WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – As officials limit travel, close schools and cancel high profile events due to growing concerns of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., members of Congress are trying to curb widespread panic.
“Fear is spreading faster than the virus,” said Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA. “We’re not all gonna die.”
Kennedy said health experts tell him most Americans won’t get the virus and most of those who do will survive.
“This isn’t China. This isn’t Iran,” Kennedy said. “We have the best doctors and nurses and hospitals in the universe, in the Milky Way.”
President Trump continues to push for a payroll tax cut to bolster the economy, after announcing a travel ban from most countries in Europe.
Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-AR, said Congress has been working with the White House to find balance.
“I hope we look back in history and say we overreacted to this, but we don’t want to look back in history and say we didn’t do enough,” Westerman said.
But right now, Democrats say they don’t think the Trump administration is doing enough.
“People shouldn’t have to make the decision whether they have to go into work to pay their bills when they’re sick,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-SC.
Cunningham said Democrats’ paid sick leave proposal would protect public safety and the economy.
Democrats are also pushing for free virus testing, which Rep. David Kustoff, R-TN, supports.
“They need to know whether they’ve got the flu, the sniffles or maybe in fact that they do have the coronavirus,” Kustoff said.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, hopes more testing will ultimately show the death rate is not as high as some believe.
“The key obviously is to get rid of the silly thing as soon as we possibly can,” Carson said.