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“Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness”: An Overview

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most significant tragedies of the beginning of the twenty-first century. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people died worldwide, and even more will continue to experience its health-related, economic, and political consequences throughout their lives. In this situation, the United States became one of the foci of the virus’s spreading, partially due to the delayed actions taken by the government or rather their absence for a long time. “Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness” is a policy meeting aimed, seemingly, to control the damage that a lack of prompt response caused. Nevertheless, it may alter to a degree the impact of the pandemic and enhance the situation of vulnerable demographics affected.

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Purpose, Participants, Agenda, and Logistics

The official purpose of the Senate Health Committee’s meeting was to overview the response to the pandemic, principally, by listening to witnesses and politicians, some of whom were medical professionals, express their thoughts on the topic. They discussed such crucial points as testing, potential vaccines, access to immunization, the public’s response, preparation for a future pandemic, and the possibility of a second wave (The Senate Health Committee, 2020). During the meeting, all the immediate participants have sat six feet apart and were allowed to remove their masks, while the witnesses were not present directly and engaged in the discussion by a video conference. Sen. Alexander headed the hearing, and his speech was followed by Sen. Murray’s opening statement. Sen. Romney, Dr. Frist, Dr. Khaldun. Dr. Gerberding, Sen. Collins, Sen. Casey, and Sen. Smith were the key participants who provided information on different aspects of the pandemic, varying from challenges encountered in urban areas of Michigan to the vulnerability of African American, Hispanic, and the Native population in the face of COVID-19.

The Committee

The active participants of “Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness” were members of the HELP senate committee on one side and healthcare professionals who confronted consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the other. Sen. Alexander, a right-wing Tennessee politician, is the committee’s chairman and has served as a senator for almost twenty years (The Senate Health Committee, 2020). Sen. Murray, a democratic politician representing the state of Washington, functions as the committee’s ranking member, and together with Sen. Lamar, constitutes its leadership. Additionally, the committee comprises approximately twenty individuals; currently, twelve are Republicans, and ten belong to the Democratic Party. The committee is active since the middle of the nineteenth century and is presently charged with issues associated with human rights protection in domains of labor, education, medicine, and aging. In relation to the pandemic, the committee is one of the primary authorities charged with managing its consequences and preventing similar occurrences in the future.

Vulnerable Social Groups during a Pandemic

One of the topics discussed relatively in-depth was the extent to which the pandemic affected the African-American population in Detroit and the impact of social determinants of health on the vulnerable population in general. Dr. Khaldun, the chief medical executive in Michigan and one of the four witnesses, discussed what factors render specific demographic groups more likely to be impacted by the virus. According to Dr. Khaldun, people of color often live with a lower income, take public transportation, spend more time in overcrowded places, and thus have a higher chance of being exposed to COVID-19 (The Senate Health Committee, 2020). Lower-wage jobs were named another contributing element – the African‑American population, for instance, is more likely to be engaged in sectors that have essential employers unable to work from home. Dr. Khaldun’s testimony was a response to Sen. Casey’s statement – this chain of answer-response interactions between senators and witnesses can represent the committee process after the chairman announced the outline of the hearing and its key participants.

Stakeholders’ Positions

Dr. Khaldun’s statement apropos of the situation that COVID-19 forced people of color into was overall agreed upon, as Sen. Casey affirmed that African-American citizens are the ones in the avant-garde of struggling with the pandemic. Nevertheless, this topic transformed into another: since the COVID-19 incidence and morbidity among people of color were deemed higher, Sen. Casey referred to the federal government’s position in managing such a crisis. Testing response in these communities was not efficient because of the absence of organized efforts on the national level. As an interested party, Dr. Khaldun emphasized the obstacles that the Michigan local government posed in accessing personal protective equipment. This delay resulted in more people being infected, particularly among essential workers who often belong to ethnic minorities (The Senate Health Committee, 2020). Moreover, the equipment and some of the materials used in the pharmacological industry are produced outside of the United States. Sen. Collins, a Republican, proposed to invest more in domestic manufacturing to secure a supply chain in the event of a future pandemic.

Crucial Interactions

“Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness” included a number of central interactions between politicians and medical workers, which may help the former create a more comprehensive picture of the pandemic. The discussion of the impact of social determinants of health on the pandemic’s progression between Dr. Khaldun and Sen. Casey addressed the issue of social disparities that becomes even more evident in distressful times. Additionally, a contact tracing program is an issue that is crucial to control the spread of the virus. Still, it may create distrust and privacy concerns among the population (The Senate Health Committee, 2020). Sen. Warren underlined the urgency of establishing such a program to limit the number of COVID-19 cases. Sen. Murkowski contributed to the topic, elaborating on the need for IT infrastructure to secure a contact tracing program since, currently, technological capacities in some states are deficient. In response, Dr. Frist asserted that local contact tracing and a national program are both required. Dr. Khaldun and Dr. Gerberding delineated problems that medical workers endured during the pandemic without the federal government’s vital help.

The Meeting’s Outcomes

The fourth hearing on COVID-19 resulted in the affirmation of the need for more extensive involvement from the federal government in managing the pandemic, specifically in vaccine provision, establishing nationwide testing, and contract tracing programs. Consequently, the infrastructure modernization of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Health and Human Services is seen by the committee as a step to enhance the regulating capacity for the current pandemic and the possible next one. Another outcome of the meeting is that clear division between the responsibilities of the federal government and state governments and action plans for both should be made to ensure the efficacy of taken measures. Researching further the effect of social determinants of health on vulnerable population groups and alleviating them will potentially play a significant part both during the pandemic and when it concludes for establishing life-quality standards.

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Conclusion

Conclusively, the meeting considered the most problematic aspects of the pandemic, presenting views and ideas from professionals engaged in different aspects of its regulation.

References

The Senate Health Committee. (2020). Coronavirus Response and Future Pandemic Preparedness [Video file]. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 4). “Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness”: An Overview. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/senate-help-hearing-on-coronavirus-responses-and-future-pandemic-preparedness-an-overview/

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 4). “Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness”: An Overview. https://studycorgi.com/senate-help-hearing-on-coronavirus-responses-and-future-pandemic-preparedness-an-overview/

Work Cited

"“Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness”: An Overview." StudyCorgi, 4 Jan. 2022, studycorgi.com/senate-help-hearing-on-coronavirus-responses-and-future-pandemic-preparedness-an-overview/.

1. StudyCorgi. "“Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness”: An Overview." January 4, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/senate-help-hearing-on-coronavirus-responses-and-future-pandemic-preparedness-an-overview/.


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StudyCorgi. "“Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness”: An Overview." January 4, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/senate-help-hearing-on-coronavirus-responses-and-future-pandemic-preparedness-an-overview/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2022. "“Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness”: An Overview." January 4, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/senate-help-hearing-on-coronavirus-responses-and-future-pandemic-preparedness-an-overview/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2022) '“Senate HELP Hearing on Coronavirus Responses and Future Pandemic Preparedness”: An Overview'. 4 January.

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