Pennsylvanians and our state government stand at a very important juncture in the battle against the global COVID-19 pandemic. The decisions we make right now will have significant effects on our Commonwealth’s residents for years to come.
That is why my colleagues in the state House and I have advanced an aggressive agenda to provide short-term relief and promote a long-term recovery for Pennsylvania.
We provided short-term relief in the form of nearly $1 billion in combined state and federal funding to help families, restaurants and other small businesses directly affected by the pandemic. That money will help families put food on their tables and small businesses to keep their operations up and running.
While this short-term relief is essential, it does not address the underlying problems associated with the pandemic. Long-term solutions will require rapid deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.
The federal government worked with private-sector pharmaceutical companies on an extremely aggressive timeline to deliver multiple vaccines less than a year after the initial outbreak. Those vaccines, however, are only effective if they make it out of storage and into Pennsylvanians’ arms.
While the pace of vaccine development was amazing, the pace of vaccine deployment has been aggravating. The federal government essentially handed the vaccine over to the states, and Pennsylvania has woefully underperformed many other states. We have doses of vaccine and people who need them, but the bureaucrats at the Pennsylvania Department of Health are having trouble getting both at the same place at the same time.
That is why my colleagues in the state House and I recently approved legislation to bring the Pennsylvania National Guard into the process of distributing the vaccine. The National Guard is trained and prepared to complete difficult missions in trying conditions.
In addition to working to overcome bureaucratic mismanagement, local vaccine providers also recently had to deal with weather-related delays in vaccine shipments. My district office staff and I recently received an influx of calls from residents concerned about their ability to get their second shots of the Moderna vaccine on time.
I spoke with representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Health as well as officials from local vaccine providers like Wind Gap Community Pharmacy. The local providers worked with residents to reschedule appointments and get them their second doses.
The hard work of developing and distributing the vaccine is necessary to set the stage for Pennsylvania’s economic recovery. The vaccine will help workers feel safer at their jobs and customers feel safer shopping in stores.
There is still one man who could unilaterally derail Pennsylvania’s economic comeback. Gov. Tom Wolf still claims unilateral authority to shut down part or all of the Commonwealth’s economy by issuing a disaster declaration.
My colleagues in the General Assembly and I have given Pennsylvania voters a unique opportunity to take back some of their power from the governor. All eligible voters – regardless of party affiliation – who participate in the May 18 primary election will have an opportunity to vote to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution.
While the legal language of the amendments may sound technical, here’s essentially what I voted to give Pennsylvanians a chance to do. If you think the governor’s unilateral and arbitrary economic shutdowns were effective, then you can vote to maintain the status quo. If you or someone you know was harmed by the governor’s shutdowns and you want to curtail his authority to do it again, you can vote to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution.
I can’t and wouldn’t presume to tell you how you should vote. I will strongly encourage you – if you are eligible – to vote in the May 18 primary so your voice can be heard on this important issue.
Pumping nearly $1 billion into our economy, calling on the National Guard and enabling voters to consider amending Pennsylvania’s Constitution are big and important efforts aimed at combatting this pandemic and supporting an economic recovery. Difficult times often demand bold action.
Years from now, I doubt future generations will look back and think, “They should have done less.” My hope is that these bold actions will ensure future generations don’t look back and lament, “They should have done more.”
Representative Ann Flood
138th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Dan Massing