Walorski: It’s Time to Safely Reopen Our Places of Worship

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Walorski: It’s Time to Safely Reopen Our Places of Worship

Many Americans Still Denied Right to Worship and Pray Together, Even as Others Exercise Right to Peacefully Protest

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today called for an end to state and local prohibitions on religious gatherings still affecting countless Americans even as others freely exercise their right to peaceful protest.

“My heart aches for the family of George Floyd and for our country right now – there is no place in our society for police brutality, nor is there for the violence and destruction that we have seen in some cities,” Congresswoman Walorski said at a hearing of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. “But even as many Americans are exercising their right to protest peacefully, we see countless others being denied their right to gather at a church or synagogue to pray for peace, justice, and understanding. This is inexcusable. At a time when our country needs prayers for unity and healing, I call on every mayor and governor who is still barring the faithful from gathering to reverse course immediately.”

At the hearing on racial health disparities in the coronavirus pandemic, Walorski also emphasized the importance of safely reopening our nation’s economy to protect the health and wellbeing of those facing significant hardship due to the economic crisis.

“Safely reopening businesses doesn’t just put money in workers’ pockets, it also boosts their wellbeing,” Walorski said. “Joblessness is known to have negative effects on mental health, and indeed many health experts have predicted that prolonging lockdowns could result in a wide range of problems such as increased suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental health issues.”

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 begin by saying how much my heart aches for the family of George Floyd and for our country right now – there is no place in our society for police brutality, nor is there for the violence and destruction that we have seen in some cities.

“But even as many Americans are exercising their right to protest peacefully, we see countless others being denied their right to gather at a church or synagogue to pray for peace, justice, and understanding. This is inexcusable. At a time when our country needs prayers for unity and healing, I call on every mayor and governor who is still barring the faithful from gathering to reverse course immediately.

“The coronavirus pandemic has affected the whole world, and there is no question its impact has been disproportionate in some populations. For instance, Mr. Roy, you released research last week that showed nursing home residents make up 0.6 percent of the U.S. population, but account for an estimated 42 percent of all coronavirus deaths.

“Those with underlying conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and asthma, are also at higher risk for complications or even death from coronavirus. And we know that African-Americans are more likely to have many of these conditions.

“On this point in particular, there are no simple solutions or instant fixes. But we have to start somewhere, such as exploring ways to improve social determinants of health – the conditions in which someone’s social and economic environment shapes their health.

“I’m a proud cosponsor of the bipartisan Social Determinants Accelerator Act, which would help states and communities better leverage existing programs and authorities to improve the health and well-being of Medicaid participants. It would also provide planning grants and technical assistance to help state, local, and tribal governments take innovative, evidence-based approaches to coordinate services and improve outcomes.

“Economic opportunity plays a major role as well. Opportunity zones, which were created under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, can help incentivize private and public investments in distressed communities.

“But most immediately, we need to continue to reopen responsibly and defeat coronavirus. Safely reopening businesses doesn’t just put money in workers’ pockets, it also boosts their wellbeing. Joblessness is known to have negative effects on mental health, and indeed many health experts have predicted that prolonging lockdowns could result in a wide range of problems such as increased suicide, substance abuse, and mental health issues.”

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

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