The coronavirus pandemic has completely derailed the 2020 presidential campaigns. While Trump has a bully pulpit and turns daily briefings into political rallies, challengers including Vice President Joe Biden cannot compete for visibility or reach. We will do our part, as much as possible, to broadcast their messages so that voters may discern for themselves who should be elected to lead this country. This is from the Joe Biden campaign, which came before Trump, switching focus from the 10 minutes he spent concerned about the spread of the disease and having an adequate health care system, turned again to prioritize the economy, saying he would look to end measures in a matter of weeks (not months) designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in order to goose the economy. Trump said that the economic impact could become worse than COVID-19 itself. “We cannot let cure be worse than the problem,” causing the medical community to scratch heads.The desire to prioritize economic health over people is echoed by other Republicans and rightwingers. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick saidlots of grandparents would be willing to die in order to save the economy for their grandchildren. This is from the Biden campaign, in advance of Trump’s March 23 briefing–Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features.
Five Questions for Donald Trump
at Today’s Briefing
As Trump Attempts to Spin Away His Historic Failure to
Combat the Coronavirus, Here Are Five Questions He Needs to Answer at Today’s
1. Why do you continue to
support efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act and kick tens of millions
of Americans off their insurance in the middle of a global pandemic?
Ten years ago today, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law,
expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans.
But, even in the midst of a global pandemic, Donald Trump continues to lead
fellow Republicans in efforts to do away with the law and the critical
protections it put in place.
Over 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and
it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a
letter today to President Trump and Republican leaders
demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
2. Why did you put the
profits of big corporations ahead of desperately needed medical supplies for
health care workers, first responders, and coronavirus victims?
New reporting today from CNN shows
that Trump abruptly reversed himself on using the Defense Production Act to
speed up the manufacture of critical medical equipment because big businesses
aggressively lobbied the White House out of fear of “profit loss.”
3. Why did you ignore the
repeated warnings of your own intelligence officials in January and February
about the impending risk of the coronavirus and decide to downplay the threat
instead of preparing a response?
The Washington Post reported that
Trump ignored repeated warnings from top intelligence officials in January and
February that the coronavirus was spreading globally and that it posed a dire
threat to the safety of the United States, with one official telling the Post
that “the system was blinking red.”
Instead of preparing for the imminent spread of coronavirus in America, Trump repeatedly ignored experts
and downplayed its significance, claiming, “it’s going to disappear.
One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” The result: a “chaotic” response as
basic needs for tests and life-saving equipment go unmet, and as Administration
officials scramble to cover up for Trump’s lies about the response.
While Trump was ignoring the experts and downplayed the threat of the
coronavirus, Vice President Biden laid out a clear-eyed vision in January for
how we could come together as a country to stop the emerging pandemic and has
built on that with a comprehensive plan to
combat the coronavirus.
4. Why did you take China’s
word and praise Xi’s response for weeks as the coronavirus continued to spread,
ignoring Vice President Biden’s warning about their misleading statements?
Now Trump has laughably pivoted to
criticizing China, attempting to rewrite history and brush aside countlessexamples of him heapingpraise on Xi and
the Chinese government. Moreover, is Trump saying that he wasn’t supposed to
take steps to protect the American people simply because this virus emerged in
5. Why are you supporting a
$500 billion slush fund for corporations with no strings attached and no
protections for workers?
With America’s economy teetering, and with countless families facing financial
ruin, Trump continues to back a massive corporate bailout package with almost
no conditions, and no restraints on corporations using taxpayer dollars for
executive bonuses and stock buybacks.
That’s why Vice President Biden has called for workers and families to be put
first in any stimulus package — with no blank checks for big corporations — so
Americans will have the financial support they need to weather this storm.
hotel CEOs met with the White House on March 17 to discuss urgent economic
recovery solutions needed to protect millions of U.S. hotel employees and
33,000 small businesses as travel grinds to a virtual halt across the country
because of the coronavirus health crisis. From Main Street to major
cities across the country, hotels everywhere are on the verge of shutting their
doors in the coming days – many by the end of this week. With 1 in 25 jobs
supported by the hotel industry, the rapid pace of booking cancellations is
having an immediate, negative ripple effect that risks seeing mom and pop hotel
owners shutter, furlough their employees, hurting community
hotel industry is an industry of people and the current human toll is proving
to be catastrophic. Based on current occupancy estimates, the American Hotel
& Lodging Association (AHLA) says four million total jobs have been
eliminated already or are on the verge of being lost in the next few weeks. In
certain affected markets, including Seattle, San Francisco, Austin and Boston,
hotel occupancy rates are already down below 20 percent and individual hotels
and major operators have already shut down operations.
AHLA, the nation’s leading and largest trade association for hotel industry,
made the case that the economic impact on the hotel industry is already more
severe than 9/11 and the 2008 recession, combined. “The impact of the
coronavirus pandemic on our 33,000 small business owners who operate 66 percent
of hotel properties across the country has been extremely severe with many
considering shuttering and closing their doors for good within days if they
haven’t closed already.”
Rogers, AHLA President and CEO, said the burgeoning COVID-19 health
crisis is unprecedented in its size and scope, and it represents the single
largest decline in travel in modern times.
impact to our industry is already more severe than anything we’ve seen before, including
September 11th and the great recession of 2008 combined,” stated Rogers.
“The White House and Congress can take urgent action to protect countless jobs,
provide relief to our dedicated and hardworking employees, and ensure that our
small business operators and franchise owners – who represent more than half of
hotels in the country – can keep their doors open.”
to an Oxford Economic Study, a 30 percent decline in hotel guest occupancy
could result in the loss of nearly 4 million jobs, with $180 billion of wages
and a $300 billion hit to the GDP – crippling the hotel industry, the local
communities they serve and the U.S. economy.
unprecedented public health crisis has quickly become a catastrophic economic
crisis as well,” said Roger Dow, President and CEO, U.S. Travel
Association President. “The losses for the travel industry alone are
projected to double the unemployment rate over the next two months and plunge
the country into recession. Small businesses, which make up 83% of travel
businesses, need relief right now if they’re going to be able to keep paying
Oxford study estimates the hotel industry supports 1 in 25 American jobs,
totaling 8.3 million jobs, paying more than $97 billion in wages and salary
income, and contributes nearly $660 billion to the U.S. GDP annually. In
addition to major hotel brands, the hotel industry includes more than 33,000
small businesses, which represent 61 percent of hotel properties in the U.S.
hotel industry leaders laid out several immediate actions the White House and
Congress could take to help the hotel industry protect jobs and help small
business operators. The group focused on two critical goals – retaining and
rehiring employees and keeping hotels from shutting down through access to
liquidity and low interest loans, including for small businesses.
CEOs who participated in the roundtable discussion today at the White House
were hopeful that President Trump and Members of Congress will work together
urgently to provide relief and ensure the industry is positioned to rebound
from the unprecedented impact from the Coronavirus pandemic.
