Fl Legislature looking at $10-$20 million to fight coronavirus outbreak

This is a new image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the disease that flared in Wuhan, China, spread workwide. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Lab

House Speaker Jose Oliva said Wednesday that state lawmakers are ready to boost state spending if needed to combat the coronavirus.

Oliva, a Miami-Dade County Republican, said the House will follow guidance from Gov. Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, who is taking a leading role in dealing with the potential health crisis.

“What we have said to them is that obviously we’re going to do whatever is necessary to make sure that the people of Florida are protected. And it’s probably going to mean spending,” Oliva said.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, a Clay County Republican, told the Florida Phoenix that lawmakers are tentatively looking at spending an additional $10 to $20 million to protect Floridians from the virus outbreak.

Bradley said lawmakers would like to put the money in the new state budget that will be passed in the next few weeks. Although the new budget won’t take effect until July 1, Bradley said, the budget language will be written to make the coronavirus spending immediately available to the Department of Health and other agencies dealing with the outbreak.

Bradley noted that, under the executive order DeSantis issued on Saturday, directing state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to declare a public health emergency, that the governor can immediately access state funds if necessary to deal with the virus outbreak. Here‘s a story about preparations by Florida’s hospitals to treat patients.

Congress is working on a $8.3 billion package to address the coronavirus across the nation. Florida officials have indicated that some of the state spending would likely be reimbursed by the federal government, similar to emergency spending when the state deals with hurricanes.