Congress must find a path forward on COVID-19 relief funding
If we have learned anything from the past two years, it is that COVID-19 is not predictable. Case rates and severity ebb and flow with new variants, and this cycle shows no sign of ending. Although hospitalizations and deaths are declining, new COVID-19 cases have recently increased in about half of states, and many experts predict a fall surge. The situation is particularly concerning for those most at risk, including disabled people, older adults, low-income communities and communities of color, as mask mandates disappear amid a push for a so-called “return to normal.” Fortunately, we now have vaccines, tests and new treatments that can prevent illness, disability and even death. But these vital resources are only as effective as they are accessible — and Congress has just put them in limbo.
Congress adjourned for its spring recess this week before it was able to pass a supplemental COVID-19 funding relief package. This necessary relief is being held up based on the whims of several senators who want to attach an unrelated and harmful immigration policy to the bill. The bipartisan deal would provide $10 billion in supplemental COVID-19 aid, which is less than half of the Biden administration’s original request of $22.5 billion. Most notably, the latest proposal eliminates funding for global vaccination and treatment, which would have lowered the risk of new variants that travel around the globe.
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Director, Public Health