(KRON) — Nine California legislators have called on Xavier Beccerra, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, to authorize Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity funding to be used for the monkeypox response in a July 28 letter.
State and local agencies already have previously been awarded access to ELC funding for the COVID-19 response, and the letter asks that it be made flexible so it can also be used in the monkeypox response for vaccinations, testing, contact tracing and communications.
“With quick action now, we can stop the spread of this contagious disease through vaccinating, testing, disease investigation and contact tracing,” the letter reads. “Local health departments need increased funding and increased flexibility to address this issue now before it spreads further into our communities.”
California has requested flexibility in the use of ELC Enhancing Detection and ELC Expansion awards to be used in both the response to COVID-19 and monkeypox. Local health departments have received allocations of $293 million and $1.2 billion through these two funds.
“While these funds continue to be critical for our ongoing COVID-19 response, being able to leverage these funds for our immediate monkeypox response needs would be instrumental,” the letter continues.
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The letter adds that ELC funds have “greatly benefitted” state and local health departments since 1995, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has “only authorized two awards” to assist in the monkeypox response, according to the letter — ELC Strengthening Laboratory Preparedness and Strengthening PHL Preparedness through the Laboratory Response Network. These do not address “additional costs” that flexibility in funding will support.
The letter was signed by Sen. Scott Wiener of the 11th District, Sen. Susan Eggman of the Fifth District, Sen. Nancy Skinner of the Ninth District, Sen. Lena Gonzalez of the 33rd District, Assemblymember Matt Haney of the 17th District, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks of the 15th District, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago of the 53rd District, Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes of the 60th District and Assemblymember Chris Ward of the 78th District.
“We need significant testing, vaccination, contact tracing infrastructure,” Wiener wrote in a tweet. “These funds will help.”