Sharice Davids: Every one of us has a role to play in fighting the coronavirus

March 21, 2020
In The News

Masks. Test Supplies. Ventilators. Gloves. Gowns.

These are the most critical tools that our doctors, nurses and other first responders on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic need to continue their tireless work and save lives. But in my many conversations with local public health officials and hospital workers, it has become clear that they are lacking the lifesaving supplies they need.

This nationwide shortage is hurting our ability to slow the spread of this virus and endangering those on the front line. It’s also forcing states such as Kansas to make tough decisions about how to ration resources — including reducing testing in Johnson County, which has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state.

This is unacceptable and a clear failure of the Trump administration after promises that tests were on the way. We should be doing everything in our power to substantially increase the supplies available to test and treat people safely in Kansas and across the country.

We need to remove tariffs on these products so we can import them from around the world. And we need to immediately start using the powers of the Defense Production Act to massively increase the production of these materials in America and get them in the hands of our frontline workers. Mr. President, you need to take these actions decisively and without any further hesitation.

Our hospitals and health care workers are already stretched thin, and the situation is getting worse every day. We cannot afford to lose another day.

And to my fellow community members: Every one of us has an important role to play to slow the spread of this virus. That means listening to our public health officials and practicing preventative measures such as social distancing. The small decisions each of us makes every day can save lives and give our health system a fighting chance to keep up.

I’m working hard at home in self-quarantine because one of my colleagues in Congress recently tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully I haven’t experienced any symptoms and feel well, but my doctor recommended I stay home out of an abundance of caution. My staff is also teleworking to help keep our community safe. We all need to listen to medical professionals and act with the same level of caution.

If we don’t, we risk not only putting ourselves, but those around us — especially those at higher risk such as our parents and grandparents — in danger.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it well while speaking to young people recently: “You have a responsibility, a societal responsibility, to protect the vulnerable. And you do that, interestingly, by not letting yourself get infected.”

We owe it to the vulnerable, as well as the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, grocery store employees, custodians and so many more, to do everything we can to slow the spread. For people who can, that means staying home. You may be saving the life of someone who isn’t able to stay home during this unprecedented time.

This is a challenge Kansans are well suited for. Kansans are resilient. We look out for one another — it’s part of our Midwestern DNA.

We’ve already seen local schools and groups step up. For example, Harvesters, a regional food bank, is working around the clock to meet the growing need for nutritious food. My team is working to connect others who want to donate or produce much-needed equipment, and we’re supporting our local and state governments from the federal level.

We will overcome this challenge and we’ll do it by working together and all doing our part. So stay home if you can. Pitch in if you’re able. And make sure to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

I have always had faith in our community because I’ve seen us come together in so many ways before, even during the most difficult of times. And I know we will do the same now. Our state motto — ad astra per aspera, or to the stars through difficulties — has never felt more real.