Opinion | Elizabeth Warren: What Congress Must Do About Coronavirus – The New York Times

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Ms. Warren is a Democratic senator from Massachusetts and a former presidential candidate.

Credit…Jordan Gale for The New York Times

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“Congress has passed three coronavirus packages aimed at providing immediate relief to families, workers, hospitals and small businesses, but with more than 12,000 dead and 10 million out of work, the scale of this tragedy demands we do much more — much faster.

Communities across the country are entering a critical stage. Illnesses are mounting and our health system is stretched to the brink. Early data shows people of color are infected and dying at disproportionately high rates. Unemployment is approaching Depression-era levels. No clear end is in sight for social distancing. The next round of policymaking must squarely address these hard realities — not with a few new nibbles, but with the kind of broad, direct action needed to save lives and save our economy.

Containing the health crisis must be our first priority. I have outlined immediate steps to accomplish a federal surge in testing capacity. In addition to using the powers under the recently invoked Defense Production Act, we must act now to have the government manufacture or contract for the manufacture of critical supplies when markets fail to do so — to produce tests, personal protective equipment, drugs in shortage and any future vaccines and treatments that our scientists develop — not in the thousands, but in the tens of millions. This will ensure swift production and build a stopgap against shortfalls moving forward. We must also use public programs to provide health care free for all who don’t otherwise have it.

As workers lose their jobs, small businesses close and household incomes plummet, we must extend economic relief beyond cash payments to families and individuals. This includes suspending consumer debt collection, enacting a universal national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, stopping water and utility shut-offs, providing as much broad student loan debt cancellation as possible and finding money to keep child care providers afloat. With older Americans and those with underlying health conditions among the most vulnerable, we must also increase monthly Social Security and disability benefits.”

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