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COVID-19 Testing Questions: Experts Wonder if Congressional Response will Help Small Businesses, Employees

03-12-2020
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While President Trump says the coronavirus doesn't stand a chance, other voices question that assessment when testing for the disease is limited. 

From the Oval Office on Thursday, the President talked about the 32 American deaths due to COVID-19 and defended stopping travel first from China and now parts of Europe.

"I think we'll re-establish very quickly once this ends and it's just a question of time and I think it'll go pretty quickly," Trump said. 

Still, the president pushing for a $700 billion payroll tax cut, a proposal that is falling flat among Democrats. It follows last week's passing of an $8.3 billion spending package aimed at battling the coronavirus.

Experts testifying in front of a congressional committee say those measures do little to help small businesses or their employees.

"My greatest fear is these people who work for small businesses will go to work with coronavirus," said Dr. Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. "The shop keeper will want to keep his business open because they don't have the funds to keep the office closed for 14 days. The worker will not want to report that she has coronavirus because she probably doesn't have sick leave." 

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Now, as potential cases grow, testing still seems increasingly limited -- a problem some countries don't have.

"The system does is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing. It is a failing," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "The idea of anybody getting it easily, the way people in other countries are doing it. We're not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes, but we're not."

Meanwhile, in New Rochelle, New York, the National Guard is on the job after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) established a perimeter to hopefully contain the number of exploding cases in the Empire State. 

One shop owner labeling an area as a safe zone where people can buy things like wipes and Lysol. 

"You sense a sense of panic from the consumer. You sense worry and, of course, that translates over to the employees and management where we're concerned as well," said Jose Filipe, owner of New Rochelle Farms Supermarket.

More than 100 colleges and universities are closing their doors because of the pandemic. 

Taylor Klass, a student at Ohio State University, says spring break this week will be followed by online classes only.  But she and others are there doing lab work.

"It's mostly been confusion just because we don't know what precautions we should take and if we should be here or if we're allowed to be here," she explained.  "I feel safe especially since there are no confirmed cases in Columbus right now. I wash my hands a lot."

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