Western Hotels & Resorts President and CEO, David Kong said, “For
nearly 75 years, Best Western has been a brand with small family businesses at
our core. Most of our hotels are owned and operated by hardworking men and
women with their children growing up in the business. For them, their hotels
represent their families’ legacy and their future. Many are being forced to
close their doors with no assurance of when they will be able to reopen. Their
employees are left with no gainful employment and the resultant financial
hardship. It is imperative that the government step in immediately with loan
programs that provide capital and liquidity to help small businesses survive as
well as other employment programs to help the impacted employees. The situation
Hotels International President & CEO, Pat Pacious said, “The
majority of our 13,000 franchisees are small business hotel owners who have to
meet payroll, pay their mortgages every month, and support their families
during this crisis – as well as take care of their guests. As I told the
Administration today, while Choice Hotels is acting to assist our franchisees,
the federal government has a critical role to play in helping minimize the
impact and disruption to the livelihoods of small business hotel owners and
their employees, as well as stabilizing the economy during this difficult and
President and Chief Executive Officer, Christopher J. Nassetta said, “In
Hilton’s 100-year history, we have never seen anything like the current
situation. I am hearing directly from hotel employees concerned about their
mortgage payments and hotel owners worried about making payroll. Nearly eighty
percent of the hotels in our U.S. network are franchise properties that employ
less than 50 people, and we are using every tool in our toolkit to keep these
small businesses viable. Ours is an industry of people serving people, and
that’s why we’re asking Congress and the Administration to help shield them
from the economic impact of the coronavirus, so they can be part of the
recovery that will follow.”
president and CEO, Mark Hoplamazian said, “In our industry, success depends
entirely on the passion and dedication of our people. It is critical that we
take swift action to ensure that our workforce is protected with the proper
healthcare and financial support so that the industry can return in full force
following this unprecedented degree of business interruption.”
Hotels Group CEO Americas, Elie Maalouf said, “The coronavirus
represents a global economic emergency as well as a global health emergency,
and the impact it will have on the hospitality industry is unprecedented. Even
as we’re currently managing this issue to keep our guests and colleagues safe,
and hotel owners secure, we’re committed to doing everything we can to protect
the future of the millions of Americans employed by the hotel industry and
prepare to expedite a return to normal once this crisis passes. We appreciate
the administration’s engagement in this issue and look forward to continuing
this important discussion in the weeks ahead.”
International President and CEO, Arne Sorenson said, “The COVID-19
pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented decline in demand impacting our
hotels and our associates. We are looking to government to support the
hospitality industry through this period of time so we can assist our
associates and hotel owners, many of whom are small businesses.”
Resorts International Chairman & CEO, James Murren said, “Within
days we have transformed from a vibrant industry welcoming people from around
the world, to one experiencing a total shutdown of business. Addressing
this public health emergency required major collective action which is why MGM
shut down our operations. But it comes at a cost to our tens of thousands of
employees, small businesses and communities who depended on us. We look
forward to a productive dialogue on how to ensure that when it is safe, the
gaming industry can be in a position to open our doors so that we and the 2
million jobs that depend can be part of the economic recovery that is to come.”
Hotel Trust is a REIT with 54 hotels with over 13,000 rooms and over 8,000
employees around the country. Our hotels are in most of the hardest hit cities
– Seattle, San Francisco, here in Washington, DC, NYC, Boston, Chicago and
more. As of today, we have had to make the difficult decision to let go over
4,000 employees,” noted Jon Bortz, Board Chair, AHLA and Chairman &
CEO, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust.
“By the end of the month, we expect another 2,000 employees will also be let go, representing over three quarters of our employees. We are looking at closing the doors at more than half of our properties,” Bortz said. “This is the reality we, and countless other owners and operators around the country are facing in the wake of this public health situation.”
BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sen. Bernie Sanders gave remarks regarding the lessons we can learn from the growing coronavirus outbreak.This is a rushed transcript provided by the Sanders campaign:
Good afternoon everyone, thank you for being here. In the midst of a major healthcare and economic crisis currently facing our country, I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about the lessons we can learn long-term about what we are experiencing today.
As I discussed yesterday, our country is facing, as everybody knows, a medical and economic crisis, the likes of which we have not seen for generations. And we must prepare for this response in an unprecedented way, making certain that our government responds effectively, and protects the interests of all our people regardless of their income, or where they live. In other words, this is not just about giving tax breaks to large corporations, but about remembering the people today who don’t have much money, who are nervous about their economic futures and healthcare prospects.
to say we must massively increase the availability of test kits for the coronavirus and the speed at which the tests are
processed. We need to anticipate significant increases in hospital admissions, which means that we will need more
ICU units and ventilators, we will need more
doctors, nurses, and medical personnel of all kinds – and we must make sure
that these frontline personnel are well
protected from the diseases they are treating. I have talked to nurses
recently who worry very much about whether they are getting the kind of
knowledge and equipment they need so that they do not get sick.
We need to significantly improve
our communications and collaboration with other countries to ensure that we
are learning everything that we can about the successes and failures of other
countries as they deal with this crisis. And furthermore, we must be honest with the American people and
communicate as effectively and directly as we can with all of the scientific
information that we can provide.
Further, and most importantly, our
response to this entire crisis must be guided by the decisions of doctors,
scientists, and researchers, not politicians.
But as we struggle with this crisis, it is also important that we learn
the lessons of how we got to where we are today, and what we must do in the
future so that we are better prepared for similar crises that may come.
Poll after poll already shows us that the American people understand
that we must do what every other major country on earth does, and that is to guarantee healthcare to all of our people
as a human right, not a privilege. As we begin to see the failures and
vulnerabilities of the current healthcare system, my guess is that those
numbers and the demand for universal healthcare will only go up.
The American people are asking: how is it possible that we spend twice as much per capita as
the people of Canada and other major countries, while 87 million of us are uninsured or underinsured.
And obviously, in this crisis, and unbelievably, it means that people
who are sick today, people who woke up this morning with symptoms of the
coronavirus, are saying, “you know I feel sick but I cannot afford to go to a doctor.” And when somebody is
not treated for the virus – somebody who is unable to afford to go to that
doctor – that means that that infection can spread to many others, putting us
So it’s not just
a question that in normal times – tragically, unbelievably – that we lose 30,000 people a year because they
don’t get to doctor on time, but now the lack of healthcare threatens other
people as well.
How could it be, that when we spend so much more than what other countries are spending, we have millions of people who may be dealing with the virus but they cannot go to the doctor because they can’t afford it? That is a question that must resonate in every American’s mind.
If this isn’t a red flag for the current
dysfunctional and wasteful healthcare system, frankly I don’t know what is.
For the benefit of all of us, we must make sure that every person in
this country who needs to seek medical treatment can go to a doctor free of
charge regardless of their income. That is obviously what we must do now in the
middle of a crisis, but it is what we must do as a nation in the near future.
