Lankford Calls on CDC to ‘Step Up’
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the Senate floor to provide Oklahoma seniors, those with comorbidities, teachers, and others who’ve received the full COVID-19 vaccine regiment with up-to-date guidance on when and in what ways it is safe to move forward with their daily lives now that they are completely vaccinated.
On February 12, Lankford sent a letter to the CDC Director requesting guidance for how people, particularly seniors, can reengage with their families and communities after they have received the vaccine. Lankford noted in his letter the specific isolation senior adults have endured over the last year since the start of the pandemic and how they need clear direction on how to balance preventative measures while getting back to normal life.
It’s the end of February, almost exactly a year ago, America was getting its first cases of COVID-19 that were being reported in the media. We were learning about it but didn’t know much at that point. We knew it had spread across China. We knew what was happening there. But in the weeks ahead and by the middle of March, just a few weeks from now, our country started going into lockdown. We experienced something we had never experienced as a country: a mandatory shutdown across the entire country followed by instructions to senior adults and people with comorbidities to stay in their homes, not get out.
For millions of those senior adults, they asked the same question almost a year ago, ‘When can I get out of my home? When can I see people?’ And the answer consistently was, ‘Once there’s a vaccine. When we get a vaccine in place, this will be better. We don’t know how long that will take, but once we get a vaccine, we’ll be able to turn this around.’ Seniors heard that over and over and over and over again for the last eleven and a half months. And now thankfully millions of seniors have been vaccinated.
We have 42 million Americans that have gone through the full regiment. In my state almost 20 percent of the adults my state have already had their vaccine. We’re one of the top states in the country by percentage getting vaccines out to individuals. Almost every person in every assisted-living, nursing home, critical-care facility, staff, and residents have been vaccinated. Almost every single senior adult in my state has been fully vaccinated, and we’re into the second round now of teachers, those with comorbidities, and other folks that’s already begun. But interestingly enough, seniors are still asking the same question, ‘I had my shot, I had my second shot. It’s now been the 10 days past my second shot, but nothing has changed.’
A couple of weeks ago I asked CDC a very simple question. It’s the question that I’m getting asked that I continue to ask CDC: when will instructions come out on what seniors need to do now? Can they get out? Can they hug their grandkids? Can they go to Walmart? Can guests come to assisted-living facilities? They were all together during Christmas and Halloween and now Valentine’s Day, and they’re used to having kids come in and sing songs and people come to be able to visit them. None of that happened last year, and now they’re asking a simple question. When will CDC give guidelines for what happens now?
CDC currently has said over and over again, ‘Wait, we’re thinking about it. We’re researching it.’ CDC needs to act on this. Seniors have been cooped up for a year. They were told months ago, ‘Once you get a vaccine, this will get better.’ And they’re now finding they had their vaccine and nothing’s getting better. They need hope. They need to know the next step.
So my simple challenge to CDC has been: do what you did for the seniors, what you did for the schools. CDC put out extensive guidelines. Here’s how schools can reopen. It’s safe to reopen schools. Here’s what needs to be done. Help our seniors out by getting clear guidelines out into the public. Give instructions to assisted-living facilities. Give instructions to these grandparents. What do they need to do now that they have been vaccinated? How much travel can they have? What are the risks? And let them make the decisions on it. Folks are counting on them to be able to lay some of the science out there, and it’s time to be able to get the information out to those folks so they can make the right decision. CDC, we need you to step up.