Coronavirus Update

March 10, 2020

March 10, 2020

Dear Friend –  

As your Congressman, I want to assure you that I am doing all I can to provide the necessary resources medical professionals need to protect you from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that has now reached Memphis and is likely to spread. Congress last week passed an emergency spending bill of $8.2 billion, that has now become law, to support institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health that are doing the important research to develop a vaccine. The bill also included Small Business Administration (SBA) loans for businesses affected by the illness. 

This week, as the Trump Administration contemplates new tax cuts for major corporations affected by the coronavirus, House Democrats have made clear that our response must include these priorities: 

  • Paid sick leave — workers impacted by quarantine orders or responsible for caring for children impacted by school closures must receive paid sick leave to alleviate the devastating consequences of lost wages; 
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance — we must ensure unemployment insurance benefits are available and sufficient for workers who may lose their jobs from the economic impacts of the epidemic; 
  • Food security — we must expand SNAP, WIC, school lunch programs and other initiatives and suspend implementation of any regulations that weaken federal food assistance, in order to ensure vulnerable populations do not lose access to food during this epidemic;  
  • Clear protections for frontline workers — we must have clear standards and sufficient distribution of necessary protective equipment for health care and other workers who are in contact with people who have been exposed or are suffering from the virus as well as the people responsible for cleaning buildings and public facilities; 
  • Widespread and free coronavirus testing — to control the spread of coronavirus, the Administration must ensure that all who need an evaluation are able to access locations for cost-free testing and rapidly increase the unacceptably low daily test processing capacity inside the U.S.;  
  • Affordable treatment for all — patients must be reimbursed for any non-covered coronavirus-related costs, or else the epidemic will be worsened because families will fear they cannot afford the costs associated with treatment;  
  • Anti-price gouging protections — we must ensure that hard-working families are protected from price gouging of medical and non-medical essentials during this emergency;  
  • Increase capacity of medical systems — we must use our emergency response mechanisms to mobilize resources and facilities in order to respond to surges in demand.  

Individuals must do what we can to protect ourselves and others. I urge everyone to follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found here, including regularly washing hands, coughing and sneezing into your elbow rather than your hands, staying home when you’re sick and avoiding crowds.  Please see the CDC website for information here.  
As always, I remain 
Most Sincerely, 

Steve Cohen 
Member of Congress