Republican refusal to pass any meaningful stimulus package means there will be no stimulus checks and no expanded unemployment benefits, but it also means there's no money for distributing a coronavirus vaccine when one is finally available.
The federal government has asked states to develop plans for distributing a vaccine by November 1st even if a vaccine won't be available yet, but if a vaccine were available it wouldn't matter in any case; there's no money to actually implement any of the plans.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proudly says they've handed out $340 million in funding to states, but that's only a small fraction of what's necessary. Trade groups representing state health departments say they've put in requests for over $8 billion in funding and that's just the beginning.
"These are all things that are needed. The government invested $10 billion into the production of the vaccine, and they don’t want to invest into the distribution,” said Claire Hannan, the executive director of Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials leading the vaccination planning. [...]
In a letter to Congressional leaders, [Association of Immunization Managers] and [Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.] said workforce recruitment and training for state and local health departments will cost at least $3 billion; $1.2 billion will be needed for cold supply chain management; $1 billion would go toward arranging additional vaccination sites and $500 million for data information system upgrades, among other costs.
“That’s the baseline number,” said Lori Freeman, CEO of NACCHO, the association for county and city health departments. “There’s probably many other needs that have to be identified to that might require additional funding.”
This follows recent reports that the Trump regime has told state governments to find and procure their own medical-grade deep freezers for storing sensitive vaccine doses in the first place.
I feel pretty confident that all of this will be handled appropriately if we replace Trump with Joe Biden but, if we don't, it's difficult to see that happening. Access to a vaccine could very well end up depending on where you live, what resources your state has, and whether or not your state government is politically interested in vaccinating their population. That's what leaving this to the states really means.
We're talking about life and death for a lot of innocent people who don't support Trump so I hesitate to call it karma, but if this is the way things go it will be red states that pay the highest human cost as many of their residents won't receive a vaccine until much later than the populations of other states.
If the average person in New York or California won't be vaccinated until next summer, I imagine an equivalent group of people in the Dakotas, for example, won't be vaccine until this time next year. North Dakota currently has the nation's highest rate of coronavirus infection, followed by South Dakota, because their Republican governors do not believe in masks or science.
Don't vote for people who want you dead.