LOS ANGELES — Dr. Jerry Abraham tried his best to choke back tears as he walked through a clinic in South Los Angeles.
“Honestly, I think I’m going to cry,” he said.
Just two months ago, in late January, his clinic’s parking lot was packed with hundreds of people waiting to be tested, but these days, things are looking a lot less hectic.
There are no more lines.
The tents that were put up to accommodate the never-ending stream of patients now sit empty.
“It looks like ruins of ancient Rome or Egypt,” he said.
For the last two years, Kedren Health had been a beacon of hope for underserved communities in South Los Angeles, a place where anyone could walk in free of charge.
Recently, however, Dr. Abraham’s clinic is on the brink of shutting down as Washington drags its feet on a COVID funding bill.
“It’s literally a day to day,” he said. “My staff asked me, are we going to open today?”
Some Republicans in Congress have refused to allocate more funding, arguing that unspent money that has already been approved should be used first. In the meantime, federal COVID funding for uninsured people ended last week, leaving Dr. Abraham to make some hard choices.
“I’ve only got 2,000 adult doses,” he said. “Do you order more? Do you risk wasting it?”
This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded eligibility for a second booster shot to all Americans over the age of 50, and as some states see spikes in new cases of the highly contagious omicron subvariant known as BA.2.
Kaye Anderson said she came to the clinic to get her second booster. A retired hotel housekeeping manager, she does not know where she will go if Kedren’s COVID Clinic shuts down.
“I’d have to see what else is available and also do a lot of praying,” she said.
Dr. Abraham said if Washington does not act soon, it is the most vulnerable patients who will suffer the most.
“They’re the first to be put on the chopping block and that’s the injustice,” he said.