U.S. House candidates on the issues: The federal COVID-19 response

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead November’s general election. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for the U.S. House seat covering Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District.

We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item #3:

The number of deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the United States is considerably higher than many developed Western countries (like Canada, France and Germany) — though slightly below others (like the UK and Spain). Are you satisfied with the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? What could the government have done differently to improve outcomes here in the United States?

Steve Hohe (Libertarian)

The federal government did an outstanding job through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in identifying the virus, how it’s transferred and who it will effect. In regards to when it was handed to the states, that’s when it fell all apart. they did not have the right staffing or leadership to handle it, thus it went into lockdown. It became political due to ignorance.

Now the question is ,”What could the government have done differently to improve outcomes here in the United States?” Truthfully, the federal government did the best they could under a free society. The other countries that you refer to are semi-socialistic or socialistic in nature, and their governments have full control of their destinies.

We are a free society and the CDC is an advisory bureau of the federal government. Being a free society, we leave it up to the American people to receive scientific data and make their decisions. The CDC is the world’s top-ranked in this field. Other second- and third-world countries look to us to figure out their problems. I guess you’re thinking, “How Smug I am!” Well, in the mid- to late 1980’s I was the Squadron NBC/ Chemical Warfare trainer at the Air Force Strategic Air Command, while you and most of my opponents were in junior or senior high school. I’ve trained and been involved in scenarios of nuclear, chemical and biological incidents.

We need a national disaster dashboard both accessible and transparent to the American people first, their towns and cities second and states third. Information is power and it’s important to provide scientific information and not fears or threats.

Amanda Adkins (Republican)

Hindsight is always 20/20. At the outset of the pandemic, our leaders faced a once-in-a-century threat of massive scale with limited scientific information about the pathogen, little data about the first waves of cases in China, and an understandably unsettled and confused public. The federal government’s approach was guided by a longstanding model for disaster response and relief: federally supported, state-managed, and locally executed. There is always room for improvement, but I hope we’ll look back with grace for our leaders, Democrat and Republican, who dealt with an emerging threat with much less knowledge than we have today.

Finger-pointing and political games are not productive, but assessing the health factors at play in the COVID-19 mortality statistics can be. We know that Americans with underlying health conditions, like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, are at significantly greater risk for severe complications from the virus. Chronic disease management has long been a weak point of our healthcare system, and that shortcoming has had terrible consequences throughout the course of this pandemic.

It’s time for Washington to implement real reforms to make our healthcare system smarter, more transparent, and affordable for Kansas City families. Our health care system must help people better manage chronic conditions and offer better preventative approaches, including addressing social determinants of health head-on. Reducing rates of obesity, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes would yield tremendous benefits for longevity, quality of life, and the overall cost of care. I’ve spent much of my career focusing on population health and chronic disease management, and I’ll take that experience to Washington to fight for the changes we need. A better, more resilient health care system is not only one that costs families less, but also one that actually enables them to be healthier. That goal was a centerpiece of my career in business, and it will remain an important focus of my time in Congress.

Sharice Davids (incumbent Democrat)

The coronavirus pandemic has caused enormous devastation to our families, workers, small businesses, and communities. While the government has taken steps to address this crisis – there is much more work to be done.

I was proud to work with the President and my Republican and Democrat colleagues to pass four bills that help folks weather this pandemic – including sending direct payments to Americans, expanding unemployment insurance, and enacting paid sick leave so no one is forced to choose between their health and their job. But we still have massive challenges, and unfortunately we have not seen the real leadership out of this White House needed to get the virus under control and keep our families safe as the economy reopens. I’ve consistently pushed for the President to implement a national testing strategy and use the Defense Production Act to ramp up the supply of medical equipment and personal protective gear needed to keep people safe as we reopen our economy, but he has failed to do so.

I’ve also called on Congressional leaders to come together and pass a bipartisan relief package, one that increases access to testing, protective equipment, and other vital supplies, like my bill the SUPPLIES Act would. It must also provide state and local funding to keep paying our health care workers, teachers, firefighters and other frontline workers. Lastly, the package must include strong transparency and accountability measures so we make sure this funding is going to those who need it most – not just special interests and the well-connected.


Tomorrow, we will publish the U.S. House candidates’ responses to item #4 on our questionnaire: 

The United States currently spends more per capita on healthcare costs than any developed country — yet our citizens’ health outcomes continue to lag, with rates of obesity and chronic disease much higher than our peers. What does the U.S. need to do to lower its healthcare spending and improve healthcare outcomes for its residents? Should universal health insurance be a priority and, if so, what form should that take?