By Katie Lannan, State House News Service

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MARCH 10 2020 (State House News Service) — State lawmakers plan to take up a spending bill next week creating a $15 million fund to respond to what legislative leaders described as “the recent and rapid rise in Massachusetts of COVID 19 cases.”

There were 41 cases of the coronavirus-caused respiratory illness in the state as of Monday night, up from eight on Friday.

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House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka announced their intent to establish the $15 million fund in a statement Tuesday afternoon, less than two hours before Gov. Charlie Baker was scheduled to provide an update on the state’s preparedness efforts.

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“Public health emergencies demand immediate action from government, and the House today, alongside its partners in the Senate, committed to taking up legislation in direct response to the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts,” DeLeo said.

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues said the spending bill “will provide an immediate infusion of $15 million to enhance our state and local response efforts to combat, contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

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(© Copyright 2020 State House News Service)