Walorski Applauds Indiana Leadership on Safely Reopening Economy

Friday, May 29, 2020

Walorski Applauds Indiana Leadership on Safely Reopening Economy

Emphasizes Continued Importance of Access to Women’s Health Care, Substance Abuse Treatment

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today applauded Indiana as a model for safe reopening and transparency at a hearing of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

“The state’s five-phase reopening plan is a responsible way to restart our economy while still working to contain the spread and flatten the curve,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “Indiana also pioneered a first-of-its-kind Small Business PPE Marketplace, where eligible small businesses could apply for bundles of face masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer free of charge. The Marketplace has fulfilled 20,000 orders so far.”

At the hearing on how America’s cities can safely reopen, Walorski also urged her colleagues not to ignore the toll of the coronavirus crisis on women’s health and the fight against substance abuse.

“We need to protect women’s health by ensuring they can see their OBGYN, receive a mammogram, and give birth in a hospital without fear,” Walorski said. “In my district, the local domestic abuse crisis line saw a 50 percent jump in calls as well. We’re also seeing drug overdoses back on the rise. I commend the Trump administration for enabling telehealth treatment, but safely reopening our mental health facilities is vital to stopping the spread of addiction to opioids and other drugs that continue to plague our communities.”

Video of Congresswoman Walorski speaking at today’s hearing can be found here, and her remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thanks to our witnesses for being here.

“I want to start today by thanking all the hardworking mayors and all of our elected officials in my district who have worked together on the task force, and our health care workers as well.

“I want to thank Governor Eric Holcomb for making Indiana a leader on coronavirus response and transparency. The state’s five-phase reopening plan is a responsible way to restart our economy while still working to contain the spread and flatten the curve. Indiana also pioneered a first-of-its-kind Small Business PPE Marketplace, where eligible small businesses could apply for bundles of face masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer free of charge. The Marketplace has fulfilled 20,000 orders so far.

“I’ll also note that Indiana is being open and transparent about how it’s using federal funds. Governor Holcomb recently detailed to the Indiana delegation how the state used its $5 billion in federal funding on comprehensive testing; costs for their Emergency Operations Center; PPE for critical workers and small businesses; long term care strike teams; congregate homes and child care providers; and a $300 million grant program to assist local communities.

“The coronavirus crisis is unlike any in our lifetimes, and our country has experienced a devastating loss of life. Emergency actions like stay-at-home orders were necessary to slow the spread and flatten the curve, but we are also seeing a broader toll on Americans’ health that we should not ignore, such as adverse outcomes for women’s health and individuals with substance abuse.

“We need to protect women’s health by ensuring they can see their OBGYN, receive a mammogram, and give birth in a hospital without fear. In my district, the local domestic abuse crisis line saw a 50 percent jump in calls as well. We’re also seeing drug overdoses back on the rise. I commend the Trump administration for enabling telehealth treatment, but safely reopening our mental health facilities is vital to stopping the spread of addiction to opioids and other drugs that continue to plague our communities.

“But let’s talk about what mayors need to safely reopen. There are things like PPE, testing, and tracing. Every reopening plan should have those. But something I think we also desperately need is less hyperbole and more nuance in how we talk about these decisions.

“As the state of Georgia began to make plans for reopening, the Washington Post declared that it “Leads the Race to Become America’s No. 1 Death Destination.” The Atlantic called Georgia an “Experiment in Human Sacrifice,” which is unfair and irresponsible.

“All too often, we see articles ignore critical nuances or bury encouraging numbers. A headline may sound the alarm about a spike in cases, but at the same time a rationale or explanation like an increase in testing, a decrease in the rate of positive tests, or a decrease in hospitalizations never gets reported at all.”

“And sometimes our eyes can be deceived. When Jacksonville opened the beaches, the headlines were about overcrowding and irresponsible behavior, with a picture zoomed in. But an aerial view would show people were still social distancing. It all depended on the perspective.

“Mayor Curry, I want to use the time I have left to talk with you about this. When Jacksonville reopened its beaches, the hashtag #FloridaMorons trended nationally. Needless to say, the news coverage wasn’t charitable. Can you talk about how that affected your ability to manage your city and communicate with your citizens about reopening? And can you talk about the role of hyperbole and nuance in the reopening discussion?”

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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