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Peters Calls for Additional Aggressive Action to Protect Michiganders, Combat Coronavirus Outbreak

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today called for bipartisan, aggressive action to address the Coronavirus outbreak, including expanded testing and additional steps to keep the American people safe:

“As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to threaten public health, our economy and the daily lives of Michiganders, we need a comprehensive and effective federal response to protect Americans and support the efforts of state and local governments. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration’s response has been woefully inadequate. It’s clear that the Senate needs to work together in a bipartisan manner and quickly to help hardworking Americans and Michiganders impacted by this pandemic. President Trump must put politics aside and engage with Congress on solutions to address this public health crisis.

“The President should immediately make emergency funds and FEMA resources available to states and local governments by declaring a state of emergency. And during this time, Michiganders shouldn’t need to worry about affording their medicine or putting food on the table for their families if they are forced to stay at home – that’s why we must pass my bipartisan bill to expand FEMA’s unemployment assistance. Our nation is also far behind others in testing for this virus, which has limited our ability to identify and contain cases. The Administration should replicate successful efforts elsewhere to make testing widely available so that we can limit unnecessary exposure and prevent health providers from becoming overwhelmed.

“This is an unprecedented emergency, and I will continuing pressing for aggressive actions to confront this pandemic and protect the health of Michiganders.”

Peters has pressed for a strong federal response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Peters introduced bipartisan legislation today to provide disaster unemployment assistance to people who are unable to work due to the current Coronavirus outbreak. Assistance would be available to individuals, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors, who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, or whose family circumstances keep them from working or reduce their pay as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak or government containment efforts. This week, Peters also called on President Trump to make an emergency declaration that would immediately make emergency funds and FEMA resources available to state and local governments to address the outbreak.

Last week, Peters met with Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to press for a strong interagency response to the crisis. He also spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health to discuss development of a vaccine and preventing spread of Coronavirus.

Peters also joined Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) in requesting detailed information about the Trump Administration’s strategy for responding to the emerging outbreak and called on the Administration to fully fund pandemic preparedness and response efforts in the 2021 budget. He also questioned the Trump Administration’s decision to allow patients infected with the Coronavirus to return to the U.S. on a plane with healthy passengers – possibly risking exposure to the virus. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Peters and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) expressed their concerns that the Administration disregarded the advice of the public health and national security experts, and could have risked a broader community outbreak within the U.S. In addition, Peters joined Johnson in pressing the Administration for information on the security of the nation’s medical supply chain, which could lead to shortages of critical drugs and medical equipment due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Peters previously convened a roundtable discussion with public health and security leaders to examine the federal government’s actions to limit the spread of the deadly virus. Peters also joined his colleagues in calling on the Administration to appoint a global health security expert to the White House’s National Security Council (NSC) to coordinate the Administration’s Coronavirus response efforts. The NSC has been without a health expert for almost two years.