by Senator Thom Tillis

Over the last several months, our families, our communities and our country have been in a war against COVID-19, a fight that continues to this day. The highly-contagious virus has taken countless lives and forced us to shut down sectors of our economy in order to stop the spread to protect our loved ones and neighbors.

My top priority as your U.S. senator is protecting the physical and economic health of you and your family, which is why I’ve worked across the aisle to provide billions of dollars to support our hospitals, advance vaccine research and support North Carolina’s response to COVID. During this time, I’ve also held more than 50 telephone town halls with hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, answering more than 600 questions on a range of issues.

I’ve learned a lot by listening and speaking directly with North Carolinians, from frontline health care workers to small business owners to teachers. And I understand that while we’ve provided much-needed resources to families, businesses and health care professionals, the work is not over.

That is why I recently introduced a plan of action to protect North Carolinians and defeat COVID so we can safely return to our lives.

The first part of my plan is focused on the individual role we all need to play to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe during this trying time. We should all follow the Centers for Disease Control’s health guidelines and be vigilant about wearing a face covering in public to protect those around us. In many ways, wearing a mask not only helps slow the spread and saves lives, it also helps save jobs and gets our fellow North Carolinians back to work sooner. In fact, one study found that universal mask wearing would help slow the virus more effectively than another strict economic shutdown.

My plan also offers solutions to protect small businesses, workers, and customers, ensuring that everyone stays safe as businesses begin to reopen. It is imperative that businesses take proactive measures to protect employees and customers from exposure to COVID-19. This may include a variety of measures, including social distancing, “no mask, no service” requirements and frequent disinfecting to name a few.

As small businesses take the necessary steps to ensure safety, it is important we protect those same businesses against frivolous lawsuits from trial lawyers seeking to enrich themselves. That is why I am calling on Congress to provide liability protection for businesses that take responsible actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 so they can have the confidence to reopen and not have to worry about an army of trial lawyers looking to sue them and put them out of business. This would not prevent Americans from bringing forward claims against businesses that are negligent or engage in willful misconduct.

Defeating COVID-19 will also require a steady and ample supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), which is why my plan proposes modernizing and strengthening the Strategic National Stockpile and improving our domestic production. Unfortunately, it has become evident that America is too reliant on countries like China to produce important supplies like face masks, ventilators and PPE equipment. My plan will help fix that.

Additionally, as the new school year approaches and parents across the state prepare to physically return to the workplace, we need to make sure we have federal support for children, parents and child care providers. My plan calls for assistance for child care centers to help them safely reopen and provides states with the flexibility to implement plans to support child care services. We also need federal funding to help support the reopening of schools and long-distance learning to ensure our students are both safe and receiving a quality education.

These are just a handful of the solutions I’ve proposed in my plan, and I encourage you to read the full plan by visiting tillis.senate.gov. And as always, if you need any assistance with a federal agency, please contact my office and we’ll be happy to help you.

We should never forget that we are all in this together, and if we all do our part, we will stop the spread of COVID-19 and be able to safely return to life as normal. As your Senator, I will continue to put your family’s health and economic future first and make sure our state and nation get through this crisis and come back stronger than ever.

Thom Tillis, a Republican, is North Carolina’s junior senator in Washington

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