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ATLANTA, Ga. — Georgia physicians today blasted Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler for repeatedly failing to protect Georgians even as they profit off the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to overwhelm hospitals and sicken record numbers of people.
“Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have been missing in action on every front while a deadly global pandemic continues to claim casualties among Georgians, especially people with chronic conditions that disproportionately harm Black, Latino and low-income communities,” said Dr. Kate Miele, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Atlanta. “Sens. Loeffler and Perdue could have spent their time in Congress advocating for the resources and support Georgians need to stay safer. They could have spent the past year, from the onset of the pandemic nearly a year ago, fighting to make sure hospitals and nursing homes had enough protective equipment, that Georgia had the healthcare and financial support to get through the pandemic, and that we have a robust plan to vaccinate and protect as many people from COVID-19 as possible. Instead, Sens. Loeffler and Perdue left Georgia to the wolves while they used their privileged position to benefit from shady stock trades during the pandemic.”
On Jan. 1, Georgia reported 8,719 new COVID-19 cases, a record number. Hospitalizations are at an all-time peak in the state. Hospitals are warning patients and families of care being rationed because resources and staffing are stretched thin.
The physicians blasted Sens. Loeffler and Perdue for delaying passage of a pandemic relief package even as they are implicated in highly questionable financial transactions that enriched them and involved privileged information related to the pandemic. Sens. Perdue and Loeffler refused to support a relief package that passed the U.S. House in May — and the package they finally supported still delayed resources to struggling families.
With around 51,000 people vaccinated as of Jan. 2, Georgia has one of the nation’s lowest rates of vaccinations in the United States. Nationally, around 2.8 million people have been vaccinated as of Jan. 2. The Trump Administration had claimed that 20 million people would be vaccinated by the end of 2020, 10 times more people than what has actually been achieved so far. The lack of a national vaccine strategy mirrors the absence of a national testing strategy that continues to hamper the U.S. pandemic response. Compounding the nation’s COVID-19 challenges is the failure of the federal government to secure enough personal protective equipment and ensure adequate supply for frontline health workers. Nearly 350,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since February 2020, with 11,000 of those deaths in Georgia.
“As physicians, we are living through the nightmare of our nation’s disastrous pandemic response, and we have seen all too often our patients suffer and die because Washington politicians like Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are not doing their jobs when Georgians need them the most,” said Dr. Adam Friedlander, an emergency physician in Atlanta. “Medical professionals, emergency responders, nursing home staff and healthcare professionals are simply running out of solutions. We have been asking for more help all year, yet Sens. Perdue and Loeffler give us Bandaids when what we need is a real, comprehensive plan to contain and ultimately end this pandemic. That means more doses of vaccine, adequate protective equipment for everyone who needs it, and, to put it bluntly, real leadership where we have had none.”
The physicians’ criticism comes as Sens. Loeffler and Perdue are embroiled in a running scandal involving stock trades that appear to have been made based on insider knowledge related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sen. Perdue’s suspicious stock purchases include buying stock worth $260,000 in Pfizer, which is one of the first drug makers to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine, and purchasing stock in a financial technology company where he once served on the board at one of its lowest prices but whose CEO described the COVID-19 pandemic as “playing in our favor.” Bought at $30 a share in March, Sen. Perdue’s stock in Cardlytics was worth $138 on Monday. Sen. Loeffler sold millions in stock after she got a private briefing about COVID-19, while she and her husband then bought stock in companies that focused on teleworking and mortgage financing, two areas of the economy that are seeing upticks during the pandemic, as well as companies that stood to benefit from federal pandemic bailouts.
“When Georgians needed our leaders to protect our health and safety, they were too busy protecting their bank accounts and their stock portfolios,” said Dr. Friedlander. “As physicians, we see too many patients who can’t take time off work to isolate themselves and ensure they don’t get other people sick because they need the paycheck and they don’t have paid time off. As physicians, we have to comfort families who can’t be with loved ones in the ICUs, even as they’re dying. As physicians and as Georgians, we’re outraged that the people we entrusted to do the hard work of protecting families during a pandemic chose instead to make themselves richer, and serve as part of a dividing force rather than a unifying one.”
About the Committee to Protect Medicare
The Committee to Protect Medicare is an advocacy organization made up of frontline doctors engaging in direct advocacy and communications in support of a stronger health care system in America. To learn more: https://committeetoprotect.org/
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, January 4, 2021
NOTE: The physicians above are speaking in their capacity as members of the Committee to Protect Medicare. They should be identified only as indicated in this news release.