Preparing for Coronavirus
My team and I have received a lot of calls and questions about the coronavirus over the last few weeks. There is a lot of information out there, some good, some scary, and some totally false.
I wanted to take a moment to share some steps you can take to be prepared and stay healthy, as well as some general information about the virus so you can stay informed.
It’s important, first and foremost, to recognize we are fortunate to live in a region and country that leads the world when it comes to responding to public health emergencies. We have experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and at hospitals, in labs and on college and university campuses across the country who are working night and day to develop treatments, a vaccine, and a better test kit for this virus. I strongly support investing more in the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health because the cost of preventing something like this is way cheaper than the cost of responding to it. There’s a political argument to make about how much the president has cut medical research budgets over the last few years, but there will be time for that debate later. Right now, you should know that there are some smart people at work within our government who are stepping up to manage this problem, and I know that leaders across the Commonwealth are working together.
In any public health emergency, it is important to get good, verified information. Check in with the experts at CDC.gov for the latest and most accurate information. Read trusted news sources like your local newspaper. And, know that the people commenting on Facebook and Twitter are probably not public health experts.
The good news about coronavirus, if there is any, is that if you know how to protect yourself from the flu, you know how to protect yourself from coronavirus. The public health experts my team and I have spent the last few weeks talking to all say the same things:
- Wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth, ideally with an elbow, when you cough or sneeze.
- Get a flu shot, not necessarily because it will prevent the spread of coronavirus, but so that you stay healthy and out of the doctor's office.
- And, like I tell my team often, use your sick days. If you're not feeling well, stay home from work and get better.
In the rest of this email, you’ll find some more helpful information, including a video my team made where we posed some of the questions that you’ve asked us to a public health expert, a quick summary of the work I’m doing on your behalf, and some links where you can stay up to date.
I work for you, and I’m standing by to help. I am also making sure the federal government is working with our state and local communities to keep you healthy and safe.
Member of Congress
Getting Accurate Information
There’s a lot of information out there about coronavirus, which is formally called COVID-19. It’s important to make sure the information you’re getting is accurate.
The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the leading voice in the U.S. Government when it comes to public health emergencies and issues like this one.
Here are some CDC resources that my team and I have found to be most helpful:
- COVID-19 Resource Page
- Information for Travelers
- Key Facts about COVID-19
- Community Preparation Tips
- CDC Preparation Flowchart
We also sat down with Erin Sorrell, Ph.D., an epidemiologist from Georgetown University, to pose some questions you've sent us. This short video has a lot of good information that hopefully answers some of your questions:
Pushing for Action
We live in an era when our country is divided and many of our citizens don’t trust the country’s leaders. I share some concerns about the president, particularly his inclination to downplay the seriousness of coronavirus, presumably to protect the stock market. Lacking clear communication from leaders we can trust, it is even more important to turn to experts and verified news sources. This op-ed from a public health expert is worth a read.
One of my most important jobs as your Member of Congress is making sure the government, at every level, is on top of things.
My team and I have spent the last two weeks meeting with local officials, asking about their planning process, and connecting them to the right federal and state resources. This week, I attended several briefings from the CDC and the Defense Department. I still have some questions that I’d like the CDC to answer so that Congress can take action if needed. I posed them in a letter today.
Unfortunately, just like we’ve seen during hurricanes and other incidents where something alarming dominates the news, criminals are trying to take advantage of the public’s concern. Please be careful about the links that you’re clicking in emails, and be on the lookout for suspicious emails and social media posts from cybercriminals. This article from NBC News has some good advice for keeping yourself safe online.
That’s the latest from my team and me. We are taking this seriously, and are standing by to help answer questions and connect you with the right information. Please contact me any time.