As students are back to school and many Americans are back at the office, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again. But even after we've lived with this virus for three and a half years, the politics of COVID are still divisive.
From masking to vaccinations, lawmakers in Congress disagree on how best to protect Americans from COVID-19.
"And so here I sit without a vaccine and I won't wear a mask because they don't work either," Sen. Rand Paul said on the Senate floor Thursday.
Republican Sen. JD Vance says the country shouldn't go back to mask mandates, and he's pushing a bill to ban the reimposition of mask requirements on planes, public transit and schools.
"I got things wrong about COVID. I'm sure most people did, but we have to learn from those mistakes and not repeat them in 2023. Mask mandates were a bad idea. They didn't slow the spread of the virus, and they actually cause some problems for our kids when it comes to speech and developmental disabilities," said Vance.
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine says he expects the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee to look at the latest COVID data and what might be needed. He said he'd like to see Congress continue to fund public education efforts and new vaccine research.
"I'm wondering whether there are alternative vaccines that can be developed that would be more durable, because you want a vaccine that's both effective and our current vaccines are, but that's also durable so you don't have to keep getting boosters," said Kaine.
An updated COVID vaccine is expected to be available as early as next week. And with existing tests and treatments that are effective with the latest variant, the White House says they are prepared for an increase in cases.
"Because of the work that this administration has done with the leadership of this president, we have been able to put together a comprehensive way to deal with this pandemic, to deal with COVID-19. And we have put forth multiple tools to do that," said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
President Biden said last month he plans to ask Congress for additional funding to develop new vaccines and to continue tracking the virus.
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