- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The Biden administration said Wednesday it will expand U.S. health staffing within Latin America as part of a broader plan to combat COVID-19 and future pandemics in the Western Hemisphere.

The White House said it will increase the number of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention experts in the South American regional office and a new Central America office in Panama.

It will send global health security staff from the U.S. Agency for International Development to seven South American countries, as requested in Mr. Biden’s budget, and help regional partners identify and combat new variants of the coronavirus.

“These activities will help the region better respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future pandemics by building the capability to prevent outbreaks, detect infectious disease threats, and respond effectively when outbreaks occur,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

The administration outlined its pandemic strategy for the region as Mr. Biden heads to Los Angeles Wednesday to host the three-day Summit of the Americas.

The summit is designed to tackle key regional issues but Mexico is sending a lower-level delegation, instead of its president, to protest Mr. Biden’s decision to exclude Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Critics of the exclusion said it will be harder to tackle Western Hemisphere issues like COVID-19 without their participation, though Mr. Biden said dictators cannot be invited.

The White House said the U.S. will aid Latin America and the Caribbean after they suffered 2.7 million deaths from the virus.

“The region has been one of the hardest-hit by the virus, with over 40% of total COVID-19 deaths reported globally, despite making up only 8% of the world’s population,” the White House said.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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