Balancing the needs of Kansans for financial and mental well-being with efforts to reduce risk of outbreaks is key to reopening the economy, says Sen. Jerry Moran.
In an update on the federal response to COVID-19 hosted by the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce via webinar on Tuesday afternoon, Moran cited the need for broad-based testing, as well as the ability to track and isolate cases of COVID-19 as central to any efforts at reopening the economy. But, he said, the most important step will be the development and fielding of a vaccine.
“First of all, I’d apologize for the circumstance that we all find ourselves in,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do to try to make certain that we recover. In my view, recovery means that people need to be healthy, need to know that they’re healthy.
“While all of us are anxious for a return to something of near normal, I think the way that we get there is by making certain that we have the necessary tools in place to protect people from the virus, to make sure that if it’s contracted, that we have the necessary healthcare delivery system to care for people, and to make certain that people know that it’s OK to go back out to work.”
Noting that businesses across the state and country have been shuttered for weeks, Moran said he supports a federal stimulus and bailout bill because of the widespread impact of the coronavirus.
“I see that if we don’t address the health and well-being of people, both economically and medically, that this is a problem that’s going to linger for a long time,” he added. “We need to do better in that regard, than doing nothing, and in my view, there probably will be an additional phase that deals with this issue.”
Moran answered a variety of questions from Shawnee constituents. Some of his overall sentiments:
- He encourages businesses to reopen responsibly and urges his constituents to continue practicing social distancing and wear a mask when necessary.
- He foresees liability issues coming out of reopening (e.g., someone becomes infected while patronizing a business, and the business becomes financially and/or legally responsible for it), and he expects those issues, while divisive at the state and federal levels, will be more easily resolved in the Kansas Legislature.
- Citing the country’s lack of preparedness, he wants to encourage the state to rebuild its supplies for a possible second wave of infections in the coming months. He believes that local and federal agencies have underinvested in county health departments, which he considers to be vital tools to the emergency response during the pandemic.
- Citing inequities in internet access and enhanced quality of in-person education, he would like to see children return to school in the fall if it’s safe to do so.
- He would also support timely efforts to improve the country’s budget and reduce federal debt by returning spending back to pre-coronavirus levels.