Throughout the pandemic, I’ve remained committed to identifying and funding real needs of workers, small businesses and health care professionals on the frontlines battling coronavirus in our community. We have come a long way over the past year in responding to the challenges of COVID-19. Now, our top priority is getting vaccines to the American people.
Last week, I visited a drive-thru vaccination site at the Cabarrus Arena to get an update on the vaccine rollout in our community. Cabarrus Health Alliance there, along with the Cabarrus Rowan Community Health Centers and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, have so far administered 21,000 doses of vaccine in Cabarrus County alone.
During my visit with staff from the Cabarrus Health Alliance and incredible volunteers, I saw firsthand the progress being made to deploy vaccines. When I spoke with Dr. Bonnie Coyle and Erin Shoe of the Cabarrus Health Alliance last month, they told me they only received one week’s notice of how many doses of vaccine they would be receiving, making it difficult to plan.
I took these concerns to Governor Cooper and then to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m pleased they agreed to start giving states and providers three week’s notice, which Cabarrus Health Alliance confirmed was now happening. Also last month, North Carolina ranked 49th in vaccination rates. Today, our state ranks 12th. This is great news, but we are also the 9th most populous state. Clearly, there is still room for improvement to boost our vaccine deployment.
Across the country, our children’s education and mental health have suffered while schools have been closed. That’s why during a Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Democrats’ budget on Thursday, I introduced an amendment to provide $1 billion to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for teachers. I urged my Democrat colleagues to put partisanship aside and send a message to our teachers: we hear you, we value you, and we will make you a priority.
Unfortunately, Democrats on the committee rejected my proposal. Instead of bipartisan solutions to address real needs in our country, they opted to rush the package through our committee while tacking on a lot of wasteful spending that could instead go to helping vaccinate teachers and the general public.
Despite this disappointing setback, I will continue pursuing all measures that will prioritize our teachers and reopen schools. Data shows it’s safe for schools to reopen and critical to children’s education, health and wellbeing. It is time to put our kids first.
Last week, I got a special reminder of just how much our children can achieve when given the right tools to succeed.
Every year, I have the privilege of nominating a limited number of young men and women from our community to four service academies: the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY; the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD; the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Points, NY.
As Fort Bragg’s Congressman, it’s an honor to nominate students for service academies each year who will go on to join the next generation of brave men and women in uniform.
On Tuesday, I hosted this year’s nominees at Montgomery Community College in Troy and recognized them for their hard work and dedication to serving our country. Like so many across the country, these students have endured incredible challenges over the past year. However, they are some of the best and brightest in our nation. Meeting with them inspired me and gave me confidence that our best days are still ahead and that our country’s future is in good hands. I will work everyday to ensure they and their peers have the resources they need to succeed and fulfill their potential- in the classroom and in the workforce.
Until next week,
Member of Congress