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On March 17, 2020, the Atlanta hospital where I managed a gift shop went on lockdown due to the pandemic. After developing COVID-19 symptoms on March 26 and being gaslit by some in the medical profession, 10 weeks later I was diagnosed with COVID-19. And 10 months later I am still living with symptoms. Nothing since my COVID diagnosis has been normal. But with a new administration in the White House, I can breathe a little deeper. Finally, help is on the way.

President Biden’s priority in his first 100 days should be to help the millions of Americans hanging on by a thread by getting the strong COVID relief package he’s proposed through Congress. Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package includes plans to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days, as well as send $1,400 checks into the hands of people who need them. The President’s “National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness” that was also released outlines important steps to expand mask requirements, create a national testing board to coordinate and expand access to testing, order new guidelines to protect workers, and to safely reopen schools and business, all crucial and long overdue steps towards ending the pandemic. These plans can’t be realized soon enough.

For millions of Americans, the COVID-19 relief package is life or death. Since the pandemic began, more than 400,000 people have died and millions more will be recovering from COVID’s devastating effects long after the pandemic ends. Millions are struggling with long term health impacts from COVID. Millions more have lost their jobs. Many schools are closed and children are learning remotely. Families across the country are struggling and need help now.

For me and other long haulers out there, I’m desperate to get the vaccine. We don’t know how long immunity lasts after contracting COVID, and I’m terrified of getting the virus again. Ten months after contracting COVID, I still live with shortness of breath, chest pains and other debilitating symptoms. The promise of mass vaccination would mean that I wouldn’t need to live my life in fear of getting COVID again.

We need Congress to act boldly — and act fast. Our representatives in Washington need to put aside their differences, put aside the politics and realize that people's lives and health are at stake. Their constituents — the very people they work for — are dying or living by the skin of their teeth. We’ve seen what can happen in a year without substantial relief or a comprehensive national plan. If we continue on this path, the results will only get even worse — medically and emotionally.

We know it’s not going to be easy to get this bill through Congress. But if Congress refuses to act, they will be as complicit as former President Trump in the devastation of this pandemic. As of December, 10.7 million people are unemployed, and millions more are barely making it. Without the passage of this bill, more American people will die.

I don’t expect the Biden-Harris administration to come in and change everything overnight, but after watching President Biden’s inauguration, it feels like I can finally begin to feel hope. Hope instead of anger and outrage over our government's lack of empathy towards its citizens. Our President and members of Congress have a collective responsibility to make sure the COVID-19 relief plan passes. And we all have a collective responsibility as well. A responsibility to call each of our senators and urge them to pass the COVID relief bill.

Do your part by joining groups like COVID Survivors for Change, who are working to hold lawmakers accountable and provide a community for survivors. And most importantly, don’t give up. Hope is on the way, but we all have a job to do first.


Marjorie Roberts is a member of COVID Survivors for Change. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.