Fighting Back: “Democrats support science-based responses to public health threats.”

 
 

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Dr. Raul Ruiz, a Congressman from California, discussing the science-based actions Democrats have taken to address COVID-19.

(Congressman Raul Ruiz of California delivered the Weekly Democratic Address. In this week’s address, the Congressman discussed the strong, science-based actions House Democrats have taken to combat the coronavirus threat, including the bipartisan emergency response funding package which passed this week.)

“This week, House Democrats took early and decisive action to protect the health of the American people by passing the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.

“This aid package allocates $8.3 billion to address the coronavirus outbreak, including: more than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness and response efforts; and nearly $1 billion in support of state and local health agencies, who are on the frontlines, working night and day to defend our nation’s health. […]

“House Democrats are continuing to work hard For The People every day, to protect you and your family’s health—and make sure communities across our nation have the resources they need to stay safe and healthy.

We have your back.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Transcript: Congressman Raul Ruiz Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

“Hello, I’m Dr. Raul Ruiz, and I represent California’s 36th Congressional District.

“I’m also an emergency doctor, public health expert and disaster aid specialist with medical, public health and public policy degrees from Harvard.

“In 2009, I was working in the emergency department when our nation was combatting the H1N1 pandemic. There, on the frontlines, I saw firsthand how important a coordinated, comprehensive, government-wide response is to addressing public health threats like the one we are currently facing.

“In situations like this, we must prepare for the worst as we work for the best.

“That’s why this week, House Democrats took early and decisive action to protect the health of the American people by passing the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.

“This aid package allocates $8.3 billion to address the coronavirus outbreak, including: more than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness and response efforts; and nearly $1 billion in support of state and local health agencies, who are on the frontlines, working night and day to defend our nation’s health.

“House Democrats’ aid package provides funds to reimburse state and local governments – like Riverside County in my district – for their expenses incurred while assisting with the federal response.

“This rapid reimbursement is essential for readiness capacity to prevent future outbreaks and treat this disease.

“We have passed a comprehensive funding aid package to help our public health infrastructure—but House Democrats’ work doesn’t end there.

“We will remain vigilant in our oversight of the Administration’s efforts to ensure a thorough response that keeps Americans safe and healthy.

“While Congress has passed a comprehensive supplemental to address the coronavirus, there are steps you can take personally to help keep you and your family safe and healthy.

“Knowledge is power. And knowing the facts about transmission and prevention reduces anxiety and empowers you to protect yourself and your community.

“CDC.gov is the best source of information. There, you’ll find real-time updates on the number of coronavirus cases and critical information from our nation’s leading public health experts on mitigating the spread of the virus.

“There are also simple things that you can do every day to protect yourself and our most vulnerable populations, like people over 60, people with weakened immune systems and people with underlying conditions like diabetes, heart and lung disease.

“As a physician, here’s what I’d tell my patients to prevent the spread of COVID-19: wash your hands often with warm water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue you can discard, then immediately wash your hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and, if you feel sick, stay home; and, also, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

“With these basic practices, you can and will make a difference in combatting this disease.

“America—we can do this. Together, we can defend our nation’s health. And, together, we can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

“House Democrats are continuing to work hard For The People every day, to protect you and your family’s health—and make sure communities across our nation have the resources they need to stay safe and healthy.

“We have your back.

“Thank you.”

Any bolding has been added.

~

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Speaker Pelosi. Good afternoon.

Thank you for being accommodating. We had important legislation on the Floor, and so thank you.

We have an – it’s an interesting week, right? But today I just want to talk about two important things, both begin with a ‘c’: the coronavirus and the Census.

Earlier this morning, some of us were together right in this very spot, talking about the Census and how it’s starting now and we want everyone to participate. We want everybody in America to help define the size and the character of the quality and quantity, not only that, the beautiful diversity of America. And we want to help to avoid some of the attempts that are coming to undermine an accurate count.

One of them is a mailer that has gone out by someone claiming it’s an official census. ‘Mailer. Do not tear up. Fill out this form.’ Of course, it isn’t real, but tracking that down.

