Wenstrup talks CARES, COVID-19

Physician, military officer and Congressman Brad Wenstrup was frank in his comments Friday when it came to the COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled the nation.

“You can’t measure prevention,” he said, speaking as a practicing physician. “Unless you’re George Bailey in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ no one gets to see what they’ve prevented.”

He said that the preventative steps taken in the state he represents and around the country have been essential in stopping the spread of the disease and stemming the loss of life, emphasizing that the virus unique due to being highly contagious, and frustrating from the fact that people can be infected and not even know it.

“It’s an invisible enemy, and the seriousness is there because it can bounce from one person to another so quickly,” he said.

Wenstrup attributed the rapidly escalating numbers of sick in major cities across the country as the major reason why the supply chain of medical supplies has been compromised so quickly. He said that as a physician, it was hard to imagine not having the necessary supplies close at hand.

“Even when I served in Iraq, we still had most everything we needed,” Wenstrup said. “But sometimes we may have been a little short on something, but we were always able to improvise.”

As America faces the COVID-19 threat, Wenstrup held up shoe lace manufacturer Sole-Choice in Portsmouth as an example of a company that retooled and repurposed to make bands for protective medical masks that are being made by athletic footwear maker New Balance.

The resiliency of the American people is evident, he said, despite the forced business closures and stay at home orders that have crippled a once-vibrant economy. And he said help is on the way.

“The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act is imperfect, no one doubts that,” Wenstrup said. “But we need to help American families and businesses get through this since the economic impact of this has been incredible.”

He reiterated that a single individual making under $75,000 annually will be receiving $1,200, while a couple making under $150,000 could expect $2,400 in addition to $500 for each dependent child from the stimulus package that cleared Congress on April 3.

He said as a help to small business, the paycheck protection program began Friday to help keep employees on payroll and contained loans to cover payroll, rent, utilities and mortgages, with the Small Business Administration forgiving the loan portion used to cover the first eight weeks.

“These loans are retroactive to Feb. 15 so employers can rehire recent laid-off employees,” Wenstrup said. “Eligibility extends to small businesses, non-profits, churches, veteran organizations, tribal business and even self-employed individuals, which are usually left out in the cold along with independent contractors.”

There were things tucked in the CARES Act that he said he didn’t like, such as $25 million for New York’s Kennedy Center, which he said he wouldn’t have minded if there had been plans to convert it into a hospital facility.

Other things that Democrats wanted in the bill, he said, were funding for abortion, diversity quotas on corporate governing boards, and what he termed as “big portions of their Green New Deal, all of which had nothing to do with the coronavirus.”

As to any future designs the Democratic Party may have regarding future “stimulus” packages, Wenstrup said government leaders should instead focus on recouping what has been spent so far.

“We should be looking at that, and if there’s been any glitches with what we have passed so far, we’ll have to find ways to mend those technical corrections,” he said. “I’m not in favor of rolling something else out when we haven’t really seen the effects of the first three phases that we’ve gone through.”

When the pandemic threat passes, Wenstrup said the nation will do what the military described as an “after action review,” where lessons that were learned are revisited with adjustments made for the future, so procedures can be put forth to be better prepared if it happened again.

Wenstrup said it is important to stay in touch with friends and family, check in on neighbors, and as a physician, he recommended getting outside and getting some exercise or do something enjoyable to keep stress levels down.

Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.

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