By Susan A. Davis
As coronavirus grips the nation and spreads throughout the world, it is understandably causing anxiety and disrupting our lives. Our response needs to rise to the occasion – providing health services, economic relief, and reassurance that we can make it through this crisis.
As cases broke out in California and across the nation, I reached out to my constituents to get their thoughts. Nearly 80% of you expressed concern with the outbreak and a majority were not happy with the government’s response to the crisis, which is understandable.
More than three-quarters of constituents asked for regular email updates, which I have been providing.
The Congress, led by the House of Representatives, has passed legislation responding to the outbreak.
The first was the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, a bipartisan, emergency response package that provides $8.3 billion for the development of treatments and a coronavirus vaccine.
It also supports small businesses impacted by this epidemic, allowing for low-interest SBA loans to those affected economically by the virus.
Soon after, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
This bill will provide free testing for the coronavirus, even for the uninsured.
Locally, we must ensure we have enough tests for the community. While we are not where we want to be with testing, work is being done to get testing on a level to meet our needs.
If you are feeling sick, you should stay home and that can mean a critical loss of income. This bill will provide 14 days of paid sick leave.
We are already hearing stories of Americans who are losing their jobs as a result of the economic impact of the spread of the virus.
The bill includes $1 billion for unemployment insurance benefits. These funds will replace a significant share of lost wages so that those impacted can pay their bills.
While the two bills passed by Congress have some economic relief, we will need to go further to lessen any financial impact for those losing wages or having to fund medical or support services like childcare that wasn’t planned for.
Schools around the country are taking proper caution by discontinuing in-person learning. Unfortunately, this means that many students, who usually get meals at school, could be left without food.
The Families First bill includes funding to ensure domestic nutrition assistance programs have adequate resources.
In addition, I have updated my office policy due to the current situation. My office has suspended in-person meetings and many of my staff are working remotely.
My San Diego office will continue providing constituent services but we are asking people to call my office first as we are open by appointment only.
If you require constituent services, you can visit my website: susandavis.house.gov or call 619-280-5353.
Obviously and understandably, world governments, including the United States, are focused on containing the spread of the virus and treating people who have been infected.
However, as we move past this crisis – and we will – we need to look at how these pandemics begin and start taking prevention and preparedness seriously.
It is unconscionable, that the Trump Administration shut down the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense.
There are U.S. agencies that also work to identify the next virus that may cause the next pandemic. They include USAID, NIH and the Department of Defense.
Are these agencies getting the resources and support they need to be effective? It’s a conversation we need to have.
As my top priority now is stopping this virus and helping my constituents, in the future I will be looking at whether we are doing enough prevention.
These can be unsettling times but there are inspiring stories of people working together and sacrificing to stop the spread of the virus. However, some are still not taking this with the seriousness necessary. As Dr. Anthony Fauci says, it’s better to be criticized for overreacting.
I would love to hear some of the creative actions taken by my constituents – like online tutoring, calling on neighbors, etc.
Americans have a long history of rising to the enormity of these crises. Together as a nation, as neighbors, and as a family, we will overcome this challenge.
— Congresswoman Davis represents central San Diego, including the communities of Grantville, Allied Gardens, San Carlos, Del Cerro, Old Town, Kensington, Mission Hills, University Heights, Hillcrest Bankers Hill, North Park, South Park, Talmadge, Normal Heights, as well as La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and parts of El Cajon and Chula Vista.