Michigan receives $14.5M from feds to help with coronavirus response

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan is receiving $14.5 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help with its response to the coronavirus outbreak, the White House said Wednesday. 

The funding comes from the roughly $8 billion supplemental spending package that Congress passed last week and that President Donald Trump signed. 

That package was targeted in part at vaccine research and development but allocated $1 billion for state and local response, roughly half of which was expected to be distributed to certain localities. Wednesday's allocation was $560 million nationwide.

"State and local health departments are on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we are deeply grateful for their work," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

"CDC is distributing this new funding extremely rapidly, as called for by Congress. 

State health officials did not immediately respond to questions Wednesday about how they intend to spend the federal health aid. 

CDC's laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus.

Michigan municipalities would also be able to apply for $350 million in "hot spots" funding in case of an outbreak, said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. 

"This is a good first step, and as we move forward I will press the administration to ensure that the federal response to this outbreak is well-coordinated and effective and that Michigan communities and health officials have sufficient resources," said Peters, who convened a hearing last week on the federal response to the epidemic.

Another pot of funding is available to reimburse states and localities for activities they already carried out related to the virus, such as testing, monitoring and infection control, according to Peters' office. 

The funding arrives as Michigan health officials reported the state's first confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 in Wayne and Oakland counties. 

The cases include an Oakland County woman with a recent history of international travel and a Wayne County man with a recent history of domestic travel — both middle aged. 

The news prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday night to declare a state of emergency. That pronouncement activated several state agencies and task forces to collaborate on response, assist local governments and slow the spread of the virus.

The Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a supplemental spending package of $320 million, including $25 million for the coronavirus response.

Schools such as Michigan State University and Wayne State University announced they would move all instruction online. 

Officials in both Wayne and Oakland counties said they were investigating the cases in their respective counties to determine with whom they've come into close contact. 

Nationwide, 998 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in 38 states with 31 deaths as of Wednesday morning, according to the CDC.

Beth LeBlanc contributed