ST. PAUL — Rural Minnesota must also be a priority when it comes time to dole out doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar told business owners on a web call Monday, Nov. 23.
"One thing we want to make sure we do is one, go to the people that are most vulnerable but two, make sure that we have availability in rural areas," she said.
Vaccines developed by several different drug makers for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus are already hurtling toward regulatory approval and show promising rates of efficacy. Still, they are unlikely to put a swift end to a pandemic that is spiking across Minnesota and the U.S. given the time needed for manufacturing and distribution.
Some have said that the very first doses available ought to be reserved for medically fragile populations as well as the health care workers treating COVID-19 patients. Speaking over Zoom on Monday, Klobuchar, D-Minn., said rural areas also need to be accounted for when a vaccine becomes more widely available.
In the meantime, she told small business owners from several different counties in Minnesota on the call, Congress must act to provide the necessary resources until that time comes. She named funding for disease testing and money for additional Paycheck Protection Program loans as critical components of future stimulus legislation.
Congress has yet to pass another major stimulus measure, however, and remain at odds over what terms and dollar amounts are necessary for one. With existing aid drying up and coronavirus cases surging, Klobuchar said Monday that Congress is "trying very, very hard to get a bill done by the end of the year."
The best thing to do for Americans waiting for the vaccine to be deployed, she said, is "no doubt, is to get something done now."