The White House will soon ask Congress for emergency funds to fight the coronavirus outbreak, after weeks of hesitation by the administration to press for additional funding, said four individuals with knowledge of the pending request. However, the amount could be significantly lower than some public health officials have argued is necessary — potentially as little as $1 billion, which could be rapidly exhausted.
Democrats have been pressing the administration to request emergency coronavirus funds since the beginning of February. While HHS Secretary Alex Azar notified Congress on Feb. 2 that he was prepared to shift up to $136 million in already approved funds to fight the virus, administration officials took pains to emphasize that the funds might not need to be transferred.
The fund would likely go to vaccine and treatment research, virus testing kits, and isolation units. In 2014 Congress approved a $5.4 billion package to address the then-surging ebola outbreak.