News From Congressman Ben Cline
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Sixth District Perspectives
with Congressman Ben Cline

Coronavirus Update

     Our Nation is facing a historic crisis. In the last month, COVID-19 has infected over 85,000 Americans, more than any other Nation on Earth.  Over 1200 of our fellow Americans have perished, and we are making every effort to stop the virus from taking from us thousands more of our neighbors, our friends, and our family members.  The first Virginian was infected only three weeks ago, and since then we have seen life as we know it across our Commonwealth come to a screeching halt.

     The crisis created by this virus is twofold. It is first and foremost a health crisis, made worse by the stealth with which the virus spreads.  Often those infected feel no symptoms and unsuspectingly pass the virus on to weaker and more vulnerable targets.  And it takes advantage of the very characteristics that make us a great Nation, preying on our love of freedom, our love of social interaction, and our love of community.  As government has sought to eliminate the virus, it has urged practices that contradict many of these characteristics that make America great.  Who would've thought that in America we would be advised not to gather in groups, eat out at a restaurant, or attend a graduation program, music concert, or church service?

     The second crisis created by COVID-19 is economic, and the combination of the virus itself and the actions taken to fight the virus have brought our economy to its knees.  As lock-downs are announced and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people enforced, the impact of our economy has been pronounced.  The stock market has lost a third of its value, main streets across America are empty, and sporting events and other celebrations have been cancelled.  Just this week, it was announced that over 3 million people filed for unemployment last week, shattering the old record of 665,000 in March 2009.  We cannot lose sight of the need to beat the virus on both the health front and the economic front.

     Fortunately, Congress acted this week to address both the health crisis and the economic crisis surrounding COVID-19 by passing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides resources to hospitals and health care workers while supporting American workers and small businesses through this challenging time. While I did not agree with all of the provisions, I was pleased the Senate rejected Speaker Pelosi’s progressive wish list and proud to vote in favor of this legislation. It provides much-needed assistance to Sixth District residents and businesses and gives our hospitals and health care providers the best fighting chance to contain COVID-19 and rid it from our Nation.

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      On Tuesday, I hosted a special telephone town hall focusing on the coronavirus. I was  joined by Dr. Laura Kornegay, Health Director of Central Shenandoah Health District, and Delegate Chris Head, who sits on the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee in the Virginia General Assembly. To listen to the audio recording, please click here.

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     In the Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Northam has discouraged all gatherings of more than 10 people statewide. This does not include gatherings for purposes of providing healthcare or medical services, access to essential services for low-income Virginians, law enforcement operations, or government operations.

     Nonessential businesses must now be closed to the public. Although restaurants and bars must also close, they may continue to offer delivery and/or takeout services. Certain retail businesses—such as grocery stores, pharmacies, medical supply retailers, electronic retailers, home improvement retailers, gas stations, and banks, among several others—are also exempt, although they must try to adhere to social distancing and sanitary recommendations. The Governor has also closed all public schools through the end of the academic year. Students who are in need of meals can still access them. To learn more about meals, text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877877. 

     Small business owners who are struggling amidst this crisis should look into the Small Business Administration Loan Program. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at sba.gov. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

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     At cline.house.gov, you can find my page for questions you may have about COVID-19, including administrative, Congressional, and state action that has been taken to curb the spread of the virus, resources for businesses, and information from the CDC on how to keep you and your families healthy. While Congress works on legislation and the CDC works toward vaccines and cures, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from infection:

  • Practice social distancing, and avoid close contact with other people.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

     As U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.” Rest assured, I will continue to keep you informed, monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country, and work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this disease.

     If you experience symptoms or have been exposed to someone recently diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening. 

CDC Resources: 

Important Information:

     Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.

     For the latest updates from Washington, please follow my social media accounts: FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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