Rep. Ritchie Torres Calls on the CDC and FDA to Address Polio Case Reported in Rockland County

Jul 22, 2022

Bronx, NY – Today, Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) in a letter, called on the Centers for Disease
Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Federal Food and Drug Administration
Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf to formally brief Congress on the federal government’s
stockpile polio vaccines. This comes after the New York State Department of Health reported on
July 21, 2022, that an individual residing in Rockland County, New York was diagnosed with
polio. This is the first reported case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade.

“For the first half of the 20th century, polio was a deeply disabling disease that struck terror in
the hearts of Americans, especially parents who feared for the health and safety of their children.
The return of polio can never be an option,” said Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “Given
the public health failures surrounding both COVID and Monkeypox, we must ensure that the
federal government has a sufficient stockpile of medical countermeasures that can be rapidly
deployed in the event of a polio outbreak.”

Congressman Torres (NY-15) in his letter asked both agencies to brief Congress to ensure that
there is sufficient federal stockpile of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics ready to rapidly
deploy should an outbreak occur.

America has a grim history with polio. Prior to vaccinations in 1955, polio was a highly
infectious and deadly incurable disease. With vaccinations being widely available, polio was
declared eradicated by the CDC in 1979. Health officials and the public accepted that polio was a
disease of the past, however given this reported case, the federal government must be prepared to
contain a possible outbreak.

“The growing threat of unvaccinated individuals and our depleted public health infrastructure,
presents a polio outbreak as a real possibility. That is why it is essential we take this first step in
assessing our federal readiness to respond to a potential outbreak,” said Rep. Torres.

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