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The US Congress Must Protect the United States from COVID-19 by Supporting Action Both at Home and Abroad

Dr. Tom Frieden briefed reporters on what the United States and world need to do to prepare

Today, Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, a global health organization headquartered in New York, briefed reporters on what we know about the virus and what needs to be done to protect the United States and world. The world is on the brink of a pandemic, but just 15% of countries are even reasonably well equipped to handle it.

During the briefing, Dr. Frieden said, “There’s no way to know yet whether the COVID-19 pandemic will be mild, moderate, or severe, but what we need to do now is clear. It’s essential to improve health care safety. And Congress must protect the United States and world from this and future threats. In addition to funds for a vaccine, support for state and local health departments, and other critical needs, Congress should invest USD$1.9 billion over the next two years to better protect the United States through global partnerships that will tamp down COVID-19 and make the world safer from the next epidemic.”

The most recent data show that COVID-19 appears be more dangerous for older adults and for people with underlying conditions. In the United States, approximately 60% of adults have at least one underlying health condition.

Right now, Dr. Frieden said, there are three goals in the United States and around the world: Prevent new infections, reduce deaths among those infected, and limit social and economic disruption. The US Congress is deciding on funding levels and details for an emergency coronavirus supplemental appropriation. 

Dr. Frieden continued, “The supplemental appropriation will fail to protect our country effectively unless Congress includes $1.9 billion over the next two years to step up sustained investments in global health security. Anything less will leave us unsafe. This is not a ‘nice to have’ it’s a ‘need to have.’”

People can protect themselves and others by washing their hands, covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze, and staying home when sick.

Resolve to Save Lives created a website called PreventEpidemics.org that shows how prepared each country is for an epidemic, including COVID-19, and how many flights are coming and going from infected countries. This site is also a resource for current coronavirus statistics and resources.

Dr. Frieden also published an op-ed today calling on Congress to protect the United States by including funding for global health protection in the supplemental appropriation.

For a recording of the briefing, visit this link.

To view the slide on containment and mitigation efforts Dr. Frieden discussed during the briefing, visit this link.

Media Contacts:

Erin Sykes, Resolve to Save Lives: esykes@resolvetosavelives.org; +1.646.612.0001

Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies: choneysett@vitalstrategies.org; +1.914.424.3356

About Dr. Tom Frieden

Dr. Tom Frieden is former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and former commissioner of the New York City Health Department. He is currently president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a global non-profit initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and part of the global non-profit Vital Strategies. Resolve to Save Lives works with countries to prevent 100 million deaths and to make the world safer from epidemics. @DrTomFrieden.

About Resolve to Save Lives

Resolve to Save Lives is a five-year, $225 million initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gates Philanthropy Partners, which is funded with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is part of the global organization Vital Strategies. To find out more visit: https://www.resolvetosavelives.org or Twitter @ResolveTSL

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

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