April 17, 2020
The New York and New Jersey delegations to Congress are asking for an additional $40 billion in aid to help fight coronavirus in their states, which remain the two hardest hit in the country.
"When you look at the number of cases nationwide, New York and New Jersey account for 45 percent of those cases, and yet they only received about 9 percent of hospital funding," Rep. Mikie Sherrill, (D-NJ 11th District) told Cheddar. "It's just not enough to meet the needs of the crisis we are facing."
Sherill joined the bipartisan delegation in signing a letter asking for funding to be apportioned to states based on the infection rate.
"We request that a separate fund of at least $40 billion be created in the interim emergency COVID-19 relief package and it be allocated among the States based upon their share of the national infection rate according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracking data on April 10, 2020," the letter said.
The representative said that New Jersey is going through a difficult moment in the progression of the outbreak, despite evidence that the rate of infection is flattening.
"Here in New Jersey, we're in a really tough time for coronavirus," she said. "The people coming into our emergency rooms are very sick. We're seeing people that have been sick for a long time. Some of them are now passing away, which is horrible. Our hospital workers are exhausted. We are really fighting hard against this virus."
Sherill said she was not opposed to the Trump administration's focus on reopening the economy, but that she wants to keep up social distancing for the time being.
"This is the time when I think we do need to be thinking about how we're going to restart the economy, with the understanding that the measures we have in place now we're starting to see the results, we're starting to see them working," she said.
Before states can reopen their economies, she added, they need to implement widespread testing with a focus on frontline workers and the severely ill.
"What we need with a national testing effort is some kind of coding system, so we can make sure that our health care workers, our first responders, some of the people who are in hospitals who are very sick and we want to make sure we're treating them for the correct disease, are tested first and tested most rapidly," Sherill said.
Sherill joined a number of Democratic lawmakers in calling for the president to be more aggressive at the federal level by invoking the Defense Production Act and helping states get the supplies they need, including the crucial reagents, to implement widespread testing.