Governmental Public Health Leaders Request Emergency Supplemental Funding for COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Efforts

February 24, 2020

ARLINGTON, VA—In response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary's declaration that the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a public health emergency, leaders of national public health organizations, including the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), and Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), request that the administration propose and Congress pass a Fiscal Year 2020 supplemental appropriations bill to expand and strengthen global, federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local capacity and coordination to adequately respond to this infectious disease outbreak.

"Governmental public health leaders are grateful for the recognition of and investment in public health preparedness over the past two decades. Those investments have built a world-class public health system that is protecting the health of all Americans and saving lives at this very moment. However, as we move from the immediate COVID-19 response to longer term planning for sustained public health and health system involvement in COVID-19 response and mitigation, state and federal funding is quickly running out. Regular, annual federal appropriations for state and territorial emergency response capabilities are not adequate to respond to new pandemics, especially since those funds have declined by almost one-third over the last ten years," says Michael Fraser, chief executive officer of ASTHO. "We encourage Congress to provide emergency supplemental funding and address this outbreak like any other emergency where the administration proposes, and Congress provides the resources necessary to protect the health of our nation. Responding to COVID-19 requires strong partnerships between federal agencies and state, territorial, local, and tribal public health agencies. Existing resources have been critical to our cross-agency effective response, but we cannot continue to sustain that response using current resources."

This emergency supplemental funding will allow state, territorial, and local health agencies to allocate resources for the following:

  • Purchasing of new equipment to provide rapid diagnosis in state public health laboratories
  • Additional staffing support to conduct disease investigations, including clinic visits or mobile home testing teams for uninsured/underinsured persons meeting case definition who need testing to confirm infection
  • Obtaining and maintaining quarantine isolation housing capacity
  • Expanding CDC capacity to respond globally to outbreaks
  • Data analytics and surveillance systems for rapid case detection and response 
  • Transport for uninsured/underinsured persons with symptoms for medical evaluation

The supplemental request was developed in close partnership with public health officials who are on the front lines working 24/7 to protect the health of all Americans and represents a real-world view of the funding needs. These needs cannot be immediately addressed through the annual appropriations.

ASTHO, NACCHO, CSTE, and APHL sent letters to President Trump and Congress requesting emergency supplemental funding to prepare for and respond to COVID-19. View the comprehensive emergency supplemental justification for more information.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.