Why Should You Care?
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted massive discrepancies in healthcare access across all 50 states.
Since COVID-19 was first discovered in December 2019, The U.S. has surpassed nearly 100 hundred million total cases. And over 1,000,000 Americans have died due to the virus or its various complications.
Yet, in early 2022, President Joe Biden’s requested an additional $22.5 billion in COVID-19 funding to continue fighting the pandemic. However, even after this amount was reduced by nearly $7 billion during negotiations, pushback from both sides of the political aisle forced the funding measure to be stripped from Biden’s massive funding bill.
For now, COVID-19 case rates have plateaued across the country. But once affected, face a new risk. They risk developing a debilitating condition known as Long COVID.
After being infected with the virus, up to 50% of patients report having at least one symptom that lasts weeks or months after they first fell ill. Their symptoms range from mild—like fatigue, persistent cough, and shortness of breath— to severe and life-threatening. Some people that had severe initial cases of COVID even go on to develop multiorgan and autoimmune conditions that can last for months or possibly years.
But COVID is not the only virus that is currently plaguing our country. In May 2022, the rarely fatal Monkeypox virus first resurfaced in the United States. Since then, over 22,630 total cases have been confirmed. Male members of the LGBTQ+ community are being blamed for transmitting the virus because it is being seen in higher numbers among men who have sex with other men. Though, monkeypox is not categorized as a sexually transmitted disease.
Luckily, an FDA-authorized vaccine is already available to help prevent Monkeypox infections. However, funding for it and our federal supply remain low.
On top of COVID-19 and Monkeypox, the United States is also seeing an increase in cases of previously believed to be eradicated diseases like Polio and Measles. This is the direct result of a sustained global decline in childhood vaccination rates. In 2021, 105 million infants globally lacked full vaccination against Diptheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis. These contagious diseases cause serious illnesses in children and can even prove fatal.
It is time for the United States to become a global leader in public health and put an end to public health discrepancies around the country. We can stop the needless death of Americans if government officials and the general public support the implementation of proper public health measures when needed.
The United States government needs to do more to control both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Monkeypox outbreak. We call on congress to increase funding for testing and vaccination for both diseases.
We also believe that more support needs to be given to those suffering from Long COVID and that research needs to be done into their condition.
There also needs to be an increased effort to stop the drop in childhood vaccination and increased education so almost extinct diseases, like Polio and Measles, do not cause preventable widespread outbreaks.
What Can We Do?
- Guaranteed access to paid family and medical leave
- Expand disability insurance to include provisions for long COVID
- Renew federal funding for COVID testing and vaccination
- Increase COVID research funding
- Make the Monkeypox vaccine widely available at no cost
- Increased funding for Monkeypox testing and research
- Design and promote broad re-education campaigns about the importance of childhood vaccination.
- Broadly circulate educational materials on the effects of eradicated diseases.