05.07.20

Gardner Addresses COVID-19 and Honors Colorado’s Fallen First Responders

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) spoke on the floor of the Senate regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and paid tribute to the fallen first responders in Colorado who were on the front lines of COVID-19.  

covid floor speech

Click here or the picture above to download Senator Gardner’s remarks.

On frontline workers and healthcare professionals:

“I want to commend in the strongest terms possible our frontline workers, whether it's been our first responders, our healthcare professionals, or those that have allowed us to continue to enjoy a safe and secure food supply, people in essential businesses that each and every day don't complain, but go to work to help make sure that our communities can get back to work. And the list of heroes in our communities, those who have given so much, goes on and on and on.”

“And so to all of our incredible healthcare workers, the frontline workers, the essential workers, grocery store clerks, gas station workers, mechanics at farm equipment dealerships that have remained open to keep tractors running during planting, to our ranchers and farmers who have kept our food supply flowing, thank you.” (Link)

On the importance of widespread testing: 

“Our country’s wellbeing both medically and financially relies on our ability to see where the illness is and where it is not. Where it is spreading and where it is declining. That, in turn, depends on our ability to ramp up testing capacity. Rapid testing for COVID-19 and further research into the benefits, applications, and developments of antibody testing will help show which Coloradans have been exposed to COVID-19 and the percentage of our population that has already recovered.”

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“My approach to this pandemic has been an all-hands on deck approach. When the Governor calls me and says that our state needs more tests, more masks, or more equipment, I get to work fighting to find that assistance. Working together with the Governor, leaders at the federal level, and our allies abroad, we've been able to secure hundreds of thousands of masks and tests for our state and we are working around the clock for more.” (Link)

On the importance of improving the Paycheck Protection Program:

“Congress must also make sure that the Paycheck Protection Program continues to be funded and improved where needed to better support America’s small businesses and the employees that they are able to keep on payroll as a result. We must make the program flexible enough to be effective and we must make the rules so clear, so clear, that people will be confident that they can use it.” (Link)

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“Because of clarifications to the program that I fought for just last week I heard from three rural hospitals in Colorado that received the Paycheck Protection Program loans through their local community bank. They were within a matter of a week or weeks of having to lay off employees and in some cases shut down. The access to the Paycheck Protection Program was an absolute game changer for these critical and vital rural hospitals. Now, these hospitals can continue to provide both critical healthcare services to their communities and jobs for their employees and in many communities these rural hospitals are the largest employer in that community.” (Link)

On the path to economic recovery:

“Until the American consumer is fully back with confidence in our economy, we need to look for ways to fill the gap. We've long talked about the need to refurbish our infrastructure, now is the time to do it. This health crisis has laid bare the cyber desert that exists in many of our rural communities. We should make a concentrated effort to make rural broadband a reality.

“We should fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and put funding towards our deferred maintenance projects across our federal lands that we all cherish so much. That would create immediate jobs, building roads and maintaining trails, and creating the kind of job opportunities that many of our high-mountain towns desperately need as a result of this health emergency and now economic emergency.  I've introduced a bill that has the President's support and support on both sides of the aisle and certainly the ideas are supported across both chambers of Congress: the Great American Outdoors Act. Communities throughout the nation would benefit, and these funds would help to contribute to that strong and growing outdoor recreational economy, one of the largest drivers of our economy in Colorado and many states.” (Link)

On improving mental health support:

“Before COVID-19 I was working on a number of legislative efforts to improve mental health support and COVID-19 has only underscored just how time-sensitive these matters are, particularly my legislation, and the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. In a mental health emergency, it's almost impossible to remember the current ten-digit hotline. Sometimes there's more than one ten-digit hotline. So establishing 9-8-8 as a national suicide prevention hotline will save lives and help more Americans in need to access critical mental health support.” (Link)

On Colorado’s fallen first responders:

“In Colorado we've lost two first responders on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19. Deputy Jeff Hopkins served in the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and he had been serving there since 2001. On April 1st he passed away from COVID-19 at the age of 41, one day after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. His death was determined to be a line of duty death, a reminder to all of us that our brave first responders are in harm's way every day but especially during this pandemic.

“We also recently lost Paul Cary who worked as a firefighter and paramedic in Aurora for more than 30 years. Paul was 66 years old, and he selflessly drove, selflessly drove 27 hours straight to New York in an ambulance to help out in the battle against COVID-19. There he was tending to patients and transporting them to hospitals. After falling ill with the virus, Paul died on April 30. Coloradans lined the streets to give him a hero's farewell. 

“To Deputy Hopkins, to Paul Cary, and the countless heroes like them who are risking their own health and safety every day, thank you.” (Link)

On moving forward:

“We face a tremendous challenge unlike we have ever faced in our lifetimes. And while we're going to use every tool we have to help fix what has happened, we know that everyone's not going to be perfect, but we have to keep trying because that's what the American people do every day. They make it work. They fight. They get back on their feet. We have to be in this fight with them.” (Link)

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.