Apr. 16, 2020

A contagious respiratory disease that was first detected in China in December 2019 has spread worldwide. During the early stages of the coronavirus, we had little statistical information, but there was much concern over hospital space for treatment and the loss of lives. Health officials here and abroad are continuing to work to track and contain the growing epidemic.

The virus can best be described as a bully that is controlling our lives. Coronavirus spreads very fast in crowds, and because people travel to other areas of the Commonwealth and country, the spread of this virus became widespread.

Our government -- both at the federal and state levels -- has tried to slow its spread to give hospitals time to prepare for the unknown consequences.

After months of international studies, we know that the coronavirus is most dangerous to our senior population and those with immune deficiencies.

For our younger population up to 18 years old, coronavirus is similar to the flu with some needing to be hospitalized, but very few deaths. For those up to age 60, again the results show reasonable levels of hospitalization and low death rates of less than 1%. Yes, I feel that one death is still too many, because these victims are still our loved ones.

Like you, I feel the stress and tension, and I worry for our families, communities and economy. But as we move forward for everyone’s short- and long-term well-being, WE MUST GET OUR COMMONWEALTH IN WORKING ORDER!

To say educating our children is paramount would be an understatement. Learning gives them knowledge of the world and helps them change it into something better. It develops in us a perspective of looking at life. I feel Gov. Tom Wolf made a hasty, premature decision to shut down our schools for the rest of the academic term. The school year could have been extended into late June or early July. I am pleased to see that all schools in the 54th District have started online learning.

I have been in contact with many hospitals in our area. We need to continue to develop appropriate plans for our seniors to ensure hospitals do not get overloaded. In time, I hope that older adults who feel at risk should take only the risks they are comfortable with, such as eating a meal out, socializing in small groups, or seeing their grandchildren.

The rest of us need to return to work. The use of technology has allowed some to work from home. However, we need to put our economy back on the right path or significantly more problems will exist. Unemployment has risen to beyond record levels. People are losing their savings and net worth more with the passing of each day.

Sooner rather later, I believe that restaurants and bars should reopen their doors and resume business. I ask everyone to please heed the recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At this time, I feel it would be premature to be in the presence of large groups such as concerts, sporting events and conventions.

It’s time to put our lives back closer to normal. I believe the federal government is close to declaring this same approach.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) said it best: “We should be looking at ways to gradually reopen the economy and that doesn’t mean putting the economy over public safety. Both are important. We know that the coronavirus can kill you – but, so can poverty….American workers have been willing to stay home, but they’re not going to stay home much longer.”

Let’s put AMERICA back to work!

Representative Bob Brooks
54th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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