On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses His Efforts to Help Ohio and the Way Forward in this Coronavirus Pandemic
WASHINGTON, DC – Last night on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) delivered remarks highlighting the his efforts to help Ohio families, individuals, businesses, hospitals, and more during the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past six weeks, Portman has continued to work in a bipartisan manner to respond to the needs of all Ohioans affected by this unprecedented challenge. As a member of President Trump’s Opening Up America Again Congressional Group, he has fought to ensure Ohio has a voice in the national response effort. A full list of his victories for the state can be found here.
Portman also outlined his views on what the next legislative response to the coronavirus pandemic should entail. He believes that it is important to stimulate the economy, while recognizing that the country will be reopening in different phases depending on the metrics on the spread of the virus. Thus, for some regions, the focus should be on tax incentives and other programs to jumpstart the economy, while for other regions, the number one focus must continue to be improving testing capacity so folks feel safe reentering the workplace.
A transcript of his remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.
“Mr. President, I’m also here to talk today about the work that’s being done to help my home state of Ohio get through this coronavirus. It’s a crisis in so many ways. It’s a health care crisis, but it’s also become an economic crisis, a family crisis. It’s affecting everybody in ways that are truly heartbreaking for me to see.
“In so many instances, I’ve talked to people who have been unemployed for the first time in their lives and have never had to access the unemployment insurance office. They’ve been fortunate and now they have to. I’ve talked to people who started a small business and took a big risk to do that and have five or six employees, it’s a family-owned business, and they’ve been through thick and thin over the years. But this one has really knocked them out. They have no income coming because they’re in one of these businesses that by government order was shut down and cannot continue to serve the customer.
“I’ve talked to hospitals in a rural area of our state that cannot continue to operate. They’ve got about a week left of cash reserves. Luckily they’re getting to get some of this funding that Congress just provided with regard to the Phase 3.5, as we’re calling it, legislation, the CARES Act. But they’re really hurting. They have had to lay off more than half of their hospital staff. They can’t do elective surgery. They can’t have the normal work they’re used to because people aren’t coming in to see the doctor. They aren’t coming into the emergency room. Now again, the good news is that in Ohio and in some other states around the country we’re starting to open up and doing so safely, doing it with more testing, and that’s all good. But it’s been a tough time.
“Like so many Americans, I’ve been on the phone a lot. I’ve been on the phone pretty much all day every day and into the night. And a lot of what I’ve been doing is talking to constituents and talking to stakeholders across the state and hearing their concerns, and trying to explain what we’re doing here in Washington -- how it would affect them and their families and getting their input as to what we should do. But also I’ve been working with the White House and HHS, FEMA, the FDA -- the Federal Drug Administration -- Treasury, the SBA, the Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Trade Representative, the State of Ohio and others on corona-related matters to be able to help Ohio companies and help Ohio individuals. And we’ve had some success in that and I’m proud of that. In terms of constituents, we’ve held seven tele-town hall meetings in the last six weeks where we hear directly from people, thousands of Ohioans. Again, a lot of heartbreaking stories. And also a lot of really inspiring stories about people who have stepped up and helped.
“One guy lost his job and decided to go volunteer at a food pantry. And he wears the PPE, the mask, and the gloves, and he delivers food to people who never have had to worry about food security before because they always had a job. Now they don’t have a job and are waiting to get their unemployment insurance and they can’t put food on the table. Some of them feel funny about going to a food pantry because they’ve never done that before and he makes them feel more at home, he said, and understanding and more welcome. I talked to people who are delivering groceries to their neighbors who are seniors and are more vulnerable. God bless them. I’ve talked to people who are making homemade masks at home. I brought some with me on my trip to Washington and, you know, they’re doing it as volunteers, not asking for anything other than just that if you take this mask, you have to agree that you’re also going to be helping your neighbor.