Here are just a few instances about how absurd and dysfunctional our
current healthcare system is.
It has been estimated that a full battery of tests for the coronavirus costs over $1,300. First of all,
take a look at that – $1,300 to get the test people need to have to know if
they have the virus or not.
In America today, 40% of our
people don’t have $400 in the bank to pay for an emergency expense. We
have half of our people living paycheck to paycheck.
If their car breaks down they can’t afford to get it fixed, and if
somebody tells them it costs $1,300 for the test to determine whether you have
the coronavirus if they’re sick, what are they supposed to do? What happens to
How can someone without insurance afford to pay $1,331 to get tested when they don’t even have $400 in the bank? What are they supposed to do? What happens to them? Do they go to a payday lender where the average interest rate is over 390%? Do they borrow money from their family? Or do they go without the test? Which every doctor in the world will tell them is a test they should have.
And while the Trump administration says it may cover co-pays to cover
the cost of testing for those who have insurance, they will not cover the cost of treatment – which could cost tens of
thousands of dollars.
How cruel is that? How absurd is that? To say to people, “we’re sorry
you have coronavirus, we covered the cost of the test, but now you’re on your
own and it’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars to get treated.” That
is totally absurd.
Clearly what we need to do is to make sure that if someone has the
coronavirus that person gets the treatment that they need.
words, our current system leaves people uninsured, but even if you have
insurance you may not even have the ability to travel to a doctor near you.
Because now we’re talking about a system in which many rural hospitals have closed down and
they cannot find a doctor in their communities.
The reality today, and this is an issue we must to deal with, is that we don’t have enough doctors, we don’t have
enough hospitals, and we don’t have enough clinics in rural communities and
Further, we are in a situation when we desperately need affordable prescription drugs, yet we have a
pharmaceutical industry that continues to make billions in profits by charging
outrageous prices for prescription drugs, sometimes 10x more in this country than in other countries.
In my view,
the most cost effective way to reform our dysfunctional and cruel system is to
move to a Medicare for All, single-payer healthcare system.
And I think in the midst of this crisis, more and more Americans
understand the truth of that.
It is nearly impossible to
believe that anyone can still think it’s acceptable to continue with a
healthcare system that leaves tens of millions of people uninsured. The cruelty
and absurdity of that view is more obvious in the midst of this crisis than it
has ever been.
And let’s be clear. Lack of
healthcare and affordable medicine does not only threaten the healthcare and
well-being of the uninsured. It threatens everyone who comes in contact with
In fact, what this crisis is beginning to teach us is that we are only as safe as the least insured
person in America.
Further, we are the only major
country on earth that does not mandate paid family and medical leave. And
we’re seeing how that crisis is impacting where we are today.
As we speak, there are millions of workers — right now — who are
being told to go to work, yet they may be ill and should be staying home.
But these very same families
will face financial ruin if they don’t go to work. These are workers in the
restaurant industry, transportation industry, tourism, retail — in other words
the people who interact with the public every single day.
Right now, at a time when half of our people live paycheck to paycheck,
and at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we must directly address the economic desperation facing a
huge number of Americans.
So we must finally pass a paid
family leave program in the United States to keep this virus from spreading
and to keep Americans healthy.
We must do it right now.
People should not be going to work when they are sick, it is unfair to
them, it is unfair to the people they are in contact with. And yet, that
reality exists, because we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee
paid family leave and sick time.
Finally, from a national
security perspective, it is
incomprehensible that we are dependent on China and other countries for masks,
for prescription drugs, for rubber gloves, and for key parts needed to make
advanced medical equipment like ventilators.
As a result of
globalization and our disastrous trade policies, we have been outsourcing
millions of jobs and factories overseas that have gutted our economy. Now we
are seeing another tragic and devastating result of those policies, as we find
ourselves dependent on other countries to provide the most essential things we
need to combat a pandemic and protect the lives of the people in our country.
Now trade is
a good thing, but it has to be based on common sense principles. It has to
be based on protecting American workers
and protecting our national security, making sure we are producing what we need
in this country in the event of a national crisis.
Now is the time to begin
bringing back production and manufacturing to the United States and enact fair
trade policies so that we are never in this position again.
Now here is the bottom line. As we are dealing with this crisis, we
need to listen to the scientists, to the
researchers, and to the medical professionals, not politicians.
We need to move quickly to prepare for the exponential increase of
cases we will be seeing here in our country.
But as we do that, we must begin thinking about how, as a society, we
can create a healthcare and economic system that is humane, that is compassionate,
and that works for all people, not just the wealthiest.
Now that is an issue that people have had to think about for a long
time, but I think in this moment of
crisis more and more people understand that we need fundamental changes to our
economy, and we need fundamental changes to our healthcare system.
This is the speech on protecting against the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic that Americans should have heard from the Oval Office:
Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden on Combating Coronavirus (COVID-19)
My fellow Americans:
Today, across the nation, many of us are feeling anxious about the rapid spread of COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, and the threat it poses to our health, our loved ones, and our livelihoods.
I know people are worried, and my thoughts are with all those who are directly fighting this virus — those infected, families that have suffered a loss, our first responders and health care providers who are putting themselves on the line for others. And I’d like to thank those who are already making sacrifices to protect us— whether that’s self-quarantining or cancelling events or closing campuses. Because whether or not you are infected, or know someone who is infected, or have been in contact with an infected person — this will require a national response. Not just from our elected leaders or our public health officials — from all of us.
We all must follow the guidance of health officials and take appropriate precautions — to protect ourselves, and critically, to protect others, especially those who are most at-risk from this disease.
It will mean making some radical changes to our personal behaviors: more frequent and more through handwashing and staying home from work if you are ill, but also altering some deeply-ingrained habits, like handshakes and hugs, and avoiding large public gatherings.
That is why earlier this week, on the recommendation of officials, my campaign cancelled the election night rally we had planned to hold in Cleveland, Ohio. We will also be re-imagining the format for the large-crowd events we had planned in Chicago and Miami in the coming days. And we will continue to assess and adjust how we conduct our campaign as we move forward, and find new ways to share our message with the public, while putting the health and safety of the American people first.
Yesterday, we announced a Public Health Advisory Committee of experts who will counsel our campaign and help guide our decisions on steps to minimize the risk. We will be led by the science.
The World Health Organization has now officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Downplaying it, being overly dismissive, or spreading misinformation will only hurt us and further advantage the spread of the disease. But neither should we panic or fall back on xenophobia. Labeling COVID-19 a “foreign virus” does not displace accountability for the mismanagement that we have seen from the Trump Administration.
Let me be crystal clear: the coronavirus does not have a political affiliation. It will infect Republicans and Democrats alike. It will not discriminate based on national origin, race, gender, or zip code. It will touch people in positions of power and the most vulnerable in our society.
