Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, issued the following statement after the United States surpassed 500,000 COVID-19 related deaths.

“I am deeply saddened that our nation has reached the grim milestone of 500,000 deaths from COVID-19. My heart aches for the 500,000 people who have tragically lost their lives and the millions of friends and loved ones who are left with broken hearts. Having lost my beloved sister to this devastating virus, I understand the indescribable pain so many are feeling.

“The 500,000 people we have lost are our fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and coworkers. They include many of our nation’s health care heroes – the doctors and nurses who contracted the virus while caring for their patients. They include elderly nursing home residents – people who suffered disproportionately because they are some of our nation’s most vulnerable. They include essential workers who were exposed to the virus while working to maintain basic public services and keeping our pharmacies and grocery stores open. They include people of every race and ethnicity and come from every corner of our country.

“The tragedy of this milestone is compounded by the fact that so many of these deaths were preventable. The previous administration’s failure to take this pandemic seriously – from its inception – allowed the virus to spread throughout our land, overwhelming our hospitals, shutting down much of our economy, and sickening millions.

“However, I am encouraged by the fact that President Biden and the experts he has chosen to serve in his administration are implementing a serious, comprehensive pandemic response and have proposed a $1.9 trillion economic and healthcare relief package. My colleagues and I are working hard in Congress to pass this proposal and get help to those who so desperately need it.

“I am thankful to have met with President Biden earlier this month to discuss the American Rescue Plan and the mandate we have to pass a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package that meets the scope and size of this crisis.

“From direct payments, more funding for vaccine distribution, and enhanced unemployment benefits to urgently needed assistance for our renters and homeowners, increased support for small businesses, and funding to ensure our children have food to eat – the American Rescue Plan is vital to our recovery.

“Nevertheless, we must remember that it will take a sustained commitment by each and every one of us to bring this horrific pandemic to an end. As we remember all those we have lost, let us recommit ourselves to stopping the spread of the virus so that their deaths will not be in vain.  Let us follow the scientific guidelines carefully and consistently. Let us wear our face masks, wash our hands, and practice social distancing. Let us do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

“Let us work together to end this pandemic once and for all.”