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Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and our nation is seeing the alarming spread of this deadly virus – with more than 155,942 deaths and rising rates of spread. California continues to feel the impacts, with
the San Joaquin Valley especially hard hit and fighting to contain the virus.

Official U.S. House portrait of Rep. Jim Costa

Rep. Jim Costa

Opinion

The coronavirus knows no geographical, social or economic boundaries. It does not discriminate. It’s our enemy and we are at war. When you compare the U.S. metrics worldwide there are stark differences.
We have 4.25% of the world’s population, 26% of the world’s positive cases, and 22% of the world’s deaths. This did not need to happen.

Yet, we still have no national plan. Instead, President Trump has left this war to states, largely ignoring our top medical experts and scientists. Today, we are left with 50 state battle plans, all competing for
much-needed and necessary testing and protective supplies. And we are failing.

Americans are looking for answers. They wonder what’s gone wrong, and ask: “How can the richest and most-advanced country in the world be taken down so quickly?” They’re fighting to hold on — reeling as
they face the prospect of losing their home, job, or business.

Time to Act Is Now So We Can Reopen Economy, Schools

We cannot wait to act if we want to fully open our economy and our schools.

We should never politicize a pandemic, and that is not my goal here. I want action. I want to encourage all of my colleagues – local, state, and federal elected leaders from both parties – to come together to
develop a regional plan to help the Valley turn the tide of this battle we are losing.

We also need your help — we need every American to do their part. The only way to get life back on track is if we all act responsibly by staying home, limiting contact with people outside your household, wearing masks, washing hands, and isolating if we are infected.

We cannot retreat. Instead, we must:

• Improve education and outreach to under-served communities, including farmworkers who are the backbone of our agriculture community and are being deeply affected.

• Fix our testing models to ensure appointments are immediately available and accessible for anyone who needs a test.

• Accelerate test results to under 48 hours to ensure health officials can quickly work to contain outbreaks.

• Secure supplies for ALL regional hospitals and clinics so that our healthcare teams can care for our sick.

• Activate and trust our community-based organizations to create plans to help our most vulnerable.

• Act, without hesitation. And without political motivation.

Fifth Relief Package Is on the Way

In Congress, we have provided four bipartisan relief packages to aid the American people, sending $3 trillion dollars into our communities to provide a safety net for small businesses, displaced workers,
hospitals, and local communities. It has not been enough.

Congress is negotiating a fifth relief package. The House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act on May 15. It was designed to provide additional support for states and local governments, increase
funding for testing and our health care facilities, extend unemployment insurance until Jan. 31, 2021, further assist small businesses, create a safety net for American agriculture, including farmworkers,
and help with the devastating social and economic impacts from the virus.

It also creates a plan for the future by funding medical schools in underserved areas — an effort I lead — that would help us close the gap on our well-documented physician shortage in the Valley.

These funds are intended to give our local and state leaders an arsenal to fight this battle on all fronts. We can only defeat this enemy by coordinating our battle plans between local and state governments,
county health departments, hospitals and clinics, schools, and businesses. Governor Newsom has already pledged $52 million more to support the Valley.

Watch: Rep. Costa Remembers John Lewis

Everything American Must Do Their Part

We also need your help — we need every American to do their part. The only way to get life back on track is if we all act responsibly by staying home, limiting contact with people outside your household,
wearing masks, washing hands, and isolating if we are infected.

I spend every day with my staff talking to members of this community, working to coordinate efforts. We have had successes, including getting more state testing sites into our smaller communities and
improving supply chains, helping small businesses access forgivable loans and disaster assistance, helping individuals get stimulus payments, and much more.

Our work is nowhere near complete. I remain committed and steadfast. We can — and we will — win this battle. Let’s come together as Americans to defeat this virus.

About the Author

Rep. Jim Costa represents California’s 16th Congressional District, which covers the city of Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties.

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