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COVID relief funding stalls

Congress stripped $15 billion in COVID funding from a spending bill. Now, the White House is warning of potential cuts to COVID-19 response without new funding.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — According to Biden administration officials, the number of antibody treatments sent across the country will be cut by 30 percent starting next week without new funding.

Supply could run out before summer.

Testing will also see reductions starting in June without new funds.

"I mean, it was hard getting them at first. Other stores were getting them, big chains were getting them," said Lori Hart, Sheeley's Drug Store.

The White House requested $22.5 billion in emergency funding.

Right now, the federal government does not have the resources to buy enough booster vaccine doses for all Americans if additional doses are needed.

Owners of family-run pharmacies, like Sheeley's Drug Store Linden Street in Scranton, say this is a big concern, especially for those who are uninsured. They won't be able to file claims for testing, vaccinations, and other treatments in the coming weeks.

"If they take this money away, people aren't going to get it. Nobody, they aren't going to pay it. Even if their co-pay is five dollars, they aren't going to pay it," said Hart.

Right now, immunocompromised people are eligible for a fourth dose.

Eric Pusey owns Medicap Pharmacy in Olyphant. He tells us people are still getting their shots, many more could need another one down the road.

"When I first found out about it, I was totally shocked. I mean, who would pay for it? The patient probably wouldn't pay for it but what would happen is that the pharmacies would have to pay for it," said Pusey.

And what could that price tag look like?

"It will probably be 50 to 75 dollars per shot. They come in 10 doses per vile. What happens then is we would have to buy one vile at a time for 750 dollars. Well, you can't just buy one vile, you have to buy 10. That would cost us 7,500-dollars, and hope we would get reimbursed for that. No community pharmacy would be able to handle that," said Pusey.

The White House continues to push congress, though approval for more funding will need to come with an agreement from Republicans in the Senate, who are against more spending.

Watch more stories about the coronavirus pandemic on WNEP’s YouTube page. 

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