Feb 28, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus adds stress onto states

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

State health agencies already had enough problems, and now they face the prospect of the coronavirus — which would further stretch their limited resources, Politico reports.

Between the lines: State and local health departments are underfunded and already trying to address a bad flu season, vaping-related illnesses and the opioid epidemic.

  • The CDC's budget for state and local emergency preparation was cut by a third between 2003 and 2019.

Details: State and local officials are stocking up on medical supplies, making quarantine plans and even preparing to postpone work on long-term problems like addiction should an outbreak hit.

The big picture: "The officials say it's part of a longstanding pattern in both red and blue states: agencies that routinely are the stepchildren in state government being suddenly thrust into a new emergency with tight budgets and multiple missions," Politico writes.

Go deeper

Exclusive: Elected city officials brace for fiscal blow

Reproduced from National League of Cities; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. cities of all sizes are facing significant fiscal pressure as they try to fight the coronavirus. Many local elected officials expect that they'll have to curtail services, raise fees or draw down reserves to absorb the blow.

Where it stands: Congress and the White House reached a deal overnight to inject $2 trillion into the economy, with $150 billion set to be allocated to state and local governments, including $8 billion for tribal governments.

Coronavirus sends local news into crisis

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Dozens of local newsrooms began laying people off this week out of fear that the economic hit of the coronavirus could severely impact their ad revenue.

Why it matters: Local news was already facing dire strains in the United States. The coronavirus and a pending recession could push the industry into near collapse at a time when people need access to local news and information more than ever before.

Road not taken: Trump administration didn't use pandemic "playbook" for coronavirus

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Trump administration did not follow a National Security Council "playbook" detailing how the federal government should respond to global pandemics, Politico's Dan Diamond and Nahal Toosi report.

Why it matters: Based on recommendations from the document, the government should have started gathering personal protective equipment like masks and gloves at least two months ago in preparation for coronavirus.