Durbin Discusses Violence Prevention, Pandemic Preparedness With CDC Director

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today spoke to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky about the need to address gun violence following the horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Dr. Walensky expressed support to Durbin for the Chicago Hospital Engagement, Action, and Leadership (HEAL) Initiative, which was launched in 2018 by Durbin and 10 of the largest hospitals serving Chicago. The HEAL Initiative is a collaboration to address the root causes of gun violence through economic, health, and community projects in 18 of Chicago’s neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence, poverty, and inequality.

They also discussed the importance of pandemic preparedness in the CDC’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget request. The funds would go toward investing in public health system infrastructure, data collection, lab capacity, supporting international vaccine efforts, and enhancing domestic and global disease surveillance.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis. On my call with CDC Director Walensky, we discussed funding and strategies to study, prevent, and reduce firearm violence, which is now the leading cause of death for American youth,” said Durbin. “We also discussed pandemic preparedness and the importance of sustained, robust funding for the CDC – we cannot sleepwalk into the next potentially deadly COVID wave.”