Senate HELP Committee Reviews Federal Agencies’ COVID-19 Response

July 20, 2021 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, Former ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “committed to continuing to advance the science around COVID-19, moving more vaccines into more communities—especially those communities most at risk for COVID-19 infection—and working to improve health equity,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said during a March 2021 ( U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) hearing. She joined Anthony Fauci, MD, David Kessler, MD, and Peter Marks, MD, PhD, in sharing witness testimonies about their agencies’ response to the pandemic and how to better prepare for future threats.

HELP committee chair Patty Murray (D-WA) recognized ( the need for American unity to change the COVID-19 coronavirus’s geographic, ethnic, and economic disparities. “Even when we are all safe from COVID-19, our work to recover will not be over. We have to rebuild our country stronger and fairer,” Murray said (

Before witnesses were introduced, ranking member Richard Burr (R-NC) explained ( how the committee intends to apply findings from COVID-19 to future economic and health problems. Federal agencies, such as the CDC (, U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( (FDA), and National Institutes of Health ( (NIH), must be more proactive than ever in response to global emergencies. He challenged the organizations to analyze their approach and review systems to identify opportunities to be more agile during emergencies. “This pandemic has shown us, very clearly, how we can better prepare for the next threat,” Burr said (

Researchers and health organizations have different roles than healthcare workers on the front lines in combatting COVID-19—but they’re just as critical. Organizations such as ONS, CDC (, FDA (, and NIH ( have resources ( and materials to support healthcare workers during COVID-19 today and are applying data toward future public safety endeavors.

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