COVID is global; US response should be, too

To the editor: The Eagle recently quoted Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, saying that he expects legislation in “the next couple weeks” to address the federal response to the pandemic. This public health crisis will require unprecedented amounts of aid. December’s COVID relief bill included a historic $4 billion investment in access to vaccines globally. But outside of this, Congress has done virtually nothing to respond to the pandemic outside this country.

The World Food Program projects that global hunger will double. Millions of girls could be forced into early marriage. UNICEF estimates 80 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition and diseases like measles and polio. AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria deaths are projected to rise to levels we haven’t seen in years.

The Biden Administration has called for an $11 billion global COVID-19 relief package. I’m calling on our Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, as well as Rep. Neal and our other representatives, to do more. I’m asking them to get to work passing an emergency COVID-19 package that includes at least $20 billion for global relief to mitigate the secondary impacts of COVID-19, including hunger and malnutrition in low-income countries and communities. That $20 billion should include at least $4 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as well as $2 billion for anti-hunger efforts.

The world can’t wait, and it’s no longer possible to isolate ourselves. What happens halfway around the globe will surely affect our health, too.

Linda Baxter, Great Barrington