Urgent action is needed to tackle the Coronavirus outbreak:I have a plan and the experience to see it through
Time is of the essence in tackling the coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the world, the United States, and now Alabama. There have been over a dozen identified cases of coronavirus in six Alabama counties. Our prayers are with those affected, their families, and the healthcare professionals caring for them.
We must act now to prevent the needless loss of life, the devastating impact of the virus on individuals and families, and the severe harm to our economy.
America is a resilient and strong nation because Americans are brave and resolute. We can and will come out of this crisis smarter and better prepared for the future.
President Donald Trump’s efforts have been heroic. His unprecedented but necessary steps to arrest the spread of the coronavirus demonstrate the strength of his will and a determined push for speed and results. Trump’s declaration of a national emergency and appointment of Vice President Mike Pence to lead the effort are important steps.
Bureaucratic rules and agency infighting delay necessary actions by important private sector firms that need to be performed swiftly and effectively.
We need a plan of action, and we need it now, to prevent the spread of this virus and its crippling effects. I have one.
On an emergency basis, the government and private industry must manufacture, distribute, and analyze millions of test kits. These tests give us the vital information needed to treat and understand the spread of the virus.
Our government must transparently communicate the true nature of the threat and what measures officials have taken and will be taking. This will ease panic and anxiety, and garner greater cooperation from the American people.
All levels of government – local, state, and federal agencies – must work together. Total cooperation among the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS), and other agencies is essential. A full partnership with local and state agencies is vital to ensuring an effective response.
This is no time for Congress to engage in partisan bickering. It is time to put aside politics and serve the American people. Congress must act quickly to assess the danger and stand steadfastly with the President to protect the American people. Indeed, Congress may need to pass legislation and appropriate necessary funds. Fair and informative public hearings with true experts should be conducted regularly so the American people are fully informed.
I urge Congress and the President to take seven concrete steps immediately to halt the outbreak.
- We must establish emergency coronavirus testing sites that are open 24 hours, including mobile or drive-through locations, to give every citizen the chance to be tested and seek treatment, as South Korea has done.
- The CDC must immediately disclose the origins of travel-contact related cases.
- All hospitals should postpone elective procedures and prepare to accommodate those affected, especially the elderly.
- All states must immediately designate containment zones in outbreak areas.
- We should institute a temporary shut-down of all U.S. borders to foreign tourism.
- We should close government buildings to all visitors and non-essential personnel. Only critical staff and vital functions should be allowed.
- We must identify and prepare quarantine centers including hospitals, hotels, and other accommodations. A surge in patients overwhelming the system is a very real danger.
These strategies may not seem difficult to some, but I have seen firsthand just how maddeningly slow the government’s response can be. Critical planning and early action are crucial.
I served in the US Army Reserves for 10 years and drilled for disasters. While serving on President Trump’s National Security Council, we planned for possible crises including terrorism and public health threats. I know that well-considered and swift action saves lives and livelihoods. I worked long and hard to reduce the devastating impacts of September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, and the BP oil spill. I have spent many hours in our emergency command centers.
On the other hand, my opponent Tommy Tuberville has had no experience or training – in the military or with our national security and disaster response systems – that would equip him to effectively contribute to solving such a crisis.
Your support for me over the years has provided me with unique experiences that will enable me to contribute effectively to advancing the safety of the American people.
I well-know the strong values of Alabamians. We demand prompt and effective action. We know that just throwing money at the problem is not a substitute for real leadership and making the tough but necessary decisions. Experience matters and you can be sure I will bring our Alabama common sense to tackling this crisis. You can trust me to have the judgement to deal with such a challenge and the courage to debate the issues, speak out, and even challenge party leaders.
This emergency is a challenge but I have no doubt we will successfully overcome it. No challenge is beyond our capacity. The American spirit has overcome before and we will again.
Jeff Sessions is the former U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Senator for Alabama. He is currently running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.