We need a real plan to reopen the economy, safely – because if we don’t do it safely, we’re just going to have to close it again. People want to go back to work, go back to school, or be able to go to the grocery store without feeling terrified.
That’s why I sent President Trump a letter outlining a plan for the protections he must put in place so that Americans can go back to work, and be safe on the job.
First, we must have mandatory safety protections for all workers – whether you punch a clock or swipe a badge, earn a salary, or make tips. Everyone on the job must be protected by a national, enforceable standard that should come from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. I’ll be pushing to make sure that standard is in any bill Congress passes.
If we don’t protect workers, the virus will continue to spread. More people will die and we will have to shut down the economy once again. No one should fear for their life on the job.
Second, we need a huge increase in testing. More than a month ago, I put out a plan to support American manufacturers and allow them to ramp up production of medical equipment, including the supplies we need to make more tests. So far, the Administration has failed to come even close to delivering the number of tests we need. That’s why this week the Senate unanimously approved $25 billion to help ramp up our national testing regime.
Third, we need intensive contact tracing. People need to have confidence when they return to work that their coworkers haven’t been exposed to the virus. For that to happen, effective contact tracing will require hiring, training, and deploying specialists who follow-up on every positive case.
Finally, we need effective isolation and quarantine measures for those identified by the contact tracing. Not everyone has the ability to self-isolate at home. People need resources and support to take care of themselves and prevent spreading the virus to their family members or neighbors.
It’s time we go on offense against this virus with a real plan to reopen the economy and keep workers safe.
Democrat Sherrod Brown represents Ohio in the U.S. Senate. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.