Weekly Democratic Address
December 18, 2020
Hello, I’m Senator Patty Murray from the great state of Washington.
Earlier this year, the first confirmed U.S. case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in my state and since then, life for families across the country has been turned upside down. I know this year has been incredibly hard for so many reasons. People have fallen sick with this virus; they’ve lost jobs because of it; they have struggled to make ends meet; they have lost loved ones.
And I know our work to address the pain of this pandemic is far from over, which is why Democrats are fighting every day to get more help and make sure communities have the resources to respond to this crisis.
Things seem very difficult now, but I want you to know there is a reason for hope, too. Last week, after a thorough review of a trial conducted with tens of thousands of participants to evaluate safety and efficacy, the FDA granted its first Emergency Use Authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine.
While this is a historic scientific breakthrough, it did not happen overnight and it was not a fluke. It happened because of decades of research by scientists here in the United States and abroad into how coronaviruses work and how to develop safe and effective vaccines. We can all be proud of the investments our country has made in life-saving medical research, and of our scientists and doctors who have worked tirelessly and carefully to develop and evaluate this vaccine and who are leading us out of this crisis.
Trusted experts like Dr. Fauci have full faith in this vaccine and in the research and evaluation that brought it to us. I will be getting vaccinated myself as soon as it’s my turn, and I encourage everyone to do the same.
But while this vaccine is good news for our country, it is far from “mission accomplished”. There is so much more work to do and even the best vaccine can only protect you if you actually get it. And to go from vaccines on shelves to vaccines in arms, we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves literally and figuratively. Part of the work ahead falls to Congress, the Federal Government and local health departments.
We already know the vaccine will be free for you and your family because of laws Congress has passed, but we will also be working to make sure state, local and tribal health departments have the support and resources to distribute the vaccine quickly, safely and equitably consistent with public health recommendations, and to ensure that every community is engaged in the distribution process and has both the information and resources necessary to get vaccinated, especially communities of color who have too often been left behind in our health care system.
But there are important steps you can take, too.
First, it is critical we all continue to follow public health guidance and take the simple, commonsense steps we know can help people stay safe, and that means continuing to wash your hands, wear a mask, maintain your distance and avoid large gatherings. Because while we have a vaccine, new cases and deaths are at all-time highs. The end of this pandemic may be in sight, but it is up to all of us to help get there safely by doubling down on those life-saving steps in the months ahead.
Second, we know that making sure people get this vaccine also means making sure they get accurate science-based information about it. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation, and fighting it with facts and science is an important part of how we are going to fight and end this pandemic in the months ahead. If you have questions, turn to trusted experts, like the CDC, your local public health department, or your health care provider. This is so important because vaccines have the greatest impact when we are able to use them to establish population immunity where we are each a piece of the armor that protects not just individuals but whole countries.
The heartbreak of this pandemic has touched all of us and it’s going to take all of us to finally put it to an end. But I know we can do it based on what I’ve seen over the last few months. Scientists and experts have been doing their part to search for answers and treatments and cures. Healthcare workers have been saving lives under the most challenging circumstances. Frontline workers have been keeping our cities running and essential businesses open. Schools have been adapting to try and keep families safe and students learning. Neighbors and friends have been checking in on each other, helping pick up groceries, and pitching in however they can. So many of us have stepped up and looked out for each other, not just ourselves. It is that spirit that will help us end this pandemic and build back stronger and fairer for the future. And that leaves me looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish working together in the years ahead.