HHS declares California wildfires a public health emergency

HHS Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in California due to the wildfires raging through the state, which have thus far killed 50 people, according to CNN.

Two hospitals and eight other healthcare facilities have been evacuated due to the fires. Additionally, a smoke advisory was issued for portions of Los Angeles County.

"This declaration will help ensure that Americans who are threatened by these dangerous wildfires and who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program have continuous access to the care they need," said Secretary Azar.

HHS will work with state authorities to aid emergency response and recovery activities. It has deployed regional emergency coordinators to assist state and local health authorities and emergency response officials. Also, members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and HHS' National Disaster Medical System are ready to provide medical aid if necessary.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Disaster Distress Helpline is also available to assist California residents dealing with the wildfires.

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