Congresswoman Lauren Underwood's Leadership in Times of Crisis: A Comprehensive COVID-19 Strategy
A Comprehensive Plan to Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus: As a registered nurse, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood knows that to contain COVID-19, save lives, and get back to normal, we need to follow the science. Since the onset of the pandemic, Underwood has listened to our nation’s medical and public health experts, taking the lead to advance policies that will stop the spread of the coronavirus. To safely reopen our society, we must:
- Invest in robust COVID-19 diagnostic testing: The evidence is clear: without adequate testing, we cannot control the outbreak of the virus. Underwood backed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which guaranteed free COVID-19 testing for everyone, and introduced the Health Force and Resilience Force Act to build the public health workforce that is needed to respond to the pandemic in each of our communities.
- Get medical equipment and supplies to our nurses, doctors, and other health care workers: The people on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis need and deserve personal protective equipment (PPE). In March, Underwood led a letter to the President to call for a federally coordinated effort to meet Illinois’ need for PPE. She also introduced bipartisan legislation that was signed into law in the CARES Act, which would help protect America’s supply chain for critical drugs and medical equipment.
- Provide free COVID-19 treatments: In addition to reducing financial burdens and promoting better health outcomes, free COVID-19 treatments are a critical component of “flattening the curve.” Underwood introduced a bill to ensure that people can access treatments for the coronavirus without any cost barriers.
- Prepare for the largest vaccination campaign in American history: Underwood introduced the Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act to promote recommended vaccinations, prevent a catastrophic “twindemic” of flu and coronavirus this fall, and provide our communities with the resources they need to get ready for the distribution of a future COVID-19 vaccine.
- Share science-based public health messaging: Underwood has provided constituents with important public health information to keep themselves and their families safe from the coronavirus through social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands. She has hosted virtual events with doctors and public health experts, sharing messages about heading back to school, getting vaccinated, and voting safely during COVID-19. Underwood also created a Coronavirus Community Resource Guide to provide all the latest COVID-19 information for constituents in one place.
- Ensure that reopening decisions are driven by science: Underwood knows that when it comes to the decisions keeping families up at night – whether they can safely send their kids back to school, when we can gather together with loved ones, and what it will take to get our local businesses fully restored – we must listen to science. And when the science is clear that the virus is still spreading rapidly, we must ensure that schools, businesses, and families have the resources they need to make it through this crisis.
Protecting Lives and Livelihoods in Our Community: COVID-19 is a once-in-a-century health crisis that has touched every aspect of our lives. Some of our neighbors have been hit the hardest, and that’s why Underwood is fighting to make sure everyone in the 14th District gets the support they need during this pandemic:
- Families: Underwood has proudly voted for each of the bipartisan COVID-19 relief packages that have been signed into law. Many of Underwood’s priorities were included in the legislation, like immediate financial relief of up to $1200 per person and $500 per child, child care funding, and credit protections for consumers.
- Workers: The CARES Act, which passed with Underwood’s strong backing, provided Illinoisans receiving unemployment benefits with an additional $600 per week for up to four months on top of state benefits. The CARES Act also included provisions to support independent contractors and self-employed workers. Underwood supports the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act to keep employees safe in their workplaces as the virus continues to spread across the country. Underwood also cosponsored legislation to provide coverage of the full cost of health insurance premiums for workers who lose their jobs and employer-sponsored insurance during the pandemic.
- Veterans: Before Illinois had even seen its third case of COVID-19, Underwood was already fighting to keep our veterans safe: she wrote to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) on February 28 to urge VA to conduct proactive risk communication to veterans in response to the growing public health threats of the coronavirus. In May, Underwood introduced the bipartisan No Coronavirus Copays for Veterans Act, which would ensure veterans can access COVID-19 preventive services, like a future vaccine, without any out-of-pocket costs. Underwood also cosponsored the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act, which was signed into law by the President.
- Older Adults: Underwood has championed legislation to establish a National COVID-19 Resource Center for Older Adults, protect residents of long-term care facilities, prevent the spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes, and keep our older relatives connected to loved ones during the pandemic.
- Students: The Underwood-backed CARES Act allowed for a six-month deferral on student loan payments without any penalty to the borrower for all federally owned loans. Underwood has also been fighting against the Trump Administration’s rule that would deny Illinois public schools the critical financial relief they need.
- People suffering from mental and behavioral health conditions: Underwood helped introduce the Stopping the Mental Health Pandemic Act, which would provide funding to municipalities, states, community health centers, and other health care providers to address mental and behavioral health challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. She also led a letter to demand that the Secretary of Education support K-12 schools, colleges, and universities in their efforts to address mental health challenges that students, families, and school staff are facing because of COVID-19.
- High-risk populations: Research has shown that racial and ethnic minority groups are at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, and pregnant people appear to be more vulnerable as well. Underwood has championed legislation to promote equity in COVID-19 data collection and introduced a bill to protect moms and babies during the pandemic.
- Local businesses: As COVID-19 cases began to spread in our state and small businesses were forced to close, Underwood and members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation wrote to the Small Business Administration to ensure our state’s small businesses could get the emergency financial assistance they needed. Underwood has also championed bipartisan legislation to help some of our community’s hardest-hit industries through this economic crisis, including our restaurants, transportation providers, music venues, and small businesses in need of long-term relief. The CARES Act, championed by Underwood, delivered more than $377 billion in direct support to small businesses most severely impacted by COVID-19.
- Local governments and health departments: Our towns, counties, and public health departments in the 14th District have all been under serious strain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Underwood has supported letters and legislation to get funding directly to small localities in our district and she has fought for funding for the health departments that are keeping our communities safe against the virus.
Important Health Information
Contact Information for Your County’s Public Health Department
DeKalb County: (815) 758-6673
DuPage County: (630) 221-7030
Kane County: (630) 208-3801
Kendall County: (630) 553-9100
Lake County: (847) 377-8000
McHenry County: (815) 334-4510
Will County: (815) 740-8977
Other Important Phone Numbers
Illinois Department of Public Health: (800) 899-3931
Congresswoman Lauren Underwood’s Office: (630) 549-2190