OLYMPIA – New legislation was introduced Monday morning in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak in Washington state. House health care leads Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, and Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle, want to transfer at least $50 million from the state “Rainy Day Fund” to provide additional funding for the state Department of Health and Department of Social and Health Services. Rep. Schmick is the Ranking Member of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee and Rep. Cody is a retired nurse and chair of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.
The Cody/Schmick proposal, House Bill 2965, authorizes the funding transfer to the state disaster response account specifically for coronavirus response. It also allows DSHS to increase nursing facility payments as the department hires more nurses. That will move patients into nursing care facilities and out of acute care centers, which may be needed for coronavirus patients, freeing up more beds.
“It is important that the government be ready to address the public health needs from this outbreak and this funding is absolutely necessary,” said Cody. “I appreciate my colleagues are interested in moving quickly on this funding transfer and I am open to adjusting it as needed so that we do not have a funding shortage.”
“I think having resources readily available to fight this virus is prudent,” said Schmick.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus with symptoms similar to flu or colds, including runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, or fever. Currently there are 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington state and 6 deaths with 231 people under public health supervision for being at risk of exposure. According to the CDC, there are about 43 cases nationwide. Information on Washington cases is available on the Department of Health website.
Residents with questions can call the Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127 and press # on their phone. You can also follow the Department of Health on Facebook and Twitter and check their website for updated information.