“So the front line workers, you know, the hospital workers, they are putting their health care on the line for us, so they’re risking their own health care and the possibility of getting this virus to help all of us, to help our grandparents and our parents, and God bless them. And I love when the health care workers are being held up by everybody. Today is, I think it’s official, nurses day today. We should all be thanking our health care professionals and specifically today our nurses for what they do every day and every time period, but particularly during this crisis, where they’ve been working really long hours and doing everything they can to try to protect us.
“I appreciate the people who are doing everything else on the front lines right now, whether you’re working in a grocery store and stacking shelves or whether you’re driving a truck. I drove my pickup truck from Ohio to Washington on Sunday to be here for this week and every time I went by a truck, I said thank you, just for being out there and delivering the food and delivering the products. So we thank those folks for what they’re doing, all of them. And so one thing I’ve tried to do is to help in terms of explaining what’s going on and getting input.
“We’ve talked to more than a dozen groups out there. I talked to the Farm Bureau today in Ohio but I’ve also talked to the hospitals, small business owners, foodbanks, the nonprofits, and many others to hear how we can support them during this tough time. This afternoon we had a telephone call with some of the largest businesses in Ohio, a group called the Ohio Business Roundtable, and they talked about some of the things that they’re doing, some of them are essential businesses, to keep their employees safe and of course I encouraged them as I always do, get your best practices out to all your other business associates. Let them know how they can reopen safely, because we’re starting to reopen in Ohio. We want to be sure it’s safe. The best advice is not going to be from some piece of paper guidance as important as that is from the White House or state of Ohio. It’s going to be from other businesses who have found out that, hey, guess what you can do? You can stagger the lunch break. That helps to spread people out. Things that might not be obvious. Do the temperature testing as people come in. Be sure that you’re doing everything that you can do to explain to people what they can do if they feel like they’re getting sick, who they can come to and how they can be sure that they’re not infecting others. So I think there’s an opportunity here to be able to reopen and do it safely.
“One reason we were able to reopen in Ohio safely is we have a lot more testing now. Like many states, we didn’t have enough testing until very recently. Now we’re getting it. We had about 3,700 tests per day two weeks ago. Within two or three weeks from today, we’ll have 23,000 tests per day, a 600 percent increase and we had to work at it because we were having trouble getting some of the components for testing, particularly the reagents. And The state of Ohio to its credit, with Governor DeWine, reached an agreement with Thermo Fisher, a private sector company to take the lead in providing us a guaranteed supply chain of this reagent under their tests which enables us to dramatically increase our testing and we’re getting to the point where you can have a lot more drive-thru testing. So at Kroger and at Walmart and at some of our drugstores, we’re starting to get the testing that is much easier for people because you can drive through and you don’t have to get out of your car, and you feel safer. The saliva test, as opposed to a test where they take a swab deep into your nasal cavity, is a lot less intrusive, and that’s starting to be used more.
“So we’re beginning to have enough testing where we can more safely say, ‘Look we’re going to reopen but we’re going to test people a lot. And then if we find a problem we’re going to do the contact tracing so we can figure out who that person has been with and quarantine those people.’ That’s a lot smarter than quarantining everybody else, all of us, is to really test, test, test where there is a problem. And to get to the point where we can test people who are even asymptomatic. Why? Because even if you don’t have the symptoms, you can be a carrier. And so I think dramatically increasing testing is a key thing. This is the diagnostic test. There is also the immunity test that’s coming up which is also helpfu,l but nothing replaces the diagnostic test that says whether you have it or you don’t.
“We also are seeing good news around Ohio and around the country on these antiviral medications and that’s one reason we can open more safely too because if someone does get coronavirus, they now have a change to take something, like Tamiflu you'd take for the common flu. So Remdesivir, this most recent one the FDA has approved, has a record of being very helpful. People want to know that if they get the virus, they can take something for it. That’s helpful. And then finally we are getting our hands around the PPE issue, the personal protective equipment, the masks and the gloves and the gowns. This afternoon and this evening, after this talk I’m going to be working with an Ohio company that is interested in dramatically expanding the gown production. That would be great and we're working with the White House and others to try to ensure that can happen.
