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Larson Announces Priorities for White House Task Force to Re-Open Country

April 20, 2020
Press Release

Hartford, CT – Today, Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) announced the priorities he will be promoting while serving as a member of the White House’s Congressional Task Force on COVID-19 and reopening the country. Last week, Larson was appointed to the task force.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, which has caused an economic crisis. We need to address both of these crises head-on and at the same time. In doing so, we must rely on public health experts and data to make the best decision to reopen the economy.  Consumers must feel safe to venture out into the public again and confident in their financial situation so that they can begin spending again.  Consumer spending will make or break the success of any reopening – it makes up approximately 70 percent of our GDP.  Our goal is to strengthen consumer confidence, by strengthening confidence in the government’s response. 

“After speaking with Governor Lamont, members of the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, public health experts like Dr. Scott Gottlieb, and mayors and first selectmen, I have developed a list of priorities to pursue as this task force evolves.  

“The bottom line is our nation’s health and economic security are inextricably linked and testing, tracking, treatment, and developing a vaccine are critical to a strong recovery.” 

Larson’s Priorities: 

  • Institute a comprehensive science-based national plan prevailing on the President to use the Defense Production Act and federal resources to first provide for the common defense of our frontline heroes: health care workers, first responders, grocery employees, and all essential workers. As well as ensuring there are adequate supplies for testing, tracking, and treatment for every state. 
  • Protecting the vulnerable people in our communities: We must protect the unemployed and the most vulnerable, with direct payments, sufficient unemployment compensation, and paid family and sick leave for all workers. We should increase Social Security benefits to help the elderly and people of color who rely more on Social Security than any other group and are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. I have introduced the Emergency Social Security Benefit Improvement Act, which provides an emergency expansion of Social Security benefits. 
  • Testing, Tracking, and Treatment: We must immediately work to expand testing and implement a system to adequately contact trace to contain the virus, while not infringing on civil liberties. At the same time, we must invest in medical research to find successful treatments for COVID-19 and make sure hospitals have enough ICU beds, ventilators, and supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment to treat patients. 
  • Vaccine development: In order to prepare for future phases of the plan, we must expand federal resources working with the best and brightest from our country’s medical community to develop a desperately needed vaccine with the fastest vaccine rollout in history. 
  • Secure the country’s supply chain: We don’t know how long this will last and we must ensure that supplies of basic materials including food and fuel flow as usual. We must protect the essential employees working for the nation’s supply chain as we guard against disruption. 
  • Getting the economy running again: I want to get the economy working again as soon as we can, but we must first ensure that workers and consumers will be safe.  I support a gradual lifting of restrictions as long as certain benchmarks are attained -- reduced numbers of COVID-19 cases, widespread testing and tracing, and sufficient capacity of hospitals to handle a possible resurgence -- as recommended by public health experts.  At the same time, I call upon the Fortune 500 corporations of America to start buying again, lend money, hire employees, and bring home cash from overseas, instead of holding onto cash or paying out dividends. To speed recovery, we need to get cash moving again in the economy. 
  • Helping Small Businesses: We must work to ensure that our small business, the backbone of America, have the support they need to weather this crisis. This includes strengthening the Paycheck Protection Program and expanding programs to help small businesses that may have been left out of current programs.  
  • Creation of a Voluntary War Bond Effort: Creating a war bonds program will allow Americans to participate in a voluntary, patriotic effort. The funds from these bonds will be directed to sustain testing, tracking, treatment, vaccine development, and programs to keep small businesses and workers afloat.