Jersey Shore Congressman Chris Smith (R - Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer), who is the ranking member of the House Global Health Subcommittee, is calling for Congress to immediately and adequately provide emergency funding for the CDC and other federal agencies working to protect U.S. citizens amid the growing threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading.

“This week, the Trump administration is requesting at least $2.5 billion in additional funding to combat the coronavirus,” Congressman Smith said. “The President, Secretary Azar, and others have moved swiftly to identify comprehensive ways to protect US citizens and prepare for a potential pandemic.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar called COVID-19 an "unprecedented, potentially severe health challenge globally" in a Senate hearing this week, but both Democrats and Republicans feel the $2.5-billion may not be enough funding, as reported by NBC News.

The CDC reports, as of February 25, that 14 cases have been diagnosed in the United States, plus 39 cases among repatriated persons from high-risk settings (such as the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan), for a current total of 53 cases within the United States.

"While CDC considers COVID-19 a serious situation and is taking preparedness measures, the immediate health risk in the U.S. from the new coronavirus is thought to be low at this time, based on what we know. Everyone should always take simple daily precautions to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses," The CDC said in a statement. "CDC and public health authorities have implemented aggressive measures to slow and contain transmission of COVID-19 in the United States."

The CDC also recommends that all travelers avoid nonessential travel to South Korea and they've also issued a Travel Notice Level 2 for Italy and Iran, who are currently experiencing  an ongoing community spread of the coronavirus.

Congressman Smith recommends that people view the CDC website for its background on the coronavirus and its guide on actions people can take to slow the spread of a pandemic virus and protect family and friends.

“We cannot afford to underestimate the potential risk to Americans across the country,” Smith said. “We must bring to bear the full expertise, weight and resources of the federal government to help mitigate the dangers and foster real protection going forward,” he said.

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