As the U.S. braces for spread of the coronavirus, Mike’s new policy proposal outlines a plan to prepare the country for public health crises
NEW YORK — Today, Mike Bloomberg released his public health preparedness plan that will prepare hospitals for pandemics, fully fund federal government preparedness efforts, and invest in scientific research that enables resilience to emerging public health threats.
With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning Americans that the novel coronavirus, covid-19, will start spreading within the U.S., the United States Government needs to put forth a plan immediately and improve our response to and preparedness for public health emergencies.
According to public health experts, the best way to keep Americans safe from infectious disease is to make sure all countries build public health capacity. Our globally interconnected economy necessitates that all countries maintain public health systems robust enough to contain and address new disease outbreaks. Instead of recognizing the reality of the threat, President Trump’s repeated dismissals of science have put Americans at risk. In just one example, the Trump administration disbanded the National Security Council’s Office of Global Health Security, which was meant to combat emerging threats. Further, he has recommended cuts to the CDC’s funding, leaving the country and its citizens in a vulnerable position.
Now more than ever the country needs a strong, experienced leader with a rational plan. As president, Mike will prioritize and oversee a whole-of-government approach to protecting Americans against pandemics. He will work with the World Health Organization (WHO) and allies to build, support, and sustain public health infrastructure around the world. He will also support our nation’s scientists, fully fund the CDC and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to conduct health initiatives both at home and abroad, and double the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding.
The Key Elements of Mike’s Plan:
Prepare hospitals for national emergencies. Mike will require that all hospitals comply with national emergency preparedness requirements. Most large-city hospitals have the resources to train their clinicians, practice response scenarios, and share resources with local health leaders, as required. But given high staff turnover, Mike will require continuous staff training. At smaller hospitals, which may not have adequate resources, the federal Hospital Preparedness Program will provide extra support as needed – including funding for masks, IV fluids and other critical supplies that need to be stockpiled in advance of a public health crisis. Furthermore, Mike’s plan will:
- Fully fund the Hospital Preparedness Program which has had its budget halved from FY 2003 to FY 2017 (from approximately $515 million to $255 million).
- Strengthen training guidelines to make sure that hospitals plan for disasters by coordinating with federal, state, tribal, regional and local public health officials.
- Fund emergency response equipment stockpiles for rural hospitals that need the assistance.
Fully fund the CDC Center for Preparedness and Response. Preparedness begins before a new pathogen or virus emerges. Because the current White House has repeatedly cut funding for CDC preparedness efforts, it is now scrambling to prepare for covid-19, requesting emergency funds from Congress. Mike will fully fund the CDC Center for Preparedness and Response – including the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which helps U.S. state and local health departments get ready for health disasters. He will also create an emerging infectious disease fund for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to rapidly support development of countermeasures – diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines – without waiting for Congress to act. Under Mike’s leadership, the CDC will:
- Study medical supply chains and develop contingency plans for supply disruptions. If necessary, establish a manufacturing base in the U.S. for essential drugs and vaccines.
- Provide clear, factual communication about efforts to contain new viruses or other pathogens when they first emerge. These steps might include isolating people who are sick or have been exposed to the pathogen, announcing travel advisories or even temporarily closing schools as needed.
- Base all public health interventions on evidence.
Invest in international preparedness. The Trump White House eliminated the Office of Global Health Security at the National Security Council. Mike will reestablish the NSC’s Office of Global Health Security to prepare for and respond to disease and bioterrorism threats, including pandemics. This office will coordinate actions across all federal agencies and state and local governments. In addition, Mike will invest in efforts that help countries around the world strengthen their public health responses. These steps will include:
- Funding the CDC to research and respond to global health threats through Global Health Security Agenda, which helps other countries build up their public health systems.
- Restore funding for USAID programs such as the Preparedness and Response project, which builds public health systems abroad.
- Rebuild international relationships and work with the World Health Organization to address global health challenges.
Invest in science to be ready for public health challenges before they emerge. The U.S. will contribute funding to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which works with international partners to fund and coordinate the development of vaccines. Mike will double funding for the National Institutes of Health and dedicate a share of this investment to research on vaccines (including a universal flu vaccine), antiviral drugs and antibiotics.
- When new viruses emerge, Mike will explain what the government is doing, in concert with private industry, to develop vaccines. Under the current administration, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) have partnered with the pharma companies Sanofi and Janssen, but they have declined to say how much investment they put behind these efforts. This leaves the public wondering if it is enough to develop vaccines to head off the emerging virus.
Mike is an experienced crisis manager who has prioritized public health throughout his tenure as mayor of New York City and in his global philanthropic efforts. As mayor, he implemented ambitious public health programs, increasing New Yorkers’ life expectancy by three years – 2.2 years longer than the national average over that time span. His policies helped cut teen smoking in half and cut deaths from heart disease by 31% in New York City. While in office, Mike decreased the number of New Yorkers without health insurance by nearly 40% from 2001 to 2013. In 2006, he unveiled a Pandemic Influenza Plan, which included disease monitoring, building laboratory capacity, delivering vaccines and medicines, and preparing hospitals, mental health providers and city communications for a disease outbreak. The plan included input from city, state, federal and non-governmental partners, including the Office of Emergency Management and first responders. Additionally, while Mike was mayor, the city’s syndromic surveillance system monitored 60,000 health events every day, from ER visits to foodborne illnesses to potential terrorist attacks.
As a philanthropist, Mike’s investments in public health total $2.5 billion, and include life-saving initiatives to eradicate polio, reduce obesity, tobacco use, and drowning, and improve road safety and maternal health. In 2016, Mike launched the American Health Initiative at Johns Hopkins University to tackle declining life expectancy in the U.S., and in 2017, started the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a global network of cities committed to confronting noncommunicable diseases and injuries. In recognition of his efforts, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was renamed in his honor.
Read Mike’s full public health preparedness plan here.