“We have a lot of world-class businesses in Ohio. What I’m talking about tonight is an example of that. But there are others too and health care systems that have contributed to this coronavirus crisis all over the country. And I have been working last six weeks with them, being sure that they have the opportunity to do that. One of those key contributions from Ohio has been from an entity called Battelle. Battelle is a global research institution and it happens to be headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. They do awesome work all over the world. They run some of our national labs, for instance, for the Energy Department. We worked with the Trump Administration and with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to help them get approval for a really innovative technology where they can take a mask, an N-95 mask, one like this except even better because it’s N-95, and they can recycle that mask. They decontaminate it. These masks can be recycled up to 20 times. Think about that. 20 times. It’s groundbreaking because they now have enough machines spread out around the country, 60 machines, that they can recycle, decontaminate between four million and five million masks a day. I worked with FEMA and HHS and the White House to help Battelle secure a contract with the federal government to be able to do that, to take their technology, their machines and spread them to initially hot spots around the country, like New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, now other places. I would tell people who might be listening that if you are connected with a health care entity, a hospital, a nursing home, EMS, if you are a firefighter and you use these N-95 masks, don’t throw them away. When you’re done with them, put them aside in a separate bin for recycling and get them picked up. We also worked on a contract with the federal government to help with the pickup and delivery, which is also available now. You can get them picked up, taken to Battelle, hopefully they have a cleaning station near you and, for free, get a recycled mask back. The process takes about eight hours, so if you are close to one, you can get them overnight. But we are not at full capacity on these machines. We should be. It is a great idea. Why spend the money to get some overpriced masks from China -- because they’re all overpriced now – when you can actually recycle what you have. It’s a lot less medical waste too. So if you’re interested in that, go to Battelle.org to learn more about it. Go to our website, portman.senate.gov, if you want to find out more about it and find out if there is a machine near you. Even if there’s not, you can send them and we can help connect you with companies including Cardinal Health in Ohio that are providing some of the logistics to get the masks back and forth.
“That’s an example of some of the things we’ve been working on over the past six weeks to try to help with this effort. And I want to again, as I’ve done before, commend the folks at Battelle for devoting their time and energy to this project. As soon as this coronavirus came up, they said to the engineers, 'Forget what you’re doing, go work on this.' They’ve also done a lot with testing with Ohio State, putting their folks against that. Now they’re working on some other really interesting technology that could be very helpful in detecting coronavirus. So it’s an example.
“We had another company, Cardinal Health that I mentioned that did some help on logistics, that did something else early on. They came to me and said, 'We’ve got 2.3 million protective gowns in storage. We’re not using them. They are the kind of gowns that can be used as isolation gowns, very effective. They are not qualified as surgical gowns, but they can be used as isolation gowns. We’re willing to donate them to the national stockpile.' Well, we worked with, again, FDA and HHS and the White House to get through some of the red tape because it is tough to get things approved sometimes through the federal government. There are reasons for that. We want to be sure things are safe, right? But we got approval for those gowns. And bingo, like that, those gowns started to go out. They went to New York, they went to Detroit, they went to places where there are hot spots, and they are now in the national stock pile, 2.3 million gowns donated. So Ohio companies have been helpful.