A wall will not stop it. Banning all travel from Europe, or any other part of the world, may slow it — but as we have seen — it will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics — rather than risk — will be counterproductive. This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet. And we need a plan about how we are going to aggressively manage it here at home.
The American people have the capacity to meet this moment. We will face this with the same spirit that has guided us through previous crises. We will come together as a nation. We will look out for one another and do our part as citizens. We have to harness the ingenuity of our scientists and the resourcefulness of our people. And we have to lead the world to drive a coordinated global strategy, not shut ourselves off from it.
Protecting the health and safety of the American people is the most important job of any president — and unfortunately, this virus has laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current Administration. Public fears are being compounded by a pervasive lack of trust in this president, fueled by his adversarial relationship with the truth.
Our government’s ability to respond effectively has been undermined by the hollowing-out of our agencies and the disparagement of science. And our ability to drive a global response is dramatically undercut by the damage Trump has done to our credibility and our relationships around the world.
We have to get to work immediately to dig ourselves out of this hole. That is why, today, I am releasing a plan to combat and overcome the coronavirus. The full details are on JoeBiden.com laying out the immediate steps we must take to deliver: A decisive public health response to curb the spread of this disease and provide treatment to those in need; and a decisive economic response that delivers real relief to American workers, families, and small businesses — and protects the economy as a whole.
I offer it as a roadmap, not for what I will do as president 10 months from now, but for the leadership I believe is required right now, in this moment. President Trump is welcome to adopt it today.
The core principle is simple: public health professionals must be the ones making our public health decisions and communicating with the American people. It would be a step toward reclaiming public trust and confidence in the United States government and toward stopping the fear and chaos that can overtake communities faster than this pandemic. And it’s critical to mounting an effective national response that will save lives, protect our front-line health workers, and slow the spread of this virus.
First, anyone who needs to be tested based on medical guidelines, should be tested—at no charge. The Administration’s failure on testing is colossal. It is a failure of planning, leadership, and execution. The White House should measure and report each day how many tests were ordered, how many tests have been completed, and how many have tested positive. By next week, the number of tests should be in the millions, not the thousands. We should make sure every person in a nursing home, a senior center, or a vulnerable population has easy access to a test.
We should establish hundreds of mobile testing sites — at least 10 per state — and drive-thru testing centers to speed testing and protect health care workers.
The CDC, private labs, universities, and manufacturers should be working in lock-step to get this done, and get it done right. No effort should be spared. No excuses should be made. Tests should be available to all who need them and the government should stop at nothing to make that happen.
We must know the true extent of this outbreak so we can map it, trace it, and contain it. Nor should we hide the true number of infections in hopes of protecting political interests or the stock market. The markets will respond to strong, steady, capable leadershipthat addresses the root of the problem, not efforts to cover it up.
Second, we need to surge our capability to both prevent and treat the coronavirus, and prepare our hospitals to deal with an influx of those needing care. This means not just getting out the testing kits and processing them quickly, but making sure communities have the hospital beds, the staff, the medical supplies, and the personal protective equipment necessary to treat patients.
The president should order FEMA to prepare the capacity with local authorities to establish temporary hospitals with hundreds of beds on short notice. The Department of Defense should prepare for the potential deployment of its resources to provide medical facility capacity and logistical support. A week from now, a month from now, we could need an instant, 500-bed hospital to isolate and treat patients in any city in the country. We can do that — but we aren’t ready yet, and the clock is ticking.
As we take these steps, state, federal, and local authorities need to ensure that there is accurate, up-to-date information easily available to every American so everyone can make an informed decision about when to get tested, when to self-quarantine, and when to seek medical treatment. And the federal government should provide states and municipalities with clear guidance about when to trigger more aggressive mitigation policies, such as closing schools.
Third, we need to accelerate the development of treatments and a vaccine. Science takes time. It will still be many months before we have a vaccine that can be proven safe for public use and produced in sufficient quantity to make a difference. Therapeutics can and should come sooner. That will save lives. We passed the Cures Act in 2016 to accelerate work at the National Institutes of Health, but now it must have every available resource to speed the process along.
We must fast-track clinical trials within the NIH, while closely coordinating with the Food and Drug Administration on trial approvals, so that the science is not hindered by the bureaucracy. And, when we do have a vaccine ready to go, it should also be made widely available, free of charge.
We should also immediately restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense –with a full-time, dedicated coordinator to oversee the response.
Our Administration created that office to better respond to future global health threats after the Ebola crisis in 2014.
It was designed for exactly this scenario.
President Trump eliminated the office two years ago.
Here’s the bottom line: we have to do what is necessary to beat this challenge sooner rather than later.
I assure you, if we wait for it to worsen then scramble to catch up, the human and economic toll will be far greater and last far longer.
Congress gave the Administration $8 billion last week to fight the virus. We need to know exactly where that money is going, how quickly it is going out the door, and how it is being spent.
This brings me to the second half of this challenge — the economic dislocation the coronavirus will cause in our country.
We must do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes, to deliver relief for our families and ensure the stability of our economy.
Taking immediate, bold measures to help Americans who are hurting economically right now.
It means we will need bigger and broader measures to shore up economic demand, protect jobs, keep credit flowing to our job creators, and make sure we have the economic fire power we need to weather this storm and get our people and this economy back to full strength as soon as possible.
This crisis will hit everyone, but it will hit folks who live paycheck-to-paycheck the hardest, including working people and seniors.
Another tax cut to Google or Goldman or millionaires won’t get the job done.
Indiscriminate corporate tax subsidies won’t effectively target those who really need help.
We need to place our focus on those who will struggle just to get by.
People are already losing jobs — we need to replace their wages.
That includes workers in the gig economy who lack unemployment insurance.
Parents who are already struggling with childcare costs — we need to give them relief.
Children who rely on school lunches will need food.
And schools will need help ensuring children who do not have easy access to computers can still learn if their schools close.
People who have difficulty paying their rent or mortgage because they’ve been laid off or had their hours cut back — we need to help them stay in their homes.
Small businesses that will be devastated as customers stay home and events are canceled — we need to make sure they have access to interest-free loans.
It is a national disgrace that millions of our fellow citizens do not have a single day of paid sick leave.
We need — both — a permanent plan for paid sick leave and an emergency plan for everyone who needs it due to the outbreak.
Beyond these national measures, my plan also calls for the creation of a State and Local Emergency Fund to make sure governors, mayors, and local leaders who are battling coronavirus on the ground have the resources necessary to meet this crisis head on.
These funds could be used at the discretion of local leaders for whatever they most need: expanding critical health infrastructure, hiring additional health care and emergency service personnel, or cushioning the wider economic blow this virus will cause our communities.
We need smart, bold, and compassionate leadership that will help contain the crisis, reduce hardship to our people, and help our economy rebound.
But let me be clear: this is just a start.
We must prepare now to take further decisive action, including direct relief, that will be large in scale and focused on the broader health and stability of our economy.
