Senator McConnell thanks healthcare workers, talks second stimulus during stop at Baptist Health Corbin
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R–KY, came to southeastern Kentucky Monday, making stops at three local hospitals, including Baptist Health Corbin, where he praised healthcare workers for their efforts during the COVID–19 pandemic. He also spoke about what officials in Washington, D.C., have been doing on the legislative side and their plans for a potential second stimulus.
“At the beginning of the year, we were hit with something brand new. Nobody knew how to deal with it,” McConnell said of the COVID–19 virus. “The healthcare workers on the front line remind me of the first responders who ran into the burning buildings on 9/11.”
“They didn’t know how much they were endangering their own health in trying to help others,” he said.
McConnell said while it may have appeared that the spread of the virus was on the decline, recent numbers show it is not.
To that end, McConnell said the biggest way to help is to follow the guidelines concerning wearing masks and social distancing.
“We have an obligation to protect ourselves and others,” McConnell said, noting that when the Senate returned to session at the beginning of May, the senators and staff began wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
McConnell said while the passing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) added $2 trillion to the national debt, it was necessary as Congress and President Trump attempted to both address the COVID–19 pandemic while propping up an economy that went from one of the best the country has seen in recent memory, to looking like the depression era in a matter of a few months.
“Under no other circumstances would we have considered doing that,” McConnell said.
As the only one of four Congressional leaders from outside of New York or California, McConnell said he worked to ensure Kentucky received its share of the available funds, including $1.2 billion for healthcare providers across the state, and $2 billion for state and local government.
“It was the second largest amount of money out of the CARES of any state the size of Kentucky,” McConnell said.
As to what is next, McConnell said work has begun on another rescue with discussions likely to begin next week when the Senate returns to work.
McConnell said in order for the package to pass the Senate it must include liability protection for everyone related to COVID–19 between Dec. 2019 up to 2024.
By everybody, he said it had to include hospitals, doctors, nurses, businesses, schools, colleges, and universities.
“Nobody should have to face an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemics that we already have related to the Coronavirus,” McConnell said.
In addition, McConnell said the package must include returning children to school.
“Look for emphasis on the rest of the bill to be on kids, and jobs and healthcare,” McConnell said.
He noted that while the CARES Act passed in March, the fact that the general election is four months closer means things are going to be more partisan.
“I think you can anticipate this coming to a head in the next three weeks,” McConnell said of the new legislation.
Following his visit to Corbin, McConnell went on to St. Joseph London and then Rockcastle Regional Hospital in Mt. Vernon.
“We really appreciate the Senator’s work,” said Baptist Health Corbin President Anthony Powers, noting that funding through the CARES act provided $89 million to the hospital, including $10 million to offset COVID–19 related expenses.
Powers said Baptist Health Corbin is on good financial footing, emphasizing that it is not in any danger of closing.
“This next round of funding could really take us to where we don’t have to postpone construction and services, and allow us to stay on target in expanding our services in our community,” Powers said.