We’re very concerned about what Facebook has done. Facebook has something with the authority of the President of the United States, faking its way into looking like something to do with the Census. It is not. And when we – they were asked, they said it was consistent with their policy, even though it was a false transmission. It wasn’t an official Census.

And we’re excited, and this morning we talked about the fact that part of the Census will be electronic and we want to make sure that everybody has that capability, has access to it linguistically and culturally and geographically in every way. That reduces some of the need for the geographic to go online. But we’re very concerned about Facebook, and we’ve told them ‘take down that site,’ to take down that site. It’s a lie and it undermines who we are. And it may be good for their profits, but that’s what counts for them. It’s not what counts for us in the Census.

Sadly, we have more concern about – moving on to the coronavirus. We have more concerns about additional awareness, anyway, of the spread of it. I don’t know if these are additional cases or we’re just learning more about what is out there and some loss of life. It’s very sad.

But we really have to – we’re very proud that yesterday we came to the Floor, had a very strong bipartisan piece of legislation, much improved on what was sent to us originally in terms of the appropriation of the coronavirus and – but, again, except for three, I think it was only three who voted against it – strong bipartisan support, which shortly will be voted upon in the Senate, sent over. We’ll have the signing ceremony, send it over to the President.

But as we go forward, we have to just stipulate to fact. We have to dispel some of the misinformation that has been put out there, and for that purpose, we’ve had the opportunity in a number of meetings, yesterday with the Vice President, today with a wide range of representatives of the Administration, to just try to correct the record.

When the President says, ‘There are only fifteen’, and there are four or five times that many – at that time, there are more now, that’s just not right.

And when the President said, ‘Go to work.’ No, there are other guidances that should be out there.

When the President said – and he did say precisely, ‘the Obama Administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we are doing,’ he said that Wednesday at a meeting addressing the virus, the outbreak. ‘And we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more rapid and accurate fashion.’

Well, the aide to Senator Lamar Alexander, who is the Chair of the committee of jurisdiction, said, ‘The Administration,’ the Obama Administration, ‘made no such rule change.’ And a policy expert at the Association of Public Health Laboratories said, ‘We aren’t sure what rule he was referencing.’ There was intense interest in doing some things with that. You know, he agreed with Lamar’s, excuse me, Mr. Chairman’s aide’s statement that there was no such rule change. So, again, we go down this list of things.

Now, we’re trying – at our briefing yesterday, we were honored to have the Vice President visit as the representative of the President in terms of fighting this virus. We had concerns, and they’re going to get back to us on some of the answers. The concerns regarded, not only the number of the tests, but the integrity of the tests and having to correct tests that were not reliable before.

Next on that is, when you take the test, then it has to go someplace to be analyzed. And what is the turnaround time and are people walking the streets not knowing whether they are positive or negative? And we need to ramp that up so that that shortens the time between the test and the judgment as to whether it’s positive or negative.

We also have concerns about travel. We’re getting some that said use common sense when you travel. We have others who are more specific in what they’re recommending, and they’re going to get back to us on that. We have concerns about the workplace. Do people get unemployment insurance if they are told to stay home from work or if their business shuts down? Sadly, then how are they compensated? How do they live under those circumstances? So we want them to get back to us on that.

We were pleased that in our bill we were able to get the SBA loans approved that would go to businesses that are negatively impact – small businesses that were negatively impacted.

Now, let’s just say in terms of fact, what the proposal was that was sent to us was $2.5 billion, some of which was ransacking the Ebola account and the home heating account for poor people, the LIHEAP account, those kinds of accounts. Instead, what we passed yesterday was $8.3 billion of new funds, not ransacking anything, and designated specifically for the purpose as spelled out in the legislation, addressing some of the concerns we have about testing, about analyze – analysis, processing of it, getting information there.

Other questions that came up at our meeting with the Vice President yesterday regarded health care providers and their exposure, and how we protect them, whether it’s with advisories or whether it’s with masks or whatever physical possibilities there are. And there are more than just the masks, gowns, whatever.

