Novel Coronavirus Spread Spurs CDC Foundation Emergency Response Fund Activation; RWJF Donates $1 Million

Atlanta, GA—In recent weeks, a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was detected in Wuhan City, China, and the virus has spread to a growing number of countries, including the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking aggressive public health measures to help protect the health of Americans, including requesting that the CDC Foundation activate its Emergency Response Fund to provide support to rapidly emerging response needs. The CDC Foundation today announced a catalytic donation of $1 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in support of this fund.

“The novel 2019-nCoV is the latest outbreak to demonstrate the importance of CDC’s global and domestic preparedness to fight contagions at home and abroad,” said Robert R. Redfield, MD, CDC director. “As a global leader in public health preparedness and response, CDC values support from the philanthropic and private sectors, as partnerships allow flexibility in meeting essential response needs.”

CDC has been proactively preparing for the introduction of 2019-nCoV in the United States for weeks, including putting out alerts, creating guidance for clinicians for testing, developing a diagnostic test to detect the virus and implementing public health entry screenings at U.S. airports, among numerous other efforts.

According to the World Health Organization, as of January 26, more than 2,000 cases of 2019-nCoV have been confirmed globally, with 1,985 cases in China and 29 cases in more than 10 countries outside of China. There have been a total of 56 deaths, all in China. CDC has announced five confirmed cases in the United States and anticipates more confirmed cases, including some spread from person-to-person.

Funds raised by the CDC Foundation through its Emergency Response Fund will be used to meet fast-emerging needs identified by CDC to help respond to the public health threat posed by this virus. These include additional support for state and local health departments, support for the global response, logistics, communications, data management, personal protective equipment, critical response supplies and more.

“Government support is essential in tackling health threats, such as this novel coronavirus,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “But we know that philanthropic and private sector support is critical for use alongside government funding to address needs that arise in rapidly evolving situations where speed and flexibility are paramount to saving and protecting lives. That’s why flexible philanthropic and private sector support is imperative. We are incredibly grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the first gift to our Emergency Response Fund, and we hope this donation will encourage others to provide much needed support.”

“For our nation’s public health system to continue to match modern global disease threats, we must remain vigilant, and support the swift response of our public health officials,” said Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “It is critical that we support the CDC and public health workers in our communities so they can work to rapidly contain threats to the public’s health.”

According to CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people such as has been seen with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China, according to Chinese health officials, reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, suggesting person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, according to CDC, it is unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.

Contributions to the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law and can be made on the CDC Foundation’s website (donate here) or by phone or mail. To discuss giving opportunities or an in-kind donation, contact Advancement at the CDC Foundation: by email at or 404.653.0790, toll-free at 888-886-4CDC.