“One that’s been very helpful to so many Americans is Gojo. It’s a company that makes Purell. I see some up here on the desk. Purell is made in Ohio, it's outside of Akron, Ohio, we’re very proud of Purell. They have been going 24/7, producing all they can. It is tough to find it in the grocery store. I know, because as soon as the shipment comes in, people take it, and take it home and use it. And it is particularly helpful now to have Purell as we are beginning to reopen because reopening means doing things differently. It means wearing a mask when you are in proximity with someone else, it means using Purell and washing your hands more often, it means being sure that you’re following the rules to be able to stay safe. So Purell will continue to be needed. But they had a problem because the federal government was assessing a tariff, a 25 percent tariff, on two critical items they had to have for their dispensers. The items, at least one of them, had a patent in China. So China had the patent on it. So these were coming in from China, 25 percent tariff. We were able to go to the U.S. Trade Representative and I commend Bob Lighthizer, who is the Trade Rep, for working with us on this, and for this period of time, to take that 25 percent tariff off. Why? Because you are having a tough time getting the supply. And it was increasing the cost by 25 percent. And we were able to do that. Now they’re able to produce more of this Purell, and more dispensers and do it less expensively.
“By the way, this leads me to a comment on China, which is we need to pull back some of what we make it China and make it here. It’s a pretty simple concept, it’s harder to implement sometimes because our supply chains are global now and they’re complex as you can imagine. Who would have thought that in a Gojo dispenser for Purell there would be a Chinese-patented product. But there is. But we have to figure out, whether it is gowns, most of which are made in China, or masks or other products like something essential that’s in a hand sanitizer dispenser, you’ve got to pull those products back. I think the way to do it isn’t to beat up on China but rather, to provide the incentive, the carrot to American companies and other companies to say make it here, make it in America, and I think we can do that as a group. Republicans, Democrats alike, I think there is a consensus now we should do more to re-shore, in some cases shore for the first time, products that have been moved overseas and particularly to China. We wouldn’t have had to get that special permission on that 25 percent tariff if it was made here.
“We also worked with the FDA to get approval for a company called SecondBreath in Cleveland, Ohio. Another great example, and there are so many in Ohio, but this is a company that didn’t make ventilators at all. It’s actually a consortium of several manufacturing companies that work together. But they again early on in this crisis said, ‘You know what? We need ventilators. We can do that. We’re manufacturers. We’re Ohioans, we’re inventors.’ And they went out and they made these ventilators on their own that were then tested at three different Ohio hospitals and the medical community loved them. And they’re relatively inexpensive, relatively simple, and very effective. But again the FDA had to go through its process and my job was not to say to the FDA, ‘You need to approve this.’ My job was to say, ‘Please expedite this process so that if it can be approved, we can get these out to people who are dying, literally, and need these ventilators.’ And to the FDA’s credit, Dr. Jeffrey Shuren in particular, they worked with us and got that product approved. And now those ventilators are going, and by the way, they had already made a bunch of them. They were not going to send them out if they didn’t get approval but because they were willing to take a loss with the opportunity to save people. Now those ventilators, boom, have gone out to stockpiles and hospitals, including to New York, when they needed them all over the country. And so it’s an example of the kinds of things over the last six weeks we’ve been able to do in Ohio.
“There’s also companies in Ohio now making swabs, making masks, making shields, face shields, making hand sanitizer. The Procter & Gamble company has converted some of their perfume-making factory to making hand sanitizer. It probably smells pretty good. But I don’t know if it actually has a particular odor to it. But if it comes from a perfume factory, it might be not just effective but smell pretty good, too. So anyway, thanks to Proctor & Gamble and all these companies that are willing to step up and do things they’ve never done before and to respond to this crisis. That’s what Americans do. We get knocked down, we figure it out, we get back on our feet. So ultimately I’m optimistic. Think about what’s happened in the last couple of weeks. Substantially new testing. In my home state of Ohio, again a 600 percent increase in testing from two weeks ago to three weeks from now. Increasingly ramping up. New antiviral medication having been approved, something that people can rely on. More testing and antiviral medication, critical. More PPE, finally we’re figuring it out like the recycling, which we can do right here in America, recycle our own masks. The gowns we're trying to get more produced here in America right now. We’re starting to catch up on some things that, frankly, we were pretty far behind on. On the testing, I would tell you for the first few weeks of this crisis, you couldn’t get a test in most parts of Ohio unless you were so severely ill you had to be hospitalized. That was wrong. And we just weren’t prepared as a country.
