Today, U.S. Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) set forth the following outline of the steps the federal government should take to prevent the drastic spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States.
“The coronavirus outbreak is developing swiftly in the United States, and as we saw with Italy, when dramatic steps are not taken early to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, more lives are put at risk. It is vital that the United States act quickly and decisively to prevent a full-blown health crisis that could put more of our people in danger and lead to a financial recession,” said Congressman Gonzalez.
“It is clear from my conversations with healthcare providers as well as Ohio Department of Health officials that the President must immediately declare a national emergency. This would free up important resources and provide flexibility to providers as the prospect of a surge of patients increases with each passing hour. Congressionally, steps need to be taken to provide economic assistance to those who are most vulnerable to a COVID-19 outbreak, increase our nation’s healthcare capacity including instituting a full government approach to solve the testing backlog, and provide stability to the financial markets. Our constituents expect and deserve partisanship to be put aside in a time of crisis. All of government must work together to help lead our country through this outbreak. We will get through this. How quickly and how successfully is up to us to decide.”
The full outline of the needed steps are as follows: Health
The full power of the federal government should be exercised to increase our nation’s testing capacity and solve the backlog facing providers and laboratories. In addition, treatments should be available and affordable for Americans at the center of the outbreak and in greatest need.
The President should immediately declare a national state of emergency and authorize EMTALA waivers. This will free up important resources and flexibility for our health care providers and allow them to establish a stronger infrastructure that directs coronavirus patients to an alternate site where they cannot further transmit the disease. It will also better protect our health care workers, who are on the frontlines of this pandemic and risking their wellbeing in the service of others.
Congress should pass legislation that temporarily preempts state certificate of need laws that restrict the ability of providers to expand their facilities and services. With roughly 900,000 hospital beds in the U.S. – most of which are already occupied – we should be doing everything we can to increase medical facility capacity and limit overcrowding.
Low to middle income families are at risk of financial ruin due to a prolonged period of time without a full paycheck due to the coronavirus. It will be critical to provide short term economic relief to those infected with the virus, those quarantining themselves due to potential contact, or those treating loved ones who are infected.
Additionally, we need to take care of the most vulnerable of Americans by ensuring children who rely on school meal programs to retain access to free meals in the case of school closures and we must provide additional funding to programs that support elderly Americans.
Steps needed to be taken to prevent this economic panic from leading to a financial collapse as well. This requires regular and authoritative communication from the Federal Reserve to provide certainty to the market. Additionally, federal regulators must ensure that there is liquidity in the corporate debt and treasury markets to prevent a complete freeze in the credit markets.