CLEVELAND, OH – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call as he pushes a plan to keep Ohioans safe, protect workers and reopen the economy safely. On Saturday, Brown wrote to President Trump calling on the Administration to increase testing capacity, facilitate intensive contact tracing, enact enforceable worker safety protections, and support effective isolation and quarantine methods in advance of any attempts to relax social distancing guidelines or reopen the economy.

In his letter, Brown argues that bolstering these measures, which are based on recommendations from public health officials, will help protect the health and safety of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic and allow businesses to reopen and workers to go back to work with confidence.

“People want to go back to work, they want to go back to school, they want to be able to go to the grocery store without being terrified,” said Brown “And they can’t, because of President Trump – because he failed to prepare for this crisis, and now he’s failing to get us out of it. 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.”

In his letter, Brown called on the Administration to:

  • Increase testing - The Administration must take all the necessary steps to ramp up U.S.-based manufacturing of necessary supplies, including swabs and reagent, to effectively scale up our domestic testing capacity.
  • Invest in intensive contact tracing - Effective contact tracing will require the hiring, training, and deploying of contact tracers who follow-up on every positive case to support effective isolation and quarantine measures.
  • Enact enforceable worker protection standards- The Administration must quickly publish an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that requires employers to implement comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plans to protect all workers from the coronavirus.
  • Facilitate effective isolation and quarantine methods - The Administration must ensure all individuals have the resources and support necessary to take care of themselves and protect their neighbors from COVID-19.

Brown’s letter can be found HERE.

More info on Brown’s efforts to protect public health and worker safety can be found below.

Testing

In March, Brown released his plan for addressing the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), including testing kits, needed by healthcare workers on the frontline of keeping Americans healthy and safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Senate Democrats also released a plan to address the Trump Administration’s failure to rapidly expand testing capacity for COVID-19. The plan includes:

  • Emergency funding to enable rapid scaling of testing and the full range of activities that support testing and maximize its impact;
  • A Pipeline to develop, validate, and allocate accurate, reliable tests to ensure adequate supply;
  • Structures to administer tests in every community across the country;
  • Robust public health infrastructure to respond to results and better contain COVID-19; and
  • Transparency and accountability across the testing system.

Worker Safety

In March, Brown wrote to President Trump calling for both pandemic premium pay and worker safety protections. Brown called on the Administration to quickly publish an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that requires employers to implement comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plans to protect frontline health care and all other essential workers from the coronavirus. 

This week, Brown also joined a bill led by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act, which would require OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard that establishes a legal obligation for all workplaces to implement comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plans to keep workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act directs OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard within 7 days that sets requirements for how workplaces must safeguard workers against the spread of the coronavirus.

Contact Testing

This week, Brown and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) wrote a letter calling on the Administration to immediately craft, release, and implement a plan that includes robust testing for the coronavirus and expanded contact tracing.

In the letter, the Senators called for:

  1. A detailed summary of resources needed to design and execute nationwide testing and contact tracing.
  2. A comprehensive explanation of HHS’s strategy and efforts to support states and localities in recruiting, hiring, and training a sufficient number of qualified contact tracers across the country, including efforts to recruit tracers with diverse language capabilities, as well as strategies to accommodate seniors and Americans with disabilities.
  3. A thorough outline of HHS’s plan to protect and secure the private data of Americans during all contact tracing efforts.

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