“By the way, the last administration wouldn’t have been any more prepared, nor would the previous administration where I served had been any more prepared. We just weren’t expecting a pandemic like this. We should have been, of course. There were some warnings. But the country now will be prepared and one thing we’re doing is we’re adding to that stockpile. With the PPE, with the ventilators, with, obviously, the antiviral medications for this virus and the vaccine for this virus, and my hope is that that vaccine, which is -- the administration calls their process warp speed, and I appreciate that. They’re working around the clock. There are some scientists that have devoted their lives to this now. That’s all they’re doing and God bless them. And there’s a bunch of them. By the way some of these vaccines won’t work. People will have spent hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions of dollars on stuff that’s not going to work. But kind of like those ventilators were made even though they didn’t know if they were going to get approval or not, we want to have that virus vaccine ready. And if it does work and it gets approval, we want to have lots of doses of it already made. So there’s going to be some money spent, including by the federal taxpayer, but that’s okay to ensure that we end up with something that can be effective.
“On the testing, I will tell you in my own hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, the first few weeks, we really couldn’t get tested unless you were to be hospitalized. And we had an interesting issue there, again, showing how Washington sometimes can make things a little slower. The University of Cincinnati, which is our primary academic medical center in southern Ohio had ordered a testing machine back in February. They had ordered it because they knew this was coming, and they wanted to get the best of the best. So it was a high-quality machine, high accuracy. Could do a thousand tests a day. By the way, at the time they were doing about 100, 80 to 100 tests a day in their own little lab, but they needed this equipment. And they had a contract for it back in February. Well come March, they kept hearing 'Next week, next week, next week.' They called me and I got involved. I got to the company and got to the University of Cincinnati and said, ‘You know, what’s the real problem here?’ They said ‘Well, we were being told by the federal government we can’t deliver it to Cincinnati. It needs to go somewhere else.’ I said ‘Well they contracted for this back in February. We are desperate for testing. We may not be a hot spot right now, but we’re going to be unless we get some testing.’ So again, we broke through the red tape, broke through what was some miscommunication, it turned out, and with the help of the White House, we got the approval to get the diagnostic test there that had already been contracted for. It’s called a cobas 6800 machine. It can process more than 1,000 diagnostic tests per day. And it is working. And it is every day giving more people the sense of security that they know whether they have this or not, and they know whether the person that works in the store has it or not, and they know that we have more access to testing. Not enough yet. We’re getting there. But that will be key to getting us back to business but also reopening in a way that we don’t have to stop if there is an outbreak because we will have the testing to be able to really throw at it and then the contact tracing and be able to ensure that we can stop the spread of the virus.
“So those are some of the things that we have worked on. We have worked with FEMA to unlock additional resources for Ohio, and that’s happened around the country. USDA has now allowed the Ohio Department of Child and Family Services to operate the Disaster Household Distribution Program. We appreciate them. We worked with them on that so we can officially get meals to foodbanks and families in Ohio. We worked with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to ensure that veterans could get an extension on their filing of claims and appeals during this time period for veterans' compensation benefits and other benefits during a time when VA Offices have been closed.
“We helped stop the Bureau of Prisons, the Federal Bureau of Prisons from sending more prisoners to one of our hot spots. It’s a really sad case, the Elkton federal prison in Ohio. We also helped them bring more health care to the Elkton prison. Frankly, I’m discouraged that they aren’t doing more testing there. I talk to them constantly, and they are providing more testing, but not enough. Not enough. And I think it’s inexcusable. I think in a situation like a nursing home or a prison, we should be focused on getting the testing in there. These are what they call congregant living situations. In this case, it’s a low-security prison so it’s more like a dorm-type style living. And unfortunately, if they were to test as much as they should, I believe they would find out as we have found out in other state prisons in Ohio that more than half the prisoners there are carrying the virus. You have got to separate those people out from those who don’t have it and do much more treating and tracing.
