CHICAGO -- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today presented a mock check to the State of Illinois for $20,841,525. The check represents the release of funds to assist in the implementation of the comprehensive plan to further strengthen and build the public health and emergency response systems and to better prepare for bioterrorism. The City of Chicago also was presented with a check for $10,255,397.
Illinois will receive another $3,271,079 when it completes a proposal for funds to upgrade agricultural laboratory space and the state’s hospital preparedness plan. In total, Illinois has been awarded $30,140,755 in bioterrorism preparedness grants, 20 percent of which was released earlier this year. Chicago has received a total of $12,819,246.
“With this money, Illinois can now more aggressively build its public health and emergency preparedness systems, providing greater protection and care for its citizens,” Secretary Thompson said. “This is the first time that the federal, state and local governments have come together on a unified plan to strengthen our public health system and better prepare to respond to a terrorism attack. Now that we have good plans, we need to get on with building. There’s more work to do.”
President Bush signed into law in January a bioterrorism appropriations bill that sent $1.1 billion to states, territories and three major cities (Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City) to strengthen local capabilities to deal with public health emergencies related to terrorism. The District of Columbia was counted as a state in the funding formula.
In releasing details of the grant program on Jan. 31, Secretary Thompson asked governors and the three mayors, in conjunction with their health departments, to develop comprehensive plans to use the grant money to strengthen preparedness.
"We are very pleased to have our proposals for bioterrorism preparedness approved," Governor Ryan said. "Not only will this allow us to be able to respond to a potential bioterrorism attack, it also allows us to be prepared for any health emergency that might affect a large number of citizens, whether it's an influenza outbreak or another infectious disease."
The HHS money will be used to build on the work that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) had already begun after September 11 with state funds that were made available when the Governor proposed a State Homeland Security Supplemental Bill. The State supplemental provided several million dollars to IDPH to increase laboratory capacity and capability; develop communications system between hospitals, the state and local public health departments; and begin a state pharmaceutical stockpile for first responders.
These new federal funds will be used to further develop comprehensive bioterrorism preparedness plans, upgrade infectious disease surveillance and investigation, enhance the readiness of hospital systems to deal with large numbers of casualties, expand public health laboratory and communications capacities, and improve connectivity between hospitals and city, local and state health departments to enhance disease reporting.
The HHS preparedness funding is divided into two parts. HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing $918 million to support bioterrorism, infectious diseases, and public health emergency preparedness activities statewide. HHS’ Health Resources and
Services Administration is providing $125 million for states to create regional hospital plans to respond in the event of a terrorism attack. Hospitals play a critical role in both identifying and responding to any potential terrorism attack or disease outbreak. HHS experts have reviewed each state and city plan as to whether they have met benchmark criteria for these two areas.