One million deaths. An unthinkable milestone when this pandemic started — and even this gruesome number doesn’t capture who and what we have lost. One million lives lost, dreams not fulfilled, families broken down, futures cut short. This loss is staggering and we have just scratched the surface of how our communities will continue dealing with this mass death and violence for many generations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 has been the leading cause of death in the United States. third leading After heart disease and cancer, the leading cause of death in the United States is cancer.
I am a Latina mother of 2 and a working Latina. I feel the pain and frustration of the pandemic in so many different ways. I have lost family members and neighbors to COVID — both old and young. My children became isolated and distant from their best friends at a time in life that should have been filled by joy and connection. They struggled with mental health and lost crucial in-person education. My elderly father suffered a devastating fall and his physical therapy, which was essential for his recovery, was delayed. My aunt Lilia, who had Lupus, passed away alone.
In the midst of all this pain, President Joe Biden dropped most pandemic controls, stopped most national tracking, failed to take even the most basic federal actions necessary to stop this pandemic. Disabled and chronically ill Americans have been left adrift — in a maskless world many of my colleagues and friends are unable to safely leave their homes.
We need quick, urgent action at the global level. It is impossible to fight this pandemic alone. It’s time: President Biden must work with Congress immediately to ensure that supplemental COVID funding includes significant global investments to end the pandemic. Our lives are at stake — and we cannot wait another moment.
Heading into our third year of the pandemic, billions worldwide still don’t have access to COVID vaccines and treatments, continuing to suffer even as pharmaceutical companies reach record profits. Globally, the less-wealthy have been left to vaccine apartheid as pharmaceutical companies sell and distribute vaccines, tests, and treatments almost exclusively to wealthy countries. Here in the U.S., it’s communities of color, low-income people and the disabled who face the greatest burden of COVID-19, in terms of death rates but also economically and socially. People who work in lower-wage areas like food and agriculture and warehouse operations, transport, and construction had higher death rates than those working in other occupations. Working in a nursing homeIt is now one of the most deadly jobs in the country.
The consequences of this pandemic are far reaching and devastating, not just for those we have lost but for the ones they’ve left behind. We have the tools and resources necessary to support our communities and fight health inequity right now — but it’s clear that what is missing is the political will to do so.
Our nation hasn’t seen mass death on a scale like this since World War II, when about 418,000 Americans died. The Atlantic’s Ed Yong puts it into perspective: “The U.S. reported more deaths from Covid-19 last Friday [March 4] than deaths from Hurricane Katrina, more on any two recent weekdays than deaths during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, more last month than deaths from flu in a bad season, and more in two years than deaths from HIV during the four decades of the AIDS epidemic.”
Is there a great reckoning of the mass violence and pain? What is more, where is our political will to fight for our families’ futures and for justice, equality, and health for all those still in pain and at risk of dying?
The Congress rejected a $15B supplemental for pandemic preparedness. This included funding for global vaccine outreach and free vaccine testing here in the U.S. Congress has not provided the funding we need to maintain a robust COVID response. Experts warn that we should be prepared for an increase in cases abroad. rise in casesThe U.S. is no exception. Failure to properly fund these efforts now can have severe and long-lasting consequences that will impact our ability to deal effectively with future surges.
Moreover, despite widespread messaging that COVID testing is free, many patients have found themselves facing bills for testing — some for over $1,000. According to The New York TimesIn 2020, approximately 2.4 percent coronavirus testing bills were sent to insurance companies. Patients were responsible for a portion of the payment. This left hundreds of thousands of Americans with unexpected bills. Patients were left with these high bills due to gaps in protections that Congress and the Trump administration put in place early in the pandemic — and our communities are still suffering. While ensuring that people trust the vaccine is a high priority, it is also critical that unexpected costs for testing and treatment don’t deter individuals from getting vaccinated.
Democrats must pass additional funding as we work to ensure safety for the global community. demandsIt is not fair to tie COVID funding to restrictive immigration policies. We cannot allow partisan distractions, anti-immigrant cruelty, to distract us from this urgent need. We can’t afford to let anyone go.
A new way of life is here — seemingly forever. But adjusting to the “new normal” is hardly enough, not when an average of 26,000 new cases are recordedEveryday brings with them the threat that more deaths, more loss and more futures will be taken too soon. All across the country, mask mandates are being lifted. We do not have any national funding to assist the infected. Americans without insurance receive little or no support.
The time to act has long gone by — our communities, our children and our families deserve better.