Citing ‘big mistakes’ made in Covid-19 fight, Khanna and Warren lead 130+ Dems calling for Congress to prevent the next pandemic

“The current administration’s response has exposed serious flaws in the country’s ability to combat large scale public health challenges.”

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SOURCECommon Dreams

As the U.S. coronavirus crisis raged on Thursday, over 130 Democratic lawmakers led by Rep. Ro Khanna and Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to leaders of both parties asking 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,” says the letter (pdf). “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 five-page letter, which Warren (D-Mass.) promoted on Twitter Thursday, is addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

CBNC reported that a Warren aide didn’t say whether Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign “was in the loop on the letter but noted that the policies it advocated for were consistent with the presidential contender’s plans as well as his ability to implement them.”

As the nation’s Covid-19 caseload and death toll have mounted in recent months—there were nearly 8.4 million infections and over 222,900 deaths by Thursday evening—Americans have faced not only the health consequences of the virus but also the economic impact, struggling to stay employed and avoid hunger and eviction.

Despite the urgent need for pandemic relief, congressional leaders and President Donald Trump and his staffers have failed for months to reach a deal on another Covid-19 package. Instead, Trump and McConnell have shifted their focus to swiftly confirming U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before Election Day.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on communities across the country and devastated the nation’s economy,” declares the lawmakers’ letter, noting the Senate’s refusal to vote on House-approved relief legislation and calling for Congress to “immediately act to provide meaningful support to the American people.”

Federal lawmakers “must also take steps, now, to prevent future pandemics from occurring,” the letter continues—before noting the Trump administration’s failures:

As the U.S. confirmed its first cases, the Trump administration failed to establish a robust testing strategy to adequately track and help contain the disease.As the virus continued to spread—disrupting schools, workplaces, places of worship, the economy, and most other aspects of life—it became evident the country was not at all prepared for such challenges to public health. It is clear that pandemics are already rapidly accelerating: animal-to-human outbreak prevalence grew six-fold from 1980 to 2010, and experts predict they will become even more common in the future.It is imperative Congress take bold and comprehensive steps now to prevent and mitigate future pandemics.

The letter features five specific recommendations, which Khanna (D-Calif.) detailed in a series of tweets Thursday:

“Taking these bold steps will ensure the U.S. is better prepared for any future pandemic and can avert the devastation caused by Covid-19,” the letter concludes. “We look forward to working with you to develop, introduce, and pass meaningful legislation to improve the nation’s response to global pandemics and reduce the likelihood that they will occur.”

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