & response efforts.

  • Federal officials have been working diligently to communicate with State, local, and tribal officials on the Federal government’s efforts to prepare and respond to COVID-1.
  • Our Nation’s Governors have participated in-person and on conference call briefings with Federal partners on January 30, February 9, February 20 and March 2. These communications remain ongoing.
  • White House, OMB, HHS, DHS, DOT, and State Department Officials met with over 40 State, county, and city health officials from over 30 States and territories to thank them for their leadership and to continue discussions on the Federal-State-Local partnership to prepare and respond to COVID-19 (February 25).
  • HHS, CDC, DHS, and Federal partners have held numerous national briefing calls with State, local, tribal, private-sector, and community leaders.
  • The Trump Administration is partnering with State, local, and tribal elected and appointed leaders’ associations.

Recent Actions: Below, please find pertinent updates on pertinent Administrations actions.

  • Task Force Briefings (briefings are held on a frequent basis and can be viewed live here)
  • President Trump Signs the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (March 6) (transcript/video)
  • President Trump and Vice President Pence attend Coronavirus Briefing with Airline CEOs (March 4) (transcript/video)
  • Vice President Pence meets with Long-Term, Post-Acute and Palliative Care Provider Executives (March 4) (transcript)
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Announces Actions to Address Spread of Coronavirus (March 4) (more here)
  • President Trump Visits the National Institutes of Health and attends Roundtable Briefing (March 3) (transcript)
  • Vice President Pence attends Coronavirus Briefing with Diagnostic Lab CEOs (March 4) (transcript/video)