Kentucky First District Congressman James Comer offered an update on the federal coronavirus response at a virtual town hall Thursday. He was joined by Paducah doctor Kyle Turnbo to answer constituents’ questions concerning the virus.
The town hall comes after the U.S. Senate approved a $2 trillion economic stimulus package to boost the economy as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens nationwide. Comer said the bill will come to a vote in the House of Representatives on Friday. He said the bill is an important step in mitigating the economic effects of the coronavirus, but he said he hopes to avoid the kind of bailouts seen as a result of previous financial crises.
“Additional relief measures should be focused on the small businesses and regional employers,” Comer said. “We don’t want to see another TARP bailout.”
TARP is the Troubled Asset Relief Program created to stabilize the economy as part of the 2008 financial crisis. Comer said he wants to avoid programs that unfairly benefit large corporations when designing stimulus bills.
Aside from the upcoming relief package, healthcare took high priority at the town hall. Comer said he is working to address a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the commonwealth. He said he is in contact with all thirty hospitals in his congressional district. Many of the hospitals in the first district are rural hospitals that serve one or more counties. Comer said Governor Andy Beshear’s order ceasing elective procedures in Kentucky hurts small hospitals that are often one of the largest employers in rural counties. He said the hospitals rely on income from elective procedures to make payroll.
“It’s really put our rural hospitals in a bind,” Comer said of Beshear’s order.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Comer warned Kentuckians to be aware of potential scams. He said to avoid giving out personal information; government agencies will already have the pertinent information needed to send out assistance checks and other services.
Information regarding the coronavirus in Kentucky can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov.