The following is a media release from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office. She was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. She is a Democrat.
WASHINGTON DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a 15-page memorandum to incoming COVID-19 Coordinator Jeff Zients and the Biden-Harris transition team’s COVID-19 Advisory Board Co-Chairs Dr. Vivek Murthy, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, and Dr. David Kessler, describing the findings from Senator Warren’s extensive oversight of the Trump Administration’s public health failures and identifying four key priorities for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to address as soon as they take office.
“Your work is critical: the myriad failures of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic have resulted in an ongoing public health tragedy that grows worse daily in the absence of federal leadership,” Senator Warren said. “You have much work to do, and I am looking forward to working with you and I have full confidence in your team to protect public health, end the pandemic, and restore the economy.”
View the Memorandum (PDF)
The four priorities as outlined in the memo are:
I. Improve transparency and oversight of pandemic response efforts to address questions about corporate profiteering and conflicts of interest, which have damaged the integrity of key administration efforts and reduced public confidence in the federal government’s response;
II. Address the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, especially communities of color and individuals living and working in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, prisons, behavioral health facilities, and other congregate settings;
III. Rectify supply chain challenges that have hamstrung the nation’s ability to control and mitigate the spread of the pandemic; and
IV. Restore integrity to politicized pandemic response efforts that have sidelined public health scientists and hampered the nation’s pandemic recovery.
“The Trump administration’s failed COVID-19 response has resulted in an ongoing national tragedy, with over 375,000 Americans killed by the disease, millions more seriously ill, and the economy in shambles. You must act quickly to turn the federal government’s response around and end this public health emergency. I look forward to working with you to do so, and I hope that these recommendations based on my oversight work over the last year assist your response,” the Senator concluded.
The Senator provides 13 recommendations for executive actions the incoming administration can take within days or weeks of the inauguration to address the four priorities outlined.
- Establish and enforce strong conflict of interest policies for all administration officials.
- Make COVID-19 contracts public and complete a thorough review of existing contracts to identify agreements that (1) have excluded common taxpayer protections from their terms and (2) appear to provide undue benefits to well-connected companies.
- Use existing compulsory licensing and march-in authorities for vaccines and treatments.
- Release FDA data and improve Emergency Use Authorization tracking and communication to providers and the public.
- Overhaul and facilitate oversight of the COVID-19 response.
- Improve demographic data collection and public reporting at CDC, CMS and other agencies responding to the pandemic.
- Improve data collection and public reporting & allocate resources to individuals in congregate facilities, including assisted living facilities, behavioral health facilities, and prisons.
- Fully utilize the Defense Production Act.
- Invest in domestic drug manufacturers through BARDA.
- Build public manufacturing capacity to develop essential drugs and COVID-19 materials.
- Empower HHS, NIH, FDA, and CDC leadership to run their agencies without political interference.
- Pursue apolitical public health communications campaigns through CDC.
- Use CDC’s full legal authority to implement public health measures.
GRAPHIC by Walsh Middle School student Isbella Parejo