In his State of the Union address, President Biden told Americans that the country has reached a new stage in the battle against Covid-19. “We are moving forward safely, back to more normal routines,” he said.
On Wednesday, the White House released a new blueprint for how to approach the pandemic as coronavirus cases wane across the country.
The 96-page National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan (overview here, full plan here) lays out four main goals for the next phase of the response to the coronavirus:
- “Protect Against and Treat COVID-19” by continuing to develop and manufacture vaccines, tests and treatments.
- “Prepare for New Variants” by monitoring heath levels, stockpiling materials and improving FDA response time for new drugs as needed.
- “Prevent Economic and Educational Shutdowns” by providing schools and businesses the supplies and guidance they need to remain open.
- “Continue to Lead the Effort to Vaccinate the World and Save Lives” by increasing the U.S. investment in the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access (Global VAX).
The implementation of the plan requires funding from Congress, however, and the Biden administration has asked for $30 billion to pay for the next phase of the Covid response. But a group of Republicans led by Mitt Romney of Utah signaled Wednesday that they might hesitate to provide any more money for the response to Covid-19 until they were satisfied that previous outlays are properly accounted for.
In a letter to the White House, three dozen GOP senators questioned the need for additional funding, noting that the federal government has already approved nearly $6 trillion for the response to Covid. The use of some of that money has come into question, and the senators cited an investigation by The Washington Post that claimed the uncover “immense fraud” in the distribution of Covid funds.
The senators also want to know more about any leftover funds that may exist, and more details about the use of the $30 billion requested by the White House.
“We strongly believe Americans should continue to take precautionary measures to protect against the pandemic,” the senators wrote, “and it must be an urgent priority that the trillions of taxpayer dollars already appropriated are being spent effectively.”