U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio applauded the Senate on Thursday for passing a measure that will provide $8.3 billion in emergency funding to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
If President Donald Trump signs the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act into law, it would secure more than $27.2 million for Florida.
“This emergency supplemental package will provide critical resources to approve therapies to help treat the coronavirus, and to ultimately develop a vaccine,” Rubio said in a news release. “Importantly, this package provides resources to Florida’s small businesses and community health centers that are going to be on the front lines of dealing with the coronavirus.
“We need to prioritize resources in retirement communities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals and places frequented by elderly populations and those with compromised immune systems. I look forward to discussing with local officials in Florida tomorrow on ways our communities can best prepare for, and respond to, the coronavirus.”
On Thursday, the Senate voted to approve the measure 96-1 with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky providing the lone opposing vote. Paul failed in his effort to propose an amendment to the bill that would have offset some of the costs with cuts elsewhere.
The measure also would provide additional funding for the U.S. Small Business Administration. “Eligible groups that have suffered economic injury” due to coronavirus would be able to access SBA’s economic injury disaster loans.
Rubio believes the coronavirus outbreak has revealed the U.S.’s dependency on China.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Rubio publicly that the COVID-19 outbreak is “a wake-up call that perhaps we are overly dependent on a supply chain so heavily concentrated in one place in the world.”
On Friday, Rubio is set to host a roundtable discussion in West Palm Beach with Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez and public health officials to talk about how the state can prepare and respond to coronavirus.
Data shows there are more than 98,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus with more than 80,000 in China. So far, 3,383 people have died.
There are more than 230 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. It includes four cases in Florida, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
There is not yet a vaccine to treat the coronavirus. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote “the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low” for the general American public.