Dallas County Health Department Encouraged By Trump Response Proposal

Public health emergencies could be met with a more rapid response under a proposal included in President Donald Trump's budget blueprint.

The budget also created a new "Federal Emergency Response Fund" that would rapidly respond to public health outbreaks, such as the Zika virus, according to the plan released Thursday.

"If you have a public health emergency fund set aside, you could tap into that fund immediately," said Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.

"We have to get away from the local outbreak of the month, or the year," Thompson added.

Last year, it took nine months for Congress to approve a special fund to fight Zika.

The Federal Emergency Response Fund could cut the red tape for Zika and other infectious diseases.

Both the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been pushing for such a fund.

An emergency fund like that would have helped Dallas County in the fall of 2014, when it responded to the country's first local case of the Ebola virus.

"When Ebola came around, there was no emergency funding to tap into," Thompson said. "So you have to go to Congress to ask them for additional appropriation of funding under this local emergency."

"The emergency fund allows you to tap into that rainy day or emergency public health funding immediately to respond quickly to a local outbreak," Thompson explained.

The Trump Administration's budget blueprint doesn't provide any details about how big the fund would be or where the money would come from.

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