Covid19 Emergency Funding
It has been two years that Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, upended much of life worldwide. In America, more than 1 million people have succumbed to the disease, with millions of others suffering from some degree of infection before recovering.
Some of the discussion has focused on how many people could have been saved if the government and private sector were better prepared. If you recall in the early days, the country was in a heavily reactive mode, as it lacked sufficient stockpiles of personal protective equipment; face masks, gloves, sanitizer. In a quote that has been misinterpreted and taken out of context by some for political gain, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health advised people to hold off on getting masks because it would create a shortage for the nurses who needed them. Emergency rooms were overwhelmed, teeming with thousands of infected patients and not enough ventilators to treat the most devastating cases. There were even makeshift emergency rooms created in hospital parking lots to tend to the surge of cases.
With pandemic fatigue settled in for many, it’s easy, if not convenient, to forget those gruesome images of the early days. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way. Ventilators aren’t that frequently used for covid-19 cases, as other innovations have largely supplanted their use. There are now at least three vaccines and boosters available for all people to take who’re of a certain age. All kinds of masks are available to suit your personal comfort. Heck, the federal government has even made it possible for households to receive free Covid-19 tests, mailed directly to their home.
These measures were made possible because of the financial support Congress has approved in the past. Now, unfortunately, that sentiment appears to have withered, as the overwhelming support from prior Congressional sessions is currently not in place.
The administration has requested $22.5 billion in emergency funding that will help it provide vaccines, booster shots, therapeutics, tests and face masks for the American people. A reduced amount ($15.6 billion) was originally included in the omnibus bill that passed last week. However, it was pulled out by Speaker Nancy Pelosi after receiving pushback from governors about the reduction. Sen. John Thune — who has requested that the emergency funding measure be passed only if there’s a way to pay for it, pointed out that last-minute pull-out.
“We had a chance to get that last week, and the House progressive wing blew it up. They torpedoed it,” he said about the reduced emergency funding item.
Making sure the money is spent wisely for its intended purpose, and that Congress is trying to avoid deficit spending as much as possible, are undoubtedly worthy goals. But when people’s lives are t risk we w believe those are details that can be worked out later. We believe getting life-saving treatment and protective gear to the American people transcends budgetary concerns. The pandemic has taught use the need to be well prepared and not be so heavily reliant on manufacturing facilities in other countries to provide necessary items. The current supply chain snags that have caused inconveniences in the form of delayed shipments and record inflation is a reminder about the need to be more resilient. It starts with investment in the necessary resources and focusing on having more of these items on the ready; meaning that they be available within our borders.
Providing the funds to be able to remain on the offense in battling Covid-19 is necessary (a new Omicron subvariant called Ba.2 is already circulating in all 50 states as of this writing), and we implore members of Congress to work out their differences and provide ample funding to provide essential protection from an ominous public health threat. As outgoing coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey D. Zients, said about the emergency funding request, “This is not nice to have; this is need to have.”
It’s hard to disagree with that sentiment.