But we can only protect the health of our economy, if we do everything in our power to protect the health of our people.
The last point I want to make today is this — we will never fully solve this problem if we are unwilling to look beyond our own borders and engage fully with the world.
A disease that starts any place on the planet can be on a plane to any city on earth a few hours later.
So we have to confront coronavirus everywhere.
We should be leading a coordinated, global response, just as we did for Ebola, that draws on the incredible capability of the U.S. Agency for International Development and our State Department to assist vulnerable nations in detecting and treating coronavirus wherever it is spreading.
We should be investing in rebuilding and strengthening the Global Health Security Agenda, which we launched during our Administration, specifically to mobilize the world against the threat of new infectious diseases.
It can be hard to see the concrete value of this work when everything seems well with the world.
But by cutting our investments in global health, this Administration has left us woefully ill-prepared for the exact crisis we now face.
No President can promise to prevent future outbreaks.
But I can promise you that when I’m president, we will prepare better, respond better, and recover better.
We will lead with science.
We will listen to experts and heed their advice.
We will rebuild American leadership and rally the world to meet global threats.
And I will always, always tell you the truth.
That is the responsibility of a president.
That is what is owed to the American people.
Now, and in the difficult days that still lie ahead, I know that this country will summon our spirit of empathy, decency, and unity.
Because, in times of crisis, Americans stand as one.
With the Trump Administration’s response to the
coronavirus pandemic in severe disarray, it is falling to states and localities
to protect their residents. This is the latest from New York State Governor
During a novel
coronavirus briefing, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the state will
institute limits on mass gatherings, directing events with 500 or more
individuals in attendance to be cancelled or postponed. Public health experts
agree mass gatherings with people making sustained close contact are a place
where the novel coronavirus can easily infect many people quickly and continue
its spread. As such, events, gatherings, or places of business with less than
500 individuals in attendance will be required to cut capacity by 50 percent,
with exceptions being made for spaces where individuals do not make sustained
close contact, such as schools, hospitals, public buildings, mass transit,
grocery stores and retail stores. These new regulations will go into effect
Friday, March 13th at 5pm, with the exception of Broadway Theaters where the
limits will go into effect this evening at 5pm.
In an effort to protect some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers,
Governor Cuomo also announced only medically necessary visits will be allowed
at nursing homes. This policy will be effective Friday at 5pm. The state is
also asking nursing homes to set up skyping and other online communication
capacity so families can tele-visit their loved ones. Additionally, the state
will require health screenings for all nursing home workers each day when they
enter a facility and require them to wear surgical masks to guard against any
potential asymptomatic spread.
In order to increase testing capacity, the State is contracting
with BioReference Laboratories to run an additional 5,000 tests per day on top
of what the state is already doing. These additional 5,000 tests per day will
come online next week. This additional testing capacity is on top of that of
the 28 private labs the Governor announced are partnering with the state in the
coming days and weeks. Additionally, the Governor announced the first public
drive-through testing facility on the east coast will start testing people
tomorrow in New Rochelle. Testing will be done by appointment only. New
Rochelle residents who have been quarantined will be tested first.
Finally, the Governor
confirmed 109 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide
total to 325 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 325 total individuals
who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:
Albany County: 1 (1 new)
Broome County: 1 (1 new)
Delaware County: 1 (1
Dutchess County: 1 (1
Herkimer County: 1 (1
Monroe County: 1 (1 new)
Nassau County: 41 (13
New York City: 95 (43
Orange County: 1 (1 new)
Rockland County: 7 (1
Saratoga County: 3 (1
Suffolk County: 20 (14
Ulster County: 4 (3 new)
Westchester County: 148
“The spread of this coronavirus is not going to stop on its
own, and we know that mass gatherings have been hotspots for the virus to infect
large numbers of people quickly,” Governor Cuomo said.”To help contain it, we are
instituting limits on large events as well as new measures to protect our most
vulnerable populations — including people in nursing homes — and preparing our
healthcare system to be able to deal with any future capacity issues. While the
context is key and the anxiety is outpacing the facts of this situation, we
will continue taking aggressive action to protect public health and prepare for
any future spread of this virus.”
“Our number one priority is protecting the public health and
every action the Governor and the State of New York have taken thus far have
been in furtherance of that goal,” State Health Department Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. “Public
health experts have been clear that limiting large public gatherings where
there is potential for close contact is a critical way to slow the spread of
this virus. This regulation will help keep people healthy and safe.”
The Governor also announced that the State is taking measures to
create a reserve workforce of health care professionals in the event of a
staffing shortage and identify state facilities that can be used as temporary
hospitals. The State is asking former doctors, nurses and other health care professionals
to reconnect with their former employers and offer to work on an on-call basis
in the cases of a staffing shortage. The State is also identifying National
Guard medics for reserved staffing and contacting medical schools to identify
possible reserve health care professionals. Additionally, the Department of
Health is accelerating regulations to get more health care personnel trained so
they can work in other areas.
For all schools in communities with the highest rates of positive
cases, the state will be taking proactive steps to implement protocols that
limit mass contact. Today the Governor announced SUNY Albany will cancel in
person classes for the rest of the semester effective tomorrow after a positive
case was confirmed today.
business that cannot accommodate rigorous cleaning standards should contact
Empire State Development at (212) 803-3100 for a close order.
During a novel coronavirus
briefing, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the state will provide
alcohol-based hand sanitizer to New Yorkers free of charge. To help combat
price-gouging and ensure New Yorkers have access to this vital prevention
method, the state will produce up to 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer each
week in 1.7 oz., 7 oz. and gallon bottles. The hand sanitizer will be made
available to residents free of charge, and distribution will be prioritized by
the most impacted and high risk communities, including the New Rochelle
community, and state agencies, including the MTA.
Governor Cuomo also
confirmed 37 additional cases of novel coronavirus in New York State since his
last update from Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 142 confirmed cases.
The Governor also
announced the New York State Department of Health will work with the New York
State Education Department to issue guidance for schools with students,
teachers or other staff who test positive for novel coronavirus. Under the
policy, schools will close for an initial 24-hour period if a student or a
teacher or any other staff at the school test positive for the novel
coronavirus. This will allow the school to undergo disinfection, and for the
State to perform an assessment of the situation and make a determination going
forward in that particular school district.
Governor will send a program bill to the legislature today to provide paid sick
leave to working New Yorkers and specifically protect those who are required to
stay home from work because they are being isolated or quarantined as a result
of the novel coronavirus.
“As the number of
confirmed cases of the coronavirus continues to rise, unscrupulous retailers
are exploiting New Yorkers’ anxieties about the virus and charging exorbitant
prices for hand sanitizer and other similar products,” Governor
Cuomo said. “To solve this problem, the state is producing and
deploying hand sanitizer to high impact areas as well as schools, the MTA and
other government agencies because you can’t get it on the market and the
product that is available is very expensive. The biggest problem we have in
this situation is fear, not the virus itself, and I’m once again reminding
everyone to focus on the facts because the facts do not warrant the level of
anxiety we are seeing.”
