Congressman Perry Op-Ed: Facts and goodness must win over fears and panic
My top priority as your federally elected representative is protecting our health, safety and security. In consultation for weeks with our region’s leading infectious disease professionals and our nation's subject matter experts on health and safety, I'm encouraged and comforted that America is home to world-class medical professionals and scientific researchers — already leading the international response to the COVID-19 virus.
This virus understandably has raised fear and anxiety amongst our families and friends. But fear should not and cannot rule the day. In almost 40 years of military service, we learned many skills to keep our troops alive and resilient under fire, but top among them was: preparation defeats panic, and facts win over fear.
Our first step was to ensure the free flow of accurate and reliable information to put our communities in the best possible position to slow the spread of COVID-19. That’s why I teamed up with scientists and doctors from Penn State Health and led a COVID-19 community leaders information meeting on Monday, which brought together elected township, county, and state officials, as well as first-responders, school officials, business leaders and media for an honest discussion about our community’s preparedness and knowledge of COVID-19.
During the event, our local leaders consulted with leading scientists in epidemiology and infectious diseases to clarify any misunderstandings about the virus and inquire about aspects of the federal and state response. We answered many of those concerns, but will continually partner with experts and government at all levels to bridge any information gap.
Following our community leaders meeting, I hosted a Facebook Live town hall on Tuesday, to provide an update on the federal government’s response to COVID-19, and answer constituent questions. I'll continue to bring experts to speak with our community to help us prepare and mitigate misinformation.
We're pushing out timely and accurate information to our community leaders and will continue to get counsel from the experts. This includes information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issued guidance to prevent spread by keeping workplaces, homes, schools, and commercial establishments safe. I encourage you to review their guidance at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Our next step was to ensure that our local, state and federal officials have the resources and tools they need to screen, test and treat patients.
On March 6, I voted for a bipartisan emergency appropriations package that provided $8.3 billion for the COVID-19 response. This funding was immediately released to make diagnostic tests more broadly available, invest in vaccine development, and support state and local response efforts. From this funding, the CDC awarded over $560 million this week to state and local jurisdictions for COVID-19 response. In addition, more than 1 million tests were distributed nationwide, and another 4 million are expected to ship this week.
Our actions also shortened the timeline for the development of a vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress on Thursday that he expects to begin human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine in a few weeks; far exceeding the initial expectation of two to three months.
At the end of this week, the House also considered a measure to provide relief to individuals and industries most impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19
I'm ready to assist you with any federal issues you may experience during this crisis. We're here to liaise with federal agencies, should you have any challenges/questions. We assisted our neighbors during their quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan, and currently are assisting families navigate the challenges of getting their children home from studying abroad. No issue or question is too small. We're here to serve you; please let us know what you need www.perry.house.gov / 717-603-4980.
America is great because America is good. We're a strong nation — innovative, kind and resilient. Americans can overcome great challenges when we come together, and combating the coronavirus is no different. Please stay prepared by staying informed. Let facts win over fear.
— Congressman Scott Perry is a combat Veteran and father of two who proudly serves more than 720,000 neighbors and friends in the Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District.