Moving Forward Together in the Face of a Global Pandemic
This global pandemic knows no borders and has no regard for politics. Like Americans who have come together to take steps to bend the curve, our elected officials have also come together swiftly and in a bipartisan manner to provide much-needed federal assistance to the millions of Americans who are struggling to get by. With passage of three economic relief bills and others on the horizon, Congress has made extraordinary strides to ease the pain of so many Americans.
In the same spirit of community in this time of crisis, many employers have also taken unprecedented steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees, the American workforce, and local communities as they follow the recommendations of public health organizations. By providing aid to small businesses and assistance to vulnerable Americans, and developing treatments and vaccines for the novel coronavirus, businesses have demonstrated the strength and vitality of the American private sector. Ultimately, it will be the collective efforts of everyday citizens, the government and private sector companies that will guide our economic recovery and create a better tomorrow for all Americans.
As small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, larger employers have stepped up in many ways to support them and their employees. Credit Unions are offering loan modifications and fee waivers, creating new loan products to help small businesses, and making donations to community organizations. Larger corporations are also introducing programs to help small businesses retain their employees, as evidenced by Facebook’s $100 million small business grants program to support up to 30,000 eligible small businesses.
The health care industry has taken critical steps to provide for the safety of our doctors, nurses, and clinicians serving on the front lines, in addition to ensuring patients do not receive unanticipated bills with respect to treatment related to COVID-19. Across the United States, many health care, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies are offering a wide range of services to aid their employees and Americans.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working with more than 180 pharmaceutical manufacturers to evaluate the drug supply chain and ensure that drug shortages are avoided. As a parallel effect, biopharmaceutical companies are developing solutions to help diagnose and treat individuals with COVID-19, and many companies have research and development for potential treatments and vaccines underway or are providing donations of medicines and critical medical supplies.
As Americans are striving to find new and different ways to connect with one another, two of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies have pledged not to terminate service to any resident or small business customer, open Wi-Fi hotspots to Americans, and waive late fees related to the pandemic. Many of our nation’s telecommunications providers have also stepped up to ensure low-income American families remain connected by offering free Internet and unlimited data to customers at no cost.
A number of technology and social media companies are also introducing various programs to support the public. Softbank has donated 1.4 million N95 respirator masks to New York. Apple has released a new COVID-19 website and app that were created in partnership with the CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and FEMA. Facebook has introduced a coronavirus information center that will appear at the top of users’ news feeds in addition to offering $1 million in small grants to support local news organizations covering COVID-19 in the U.S. and Canada.
This collective effort by lawmakers, large and small businesses, and ordinary citizens is critical if we are going to successfully navigate this difficult time. American businesses and citizens alike have stepped up to the plate and put politics aside for the health of the country. If we continue along this path, we will certainly persevere.
Times of crisis offer us a glimpse into what could, or should, be a part of our daily interactions; the type of cooperation that makes us all better, as neighbors and citizens of the United States. The challenge facing us is a tough one, but we will all be better served to move forward together in this same spirit.
The Honorable Bud Cramer is a former congressman for Alabama’s 5th District and the current Chairman of Center Forward. Center Forward brings together members of congress, not-for profits, academic experts, trade associations, corporations and unions to find common ground. Our mission: to give centrist allies the information they need to craft common sense solutions and provide those allies the support they need to turn those ideas into results.
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