“But we have made progress there and will continue to. The Phase 3.5 rescue package we passed a few weeks ago does have funding for the PPP Program, which is for small businesses, to be able to keep their employee and keep their doors open. It also has funding for health care. But the piece that hasn’t gotten much attention that may be the most important aspect of the bill of all is $25 billion in the bill for more testing. Again, I am a broken record here on testing, but that money is so important, and we’re using it in Ohio right now. About $43 million has come to Ohio recently, I’m told, and that funding will be helpful not just to ensure that we have testing but that we have enough testing so that we can really get a sense of what’s going on in terms of the health care crisis, and then when there is a hot spot address it again immediately and be able to stop the spread of the virus. It’s so important to us reopening and getting people back to work, back to their churches and other places of worship, back to school.
“We need to get back to a more normal life, and we can, and we will. We’ll figure this out. But we do need the help of having the necessary testing capacity. Diagnostic testing. And then it’s also helpful to have the antibody test so you know whether you have developed an immunity or not. But those are both needed. You can’t do it just with the antibody test. You have also got to know through the diagnostic test whether someone has the disease or not to be able to pull that person out of a situation where he or she is with others and to find out who they have been in touch with and do the contact tracing. Again, quarantining those people, not quarantining everybody else. That’s the effective way to do it.
“Congress has now passed four of these legislative measures in an overwhelming bipartisan fashion. It’s a lot of money. About $3 trillion have gone out the door from federal taxpayers. I hope we can continue to be bipartisan. I hope we can work together to figure out how to move forward. In my view, moving forward means looking at what we have done carefully -- let’s not start to legislate again and spend more money until we know how what we have already sent works. The money is just being distributed now. In fact, most of our money in Ohio that goes to the state and local governments has not been distributed yet. Let’s get that money out by the way, they need it badly. They need it. They need it to pay police and fire and EMS. Our cities in Ohio are really hurting because they depend so much on income taxes, on earning taxes. Other cities in America don’t because they can’t, but about four of the top five cities in America that are most affected by the reduction in revenue from the coronavirus are in Ohio. Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo. So they have got a real problem on their hands. I strongly urged the Department of Treasury to loosen up their requirement to allow that state and local funding to be used more flexibly, specifically for payroll, for public safety. Based on Monday’s guidance that we just got a couple days ago here, they can now do that. That’s just guidance. It’s not legislation. I would love in whatever we do going forward to get that in legislation. To say 'Let’s provide flexibility, to the states but also to these municipalities.'
“I will tell you in my home state of Ohio, again, at the municipal level, we are really hurting. Budgets are being slashed. Because the revenue is not coming in because it’s based on the economy. Most cities rely heavily on property tax, we don’t, property tax has not been affected in the way that income tax has or sales tax. So we do need to pay attention to this, and people say we shouldn’t send any more money to municipalities. Let’s start with flexibility. Let them use the money they have more effectively for what they actually need. I don’t want a situation where you have got a 30, 40 percent cut in police, which is what’s happening in some of our municipalities, to affect the public safety of our communities at a time like this. Police officers need to be on the street doing their jobs. God bless them, they are out there. We need them. EMS personnel. If your grandmother needs to be rushed to the hospital, you want the EMS to come. You don’t want to have a 40 percent cut in their services. So we do have to deal with this issue and be sure providing flexibility is the first step. And let’s codify that by statute, make sure it’s clear. Not just guidance that doesn’t seem to be consistent with the underlying law, because the underlying law says it has to be directly related to the COVID-19. And some of this is not. You need police officers on the street whether you had COVID-19 or not. So let’s be sure we codify that, and then let’s see what’s needed.
