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By Tim Leeds 

Daines gives live Facebook update on COVID-19 efforts


Last updated 4/16/2020 at 11:39am

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., during a live event on his Facebook page, said more works needs to be done to fight the spread of novel coronavirus 2019, but he is optimistic due to the dropping number of infections and decreased number of hospitalizations, likely due to the measures passed to reduce transmission.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed here that, because of the sacrifices being made, we are going to see this corner turned, this curve start to flatten, and we will get back to a normal summer in Montana, which I know everyone is yearning for.”

He said it isn’t over yet, even if the number of new cases seems to be slowing.

“While that’s a good thing, we have to continue to do our part to slow the spread as we work on solutions, to re-open this economy, that continue to prioritize public health,” he said.

Daines said an important part of the third aid package passed by Congress — the CARES Act, or what he said Congress is calling phase three of the assistance — is to increase funding for research and development of vaccines and treatments for the virus and the illness it causes, COVID-19.

He said he doesn’t want to see a repeat of what happened in 1918 with the Spanish flu epidemic, which killed more Americans than World War I did.

Daines said after the initial attempts to control the Spanish flu, a second wave of illness started in the fall.

“It was second wave of that pandemic was most deadly,” Daines said. “We need to be ready if a second wave of this pandemic could hit us … and thats why this investment in accelerating these vaccines and drugs is so important.”

He also said the United States needs to start making its own drugs instead of importing them.

Daines said he contacted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate whether China’s stopping its scientists and health care workers from raising its alarm early in the pandemic there, and pushing the Trump administration to get drug research and manufacture back in the U.S.

He said 72 percent of drugs used in the U.S. are manufactured elsewhere,

“We can’t be dependent on China,” Daines said. “We need to bring that” (back to the United States).

Daines listed some of the other work done by the phase three aid, including providing $100 billion to hospitals.

He said Montana hospitals are being significantly impacted, with elective procedures being rescheduled — the Kalispell hospital just furloughed 600 employees with 200 of its 300 beds empty, he said.

“They’re actually losing a lot of money,” Daines said, which was why it was crucial to get aid to hospitals in the aid bill.

The bill also put funding toward providing personal protective equipment to help the people working on the pandemic and who have to go out while it is going on, like first responders.

“While many of us are staying home — I’m working out of my home office here in Montana — others who are on the front lines, in heath care, first responders, National Guard, they are having to go out,” he said, adding that he gives them great thanks for the work they are doing.

He also praised the Montana banks and institutions working to help in the crisis, like processing the business economic disaster loans.

Programs like the Paycheck Protection Program are in place to help business, he said.

“Montana processed more than 1,000 loans in one week,” he said. “That’s direct help that goes to these small businesses in Montana to keep employees on their payroll. This is about protecting paychecks.”

He said Montana families have been significantly impacted, with 66,136 new unemployment claims filed from March 15 to April 13, more than 65,000 Montanans losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

“Small businesses are either closing their doors or wondering if and when they will have to let their hardworking employees go and close down,” he said.

But, he said, Montana will survive.

“When times are tough, we will get through this, he said. “We are independent.”


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