Sen. Durbin discusses coronavirus with health commissioner, wants more federal funds to battle illness

Sen. Durbin discusses coronavirus with health commissioner, wants more federal funds to battle illness
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin met with Chicago Department Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady to discuss the coronavirus and other concerns in Illinois. (Source: Office of Sen. Dick Durbin)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KFVS) - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin met with Chicago’s Department Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner on Tuesday, Feb. 25 to discuss the coronavirus and other health issues in Illinois.

CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady spoke with Sen. Durbin about the two coronavirus cases reported in Illinois.

The first confirmed case of 2019-nCov was a Chicago woman in her 60s had who returned from Wuhan, China.

The second case was the husband of the first case. He had not traveled overseas, but interacted with his wife after her return from China.

In the U.S., there are 34 total coronavirus cases. Health officials report 13 are travel-related cases and 21 are repatriated Americans from Wuhan and the Diamond Princess Cruise ship.

Currently there are more than 75,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide.

At least 2,100 people have died from the illness, the majority in China.

The U.S. Congress was briefed from President Trump’s Administration about the ongoing response to the coronavirus on Tuesday.

The briefing included the White House’s urgent request of supplemental funding of $2.5 billion to combat the spread of the virus.

The funds would be used for vaccines, treatment and protective equipment.

On the Senate floor, Durbin said the funding level is inadequate.

“When you look at the efforts that are being made here in the United States and around the world, we can and should do more," said Durbin. “I support [Senator Schumer’s] request for a dramatic increase in funding for this purpose now before it spreads across the United States.”

In his speech, Durbin did not comment on how much funding he believes is needed, but wants health experts to weigh-in on the needed amount.

After his meeting with Dr. Arwady did praise the work being done in Illinois.

“I am grateful to CDPH as well as the Illinois Department of Public Health , for quickly responding to the two cases of coronavirus in Illinois," said Durbin. “I will continue to support federal assistance that helps keep Illinoisans safe and healthy in their homes, schools, communities, and neighborhoods as we confront this public health threat.”

To help answer questions about coronavirus, the Illinois Department of Public Health, along with the Illinois Poison Control Center, launched the Illinois Novel Coronavirus Hotline.

Illinoisans can dial 1-800-889-3931 twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week or email to get questions answered.

Durbin and CDPH Commissioner Arwady also discussed addressing gun violence, trauma, and health disparities in Chicago.

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