Getting through this crisis
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, I have had the privilege of speaking directly with Georgians from all 159 counties to provide updates, share resources, and answer questions.
I have heard the struggles many of you are facing, and have gone to work to help us get through this crisis together.
I wrote an op-ed in the Houston Home Journal about what we're doing to help Georgians in these difficult times. Read the op-ed here or below.
Helping Georgians get through this crisis
The COVID-19 crisis has tested the strength of our great state, but it has also revealed the depths of our kindness as a people.
Since this crisis began, I have personally connected with thousands of Georgians in all 159 counties by hosting constituent conference calls. From Hahira to Hiawassee, from Columbus to Augusta, Georgians voiced their concerns and shared constructive feedback. They have asked me hundreds of questions. They have also shared stories of communities lifting each other up.
I’d like to share some of what Georgians have told me.
First, I heard how truly devastating this crisis has been. Workers have lost their jobs. Some hospitals, especially in hard-hit Albany, struggled to keep up with COVID-19 cases. Many brave essential workers, such as Barbara, a nurse from Warner Robins, worried whether there would be enough protective equipment to keep them safe.
I also learned how important it was for Congress to provide relief quickly. In March, we passed three phases of relief. Phase one focused on supporting our medical community. Phase two focused on supporting families. Phase three, the CARES Act, focused on maintaining the employer-employee relationship and ensuring small businesses could stay solvent and pay their employees.
Speaking directly with Georgians, I heard how helpful these steps have been to keep them going. The Paycheck Protection Program has saved over 1.5 million Georgia jobs and over $14.7 billion in loans were provided as a life-line to Georgia small businesses.
However, I also learned that we still have more work to do. Many Georgians are still struggling to pay their bills. Our health care providers still need support. Many parents from across the state are worried whether their kids will be safe when they go back to school.
Right now, Congress is working on another potential package to provide additional relief. In the meantime, President Trump has taken strong executive action to provide tax relief for workers, protect unemployment benefits, and prevent evictions during this crisis.
I’ve proposed two bipartisan bills to solve some of these problems. First, I introduced the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act to provide more nurses and doctors for hospitals with shortages. I also introduced the SCHOOL Act to provide grant funding for protective equipment, connect schools with health care professionals or telehealth options, and share best safety practices.
These proposals aren’t all-encompassing, but they are a start and offer meaningful solutions that address many of the concerns I’ve heard directly from my constituents.
What inspired me most by speaking with Georgians has been hearing about how communities are helping each other. Neighbors are buying groceries for each other. Restaurants are donating meals to health care workers. Schools, businesses, and even individuals are making protective equipment for first responders.
It is always a humbling experience to connect with so many people across the state. This is an unprecedented time for all of us, but I have no doubt that Georgia and our country will rise to the challenge and emerge stronger than before.
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