Good afternoon and welcome to our Week-End Update!
I want to begin by thanking those on the frontlines fighting the COVID-19 outbreak… our first responders, including doctors, nurses, police officers, paramedics and firefighters who are selflessly putting their lives in danger to save and protect ours. Additionally, I want to thank those working to sustain your business while maintaining a safe work environment. As well, our grocery clerks, cashiers, farmers, medical equipment providers, truck drivers... I could go on and on. Their work is keeping our country together in a challenging time.
I also want to recognize our Pennsylvania National Guard.
Our Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG), under the leadership of Major General Anthony J. Carrelli, has been highly active in helping and supporting Pennsylvanians during this crisis.
To name just a few of the National Guard activities:
- PNG members personally and individually drove home the 39 Pennsylvanians who were aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship when they returned home at the Harrisburg Airport from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia.
- PNG members were activated by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to support a food bank in Pittsburgh.
- PNG has provided logistical support to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
- PNG has set up and staffed FEMA medical stations in Delaware County and a medical station in Chester County.
- PNG has transported cots and other medical equipment from FEMA locations to areas of need throughout the commonwealth.
- PNG also supports a testing center in Montgomery County.
Additionally, they have set up the PNG Joint Emergency Operations Center and all three of its geographic emergency response management centers, the same ones used for storms and other state emergencies.
Our Pennsylvania National Guard is doing all this and more while also continuing to train for future deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and other stations throughout the world.
Fort Indiantown Gap, the home of our Pennsylvania National Guard, is also prepared to respond to any increased needs this crisis requires.
Our National Guard is with us to help. PNG members live in our communities. All constituents of the 9th Congressional District should be proud to have this important facility and the PNG members as part of our district. All Pennsylvanians and Americans should say thank you for their service. They have one mission. It is to help us all. Pennsylvanians should feel safe and secure, knowing we have these great Americans so willing to sacrifice and serve us; in war, peace, and in a crisis. HOOAH Pennsylvania National Guard!
This week, I received updates regarding COVID-19 from FEMA related to PPEs. We also spoke with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the implementation of the CARES Act and how we are supporting small businesses.
We held a business tele-town hall with over 100 businesses. We have held several calls with local banks regarding SBA and PPP loans. We are helping businesses navigate the SBA and PPP programs and helping them work through Governor Wolf's business waiver process. We have weighed in on behalf of many waiver requests, which I believe are justified on the merits and have already implemented or have plans in place to adhere to safe worker standards and best practices. Over the next few days, we will continue to fight for these businesses.
I believe the Commonwealth could have helped this program be more efficient and fair if they would have listed those businesses that did not meet the criteria, not those who did. Any such closures should have taken into account the effect the impact would have on the supply chain for critical businesses.
What we all should be striving for is a highly efficient, diligent and safe working environment. Those that are at home should have the tools to be productive and those who are working in critical industries must practice social distancing.
This week, I spoke with former U.S. Congressman and Greater Reading Chamber Alliance President and CEO Jim Gerlach to discuss ways to retain, expand and grow their operations and employment and attract new business to Berks County. I spoke with many industries that are being negatively impacted by COVID-19, including the Fireplace/Chimney industry to our dairy industry. The dairy industry is suffering from many of its markets being closed, including schools and many restaurants.
On Wednesday, I joined my GOP colleagues on a call with Dr. Anthony Fauci to discuss the latest with the COVID-19 outbreak and their continued efforts to flatten the curve. Later, I held a tele-town hall with over 13,000 constituents from around the 9th Congressional District regarding the COVID-19 crisis. I delivered an update on the government's response. We were fortunate to be joined on the call by medical professionals from Geisinger Healthcare Systems who answered questions and discussed what the medical community is doing and what the public should do to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
In the media, I conducted an interview with PBS39 regarding the COVID-19 crisis. We discussed not only efforts the Trump Administration has taken to save lives and also bolster the economy. Click here or below to watch the interview.
Additionally, I conducted an interview with Newsmax with Shaun Kraisman and Emma Rechenberg. I spoke to Guy Benson on Fox News Radio and you can listen to my interview with Guy Benson by clicking here. (Interview begins at 4:35 mark)
President Donald Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, have been engaged and transparent in their handling of this crisis. This is, without a doubt, one of the most trying times our country has ever faced, but I have no doubt we will overcome. The next few weeks are going to be difficult and it is as important as ever to practice social distancing, make efforts to practice cleanliness and awareness, and be part of the solution to flattening and ending the curve. If you are not working in critical infrastructure industries, stay at home. If you feel sick, contact your doctor and quarantine yourself. If you are older or have a serious underlying health condition, stay at home and away from other people.
IN NEWS YOU WON'T READ IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Everyone should watch the daily President Donald Trump and the Coronovirus Task Force press conferences. They are informative and they detail the same information members of Congress are provided.
Unfortunately, once again, I watched the Sunday Morning shows, which I used to enjoy, but they place all blame on President Trump. Whether they are doing this by inference or are overtly blaming the President, their political agenda-driven message is inappropriate. Their opinions and commentary are not helpful and are dividing our nation at a time where we should be more united than ever. They are certainly not trying to be part of the solution. It is, however, very pleasing to see some Democrats and many Republicans doing their best to be part of the solution. This needs to continue.
The best thing I can advise you to do to get the latest news on our state of affairs is to watch these daily press briefings. We will continue to have many challenges ahead. The better we meet these challenges, the sooner we can back to our American way of life of working hard and playing hard.
My staff and I will continue to be accessible and offer services for the people of the 9th District as we work remotely and practice social distancing.
If you have a specific question or would like to pull together a group teleconference with your industry/association, please contact my official office.
Thank you, stay safe and you and your families remain in our prayers.