WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A bipartisan task force of legislators is advising President Donald Trump on how and how quickly to move forward with reopening the economy.
“We’ve got to look beyond this crisis,” Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., who was appointed to the team, said. “I think we ought to start thinking about areas we can open.”
While Chicago remains a hot spot for the virus, he said the threat in other communities nearby is more contained.
“Taylorville, my hometown, has had two senior facilities overrun with COVID,” he said. “One of those facilities is off quarantine right now. They showed what they can do and what we can do together to mitigate any further spread.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said his top priority is getting people back to work.
“There won’t be an economy to reopen if nobody as jobs to go back to,” he said.
He said decisions to reopen should be made closer to home.
“Region by region, that’s that right approach,” Hawley said.
Already, seven Midwest states are working to coordinate their reopening dates.
But Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who wasn’t invited to the task force, argued a patchwork system could backfire.
“The virus does not know county lines or state lines,” she said. “We need to come together and have strong national leadership.”
She said the federal government must drastically ramp up testing to avoid a second wave of infections.
“We have to have testing in place before we can have people go back to work safely,” she said.
“We can’t safely reopen the economy until we have a massive increase in our ability to test people for the virus,” agreed Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in a statement. “Any decision like this must be made using the best science, and I trust Governor (J.B.) Pritzker to do that and put the health and safety of Illinoisans first.”
Trump said he’s working to get millions more rapid response tests out to communities, but that testing is ultimately up to the states.
Stabenow also pointed out that no lawmakers from Michigan were selected to be on the task force, even though Michigan has the third-highest number of deaths in fourth-highest number of cases in the country.
“I was surprised,” she said.