Bustos outlines Covid 19 plan

by Mindy Carls correspondent

“Better days are ahead,” U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-17) said Monday, Jan. 25. “We have a plan that is workable. We have a plan that will save lives. Now it’s time to execute on that.”

She spoke to reporters during a virtual press conference about President Joe Biden’s national strategy for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inauguration Day “was a wonderful day from my perspective of turning the page and getting things moving. We need to get some things done. We’re in the middle of one of the worst economic downturns our nation has seen since the Great Depression.

“President Biden has hit the ground running,” she said. Biden has called for unity, which necessary for moving forward.

“We have to work together to crush this pandemic,” the congresswoman said.

Biden and the Democrats have proposed a $1.9 trillion package American Rescue Plan “that will send a strong signal to struggling families and struggling communities and let them know that help is on the way,” Bustos said.

Biden has taken executive actions but needs Congress to enact legislation, she said. She pledged to work across the aisle in the House and to work with Senators to pass the plan.

Bustos said the American Rescue Plan includes elements she has fought for since COVID-19 hit, including direct payments of $2,000 to individuals, support for testing and vaccine distribution, additional aid for small businesses, funding to safeguard local jobs, extension of unemployment benefits, help for renters, nutrition programs for children and support for reopening school safely.

The seven goals of the plan are:

• Restoring the trust of the American people. “There’s got to be a national strategy around this pandemic, driven by science, by truth, by making sure that we have public health campaigns that are consistent,” Bustos said.

• “Mounting a safe, effective comprehensive national vaccination program,” she said. “We’ve got to ensure the availability of safe and effective vaccines for all Americans who want to be vaccinated.”

Biden is using the Defense Production Act to ensure faster production of everything needed to deliver vaccines to communities and into the arms of people who need them, the congresswoman said.

• Slowing down the continued spread of COVID. Biden already has announced that anyone on federal property or traveling across state lines (such as on an airplane) must wear a mask, Bustos said. The American Rescue Plan will “expand masking, testing and treatment and establish clear public health standards” that are consistent from state to state.

• Immediately expanding emergency relief.

5) Safely reopening schools, businesses and travel while protecting workers. Bustos said that involves “establishing national protocols and strategy for safely reopening schools. This is everything from what is happening physically inside the schools — air quality and airflow, dividers between students, smaller class sizes, more janitorial workers to make sure that the cleaning is done between classes.”

• “Protecting those most at risk and advancing equity, including across racial, ethnic, rural and urban lines.” COVID-19 has affected some communities differently, Bustos said. Biden is talking about establishing a COVID-19 health equity task force with national experts to “ensure equitable and expanded access to health care and also equal access to COVID-19 tests and therapeutics,” Bustos said.

• “Restoring U.S. leadership globally and ensuring better preparedness for future threats” by renewing ties with WHO, supporting global vaccine distribution and sharing developments in treatments, testing and vaccines.