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Gillibrand bill would boost infectious disease monitoring at borders

WASHINGTON — As the coronavirus pandemic grows, Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand introduced a bipartisan effort Friday to increase cooperation between the U.S., Canada and Mexico regarding screening for infectious diseases at the nations' borders.

“The coronavirus pandemic presents unique challenges for New York’s border communities," Gillibrand said, adding that her legislation "would empower border communities to plan for and invest in the health workforce and services they need to combat the coronavirus outbreak, and to prepare for future public health challenges.”

The legislation would authorize $10.5 million funding annually for grants to border states, local governments, Native American tribes and health providers to plan for infectious disease outbreaks. Another new grant program would fund infectious disease detection programs and health research along the border.

The bill would also bolster the Canada-U.S. Pan Border Health Council, and its counterpart at the Mexican border, to help its efforts at addressing health issues in border areas.

Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, said the bill has bipartisan support on both sides of Capitol Hill. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the former second-ranking Republican in the Senate, is a co-sponsor.

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