A group of Congressional lawmakers recently urged House and Senate leadership to develop policy plans to prevent and mitigate the impact of future pandemics.
In a letter signed by 134 senators and members of the House, the lawmakers pointed out that the United States leads the world with more than eight million confirmed cases and 220,000 deaths. They outlined the steps necessary to prevent future pandemics. The lawmakers also pointed out that Congress must act to provide relief to Americans suffering from the current economic downturn and public health emergency.
“As the United States continues to weather the disastrous COVID-19 pandemic, we write to ask that Congress take action to learn from the mistakes of our nation’s preparation and response and lay the groundwork to prevent and mitigate future pandemics. The current Administration’s response has exposed serious flaws in the country’s ability to combat large scale public health challenges,” wrote the lawmakers. “In addition to passing a robust package to address the current crisis, we must take bold and comprehensive steps now to ensure the nation is better prepared for the next pandemic,” the letter stated.
Among those who signed were Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA).
Steps include Congress investing in domestic programs, systems, and supply chains to improve Americans’ health outcomes, combat the spread of new disease, and ramp up public health capacity during global health emergencies. Further, they said Congress should support global public health efforts to identify and mitigate the spread of new diseases before they become global pandemics.
The lawmakers also call for Congress to create 250,000 permanent, high-paying public health jobs to rebuild the public health workforce and ensure the rapid deployment of contact tracers and other support workers during future pandemics. In addition, they said Congress must ensure that health care treatments, pandemic countermeasures, vaccines, and primary disease prevention measures are accessible for all.