Mar 20 2020
We’ve all been inconvenienced by cancellations, closures and curfews because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. I understand the disappointment of basketball teams prevented from playing in the state championship game, the frustration of postponing spring break travel and the difficulty of keeping kids occupied while schools are closed. Sacrifices like these illustrate the seriousness of the problem we are facing as a nation and the urgency to work together to protect ourselves and fellow citizens against this virus.
Congress is taking steps to ensure resources are available to state and local governments to mitigate the spread of the disease, treat those infected and support research to find a vaccine. In early March, we passed a comprehensive package to help the local, state and federal governments meet the growing challenges. We also recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a package specifically designed to provide support for hardworking Americans and families who are facing financial challenges due to this outbreak.
We all have a role to play to minimize the challenges this virus poses to us, our loved ones and our fellow Americans. We must follow the guidance and recommendations of our medical experts to reduce the risk of infection, including frequent handwashing, covering our mouths with a flexed elbow when sneezing or coughing and practicing social distancing. In recent days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its recommendations to limit interactions with others by avoiding public gatherings and encouraging staying at home whenever possible. Suppliers are urging Americans to not overbuy during trips to the grocery stores, as the supply chain is strong and the goods consumers need will remain available. These are small but important things we can do to make a big difference in this fight.
Precautions like these are necessary to ensure patients who become sick with COVID-19 have access to hospitals, medical treatment and resources they need to recover. The number of individuals who become ill will grow, but reducing the opportunities to transmit the virus will give our health care workers more time to prepare and respond to this ongoing outbreak. Doctors, nurses and medical professionals on the front lines of the fight are being stretched in an unprecedented way. We are indebted to them for their efforts and we need to do our part to help.
It’s times like these when we need to be thinking of others. We all know someone who has a weakened immune system. Whether it’s a family member, friend or neighbor, spreading COVID-19 by avoiding proper precautions could land these individuals in the hospital, or worse.
People age 60 or older are particularly vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19, especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions. It is advised that individuals older than 80 exercise even more caution.
The Arkansas Department of Health imposed requirements preventing visitors to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the state. This is an important measure to protect high-risk individuals.
I’m continuing to stay in contact with Arkansas officials and medical providers about how the federal government can best support the state’s needs. While this is certainly a trying time for Arkansans and all Americans, it’s moments like this when we shine. We can slow down the spread of this virus, but it’s going to take all us working together to do so. Let’s do our part to protect ourselves, our families, friends and neighbors.