Mar 20 2020

Our nation has faced major crises before and we have always come together to confront and overcome them. In responding to the coronavirus pandemic, I will keep working across the aisle to push for solutions to protect the physical and economic health of North Carolina families. My priority is to provide all the resources you need to stay informed. If you have questions, I invite you to take a look at a list of some of the most frequently asked questions my office has received over the last several weeks, and of course please don’t hesitate to call my office. 

Additionally, NC 2-1-1 is now a resource for people to call for assistance related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. NC 2-1-1 operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You should only call 9-1-1 if you are experiencing an emergency.

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms, call your health care provider or local public health department. Please do NOT go to a health care provider without calling them first in order to limit possible exposure to our hardworking medical professionals. You can find your appropriate POC here. For more information, call the toll free NC COVID-19 Helpline at 1-866-462-3821 or visit the CDC.Gov or NCDHHS.Gov.

On Wednesday, I voted in favor of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, legislation that ensures free coronavirus testing, establishes an emergency paid leave program, increases unemployment benefits, and provides food aid during the COVID-19 outbreak.

I have worked to keep North Carolinians informed on the federal response to combat coronavirus because the health and safety of North Carolinians is my top priority, which includes making sure our state is prepared and ready to respond. I wanted to provide you an update on some of the things I have been working on:

  • supported the recent $8.3 billion package to respond to the coronavirus, which includes funding to assist with vaccine development and providing assistance to local and state governments. I helped secure more than $13 million for North Carolina for emergency preparedness.
  • With questions surrounding the availability of test kits in North Carolina in the days and weeks ahead, I am working across the aisle to urge the administration to expedite testing kits to North Carolina.
  • There are reports of a low inventory of medical respirators available to medical professionals, which is why I am pushing to ensure manufacturers and distributors can increase production and access to respirators during a public health crisis.
  • UNC Health faced bureaucratic delays from the FDA to launch UNC Health’s new breakthrough coronavirus diagnostic test, so I worked behind the scenes to urge the FDA to expedite the process so UNC Health could begin coronavirus testing as soon as possible.
  • As the UNC system, Duke, and other colleges and universities move to online classes to protect students, it has created the unintentional possibility of negatively impacting the GI benefits of veteran students. I have taken action to protect GI benefits for veterans by co-sponsoring a bill that will allow veterans on the GI Bill to continue receiving their full benefits once their schools move to online classes. The House passed this yesterday and we’re hoping it gets signed into law by President Trump soon.
  • I sent a letter to Vice President Pence on efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus and the need for Congress to keep politics out of our nation’s prevention and response efforts.
  • As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, I have made it a priority to ensure the safety and health of our servicemembers and military families. In February, I urged Secretary of Defense Esper to take all necessary steps to protect servicemembers and military families by preventing the transmission of coronavirus and risk of exposure on military bases both at home and abroad. 
  • I am also taking steps to make sure our nation’s food supply is not slowed down as the nation confronts this public health crisis. I urged USDA Secretary Perdue to take all necessary steps to ensure the production of our food supply.
  • endorsed Governor Cooper’s executive order on social distancing and closing K-12 schools for two weeks in order to combat the spread of coronavirus, in addition to his announcement Tuesday temporarily closing bars and restaurants, except for carry-out.
  • sent a bipartisan letter to the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) in support of Governor Roy Cooper’s request for an SBA disaster declaration for economic injury resulting from the novel coronavirus. My office continues working with SBA to provide resources to small businesses and business owners.  
  • led a bipartisan, bicameral letter signed by more than 100 members of the House and Senate urging the Trump administration to maintain access to vetted, temporary workers to help ensure America’s agriculture industry has the workforce it needs to continue producing our domestic food supply as our nation combats the COVID-19 epidemic.

I will continue working with our local and state leaders to ensure North Carolina is prepared and ready to respond to protect the health of North Carolinians.

Thank you for reading, and as always please reach out to my office if you have any questions or need help with a federal agency.