A Roadmap to Recovery
I hope you are staying healthy - both physically and emotionally - during this difficult time. The past few weeks have been challenging, but the spirit, generosity and resiliency of Granite Staters has been so inspiring and is an important reminder that when times get tough, our state gets together and can weather any storm. I am so grateful to our first responders, health care workers, and all who are on the frontlines of this crisis. We will get through this, and I will continue to advocate for you and your family every day.
Responsibly Moving Forward from the COVID-19 Pandemic
After traveling to Washington last week to vote for legislation to ensure New Hampshire receives additional COVID-19 funding and support, I continued to practice physical distancing and working from home this week. On Tuesday, Congressman Chris Pappas and I held our eighth tele-town hall on the coronavirus pandemic, and on Wednesday, I introduced my “Roadmap to Recovery” plan which outlines specific public health and economic policies we can put into place to return to normal.
It’s been incredibly heartening to see the dedication with which Granite Staters have worked to ‘flatten the curve,’ and these efforts are working to save lives and protect the most vulnerable among our communities. These measures are effective and necessary, but they have had tremendous economic consequences for families, workers, and small businesses. We need to look at how we can responsibly begin to take the next steps forward. My “Roadmap to Recovery” outlines important federal, state, and community measures that should be in place to ensure that as we consider reopening, lives are not put at risk and the threat of this terrible virus is kept in check. It is critical that as we begin to return to a more normal routine, we do so in a way that does not jeopardize the progress and sacrifices we have made.
My “Roadmap to Recovery” plan includes legislation to financially support frontline workers including healthcare professionals, firefighters, police, grocers and postal workers. Specifically, the proposal highlights the need for the following measures:
A comprehensive national testing strategy
This involves developing a national response that can rapidly test every symptomatic case or those suspected to be exposed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), must develop a long-term strategy for rapidly administering tests and work in close coordination with private-sector companies on manufacturing accurate tests.
Robust community contact tracing
An important but difficult element of our recovery will be recruiting and deploying workers to assist with community tracing of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19. Once an individual has tested positive, it is critically important to trace who that person has come in contact with so those people are aware of possible exposure to the virus. Last week, I helped introduce the UNITE Act, which would increase our national recruitment of AmeriCorps volunteers and create good-paying jobs for a national testing corps.
Continued physical distancing
As states look towards easing stay-at-home orders, it will be important to continue embracing physical distancing measures to protect yourself and those around you from exposure. Public health experts across the board recommend that states should consider lifting these orders only when there has been a 14-day period of consistent declines in confirmed cases. As states consider a phased in approach for retail businesses and restaurants, it will be important that these establishments consider physical distancing and the health of patrons during a phased-in reopening.
Support mechanisms for those who must continue to self-isolate
Congress should consider additional measures that provide financial support to individuals who must self-isolate to protect family members and the public from COVID-19 exposure, and ensure that subsequent treatment is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other health insurance plans. This measure will work in conjunction with community contact tracing and national testing to ensure that we are fully monitoring any potential resurgence of COVID-19 and responding to isolated outbreaks.
The expanded use of the Defense Production Act for the production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical supplies
The lack of a coordinated and centralized federal effort to procure, manufacture and distribute PPE has led to states competing amongst each other for these critical resources. President Trump must expand the use of the Defense Production Act to instruct manufacturers to make the PPE, testing kits and swabs, ventilators and other materials necessary for America to fully combat this virus.
Rapid vaccine development
While scientists and health researchers are already working around the clock to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, it is critical that we keep this goal front of mind as we identify policies that get America back to work. To support this goal, Congress must boost funding towards the research and development of a vaccine - this is one of the most strategic investments we can make to both protect public health and get our economy back to work.
Expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
The Paycheck Protection Program has been an effective tool to keep small businesses afloat during this downturn, and keep workers paid. Congress must provide additional flexibility for this Program and ensure that it is responsive to future developments and isolated outbreaks if they happen, and ensure there is sufficient funding so that all businesses that qualify for the PPP receive grants and loans through it. To achieve this goal, I have cosponsored H.R. 6506, the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act, which triples the funding available through the PPP to $900 billion and allows businesses to automatically receive new loans throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
Continued support for unemployed and financially struggling individuals
With an unemployment rate approaching 20%, it is critical for the Federal government to shore up state unemployment trust funds and continue to support Americans who are out of work. I have advocated for Congress to provide at least $15.1 billion to these important programs and will continue to support policies that get Granite Staters back to work.
Additional support & funding for state and local governments
While Congress included important funding to towns and municipalities in the CARES Act through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, more must be done to support localities facing significant revenue shortfalls. Our small towns have stepped up to the plate in responding to COVID-19 and have been on the frontlines battling this virus. We must be there for them and ensure they don’t go bankrupt.
Support for frontline heroes - legislation to provide $25,000 in student loan debt forgiveness or education credits for essential workers and their families
Nurses and doctors, grocery store workers, police officers and firefighters, postal carriers and workers across a number of other industries have taken on tremendous risks to their personal health to keep our families safe and our society functioning during this unprecedented crisis. They have truly been essential. To honor their service, Congress should pass my legislation, The Opportunities for Heroes Act. This bill will provide $25,000 in student loan debt forgiveness or education credits for essential workers and their families.
You can read my full “Roadmap to Recovery” plan HERE.
The 2020 Census
In addition to staying home to “flatten the curve,” filling out the 2020 Census is another important way to help your community. The Census takes about 10 minutes and is critical to ensuring that Granite State communities have the resources, funds, and representation they deserve. You can fill out the questionnaire online at my2020census.gov!
Resources for You
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) are the best resources to turn to during this public health emergency.
Remember: Keep calm and wash your hands. If you are sick, stay home and call your health care provider. If you live in NH and have questions about coronavirus, dial 2-1-1. Visit CDC.gov for more information.