Of the 142 total
individuals in New York State who tested positive for the virus, the geographic
breakdown is as follows:
Westchester: 98 (16 new
New York City: 19 (7 new
Nassau: 17 (12 new
Rockland: 4 (2 new
DOCCS, through its
correctional industries entity known as Corcraft, will produce an
alcohol-based formula recognized by the World Health Organization and has begun
production at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, Washington
County, this week. Through this ongoing effort, the Department will be able to
produce up to 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer per week. Corcraft, which
produces dozens of products, uses the manufacturing process to assist in the
department’s overall mission to prepare offenders for release through skill
development, work ethic, respect and responsibility.
seeking to obtain additional stocks of hand sanitizer should work with their
County’s Emergency Manager and local Health Department to submit requests
directly into NY Responds, the state’s web-based system which enables both
local governments and state agencies to submit and share vital
emergency-related information and resource requests.
retailers are charging approximately 10 times what major retailers charge for
hand sanitizer. On eBay a pack of five 2.5-ounce Germ-X hand sanitizer bottles
were selling for $500 – by comparison, two 30-ounce bottles of Germ-X were
offered online by Walmart for less than $8.
The Department of
Corrections and Community Supervision also began a new screening protocol for
COVID-19 for visitors to each of the State’s 52 correctional facilities to help
avoid the introduction of COVID-19 into the Department’s facilities. Upon
arrival to the facility, visitors will be asked a series of questions regarding
any illness or symptoms they may be currently experiencing; travel outside of
the United States within the past four weeks, including that of family members;
and any direct exposure to an individual diagnosed with the novel coronavirus
in the past four weeks.
DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci said, “Between increased demand and the
price gouging currently taking place in the market, there is a very real need
for hand sanitizer for New York residents. DOCCS is proud to meet the
Governor’s call to action and do our part in stemming the spread of COVID-19
across the state.”
Last night, the Governor announced that Northwell Laboratories has been authorized to test under Wadsworth’s emergency use authorization. Manual testing of 75 to 80 samples per day has begun at Northwell, but automated testing still needs to be approved by the federal administration so the lab can perform thousands of tests per day. Additionally, NY Presbyterian Hospital is ready to start running 50 to 60 tests daily once it receives federal approval for testing. The Governor again today urged the federal administration to approve the use of the state’s coronavirus test by private labs, such as NY Presbyterian.
Update: After tour of Northwell Labs, Governor Cuomo announced FDA approval for Northwell to test novel coronavirus: “After days of advocating the FDA and the federal government to expand testing capacity for the novel coronavirus in New York State and working with Northwell and Wadsworth to expedite the process, we just received word that Northwell Laboratories has been authorized to test under Wadsworth’s emergency use authorization. Manual testing of 75 to 80 samples per day will begin at Northwell immediately, but we still need automated testing approved so we can perform thousands per day.
“While this approval is a good first step, the FDA must increase the testing capacity for the State and private labs, because the more tests we run, the more positive people we will find and the better we can control and contain the virus. It’s one thing for the federal government not to have the testing capacity in place themselves – that was bad enough – but there’s no excuse for them not to be authorizing existing labs to do the work.”
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo took the Center for Disease Control and federal government to task for failing to authorize private laboratories to test for the coronavirus, and for failing to authorize automated testing which could increase exponentially the number of people tested.
Testing is critical to finding people infected with the coronavirus in order to contain the spread of the infection, he said during a tour of Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island, where as many as 1000 tests could be done a day using state-of-the-art automated testing devices which can analyze as many as 120 samples at one time.
Northwell’s laboratory is the most sophisticated lab in New York State and one of the most advanced in the nation. But as yet, CDC has not authorized private labs to do the tests, and has not authorized the automated testing systems that Northwell has, Cuomo said.
“CDC has not authorized the use of this lab, which
is just outrageous and ludicrous,” the Governor scolded. “CDC, wake up, let the
state’s test. Let private labs test. Let’s increase as quickly as possible our
testing capacity so we identify the positive people so we can isolate them and
we’re successful in our containment.”
The state is “continuing to test people and are working with
hospitals and local governments to give them the resources they need to contain
the spread of this virus,” Governor
Cuomo said. “We mobilized quickly but the federal government
has been slow off the mark and they continue to be slow. That’s unacceptable
– we need them to approve these private labs today so we can stay ahead of this
evolving situation. Worse than the virus right now is the fear pandemic – and
getting these additional facilities online will ensure we have more facts that
will help keep people calm.”
The Northwell Lab on Long Island would be the first private lab in
the state to handle coronavirus testing.
“This is an extraordinary facility,” the Governor said, flanked by
his state Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker, and Northwell Health CEO
Michael J. Dowling.
to contain spread of virus and to do that, we are testing as many as possible,
to find the positives and isolate them.”
If the spread of infection is not contained, he warned, more disastrous
measures, such as China and Italy have been forced to undertake – massive quarantines
of millions of people – “would be very disruptive to society and the economy.”
Cuomo said that the level of fear surrounding coronavirus (the disease associated with the virus is COVID-19) is unwarranted. “There is more fear, anxiety than facts would justify. This isn’t Ebola, or SARS. This is a virus we have a lot of information on. Johns Hopkins has been tracking 100,000 cases and what happens.”
Most people who become infected will experience mild symptoms like a cold or flu and can recover at home. But for vulnerable populations – the elderly, people who have medical conditions – the disease is dangerous and can be deadly.
The best “weapon” against the disease is
to reduce situations that create density.
Cuomo said he is speaking with business leaders across the state to encourage them to offer liberal sick leave so that people who are sick, who feel symptoms, stay home but are still paid; he also is encouraging businesses as well as state and local government offices, to stagger workers in shifts if possible; and to allow work-at-home where feasible.
Individuals also have a role in keeping themselves safe, he said – wash hands frequently, don’t shake hands, just as in any flu season. He advises people who take mass transit to let a train pass if the cars are too packed, and to move to less crowded cars. “Reduce density, proximity.”
The single best thing government can do
is to test. “The more positives we identify, the more we can isolate to stop
The Governor confirmed 16 additional cases of novel coronavirus in New York State since his last update yesterday, bringing the statewide total to 105 confirmed cases on Sunday morning. Of the new cases, 12 are in Westchester County, one in New York City in the Bronx, one in Nassau, one in Suffolk, and one in Ulster.