So it is, it’s sad. And hopefully, this is all redundant, hopefully, that we are taking precautions that will, will prevent more from happening but that – it’s a giant step forward. We think we need to do more, depending on how this expands, but we don’t want to have what we need to have, because we want to have – the people to have confidence.

And I think one way, important way, to have confidence is for us to have truth and trust in what is being said, to have the resources necessary in real time that compensate state and local government and other entities that are already spending resources, using beds, accommodations, having an opportunity cost for what else they might be doing with those. And, again, working together in a completely apolitical way on this, based on science and evidence and fact and truth and the true epidemiology of this coronavirus and how it – where it exists and how it spreads and, again, how America can be a resource to the world because, as you know, these viruses know no boundary. And so in a humanitarian way, as we did with Ebola, we want to help to stop it and prevent it, but also, it is in our interest to do so. So that on those two.

Next week, we have a number of bills coming up, the no – repealing the no ban, the Muslim – No Ban [Act] – issues that relate to well, later, we’ll be doing the surprise billing but hopefully very soon on that. We’re coming to closure on a bipartisan proposal in that regard. But next week, we hope to reauthorize FISA, and we hope to, we plan to pass Senator Kaine’s bipartisan War Powers Resolution, among other things that we’ll do next week.

So, again, though, everything is overwhelmed by the coronavirus, because this is about the health and well-being of the American people and how we in a very coordinated, government-wide way respond to it. And, as I say, we’re proud of the bipartisan nature of the bill that we were able to negotiate yesterday.

It took some time to add Small Business Administration. As Members came in with ideas, the tele – I’m very proud, California, Mike Thompson and others from rural areas talked about telemedicine, telehealth, and that we’re able, after much negotiation, to finally get that into the legislation as well. So listening to Members and trying to accommodate their experience and what can be helpful from that experience in the legislation.

So, it was good, and I’ll look forward to signing the enrollment, enrolling the bill before we send it to the President later this afternoon.

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

~

Dear Colleague to All Members on Coronavirus Preparedness

February 29, 2020

Dear Colleague,

Sadly and prayerfully, today, we learned of the first death from the coronavirus in the United States. The American people expect and deserve a well-coordinated, whole-of-government, fully-funded response to the coronavirus threat that addresses this public health crisis in a smart, scientific and strategic way.

An important step that Congress must take is to ensure the government has the resources needed to combat this deadly virus and keep Americans safe. To that end, House appropriators are working to advance a strong emergency funding supplemental package that fully addresses the scale and seriousness of this public health crisis, which we hope to bring to the Floor next week.

Any emergency funding supplemental the Congress approves must be entirely new funding, not stolen from other accounts. This package must also ensure that the President cannot use these new funds for anything other than fighting coronavirus and infectious diseases.

The supplemental must also ensure that vaccines are affordable and available to all who need them, that SBA loans are made available for small businesses impacted by the outbreak and that state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Although there are no current indications of widespread infections in the United States, the Chief Administrative Officer, House Sergeant At Arms, Attending Physician and Architect of the Capitol are engaged in a comprehensive, coordinated response to mitigate any impact on Congressional operations. They have suggested continuity of operations plans (COOP) that will help you consider the actions and resources needed to continue to operate in the event of an emergency. For more information, I encourage you to consult the linked letter from Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren and Ranking Member Rodney Davis. Sample continuity of operations plans have been provided by the Sergeant At Arms and more information can be founded in the linked memo from the Sergeant At Arms.

For information on preventing the spread of the coronavirus, I encourage you to consult the following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. As there is not currently a vaccine to prevent coronavirus, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to this virus. Please also consult the Office of the Attending Physician if you need a flu shot or have personal health concerns.

As this public health emergency develops, the House will continue to take strong, strategic action to keep Americans safe and ensure the functioning of Congressional operations. Updates will be ongoing.

