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Rush Announces Virtual Guest for President Biden's First Address to Congress

April 28, 2021

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) announced that his virtual guest for President Joe Biden's first speech to a joint session of Congress will be Verneda Bachus, CEO of Friend Health in Chicago's First Congressional District, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that provides health care to approximately 47,000 patients on Chicago's South Side in a manner that is accessible, affordable, and culturally appropriate.

Recently, Friend Health has seen a massive boost in their vaccine supply and has been able to expand their services beyond existing patients to the wider community in large part because of the $20 billion in funding for vaccine distribution contained in the American Rescue Plan. Last month, Congressman Rush announced that Friend Health would receive $6,156,875 in funding from the American Rescue Plan, along with funding for other community health centers in the First District.

"Prior to the infusion of funding for vaccine distribution contained in the American Rescue Plan, Friend Health had limited access to COVID-19 vaccines. We were struggling to meet the vaccine needs of our senior and essential worker populations, sometimes having to cancel appointments due to limited availability," said Bachus. "Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we now have a steady and stable vaccine supply. This has enabled us to expand our vaccination efforts to six days a week, including a mobile vaccine team that is ensuring access to vaccines for the most vulnerable within our service area."

"Funding from the American Rescue Plan has enabled Friend Health to establish community-based vaccine sites in some of the highest-need communities and engage additional staffing to further expand our outreach efforts. None of this would have been possible without the support of the American Rescue Plan," Bachus said.

"The American Rescue Plan has been a lifeline for millions of Americans, dramatically accelerating our ability to get the vaccine out to people and save lives that would otherwise have been lost to this dreadful disease," said Rush. "As the CEO of Friend Health, Verneda Bachus has seen firsthand how the American Rescue Plan has translated directly to shots in arms and increased access to healthcare for Illinoisans. She is a true community hero, and I'm glad have this opportunity to share her story of what the American Rescue Plan has meant for our local efforts to get the vaccine out and into arms," said Rush.

The joint address — President Biden's first speech to a joint session of Congress — marks 100 days into the President's first term. In prior years, Members of Congress often invited a constituent to join them as a guest, but COVID-19 safety protocols mean this year's in-person attendance will be limited.

100 days into Congress's work with President Biden, the American Rescue Plan continues to deliver shots in arms, money in pockets, children in schools and people in jobs. The United States has now administered more than 215 million vaccine doses, and more than 85 million Americans, including 3.8 million Illinoisans, are fully vaccinated. Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose. The American Rescue Plan also recently sent $6 billion to community health centers to help with vaccine distribution, including a total of $58,643,750 to seven community health centers with locations in the First Congressional District.

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