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Sen. Mitch McConnell, Angela Brunemann, and Garren Colvin

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McConnell Visits NKY to Discuss Vaccination Progress, Brent Spence Bridge

Senator Mitch McConnell spoke at St. Elizabeth's Training and Education Center (SETEC) in Erlanger to give updates on the federal government's progress in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside the senator was Garren Colvin, the hospital network's President and CEO, and Angela Brunemann, Director of St. Elizabeth's Ambulatory/Outpatient Pharmacy, who gave more regional updates about the administration of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Colvin stated that the SETEC is the primary vaccination site for the hospital's administration of vaccines, but also mentioned the importance of remote sites, like the one located at the BB&T arena in Highland Heights. He also said that at this point, more than 82,000 residents in our region have been vaccinated and that he expects to reach herd immunity by mid-May. 

Brunemann spoke about the extreme interdepartmental coordination that was required to successfully get the vaccine to Northern Kentucky residents while prioritizing clinical efficiency, vaccine education, and maintaining a positive experience for patients.

"I remember Dec. 16, 2020, the excitement, energy, and hope that I felt in the room as we vaccinated 96 members of our frontline staff," she said. "It's amazing to see how far we've come as we now have the capacity to administer 1,400 shots per day." 

Brunemann applauded the senior leadership at St. Elizabeth for being highly involved in the mass vaccination efforts and said that it is her team's goal to ensure every patient feels the excitement, energy, and hope that she and her team still feels.

"It has been amazing watching the passion of [Brunemann's] team," Colvin said. "While most Americans were being told to stay home - our team showed up every day." 

Before inviting McConnell to speak, Colvin thanked the Fort Thomas St. Elizabeth Hospital which cared for approximately 90 percent of Northern Kentucky's COVID-19 positive residents. 

McConnell began his remarks by recognizing that one-year ago the nation was confronted with a monumental national crisis; a global pandemic that we haven't seen the likes of in more than 100 years, and an economic crisis from keeping Americans at home. The senator said the economic consequences of the pandemic has resulted in a national debt of $27 trillion which is the same size as our economy adding that the last time the US saw a debt of this magnitude was in World War II. 

"The only way this will ever end is with proven vaccines and shots in arms," McConnell said. "I was a polio victim when I was younger, and I monitored the development of the polio vaccine and it took decades, this vaccine was developed in less than a year which speaks volumes about our country's healthcare professionals." 

McConnell also spoke about the different relief packages that have passed recently under his tenure, citing that the first package - which he voted in favor of - for $2 trillion dollars passed with barely any dissenting votes. He compared this first package to the most recent one - which he voted against - for $1.9 trillion saying that he believed the money was being allocated to where it was needed one year ago, not where it is needed today. 

"I read a story the other day about there being some reluctance to getting the vaccine from some people, in particular Republican men," McConnell said. "As a Republican man, I got my vaccine as soon as I was able to and I encourage others to do the same." 

The senator also briefly talked about the Brent Spence Bridge, and the possibility that President Biden's infrastructure plan - which was to be announced later in the day - would include dollars for a new bridge. McConnell said that he expected Biden's plan to be a trojan horse, about infrastructure on the outside but containing massive amounts of borrowing and raising taxes on the most productive parts of our economy today. 

"If any project in America needs the attention, it's the Brent Spence Bridge," McConnell said. 

When asked about tolls on the bridge, McConnell said that nobody likes the idea of tolls on the bridge, but bridges like this get built with tolls. 

-Connor Wall, associate editor

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