PROPOSES MANDATORY SICK LEAVE
TYLER, Texas–Hank Gilbert, Democratic Candidate for Congress in Texas’ First Congressional District, on Monday announced a multi-part plan to safely re-open American commerce and prepare the United States for future pandemics.
Key to Gilbert’s proposal is funding for up to 100,000 workers to expedite testing of every American, and vastly expanded contact tracing, as well as funding to create more testing kits, and the chemical testing agents required for those kits.
“We cannot safely reopen all of American commerce without knowing who is positive for COVID-19 and who is not,” Gilbert said. “An expanded testing and contact tracing program is necessary in order for us to re-open our economy. We cannot reopen our economy safely without expanded testing and contact tracing,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert also criticized his opponent, incumbent Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler) for failing to come up with a plan to reopen the economy.
“After nearly two decades in Congress, and his multiple attempts to halt stimulus payments to Americans and aid to small business in Congress, Louie Gohmert should be on the front lines of helping America find a solution. Instead, he just wants to obstruct what others are doing,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert also proposed that Congress immediately enact a permanent program providing every American worker with 14-days of mandatory paid sick leave, and 30 days mandatory paid sick leave to persons impacted by COVID-19 or any future global pandemic. Gilbert also proposed a direct to small business, zero-interest loan program to help businesses with fewer than 15 employees absorb the cost of mandatory paid sick leave for the next three years.
“After three years of government assistance to help facilitate mandatory paid sick leave, American businesses should be better-suited to understand that paid sick leave must be a cost of doing business in this country,” Gilbert said.
“Mandatory paid sick leave is something that my opponent will undoubtedly attack, but the reality is that too many American families live paycheck to paycheck. In spite of sometimes working two or even three jobs, Americans in my district don’t have the kind of savings necessary if they even come down with the flu and are out of work two weeks. In fact, in most cases, they’d just lose their jobs,” he said.
“Mandatory paid sick leave, quite frankly, is what our country should be doing for our fellow Americans. As a Christian, I believe that we must look after those who need our help, and mandatory paid sick leave, to me, is a very Christian value,” Gilbert said.
REOPENING AMERICA: A Plan To Safely Allow American Business To Reopen While Protecting American Consumers
When examining what steps must be taken to safely re-start the economy, we must take a holistic approach since action in one area necessitates action in another. With this in mind, Gilbert proposes the following:
TESTING, TRACING, AND CONTAINMENT
1) EXPANDED NATIONWIDE TESTING – We must use the Defense Production Act, and Congress must appropriate money for, the creation of equipment and re-agents to allow the country to increase COVID-19 testing capacity. Eventually, every American must be tested. However, in order to safely return American businesses to work, we must produce enough tests and test every person in this country before they return to work to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
2) CONTACT TRACING MUST BECOME THE AMERICAN STANDARD — Congress must appropriate funds and require the Department of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security to coordinate efforts to generate contact tracing plans for every state and county in the nation. This money must come from the federal government and pass through the states to pay for this. This program must include funding for a program to hire up to 100,000 workers nationally to expedite both testing and contact tracing for all people who test positive for COVID-19. Congress must also immediately fund the development of a smartphone application in conjunction with the leading mobile telephone providers and leading operating system providers to advise all people who were within 250 feet of a known positive, details of where the positive was and advising them to seek testing immediately.
3) QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION OF THOSE TESTING POSITIVE. Ideally, those who test positive will be able to self-quarantine. Should that not be the case, Congress must appropriate funds to allow the President to use the Defense Production Act to activate unused, or underutilized, hotels, apartment complexes, and other over-night facilities to help those who have tested positive quarantine for 14 days without harming the public or their families. On day 15, a test should be administered and then another 72 hours later. Should both be negative, the person would be released from quarantine. As part of this process, Congress must appropriate emergency funds to utilize existing at-home feeding programs such as Meals on Wheels to ensure those who are quarantined at home or elsewhere may receive food and other items if they are unable to procure them on their own.
4) ANTI-BODY TESTING IMPLEMENTATION. Congress must appropriate funds so that anti-body testing may be broadly implemented nation wide by June 15.
RE-OPENING AMERICA. In conjunction with the Testing, Tracing, and Containment plan, Congress must establish national public health standards that states and local governments must follow in order to re-open businesses. This legislation must include:
1) Congress must pass legislation for pass-through funding to states to fund States must be required to pass regulations requiring temperature testing, masks, and other measures at all American businesses. Management at all businesses reopening will procure OTS IR thermometers and test all employees and patrons as they enter the business. Hand wash sinks, masks, hand sanitizer, etc. will be required in all businesses. States who do not implement such standards will become ineligible to receive any federal government funding from Health and Human Services.
2) Congress must pass legislation to provide funds for Health and Human Services to operate and maintain a state and county database of all testing facilities, which anyone in need can access from the homepage of HHS.gov.
3) Congress must pass legislation to allow Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education to generate guidelines for schools and daycare facilities, and provide pass-through funding to the states for implementation, to facilitate re-opening for the 2020-2021 school year. This will give American public schools and daycare facilities the time they need to plan for social distancing.
MANDATORY PAID SICK LEAVE
All American businesses must provide 14 days of mandatory paid sick leave on a permanent basis, and 30 days of mandatory paid sick leave for persons impacted by COVID-19 or another global pandemic. Through the Small Business Administration, the federal government will create a direct loan program to help businesses with fewer than 15 employees at all locations, providing zero interest loans for the next three years until American businesses become accustom to including this as a cost of business in their business plans.
PREPARING FOR THE NEXT PANDEMIC
1) The United States must immediately begin work on treatment protocols/Vaccine development with WHO.
2) Hank Gilbert will propose legislation to direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish an Infectious Disease Taskforce to coordinate the collection efforts and intelligence gathering for all US entities currently working on infectious diseases. As part of this, CDC will also be funded to create a High Performance Computing platform to expand their existing efforts on COVID-19, in order to quickly assess new pathogenic disease and begin work on treatment protocols and cures.
3) Hank will propose legislation enabling the Department of Health and Human Services to be given the ability to implement a contact tracing plan and pandemic response plan in the event of another outbreak in the US of a novel pathogen without requiring Presidential authority.
PUNISHING THOSE PROFITING FROM A PANDEMIC
1) Hank will propose legislation giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to immediately shut down any entity providing unproven ‘cures’ for COVID-19 and refer those offering such cures to DOJ for prosecution.
2) Hank will propose legislation to create a Congressional blue-ribbon commission to begin full-scale investigations into why the U.S. was caught so unprepared for this and to determine why the federal response was so botched.