Written by Keith Lobdell in The Sun Community News on March 23, 2020

WASHINGTON  | New York State Congresswoman Elise Stefanik gave an update on how she feels the fight against COVID-19 is going during a conference call Monday.

Stefanik said she will be doing update calls throughout the week with media within the 21st Congressional District.

On the legislative side, she said two phases of the rescue package are done, with phase three in the works.

“The Senate is in the middle of negotiations in phase three,” said Stefanik. “We need to be focused on economic relief and a rescue package for small businesses. My focus is consistently going to be on Main Street and not Wall Street.”

She also added at a national level making sure Coronavirus testing and treatment are covered by insurance providers.

“My concern is making sure any individual does not have any costs in regards to seeking treatment for Coronavirus,” she said. “We should augment and add that care or any other tests needed after the initial test should be covered.”

Help locally

Stefanik added she pushed for stabilization funds in phase three to help out counties and to get the funds to the counties as soon as possible.

She also said her office has been working with the North Country Chamber of Commerce to make sure trade is still able to flow through the Canadian Border while it is shut down to non-essential traffic.

She also said they are working with other chambers.

“We have partnered with our chambers of commerce throughout the district to hear feedback and questions and to get out the details and information about this stimulus package,” Stefanik said. “This is a team effort from the local level to the state level.”

Remote voting needed

In Congress, Stefanik agreed with other politicians the ability to vote remotely should be looked at during the outbreak, as members of both houses have now tested positive for COVID-19.

“I think we need to put remote voting in place to ensure everyone has a vote and we can get this done as quickly as possible,” she said.

The need for equipment

Stefanik did not mix words when it came to if the North Country had everything it needed medically.

“We need more,” she said. “Businesses are stepping up and have reached out to us who are selling masks and are interested in partnering with us in manufacturing ventilators. We need to get these into the hands of the healthcare providers as quickly as possible and I hope we can see the numbers of PPE’s (personal protective equipment) increase by the end of this week.”

Getting through

“I think people need to take this very seriously,” Stefanik said when asked about the future. “Stay calm, but stay vigilant and heed the advice of public healthcare officials. We will beat this but we all need to be part of this. Make sure you are following the advice from the CDC and public healthcare officials. Small decisions today can have big, positive impacts in the future. We want to tackle this and beat this as quickly as possible and the only way we can do this is to listen to the advice we are being given.”

Stefanik added she felt restrictions can be lifted sooner based on how well people follow the guidelines.

“The sooner we flatten the curb, the sooner we will be able to get back to business,” she said. “I know it is tough and it is a dire situation. I know people are gearing up for tourism and this is a dire situation.”

Staying away

When asked about organizations that have requested people stay away from traveling and hiking in the Adirondacks, Stefanik reiterated people need to follow the guidelines of social distancing and limiting travel while being responsible when they do go outside for exercise or mental health.

“This is another one where it is going to take a balanced approach,” she said. “It is safe to go outside as long as you keep your distance and a lot of people rely on the natural surroundings to tackle their anxiety,

“We had an issue where first responders had to go out and find a hiker who was not prepared and we do have to be cautious because our resources are stretched thin right now, so we need to take those things into account,” Stefanik added. “We have to be cautious because our resources are spread out and they have to go where they are needed most.”

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