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Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 24, 2021
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, it is the end of February. Almost exactly a year ago, America was getting its first cases of COVID-19, and they were being reported in the media. We were learning about it but didn't know much at that point. We knew it spread across China. We knew what was happening there. But in the weeks ahead and by the middle of March, just a few weeks from now, our country started going into lockdown.

We experienced something we had never experienced as a country: a mandatory shutdown across the entire country, followed by instructions to senior adults and people with comorbidities to stay in their homes and not get out. For millions of those senior adults, they asked the same question almost a year ago: When can I get out of my home? When can I see people? And the answer consistently was: Once there is a vaccine. When we get a vaccine in place, this will be better. We don't know how long that will take, but once we get a vaccine, we will be able to turn this around.

Seniors heard that over and over and over and over again for the last 11\1/2\ months. And, now, thankfully, millions of seniors have been vaccinated. We have 42 million Americans that have gone through the full regimen. In my State, almost 20 percent of the adults in my State have already had their vaccine. We are one of the top States in the country, by percentage, getting vaccines out to individuals. Almost every person in every assisted-living nursing home, critical care facility, staff, and residents have been vaccinated. Almost every single senior adult in my State has been fully vaccinated, and we are into the second round now of teachers and those with comorbidities and other folks that has already begun.

But interestingly enough, seniors are still asking the same question. I had my shot. I had my second shot. It has now been the 10 days past my second shot, but nothing is changed.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked CDC a very simple question. It is the question that I am getting asked that I continue to ask CDC. When will instructions come out on what seniors need to do now? Can they get out? Can they hug their grandkids? Can they go to Walmart? Can guests come to assisted-living facilities?

They were all together during Christmas and Halloween and now Valentine's Day, and they are used to having kids come in and sing songs and people come to visit them. None of that happened last year, and now, they are asking a simple question: When will CDC give guidelines for what happens now? CDC currently has said over and over again: Wait. We are thinking about it. We are researching it.

CDC needs to act on this. Seniors have been cooped up for a year. They were told months ago, ``Once you get a vaccine, this will get better,'' and they are now finding they had their vaccine and nothing is getting better. They need hope. They need to know the next step.

So my simple challenge to CDC has been: Do for the seniors what you did for the schools. CDC put out extensive guidelines: here is how schools can reopen, it is safe to reopen for schools, here is what needs to be done. Help our seniors out by getting clear guidelines out into the public. Give instructions to assisted- living facilities; give instructions to these grandparents. What do they need to do now that they have been vaccinated? How much travel can they have? What are the risks? And let them make the decisions on it.

Folks are counting on them to be able to lay some of the science out there, and it is time to get the information out to those folks so they can make the right decision. CDC, we need you to step up.