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FL Congressional Delegation Urges Trump To Authorize Emergency Coronavirus Funding

Congressmen Al Lawson (left) and John Rutherford (right).
Congressmen Al Lawson (left) and John Rutherford (right).

On Thursday, Local U.S. Representatives Al Lawson and John Rutherford, along with the entire Florida Congressional Delegation, sent a bipartisan letter to President Donald Trump asking him to prioritize Florida and send the state emergency resources as it fights to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“As President Trump’s Administration disperses critical resources to combat the spread of COVID-19, it’s imperative those resources go where they are needed most,” Rep. Rutherford said. “Because Florida has a high concentration of elderly individuals who are at a high risk of developing severe and deadly cases of COVID-19, we are asking the president to prioritize Florida as increased testing, guidelines, and federal funding becomes available.”

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In the letter, the delegation asks for same-day test kits to be sent to as many testing sites as possible and for specific guidelines to help nursing homes and other sites that care for seniors. They also encourage the Trump administration to work closely with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to make sure that the state is fully reimbursed for any expenses related to coronavirus.

“When you have an epidemic of this nature, a lot of governments, especially smaller rural areas, don’t have the capacity of some of the larger areas. So we want to make sure that we put people first. One way to put them first is to let them know that the government is going to reimburse them and speed up the time it takes to get resources,” said Rep. Lawson.

The letter highlights COVID-19’s threat to Florida’s vulnerable populations:

“The World Health Organization cautions that older populations and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma and heart conditions are more susceptible to becoming severely ill once they have contracted the Coronavirus. Florida’s population is estimated to be made up of 20 percent of individuals aged 65 and over, higher than the estimated 16 percent nation-wide, and 28 percent of Florida’s nonelderly population have pre-existing conditions, slightly higher than the national percentage. Additionally, we represent a diverse state of rural, minority and indigenous, impoverished, and numerous other historically underserved communities that will require access to resources and medical infrastructure that are not currently available and will be needed to mitigate the spread of the virus to other parts of the State and the country.”

As of 5 p.m. Thursday evening there were 35 confirmed Florida-related cases of COVID-19 and two deaths, according to the state Health Department. There are 147 pending test results in the state and 476 people are currently under public health monitoring.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

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