On Friday, I wrapped up another week of my statewide tele-tour, where I’ve been able to connect on video conferences and over the phone with Texans in 27 different cities.
This week, I spoke with men and women on the frontlines of this pandemic in Lubbock, Abilene, San Angelo, Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Wichita Falls, El Paso, Odessa, Waco, and the Bryan / College Station area.
I had the opportunity to talk with Lubbock’s KCBD News Channel 11 and the Valley’s KVEO News Channel 4 to discuss my priorities for defeating this pandemic, helping the American people safely return to work, and holding China accountable for its role in the spread of this deadly disease.
Toward that end, I was pleased to join President Trump’s bipartisan task force to safely re-open the economy. As I outlined during a phone call with the President and members of the task force on Thursday, I believe there are several steps we can start taking now, based on the science and public health guidance, to help get people back to work again:
We need to make testing much more accessible and widely available
• I’ve drafted legislation to empower states with the authority to approve and distribute testing.
• I’ve also called on Secretary Azar to mass produce serological tests, which quickly and accurately assess coronavirus risk and help determine whether people can return safely to work.
We need to increase production of personal protective equipment
• I’ve urged the administration to take several steps to increase production of PPE – that includes leveraging the incredible might of our free enterprise system through the Defense Production Act.
• We’re seeing Texas businesses across the state stepping up to fill the gap in supply shortages – like Unique Software Development in Dallas and Tigé Boats in Abilene manufacturing face shields for first responders, and Pinkerton’s Distillery in Lubbock producing hand sanitizer, and to name a few. That strength and compassion is what will get us through these difficult days.
We need to quickly develop a cure for COVID-19
• I’ve long championed legislation to reform how the FDA does its approval of drugs. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, I’ve introduced targeted reforms aimed at accelerating the FDA’s approval for drugs and devices approved in other countries that could treat COVID-19 patients and help stop this outbreak.
• It’s also my hope that once we defeat this pandemic, America will move away from being dependent on China for life-saving medications and treatments. To that end, I’ve announced my intention to introduce bipartisan legislation with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) to expand medical partnerships with Israel – an ally and global leader in medicine – to develop coronavirus cures and treatments and lessen that dependence on China.
As I said on Wednesday on Fox News’ ‘The Story’ with Martha MacCallum, had the Chinese government acted responsibly, the coronavirus outbreak might not have turned into a global pandemic and hundreds of thousands of lives, millions of jobs, and trillions of dollars could have been saved. When Congress returns, I plan to introduce legislation that will impose targeted sanctions against the Chinese officials involved in covering up the coronavirus outbreak.
Even in the face of an unprecedented public health crisis and the economic devastation that has followed, we’ve seen Texans and Americans stand strong and united. This week, I launched the #CombatCOVID19Challenge with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a social media challenge to encourage Americans to continue supporting their communities during these difficult times. To learn more about the challenge and how you can get involved click here.
Keep Texas Strong.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is based upon a letter he sent to constituents.