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WA Rep. Kilmer on what might be coming in next coronavirus aid package

The CARES Act, which will provide economic relief to individuals and businesses nationwide, was signed into action last week and there is already buzz about a second relief package.

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“There’s certainly conversations underway right now,” Washington state’s sixth district congressman Derek Kilmer told Dave Ross on Seattle’s Morning News. “Obviously, the ink is barely dry on the CARES Act, … but I think there’s an understanding that more needs to be done.”

There are multiple things being considered, including help for infrastructure.

Kilmer said the CARES Act, in his opinion, is less of a stimulus bill and more of a “try to stop the bleeding bill” to help families and small businesses weather the storm of this pandemic, and to try to get the necessary resources to health care providers.

“But at some point there needs to be actions to hopefully get us back to normal and get the economy moving again,” he said. “And so the notion of making investments in infrastructure, particularly when our interest rates are really low … is significant right now.”

Kilmer has also been pushing to add in automatic stabilizers that would send additional relief to families and small businesses if things don’t get better as we move into April and May.

“Beyond that, I think there’s an understanding that we have to have some national standards and more adequate funding for a national testing and tracing system to help the United States get back to normal,” Kilmer said.

Contact tracing can help to ensure that people who are returning the workplace, to school, to public life, are not sick, so they don’t expose others, he explained, and so a second wave can be prevented.

There is also potential for companies to shift what work looks like, at least in the near term. Tele-work options, keeping up with increased hygiene, cleaning, and “non-pharmaceutical intervention,” are what Kilmer sees as being critical in preventing further spread, in addition to increased testing.

“The conversation around contact tracing can be important because it provides active notification to people that they’ve been in contact with someone who’s got a case and also making sure that those folks are kept in some type of isolation,” Kilmer said.

There is also more progress to be made in supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) to health care workers.

“It is a good thing that the federal government, in fact, part of the CARES Act is looking at expanding production, expanding, purchasing, trying to make [PPE] more available. That’s important on the supply side,” Kilmer said. “But the inability to coordinate demand for this in a more thorough and transparent way is deeply problematic.”

There are people that need PPE and don’t have it, while other people are stocking up who may not need it.

“To the credit of our governor, to the credit of our state Department of Health, they are advocating for everybody — urban, suburban, and rural — that are dealing with this,” he added. “But in the absence of being able to get those resources that they’re advocating for, it means that folks are being put in a really unfair position that’s not their fault.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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