Of the 105 total individuals in New York State who tested positive
for the virus, 82 are in Westchester; 12 are in New York City; five are in
Nassau; one in Suffolk; two in Rockland; one in Ulster and two in Saratoga
Cuomo criticized the CDC for being
unprepared, even as the outbreak became clear in China by December (“It is
delusional not to expect people to come from China”), and only recently
allowing states to do their own testing. New York has the Wadsworth lab, but
now is asking the CDC to authorize the state to utilize private labs, like
“Not to be using this laboratory, not to be using the other private labs around the state makes no sense whatsoever. Not to be using automated testing, which means rather than a person manually handling a test tube and a test, the machines we saw that handle 120 samples at a time place them in a machine, the machine runs the test. Of course you should be using that technology. And it’s one thing for the CDC not to have the testing capacity in place themselves, but that was bad enough. For the CDC not to be authorizing existing labs to do the work, there’s no excuse for that.”
Cuomo also criticized the federal government for creating unnecessary confusion, which fuels fear. “The President of the United States says anyone who wants a test can have a test. Vice President of the United States says we don’t have the testing capacity. People say, how can you say both things? You can’t say both things. We don’t have the testing capacity that we need. Not everyone who wants a test can have a test.
“We have to prioritize the people who get the tests to fit our capacity, right. You can’t ask more people to come in and get tested until you know you have the capacity to test them. The number of people coming in for a test must equal the number of tests you can perform. That’s why in New York we have a standard protocol that’s in place all across the state, prioritizing who can get tested to fit our testing capacity.
“Once we increase our
testing capacity and we can perform more tests, then we can change the
prioritization of those people coming in for the tests. We have a statewide
protocol because we don’t want people shopping tests. I don’t want someone from
Nassau driving to Suffolk, driving to Manhattan, driving to Westchester because
you have different rules on who can get a test. Everyone, everywhere in this
state has the same rules, doesn’t matter where you go. Hopefully, the CDC acts
responsibly and acts quickly and we raise the capacity, we bring a great facility
like this online with the automated testing. We can then get testing per day to
about 1000 tests. And then we can calibrate the prioritization to the capacity.”
Governor also addressed price gouging, which is happening across the state and
the nation, “symptomatic of fear.”
“It’s unethical, exploitative of fear and illegal,” he said. “To make a few extra bucks on hand sanitizer, they would jeopardize their license to do business. There is an increased penalty for price gouging.” He said that consumers can call a hot line, that state police are investigating and the state Attorney General has the power to prosecute.
The state’s Division of Consumer Protection has created an online consumer complaint form, where New Yorkers can report suspected price gouging or concerns about improper delivery of quantity. (Consumers who wish to file a complaint can visit https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/.)
Also, travel insurance companies and travel agents will offer New York residents and businesses the ability to purchase coverage when making travel plans that would allow them to cancel a trip for any reason, including for reasons related to COVID-19.
The Department of
Financial Services issued guidance allowing
travel agents and travel insurers to offer this type of coverage after DFS
received consumer complaints that such polices were not available in New York
State. This new action is designed to provide reassurance to New York
businesses and residents who are seeking to make plans that may involve travel
to locations that are not currently under travel advisories due to COVID-19.
Six global and national
insurance companies have agreed to offer “cancel for any reason”
coverage to travelers, including: Allianz, Nationwide, Starr Indemnity,
Berkshire, Crum & Forster, and Zurich.
DFS also directed New York State travel insurance issuers to proactively reach out to individuals and businesses who bought their policies to let them know what is covered. (Read a copy of the DFS Insurance Guidance Letter)
Yesterday, the Governor announced that he declared a state of emergency to help New York more quickly and effectively contain the spread of the virus. The state of emergency declaration allows, among other things:
Expedited procurement of cleaning supplies,
hand sanitizer and other essential resources
Allowing qualified professionals other
than doctors and nurses to conduct testing
Expedited procurement of testing
supplies and equipment
Expedited personnel onboarding
Expedited leasing of lab space
Allowing EMS personnel to transport
patients to quarantine locations other than just hospitals
Providing clear basis for price gouging
and enforcement investigation
“We do not want to have to do massive close
downs, massive quarantines, and we don’t want members of the vulnerable
population getting sick. That is why we are doing what we are doing,” Cuomo
“So in sum, CDC let’s
move, authorize the State to authorize private labs, get this most sophisticated
lab in the State, one of the most sophisticated labs in the country, get this
lab to work. Why you wouldn’t makes absolutely no sense.
“And to New Yorkers, we
understand the facts. Keep this in perspective. We don’t want a lot of people
getting this virus. We don’t want to take more drastic measures. But, if you
get the virus, you will get sick, you will recover, you most likely won’t even
go to the hospital. And the only the people who we really have to worry about
are the vulnerable populations – senior citizens, people with compromised
“So keep it all in
perspective. I know there’s a whole frenzy about it, the facts do not justify
the frenzy, period. The biggest problem we have in this situation is fear, not
the virus. The virus we can handle. It’s the fear. And the fear is just
In contrast with the disjointed, chaotic,
ineffective, politicized handling to stem the coronavirus pandemic offered by
the Trump Administration still more concerned about the stock market than lives
(Trump suggested a new benchmark, that since as many as 65,000 people die each
year from seasonal flu – “Who knew? I find that amazing” – that anything less
would be considered victory), every Democratic candidate to replace Trump has
demonstrated more effective leadership. Trump has honed in on pushing the
Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, and for further tax cuts which will do
nothing to address the actual global economic impacts of a pandemic – curtailed
production and consumer demand as well as general business uncertainty – Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to
take decisive action to both keep American families healthy and stabilize the
economy. This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Today, Elizabeth Warren
released her plan to take decisive action to keep American families healthy and
stabilize our economy as the virus spreads.
Elizabeth Warren’s plan will:
Ensure that every American — including the millions of
Americans who are uninsured — can get all recommended evaluation and care for
coronavirus for free, including any recommended coronavirus vaccine once it is
Create an emergency paid leave program so that anyone who
meets the CDC’s description of relevant symptoms of coronavirus or is exposed
and placed under quarantine can get fully paid time off of work to consult a
doctor and recover—or provide care to a family member or other dependent who
Enact at least a $400 billion fiscal stimulus package to
head off the potential economic impact of coronavirus.
Elizabeth discussed these
concrete solutions to the coming economic shocks of coronavirus at a town hall
in Houston over the weekend. The plan released today builds on her
comprehensive plan to prevent, contain, and treat infectious diseases outbreaks
like coronavirus she released more than four weeks
ago — before any of the other candidates, or the incumbent in
the White House.
Protecting our People and our Economy from Coronavirus
Coronavirus is a public health emergency and a serious threat to the American
economy. While it’s important that our leaders communicate calmly and clearly
about the situation to avoid unnecessary panic, it’s just as important that we
take decisive action to keep American families healthy and stabilize our
economy as the virus spreads.
