FORT WORTH, Texas — Updated at 1:02 p.m. Monday to include information about the first presumptive positive case in North Texas.
After helping secure billions in emergency funding to battle COVID-19, U.S. Representative Kay Granger said Friday that more test kits for the deadly virus are on the way to Texas.
An excess of 95,000 people around the world have been infected by an outbreak of COVID-19, and more than 3,200 have died.
In the United States, the number of cases and deaths connected to the cases are steadily rising.
As of Friday, 213 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in the U.S. and reported by local health agencies.
On Monday, Collin County was the first area in North Texas to have a "presumptive positive" case of COVID-19.
Forty-nine cases involve Americans repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan and/or those evacuated from China.
Eight presumed cases are in the Houston area, and a total of 15 Americans have died from the disease.
Rep. Granger spoke with WFAA on Friday about America's efforts to contain and battle COVID-19, primarily through treatment as well as an eventual vaccine.
The Republican congresswoman of 22 years represents much of Tarrant County and is the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee.
She, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) all worked together to craft an emergency $8.3 billion funding package to battle COVID-19 that was signed by President Trump Friday morning.
Rep. Granger told WFAA that the House Appropriations Committee discussed more than two years ago how to financially battle a potential outbreak.
"We started something like this in the appropriations committee, regarding healthcare, some time ago to ask are we prepared for this? Do we have the infrastructure for this? And we did," Granger said.
But it's not as simple as it sounds.
The bill puts aside more than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines. More than $800 million is earmarked for research on potential treatments like a vaccine.
An estimated $500 million allows for Medicare providers to administer telehealth services.
The U.S. Agency for International Development gets more than $1 billion.
More than $1 billion will go to the state and local public health efforts including community health centers along with state and local governments.
More than $2 billion goes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $61 million heads the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
A lot of the money will also help fund the purchase of testing kits for the virus.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar has said that the government has shipped out kits for more than 700,000 coronavirus tests.
Azar added that four million tests would be available by next week due to the recent funding.
Rep. Granger told WFAA that the kits will go to populous counties and that North Texas will receive many.
In Tarrant County, for instance, Granger said that 800 kits are currently available to test people for the virus and an additional 800 are coming.
"It's not cheap but you can't just say that we can't afford it," Rep. Granger said. "We have to have it...we have to test people."
Due to coronavirus fears, SXSW was canceled Friday which will deal a great economic blow to the Austin area.
The festival brings in more than $300 million in revenue for bars, hotels, and restaurants.
Rep. Granger said it's possible to expect similar moves to happen across Texas regarding large events, and that it's imperative for the U.S. to start developing an effective treatment.
"We're going to have to make decisions on that," Rep. Granger said. "The faster we can respond then the less time a city like Austin, Texas will have to make a decision like that."
Rep. Granger also touched on how America is heavily reliant on China for medicines and pharmaceuticals, things that aren't rapidly being produced due to quarantines and people not working.
"It's a mistake we need to correct, we should have our own and there should be investments in our own pharmaceuticals here in America," Rep. Granger said.
More on WFAA:
- 'Prepare but don't panic' is the message from Dallas COVID-19 experts
- Granbury couples stuck on cruise ship circling off CA coast due to COVID-19 concerns
- UT Dallas baseball player to help NCAA in creating coronavirus guidelines
- VERIFY: Hand sanitizer can protect against coronavirus, but not as well as washing your hands