~

Pelosi Statement on the February Jobs Report

March 6, 2020
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the Department of Labor released its February jobs report:

“February’s jobs report comes as families across America face an uncertain economic future as a result of the worsening coronavirus outbreak.

“The coronavirus epidemic endangers both the health and financial security of our communities. That is why House Democrats ensured that the emergency coronavirus response package also includes measures to protect the stability of local economies by providing an estimated $7 billion in low-interest SBA loans to support small businesses impacted by this epidemic.

Americans need a smart, strong and science-based response to this epidemic. House Democrats will continue to listen to the experts and continue to work to ensure every community is receiving what it needs to combat this urgent public health crisis.”

~

  4 comments for “Fighting Back: “Democrats support science-based responses to public health threats.”

  1. JanF
    March 7, 2020 at 7:47 am

    Pelosi Statement on Women’s History Month

    March 1, 2020
    Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement in recognition of Women’s History Month:

    “Each Women’s History Month, Americans join together to celebrate the progress forged by generations of American women who struggled and sacrificed in the fight to secure equal rights, equal treatment and equal opportunity for themselves and all Americans. This month, we also honor the extraordinary women from every corner of the country who are leading us into the future to ensure a more just and equal world in which our daughters and granddaughters can grow and thrive.

    “This year, as we prepare to commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, Women’s History Month offers us the opportunity to pay special tribute to the trailblazing suffragists, whose persistent, dissatisfied leadership won American women the sacred right to vote. This momentous achievement unleashed the power of women to have a voice in our democracy, and in the process helped deliver transformative progress toward a more perfect union for all Americans.

    “Today, and always, we reaffirm a vital truth that when women succeed, America succeeds. Guided by the leadership of an historic number of women Members of Congress, House Democrats are working to empower all women to be full and equal participants in our economy, our society and our democracy. In recognition of the innumerable contributions and continued leadership of America’s women, we will never stop fighting to advance the cause of freedom, equality and justice for all.”

    • JanF
      March 7, 2020 at 7:52 am

      And because berners who don’t give a damn about women stayed home in a peeve in 2016 and allowed two anti-choice males to be appointed to the Supreme Court, this is still happening.

      Pelosi Statement on Supreme Court Hearing Louisiana Reproductive Rights Case

      March 4, 2020

      Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of Louisiana’s new abortion law, which requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals:

      “Louisiana’s law is a clear and intentional violation of the Constitution. It is explicitly designed to permanently destroy women’s reproductive freedoms and dismantle their right to make their own decisions about their health, bodies and timing and size of their families, and it threatens to imperil the health of countless women.

      “Just four years ago, the Supreme Court struck down an identical law in Texas, ruling that the law had ‘no health-related benefits’ and would result in about half of the state’s clinics closing, creating an undue burden on a woman’s access to reproductive health care. Similarly in the Louisiana case, as the plaintiffs point out, only two doctors in the state would be able to meet the law’s new requirements. Respect for women, precedent and the Constitution demand that the Court rule again to protect women’s constitutional right to comprehensive health care and reproductive freedoms.

      “In Congress, in the courts and in the states, Republicans are engaged in a systematic campaign to take away women’s right to comprehensive health care, family planning and affordable contraception. The Democratic House will always fight these immoral and dangerous attacks on women’s health and freedoms with all our strength.”

      When we take back the presidency and the Senate, we need to put some statutes in place to protect a woman’s right to choose.

  2. March 8, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Thanks for the “Fighting Back” posts, Jan! As usual, Democrats are doing the hard work of scrubbing the kitchen floor clean, metaphorically speaking, and the Rethugs are tramping across the clean floor in muddy boots. Blast their hides!

    I am learning how absolutely impossible it is to avoid touching my face. My nose itches! Or my eyes need rubbing, because it’s allergy season.

    I already wash my hands 50+ times a day for reasons I won’t go into. Anyway, it’s a real revelation to be constantly aware of coronavirus. I’m now busy wiping down surfaces with disinfectant wipes.

    Things are complicated! My husband cannot afford to get coronavirus. He’s had COPD for years. If he gets it—well, I fear the worst.

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