U.S. Rep. Tom Reed joined President Trump and other Republicans Tuesday in calling for commerce to restart in the country much sooner than public health officials say would be prudent.
The response to coronavirus and the economic revival from a virtual national shutdown will need to overlap, said Reed, who is concerned about people without jobs or sufficient income.
Businesses need to survive, too, the Corning Republican said.
The congressman said he hoped the House could vote soon on the bill being negotiated and debated in the Senate.
Above all, any bill needs to ensure businesses can “cover their (workers) paychecks” as the country deals with coronavirus, Reed said. “We have shut down a $25 trillion U.S. economy.”
Businesses need “to keep their doors open and keep as many people on their payroll as possible,” Reed added. The alternative is “to allow them to have access to cash so we can get through this crisis together.”
Reed said the Senate bill being negotiated Tuesday was designed with small and large businesses in mind “so they can weather the storm.” It will help business infrastructure and individuals get back to work when the time comes.
He noted, “The question is how do we turn the lights on?”
Reed and members of his bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus are meeting with U.S. senators on the bill, which Senate members are squabbling over.
“We are sending the message that no one is to blame for this,” Reed said. “It’s Mother Nature throwing us a curve ball.”
Reed said he refuses to call the bill a bailout. “We need to stay away from the partisan rhetoric, from the traditional ideological battles and focus on delivering results.” He said he anticipates a “phase four” bill as well.
What about Trump’s recent retreat from social distancing and easing business restrictions, contrary to public health officials warning to stay away?
Reed said informed decisions will be easier to make in a week or two.
The economic crisis spawned by COVID-19 could spiral into an economic depression, Reed said. It is important to begin to plan for when the lights come back on.
“We need to approach this regionally,” Reed said. While it’s obvious New York City can’t reopen for business right away, there are regions where the novel coronavirus isn’t hitting as hard yet.
The ability to deal with a hot spot of COVID-19 infection is critical.
Reed noted that in his 11-county 23rd Congressional District, hospitals and county health officials are meeting health needs and appear ready for a surge of cases.
“We have not had a hot zone go off in the district,” Reed said. “This virus is here among us. More testing shows more cases. Don’t panic. Most people who are exposed will have mild or no symptoms.”
Reed said his office has been in contact with district hospitals and has been advocating for emergency supplies from private, state and federal sources. “We’ve been in contact with them to make sure they have the capacity.”
Reed said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been asking for 30,000 ventilators to meet the expected surge in COVID-19 patients. The equipment is flowing to New York City from federal stockpiles. Manufacturers are retooling to meet the demand.
Many personal protective equipment manufacturers have been able to resupply stocks in New York, Reed said. “We start with existing stocks, then to state offices, federal offices and the federal stockpile.”