Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said Tuesday that Congress should act this year on “needed changes” to prepare for the next pandemic.
This, according to a press release that Alexander posted on his official website.
Alexander made his remarks during a Senate Health Committee hearing where former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist testified about his calls 15 years ago for Congress to prepare for a pandemic.
Witnesses testified as to how the federal government, states, hospitals, and health care providers should prepare for another wave of COVID-19 and future pandemics. This, based on lessons learned from COVID-19 and the past 20 years of pandemic planning, according to the press release.
“While the nation is in the midst of responding to COVID-19, the United States Congress should take stock now of what parts of the local, state, and federal response worked, what could work better and how, and be prepared to pass legislation this year to better prepare for the next pandemic, which will surely come,” Alexander said.
Earlier this month Alexander released “Preparing for the Next Pandemic,” a white paper outlining five recommendations for Congress to prepare Americans for the next pandemic.
Those recommendations include the following:
• Tests, Treatments, and Vaccines – Accelerate Research and Development
• Disease Surveillance – Expand Ability to Detect, Identify, Model, and Track Emerging Infectious Diseases
• Stockpiles, Distribution, and Surges – Rebuild and Maintain Federal and State Stockpiles and Improve Medical Supply Surge Capacity and Distribution
• Public Health Capabilities – Improve State and Local Capacity to Respond
• Who is on the Flagpole? – Improve Coordination of Federal Agencies During a Public Health Emergency
Alexander has invited people to comment, respond, and offer any additional recommendations on the white paper by Friday for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to consider.
“Looking at lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis thus far, many of the challenges Congress has worked to address during the last 20 years still remain,” Alexander said.
“Additionally, COVID-19 has exposed some gaps that had not been previously identified. These include unanticipated shortages of testing supplies and sedative drugs, which are necessary to use ventilators for COVID-19 patients.”
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