CHICAGO (CBS) — The economic impact of coronavirus is still unfolding.
On Wednesday, Congress asked for more than eight billion dollars in funding for the fight. So how much are taxpayers on the hook for in Chicago?
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole breaks down how you paid for it.
Those billions, federal tax dollars can’t come soon enough. Take the Chicago Department of Public Health, for example. It has already had to look beyond its budget, and use general city dollars to combat the spread of coronavirus.
From the busy urban streets of Chicago to the controlled hallways of suburban hospitals, at last count the state of Illinois has tested dozens for coronavirus.
Of those who tested negative, so far 120 individuals. Of them are among the 250 or so being watched for symptoms. It’s part of an effort that comes at a price.
“Just at the Chicago Department of Public Health, we were spending $150,000 a week on our costs. Which is a lot,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
She said most are personnel costs and she broke down some of the numbers.
At O’Hare, staff have been assigned seven days a week, monitoring returning travelers and arranging for health screenings. For manning call centers to working into the evening on interviews and analysis, 100 staffers are now logging their overtime. And there’s more.
“We also have practical costs paying for quarantine facilities and paying for supplies,” Arwady said. “We have been advocating hard at the federal level looking for reimbursement.”
The city of Chicago already received nine million dollars annually form the CDC for general health preparedness. The lion’s share already spoken for.
“We have used most of that funding at this point,” Arwady said.
Some help is already on the way, to help pay for everything from staffing to supplies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just announced $1.75 million earmarked for Chicago to help tackle the spread of coronavirus.
“We do expect to continue to identify new cases both in the U.S. and likely in the Chicago area,” Arwady noted.
The Chicago Department of Public Health has been in a similar situation before, when it had to tackle ebola and zika virus scares. In those occasions, federal funds helped pay the bills.
One example of what many communities are going through.