Ambassador Degnan speaks about U.S. Aid for Georgia’s COVID-19 response (April 13)
For nearly 30 years, the United States and Georgia have built a partnership based on shared values, common strategic interests, and the mutual benefits of cooperation.
As you know, U.S. Government assistance has helped Georgia to strengthen its defense and security, build democratic institutions, stimulate economic growth, and deliver high-quality education to its students. Today, as we face the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m especially proud of what America and Georgia have accomplished together to improve Georgia’s public health system.
The American people, have provided almost $140 million in public health assistance to help Georgia build a capable, resilient, professional national healthcare system. During the COVID-19 emergency, we can clearly see the life-saving impact of our work in this sector — The Georgian authorities and the Georgian people, working together, have swiftly and effectively acted to manage this crisis and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Many parts of the U.S. Government are contributing to or efforts to help Georgia. The United States Agency for International Development, which continues to implement a wide range of assistance programs in the agriculture, education, business development and democracy and justice sectors, recently announce $1.1 million in new emergency health assistance to help Georgia fight COVID-19.
This new assistance from USAID will help control and prevent infection, and identify cases of the virus. It will provide technical assistance to improve Georgia’s response and ability to control the outbreak, and for communicating information about the emergency to the public. This assistance is carefully designed to complement the important work being done by the Georgian government and citizens, healthcare workers, and other donors.
The U.S. Defense Department is also helping out. The Embassy’s office of Defense Cooperation and Defense Threat Reduction Agency are buying more than 100,000 GEL worth of personal protective equipment to donate to the Ministry of Health. We found a Georgian company that produces these items, which the Ministry of Health badly needs, so we’re able to buy what Georgians need from Georgian producers, a definite “win-win” outcome. The U.S. is also sending Georgia 2,000 high-quality test kits that can detect the COVID-19 virus within hours.
And of course, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) are working hard, in partnership with Georgia’s health authorities. Their work supports COVID-19 testing capabilities at the Lugar Center for Public Health Research.
In addition to the immediate health risks, the COVID-19 crisis is hitting our economies hard. The Georgian government has taken some important steps to help the economy recover, and the U.S. is contributing to that effort in a variety of ways. USAID recently provided $800,000 worth of state-of-the art equipment to Georgia’s National Food Agency to help farmers protect their hazelnut crops against stink bug. A bountiful harvest later this year will be important for farmers and for Georgia’s hazelnut exports.
Another USAID Agriculture Program is accepting applications now for innovation grants designed to stimulate Georgia’s economy and help restore economic growth. These grants are available to food producers and entrepreneurs with new ideas to diversify Georgia’s economy.
These are just a few examples, in one sector of many where the U.S. Embassy is working with the Government of Georgia and the private sector to prepare for a strong economic recovery, once COVID-19 is behind us.
It’s not just the U.S. Embassy that wants to help. Several U.S. companies in Georgia are helping Georgians during this difficult time. Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia have donated nearly 3 million GEL to the Stop Cov-19 Fund. In addition, several U.S. branded hotels, such as the Marriott Hotel Moxy, Radisson Park Hotel, and Sheraton Grand Tbilisi have offered their hotels to the government as much-needed quarantine spaces. This frees-up hospital beds that are needed for COVID and other patients. Coca-Cola is supplying its products to quarantine spaces throughout the country.
Assistance from AmCham members does not stop at financial donations or quarantine spaces, either. It includes steps to ease financial pressures by extending grace periods for loan repayments, donating laboratory testing kits and personal protective equipment, and investments in technology to allow students to continue their education remotely, through distance learning.
The United States is pleased and proud to join other international donors and friends of Georgia, including the United Nations Development Programme, The World Bank, the EU, and others committed to helping Georgia rebound quickly from the pandemic so Georgians can get back to business.
The partnership between the United States and Georgia remains strong, as we confront an unprecedented emergency together. The U.S. Embassy will continue to look for more ways we can help Georgia and provide additional assistance where it is needed.
The healthcare experts say the next few weeks will be critically important to controlling the spread of this disease. The best way – the only way — to help Georgia get back to business quickly is to follow the government’s guidance and stay home, practice social distancing, and comply with the curfew. It really is up to each one of us here in Georgia. If we each act responsibly and think of others, we will get through this sooner. Please, stay healthy, stay safe.
I wish you all the very best. Didi madloba. Nakhvamdis.