I rang the warning bells for years
before the 2008 crisis. Quicker action during the Bush
Administration could have reduced the severity of the crisis — or averted it
entirely. While we still don’t know the full scope of the public health and
economic impact of coronavirus, and even further actions may be necessary in
upcoming months, we should take the following steps right now to limit the
spread of the virus and get ahead of its economic impact:
Ensure that every American — including the millions of
Americans who are uninsured — can get all recommended evaluation and care for
coronavirus for free, including any recommended coronavirus vaccine once it is
Create an emergency paid leave program so that anyone
presenting with the symptoms of coronavirus, or who has a family member or
other dependent presenting with the symptoms of coronavirus, can get fully paid
time off of work to see a doctor, get treatment, or provide care.
Enact at least a $400 billion fiscal stimulus package to
head off the potential economic impact of coronavirus.
Ensuring Every American Can Get Free Care for Coronavirus
Medicare for All will prevent this kind of problem in the future. But in the short term, facing a potential outbreak, we must ensure that every person in this country can talk to a doctor if they think they might have coronavirus—and get the recommended testing and care they need if they do.
Our response must ensure that every person in this country can get recommended evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment for coronavirus for free. Congress should dedicate sufficient funding to reimburse health care providers and hospitals for uncompensated care relating to coronavirus. This fund should also be large enough to cover the costs of government mandated quarantines or isolation for patients who cannot afford any bills that it may generate. Congress should also require that insurers fully cover all recommended care for coronavirus, including appropriate evaluation, diagnostic testing, and treatment.
What does my plan mean for you? It means that you could get all recommended medical advice and care for coronavirus for free—regardless of whether you have hit your deductible, whether you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, or have no insurance at all.
Ensuring Hospital and Health System Capacity. Because of the way coronavirus spreads, many more people will be exposed to it than we saw with Zika or Ebola. That means our health system will see a surge in demand for basic primary care and diagnostic screenings in the midst of an already brutal flu season that has stretched hospitals’ capacity. To address the likely increase in people seeking medical evaluation and treatment for coronavirus, Congress should provide a temporary surge in funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers, Community Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics, and safety-net hospitals to increase their capacity.
Ensuring Access to Vaccines and Other Medical Countermeasures. We must increase federal investment in developing a coronavirus vaccine and ensure that every person who needs the vaccine can get it at no personal cost. As we did during the outbreak of H1N1 (the “swine flu”), the government should guarantee that it will purchase a bulk quantity of the eventual vaccine for coronavirus. This will create an incentive for the private sector to develop it quickly and ensure manufacturers of sufficient demand.
We must also ensure — either under existing laws or through new congressional action — that health insurance companies and federal health programs cover any recommended coronavirus vaccine with no cost sharing, similar to the H1N1 vaccines from 2009. The government can also distribute the vaccines to vulnerable populations and provide them for free to the uninsured. In the event that a private sector manufacturer wants to charge an outrageous price for the vaccine once it is developed, the government should contract for its manufacture or invoke compulsory licensing as I have called for in other drug pricing contexts, and as the government threatened to do during the 2001 anthrax scare.
Together, these actions will ensure that every American can get the vital medical advice and care they need for coronavirus for free. That is not only the moral thing to do, it limits the spread of the disease and keeps us all safer.
Guaranteeing Every American Fully Paid Emergency Leave for Coronavirus Testing and Recovery
America’s shameful lack of national paid leave and sick days will worsen the spread of coronavirus. People who feel sick will go into work anyway, afraid of losing their jobs or the pay they badly need. Parents may feel compelled to work even as their kids or their elderly relatives might need medical attention. Research shows that mandated paid leave and sick days dramatically reduce the spread of diseases.
Congress must act to pass Senator Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act, which would provide up to twelve weeks per year of paid leave to all workers to care for themselves and their loved ones in case of serious medical issues or the welcoming of a new child. As President, I will fight to make this policy the law. But in the face of a public health crisis, we can’t wait — and should immediately make cash assistance available to people who need time off because of coronavirus through an “emergency paid leave” program.
Here’s how it would work:
Anyone who meets the CDC’s description of relevant symptoms
or is exposed and placed under quarantine — or has a family member or other
dependent who meets that description — will be eligible for emergency paid
leave to take time off to follow CDC’s recommended course of action, which may
include self-isolation, evaluation and testing, or treatment.
Emergency paid leave will be available pursuant to CDC’s
guidelines about the appropriate length of recovery and quarantine or isolation
time for those who contract or are exposed to coronavirus. If a family
caretaker is also required during this period, that person will also be
eligible for emergency paid leave.
Anyone eligible for the program will receive emergency paid
leave that fully replaces their actual wage income — up to a cap set at the
99th wage percentile.
My emergency paid leave program will accomplish two critical
goals. First, it will give people the financial peace of mind to take time off
to stay home and recover or care for a loved one who has the symptoms of
coronavirus or has been exposed to it. That will help limit the spread of the
disease. Second, providing access to paid leave benefits funded by the
government rather than by employers during this health crisis will help
stabilize businesses, who will be relieved of the burden of potentially paying
large shares of their workforce for long absences.
Enacting At Least a $400 Billion Stimulus to Head Off the Projected Economic
Effects of Coronavirus, and Announcing a Federal Reserve Emergency Lending
Based on those factors and the range of projections for the economic impact
of coronavirus, we should immediately enact a stimulus package that represents
an authorization of at least 2% of GDP, or roughly $400 billion.
The stimulus should focus on the following categories of spending:
Low or no-interest loans to companies of all sizes that are
negatively affected by supply chain disruptions, reductions in tourism, or
other temporary coronavirus-related impacts, and that will use the funds to
avoid layoffs and hours reductions, not for additional executive compensation,
dividends, or share buybacks.
Unemployment insurance and other direct payments to
households — with exact amounts tied to unemployment levels and wage growth.
Other aid to state and local governments that may be losing
revenue because of coronavirus, in order to minimize reductions in services for
Jump starting our ability to make our own active
pharmaceutical ingredients and their base components by establishing a strategy
to support domestic manufacturers—with the ultimate goal of requiring all
federal agencies that procure or reimburse for drugs (like the DOD, VA, and
Medicare) to preference drugs with American-made ingredients. My legislation to
allow the government to manufacture drugs would provide a strong foundation for
Green infrastructure investments, like domestically produced
clean energy, that can be accomplished even with the supply chain disruptions
that are likely to exist with a widespread coronavirus outbreak.
In addition, whether the Federal Reserve Board chooses to cut interest rates or not, itshould announce as soon as possible — and no later than the markets opening on Monday — that it stands ready to use its emergency lending authority to create a broad-based emergency lending facility program to help real economy companies whose supply chains have been disrupted because of the coronavirus and who will use the money to do right by their workforce.
Companies across America are already struggling with supply chain disruptions, and we don’t want these temporary struggles to lead to widespread layoffs or for otherwise solid companies to go under. While Congress should deliver the stimulus package I described above to help these types of companies, an immediate announcement from the Fed of this type of program will give companies — and markets — confidence that the Fed is available as a lender of last resort if Congress fails to deliver, and could help avert a more severe downturn.