Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is renewing a call to pass her Health Force legislation from last year, which could help aid the lagging distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. She says the new Congress and incoming Biden Administration present an opportunity to reevaluate the approach to the pandemic and create a new response strategy.
Gillibrand says the health force would invest $40 billion each year for the first two years into local health care infrastructure to help solve two problems:
"First, it will create jobs where they are needed most, boosting struggling communities and our economic recovery. Second, it will bolster our overstretched public health systems with local, trusted public health workers who can carry out vaccine distribution programs that reach every community from our biggest cities to our smallest rural towns upstate."
Numbers from the CDC show of the 13 million vaccine doses distributed, only 4.2 million have been administered. In New York State, Gillibrand says less than one in three available doses has been used. Her proposed Health Force would go beyond the pandemic and any future health crises. Gillibrand says these public health workers would be retained to address issues like opioid addiction, nutrition, and mental health.
Meanwhile, the Senate and House of Representatives are holding a joint session Wednesday to formally tally the Electoral College votes. President Trump has asked Vice President Pence in his role as President of the Senate to reject certain electors, which he has no power to do under the constitution, while a group of Republican lawmakers plans to object to electors from several states. Gillibrand says it’s clearly an attempt to overrule the will of the American people.
"I think it's instructive that even some of the most avid supporters of President Trump have declined to support this activity. It's pretty clear this is a publicity stunt. It's problematic, it's disappointing, and it's confusing for the American people. It's definitely not showing leadership."
Gillibrand says she’ll be arriving early at the Capitol, on the recommendation of Capitol police, because of protests. The session is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.