The Lead

Pa. Sen. Casey: Senate could vote on coronavirus funding bill as soon as next week

By: - March 4, 2020 11:41 am

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. (Capital-Star photo).

[This developing story will be updated]

The U.S. House could vote as soon as Wednesday on a mammoth, $7.5 billion emergency spending bill to fight the coronavirus, with a vote to follow in the United States Senate as soon as next week, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said Wednesday.

Casey spoke to home state reporters on a conference call updating on the status of the virus that’s sickened tens of thousands of people worldwide, and resulted in nine deaths and 100 documented cases in the United States.

“We need to have these resources in place. We just have to do it,” the Scranton Democrat said Wednesday. “Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what we’re talking about it.”

As of midday Wednesday, negotiators were still working on the funding bill, a House source told the Capital-Star.

According to the Washington Post, the funding bill that was being negotiated on Capitol Hill “dwarfs” the $1.25 billion request the Trump White House sent to Congress last week. The Hill, a publication that covers Congress, reported Tuesday that congressional negotiators were still haggling over the final details as of Tuesday night. Among the sticking points was a question vaccine affordability, The Hill reported.

Pa. Sen. Casey calls for ‘accurate information’ on coronavirus as Dems slam Trump response

Casey told reporters Wednesday that the bill will include more money for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. It also sets aside reimbursement money for state governments contending with the outbreak.

Two healthcare professionals on the call, Dr. P.J. Brennan, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Health Center, and Mark Ross, the vice president of emergency management, at the Hospital and Health System of Pennsylvania, each underlined the need for vigilance.

“It is essential for anyone who feels they’re ill to contact their provider,” and not go straight to the emergency room, Ross said. “Going to the emergency department is not necessary unless your level of illness reaches that. By contacting your provider, we can assure that hospitals can provide care without being inundated.”

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.