Government intervention to provide assistance during the coronavirus epidemic is necessary, according to U.S. Sen. John Barrasso.
Barrasso, speaking on Fox News, expressed his support for the Emergency Coronavirus Response Act shortly after its approval Wednesday.
“I think of our small businesses in Wyoming and that’s about every business in Wyoming,” Barrasso said. “You want to make sure that their employees are taken care of. And we want to make sure that by the time this is over, that these businesses have the cash on hand to come back and open again and don’t find themselves in a bad situation.”
The bill will guarantee paid leave for the employees of smaller businesses if the employees have to leave work to care for a child. It also provides for special paid sick leave for employees who are unable to work because they catch the virus or are quarantined for it.
Barrasso also signaled support for the next phase of spending packages to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. The legislation is expected to cost over $1 trillion and includes direct cash payments to all American citizens.
“There are immediate needs and the government has a responsibility to step in,” he said. “We need to take care of the employees as well as the small businesses because small businesses supply 75% of the jobs in America.”
Slowing the spread of the virus is the most important thing, he said, “because the economy will not recover until we have the virus under control.”
To that end, the senator said social distancing measures and cancellation of events is necessary.
The key, he said, will be how closely younger people comply with government mandates and recommendations because although they may have a stronger immune system, people they come in contact with, like the elderly, are more at risk.
“The millennials will make the difference in terms of slowing the spread of the disease,” Barrasso said. “People who are older and have medical conditions are the most at risk. And that’s why the social distancing is so very important.
“If you look at South Korea, that is the model that we would like to have for the United States rather than what we’ve seen in Wuhan and Italy,” he added.