Over the weekend, the White House’s new coronavirus response coordinator, health scholar Dr. Ashish Jha, gave an interview in which he warned of an impending wave of 100 million cases if Congress continued to stall on approving federal funding for anti-Covid programs.
“Whether that happens or not is largely up to us as a country. If we can prepare and if we can act, we can prevent that. But we're going to need Congress' help. And that's one of the key messages here is, we need the resources to fight that battle so we don't have that kind of fall and winter,” he added.
By Friday, the White House had still not shared any new information about the models Jha said the stark estimate had been based on.
Jha was appointed to his present position on April 1 and quickly took up the cause of securing funding for COVID-19 aid, which lawmakers have repeatedly punted
in favor of passing new bills providing Ukraine with weapons
. The $10 billion funding bill still sitting in Congress would increase the availability of tests, therapeutics and vaccines nationwide.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden ordered flags to half-staff to mark the “tragic milestone”
of 1 million deaths from COVID-19 in the country. The deaths have come in four distinct waves associated with massive outbreaks: the first in the spring of 2020 heralded the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic; the second over the winter of 2020-2021 was the last without vaccines; the third came in late summer and early fall of 2021 and was caused by the Delta variant of the virus; and the fourth came in the winter of 2021-2022, caused by the Omicron variant.
“If we had the resources we’d be there having those conversations today,” Jha told the Associated Press
in an interview published Friday. “The window is really closing on us if we want to be in the front of the line.”