“But I also think in this next legislation, we also have to be sure that we are not just looking at what’s already passed but looking ahead, and looking ahead means the ability to reopen. That means stimulating the economy. Creating, whether it’s tax relief or whether it’s smart investments in infrastructure. Let’s say the projects that are already on the books, in my state and yours, projects that are already shovel-ready because they are ready to go. They have gone through the merit-based process in our states. Many of those projects won’t be able to be funded this year by our states. Why? Because their revenues have collapsed. Particularly their gas taxes have collapsed. So the state match, which is based on the amount of gas you buy, has gone down because people aren’t driving nearly as much. What if we picked up some of that at the federal level? These are good projects because they aren’t bridges to nowhere because they have been through the merit-based process. And they’re ready to go. That’s an idea. Why? It’s good jobs, one, which are needed right now and good benefits. But also it’s economic benefits. Those dollars will come back in terms of improved roads and bridges and ports, airports, rural broadband would really help right now as people are tele-learning and teleworking more and more, they are finding out oh, my gosh, there are big parts of our country that don’t have broadband access.
“You can’t get Wi-Fi. If you can, it’s way too slow. Again, talking to the Farm Bureau today, you would think they would be talking about the price of corn and soybeans, and they were, and the huge issues we have right now in the beef industry and the pork industry and poultry, but they were also talking about, 'I got my kids at home, and we can’t do the homework because you can’t get broadband in a lot of parts of Ohio.' Probably about a third of our state, Ohio. Not viewed as a state that has huge sparsely populated rural areas, but we have enough, and we have a real lack of access to broadband to be able even to do school work, much less to start a small business. So this is another area where we could provide some help for that here and it would come back in terms of increased dollars from having more economic development in some of these rural areas.
“So I think there are some things we need to do there as well. There has been a lot of discussion about this issue of liability protection. Let me tell you my perspective on this. It’s very simple. This should not be a partisan issue. I mean, we should not want these hospitals and these schools and these small businesses and anybody to be able to be sued for something that was totally out of their control. This is not something anybody should be blamed for, certainly in this country. We know where it started, in Hubei Province, in Wuhan, China, but the fact that, this has come over here and people are affected by it, let’s not have a trial lawyer bonanza here because that will result in people not getting back to work. It will result in more costs for our universities. I understand there are some are being sued right now because they have students who are tele-learning. Well, yeah. It’s not their fault. You can’t bring students together right now into dormitories. It’s not safe.
“I know there is, again, kind of a partisan nature to this. It shouldn’t be partisan at all. We should all want people to go back to work, to be able to go back to school, to be able to access the health care system. I also think for my colleagues on my side of the aisle who might want to make this broader than the coronavirus, let’s keep it to the coronavirus. And I think that’s what people intend. Let’s keep it to COVID-19. And let’s provide the kind of protection, sensible protections that are necessary to be able to allow people to get back to a more normal life. People say, 'Well, things are going to be so different now in America.' They will be different. We’ll be more cautious. You know, we’ll probably therefore have a less drastic flu season, too, because we will be more careful. And with this pandemic, you know, we don’t know if it’s going to come back again like it did a couple months ago, if it will come back again in the fall or the winter like that, but we have to be prepared for that.
“So life won’t be exactly the same, there’s no question about it, and there will be some things that will be different, too. There will be more teleworking because it’s worked well. It’s cost-effective, it’s efficient. There will be more telemedicine because it’s worked well. I have talked to a number of doctors who are actually very pleased with some of the things they have been able to do remotely. I hope we will have a Congress that works more remotely so when we’re on our recesses as we do every August and we do periodically that we could have remote hearings on a more regular basis because it’s great information. But ultimately I think our country will get back on track.
“Again, we as Americans, when we get knocked down, we get back up on our feet, and that’s what we will do. And we will again have not just the greatest economy on the face of the earth, but we again will be that beacon of hope and opportunity for the rest of the world. People will again look at America and say, 'I want to be like that.' We will be able to show that and how we get back on our feet and how we get back to a more normal life, and once again the greatest country on the face of this earth will be able to once again be able to show the world an ideal for everyone to aspire to.”