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On March 13, 2020, President Trump formally declared coronavirus a national health emergency. The declaration unleashed billions of dollars in federal aid to state and local governments to respond to the pandemic threat.
Despite those efforts, the coronavirus pandemic led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people — mostly the elderly. It also caused severe global economic damage, destroyed thousands of small businesses across America and reshaped the country.
The entire nation has suffered crippling economic losses — some of which might have been unnecessarily self-imposed by the way our country responded with lockdowns and closures of wide swaths of our economy.
After a year, we know little about the mysterious and troubling origins of the virus or if our country’s response was effective and efficient. That’s why we’re asking you to ask your member of Congress to support H.R. 834, the Pandemics Require Evaluating, Planning, and Responding Effectively — PREPARE Act — a bill that would create an independent bipartisan congressional commission to answer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and help us better prepare the U.S. for future pandemic threats.
At the outset, it was appropriate that defeating the virus was the country’s first priority. But now we need to ask tough questions and uncover the facts about every single aspect of the pandemic.
Common sense dictates that we do everything possible to understand what happened so we can take steps to ensure that this type of disaster will not and cannot be repeated.
How did the pandemic start? How could it have been prevented or at least more effectively mitigated?
It is this inquisitive spirit that forms the very foundation of science, freedom of speech and democracy.
On Oct. 6, 2020 Children’s Health Defense (CHD) Chairman Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., representing thousands of families and children who are CHD members, sent a letter to members of Congress outlining important questions the elected leaders need to answer about the coronavirus pandemic.
In his letter, Kennedy asks if the virus is the product of natural evolution and if so, how did it so readily infect humans? Or was the pandemic the result of dangerous coronavirus gain-of-function research funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and being conducted in Wuhan at the time of the outbreak?
A virus escaping from a lab and leading to a pandemic is not just a hypothetical horror story — it is an historical reality. USA TODAY has reported extensively on dangerous pathogens, including Ebola, SARS and Anthrax, escaping from labs between 2004 and 2016.
Kennedy’s call for Congress to conduct a full independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19 pandemic generated 14,960 emails to members of Congress supporting the inquiry.
On Feb. 4, Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) introduced H.R. 834. The commission created by the bill would be charged with applying the best science from around the world, and it would operate transparently with public access and participation.
On Feb. 23, 28 members of Congress wrote to the principal deputy inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requesting a prompt and thorough investigation into the National Institutes of Health’s response to biosafety concerns raised about taxpayer-funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China. To date, they have not received a response.
After 9-11, the American people were left bewildered. In an effort to understand how such a terrorist attack could take place and more importantly, how it could have been prevented, Congress responded by creating the 9-11 Commission.
The devastation from this pandemic deserves the same thoughtful attention. As British Statesman Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
If we do nothing, history will hold us and our system of government accountable.