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Photo Illustrations: Covid spores loom behind the U.S. Capitol
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Conservative penny-pinching is tanking the Covid response

Some lawmakers are sabotaging the Biden administration's pandemic response — and it's going to hurt ordinary people.


Surging Covid cases across China and much of Europe are justifiably feeding concerns that the U.S. is headed for its own debilitating outbreak of the BA.2 omicron variant of the coronavirus. 

The U.S. will run out supplies of Covid treatments as early as May without more funding, the White House said this month. And thus far, conservative penny-pinching seems primed to let that happen. 

House Democratic leaders were forced to pull $15.6 billion in Covid response funding from a $1.5 trillion spending bill that passed this month. Conservative lawmakers in the House and the Senate insisted that the funds be taken from previous funds allotted in the American Rescue Plan Act. House progressives vowed to block that proposal, saying it would cause some states to lose hundreds of millions of dollars they’d already been scheduled to receive.

In a bipartisan statement, members of the National Governors Association called on Congress and the Biden administration to “ensure states and territories have the necessary resources to continue to respond to COVID-19, while also protecting current commitments from the federal government.” 

In short: no takebacks!

But a combination of conservative opposition and the significant number of people who are showing apathy toward the pandemic seems all but sure to thrust us into another surge in cases, and we don’t know what the long-term impact on both public health and the economy will be. 

The BA.2 variant accounts for around 35 percent of all new Covid cases in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week. The good news is officials believe the variant is less likely than previous variants to result in severe disease or death, particularly among those who have contracted the virus previously and those who have been vaccinated and boosted. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s prudent to let the virus run wild without a comprehensive federal response. 

We know some infected patients experience long-term symptoms that may not qualify as serious illness but wreak havoc on their lives regardless. We also know some of the critical means of stopping Covid’s spread are possible only if funds are provided to help make these things available to ordinary people. 

At a recent news conference, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s top infectious disease expert, said the administration planned to purchase 500,000 monoclonal antibody treatments but added that “we will not be able to continue to make these purchases” without additional funding. 

In the same conference, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said doctors will soon be cut off from congressionally authorized reimbursements meant to fund testing and antibody treatments for the uninsured. That will leave a large population of people vulnerable to reinfection. 

Until that happens, it’s important we call out the brazen politics at play and the conservative saboteurs who’ve cut America’s Covid response off at the knees.