Cincinnati Enquirer: Chabot: We all have a role to play in mitigating the spread of COVID-19
Washington, April 2, 2020
Throughout Ohio, many businesses are making responsible, but painful decisions to close their doors in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19, or the new coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic is having devastating financial consequences on those businesses and their workers. Too many people have lost their jobs or have been furloughed, and are now facing increasingly dire personal financial situations.
As the current ranking member and former chairman of the House Small Business Committee, it pains me to see so many people and businesses struggling throughout our communities. That’s why in Congress we passed legislation recently that will provide immediate relief to small businesses and every day Ohioans affected by the coronavirus crisis. This legislative relief will swiftly send checks (depending on income) to U.S. citizens, and provide financial assistance for small businesses so they don’t close down permanently.
Democratic Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez and I have worked with our counterparts in the Senate to ensure that small businesses, and not just large corporations, will receive substantial assistance from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Because of that bipartisan work, small businesses across the country will be eligible for generous, low-interest loans, which are forgivable, as long as the money goes for such things as employee payroll, rent, utilities, and interest on mortgage payments.
In our nation’s efforts to combat this epidemic, one particular concern is the need for increasing the supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) for health care workers, and ventilators for patients who will need them for their very survival. I, along with six Republican members of Congress, and seven Democrats, introduced a resolution urging the Trump administration to utilize the Defense Production Act to produce these life-saving items as expeditiously as possible. The Defense Production Act was first used during the Korean War, as well as during the Iraq war, the 2008-09 economic meltdown, and again during the 2017 hurricane in Puerto Rico.
Already, we’ve seen tech companies, typically fierce competitors, coming together to fight this disease. Google has launched a website touted by President Trump that provides state resources, safety, and prevention tips relating to COVID-19. The company is also offering technology resources to businesses across the country.
Others are doing their part as well. Zoom is helping people stay socially connected. Facebook is offering $100 million in small business grants. And companies such as Tesla, Ford, and General Motors are exploring their capacity to manufacture ventilators to relieve any potential shortage.
Going forward, we must also take every precaution to see that the United States is best positioned to avoid potential pandemics in the future. Again, in a bipartisan effort, Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia and I introduced the Global Health Security Act (H.R. 2166) which would elevate health security as a global priority. The bill passed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and would significantly help prevent infectious diseases, like the coronavirus, from spreading from other countries to the United States.
This crisis has presented Ohioans and companies, both big and small, with unprecedented challenges, that must be taken seriously. Based on our current knowledge of the coronavirus, it appears that many people who contract the disease will recover with minimal complications, and some may not even show symptoms. However, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, are vulnerable to serious illness or death. Thus, we must unite as a nation to take the necessary precautions to ensure that the virus does not spread. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to this problem.
Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 will require legislative relief, social distancing, economic stimulus, new technologies, and the minds of our best scientists to produce a vaccine and a treatment. We all have a role to play in protecting those that are most susceptible to the virus. We are all in this together, but I have no doubt that we will recover and thrive as a nation united.
Congressman Steve Chabot, R-Westwood, represents Ohio’s 1st District in the United States House of Representatives and is the ranking member of the House Committee on Small Business.