While the COVID-19 outbreak continues, drastic measures have been put in place to slow the spread. Unprecedented actions such as the closures of shops and restaurants, recommendations against gatherings of more than 10 people, and the canceling of many sporting and entertainment events have altered our very way of life. Due to the seriousness of this issue, President Trump has taken actions to keep us safe. Likewise, I appreciate the actions Governor Ricketts has taken at the state level to ensure Nebraskans are reducing risk in the community while making resources such as Unemployment Insurance appropriately available for impacted Nebraskans.
President Trump has invoked the Stafford Act and declared COVID-19 a national emergency, following his declaration of a public health emergency in January. These actions free up key resources and tools, and cuts burdensome regulations for federal, state, and local governments. With the declaration of a national emergency, President Trump announced a massive increase in testing kits for the virus. In addition, President Trump also ordered a surge in the production of masks and protective gear under the Defense Production Act.
The administration has also directed agencies to take action to address the crisis. For example; the FCC has asked telecommunications companies to not cut off service and waive late fees, Department of Housing and Urban Development has suspended foreclosures and evictions, and the IRS extended the deadline to make tax payments for 90 days to July 15. Hopefully actions such as these will give Americans some relief during this outbreak.
We know the situation changes day-by-day and the full impact of the changes in our lives have not yet fully come into view. One outstanding concern is the long term health of our economy. President Trump has been meeting with major industries and health organizations to understand the full scope of this situation, and how the federal government can better address these issues. I am currently working with the administration to address concerns of Nebraska industries, including ensuring livestock producers can weather low prices and see more of the benefit of increased demand for meat at grocery stores.
We must all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 including cleaning and disinfecting, social distancing, and self-quarantining when necessary. I have been communicating with community, health, and business leaders across the district by telephone, from my home in Gering, to ensure Nebraska’s needs are met without having unnecessary travel or face-to-face encounters. You can find important information on how to prevent contracting this virus, or what to do if you have come in contact with it at coronavirus.gov.
While these measures have caused disruption in our lives, travel, and our economy — the safety of all Americans is paramount. At a time of national and worldwide hardships we are experiencing, it is important we take stock in our blessings. We truly are in this together, and we will come out on top. I am grateful for the President’s leadership, and stand ready to assist him in this fight.