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Sen. Cotton proposes 'extraordinary measures' to combat coronavirus pandemic

Sen. Tom Cotton mentioned proposed several steps that "may seem extreme today," but later they will be "obvious" in preventing further spread of COVID-19.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — In a Twitter thread, United States Senator Tom Cotton mentioned several proposals that "may seem extreme today," but later they will be "obvious" when it comes to preventing and preparing for the further spread of coronavirus.

Cotton began by pointing out that just two weeks ago, "Italians were merrily sipping wine and coffee at bars and restaurants. Today, elderly Italians are denied care at hospitals and instead administered last rites because their health-care system is collapsing."

He then listed "needful steps."

First, he proposed something that is already widely accepted throughout the country: not allowing people to do anything other than "needful activity," which could be described as getting groceries, picking up medicine from the pharmacy, and other necessary items.

In his second step, Cotton would shut down "all but essential government agencies & services." 

He said this wouldn't include VA healthcare or food aid workers.

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Next, the senator proposed that "the military must prepare for defense support of civil authorities, especially at hospitals, nursing homes, etc., & do whatever is needed to increase our capacity to treat patients."

Cotton said that he believes military presence in these areas "may be needed" by healthcare workers to help treat patients.

Additionally, in a Facebook post on Monday, Cotton proposed a goal of getting emergency cash to those who can't pay bills or get groceries due to the effects of preventing or preparing for further spread of COVID-19.

"We’re going to do everything we can to get cash into the hands of affected workers and families as quickly as possible so we can all get through this pandemic together," Cotton said.

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However, during an interview Monday, the senator said he doesn't support a current bill that would give assistance "as it is written." While the bill has measures covering waiving co-pays for testing and ensuring states have adequate resources.

The bill also excludes businesses with 500 employees or more.

"If you're a company that is totally shut down that has to pay your entire workforce but you have no revenue coming in the door you're not going to last very long," Cotton said.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R) said in a statement that he hopes the Senate approaches the bill objectively, because if it passes, “it does more good than harm — or, if it won't, pass nothing at all.”

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