Phil Keating reports on how technology is being innovated to keep first responders safe.
Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
The United States is in the midst of an all-hands-on-deck war against the coronavirus, with our amazing health care heroes serving on the front lines of this battle.
Despite the incredible risks, first responders, nurses, doctors, other health care professionals – plus additional hospital employees such as janitors and food service staff – continue to report for duty to serve our communities across the country as this pandemic has rapidly advanced.
The past several weeks have ushered in extraordinary times, with the coronavirus altering life as we know it. Most Americans now have a duty to help slow the spread of this disease by staying home and practicing social distancing. But not all Americans.
Our health care heroes are in the field working overtime to protect us against a virus that has no known treatment or vaccine. They report for duty day after day and expose themselves to this invisible enemy while keeping hospitals running and open to new patients.
These men and woman courageously follow their calling to save the lives of those battling coronavirus while also delivering babies, mending broken arms and administering chemotherapy to patients fighting cancer.
At the same time, hospitals and other medical providers across the U.S. have faced critical shortages of crucial equipment like testing supplies, masks and gowns. These shortages have put doctors, nurses, and other front line workers at a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus, raising anxiety among medical professionals as they treat an increasing number of patients.
Still, these heroes power through.
In my home state of Arizona, doctors and nurses have made the tough decision of isolating from their own families amid personal protective equipment shortages as they work around the clock to keep families safe.
Scottsdale cardiac anesthesiologist Reza Kharrazi recently shared a video to rally his staff and other health care workers in the state who are anxious about their own exposure to the virus.
Some doctors have even gotten creative. Phoenix emergency room physician Dr. Ben Reeser responded to mask shortages at his hospital by creating a device that allows doctors and nurses who have to intubate patients to do so without the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
As a former combat fighter pilot, it seems inconceivable to me to have to face down an enemy without a parachute or fuel in your plane. But our health care heroes have risen to the fight as warriors with servant hearts. I salute their courage, grit, tireless dedication and selflessness.
Meanwhile, I’m doing everything in my power to get them what they need to prevail in this war, which they will.
With my help, Congress passed the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act last month, which includes several provisions intended to bolster our health care system.
This legislation provides billions of additional dollars to the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health for various efforts, including:
Reimbursements to hospitals and health care providers to ensure they continue to receive the support they need for coronavirus-related expenses.
Additions to our national stockpile of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other medical supplies for federal and state response efforts.
Grants to fund state and local preparedness and response activities.
Vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic research related to the coronavirus.
Additional funding for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services began to deliver the initial $30 billion to hospitals and health care providers.
The CARES Act also limits the liability for volunteer health care professionals, prioritizes Food and Drug Administration reviews of certain drugs for the coronavirus, allows the emergency use of certain diagnostic tests that are not approved by the FDA, expands health insurance coverage for diagnostic testing, and requires health insurance coverage for preventative services and vaccines.
In addition to the CARES Act, I also cosponsored legislation to provide emergency financial assistance to rural health care facilities and providers impacted by this crisis.
We are not helpless as individuals to help these heroes. Last week, I donated blood at the American Red Cross Donation Center in Tucson, where I had the honor of meeting several staff members who are responding to blood shortages.
These employees are working tirelessly to collect blood as social distancing efforts and canceled blood drives have left hospitals with a scarce supply, which is still needed for trauma victims, cancer patients, organ transplants, or childbirth complications.
If you are healthy, make an appointment to give blood today. If you have recovered from the coronavirus, you may be eligible to donate blood plasma containing antibodies that could help save someone else’s life.
It is because of the dedicated service and sacrifice of our health care heroes and first responders that the rest of us are able to focus on the wellbeing of our families and neighbors.
In return, we should stand strong behind these individuals and help make their lives a little easier where we can by providing services like child care, grocery shopping, or other actions to minimize their stress.
We are living in unprecedented times. Unlike the enemies I fought against in uniform, this enemy is invisible – but it is just as deadly.
Yet the diligent efforts of our medical professionals who wake up every day and head to the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus will lead us to victory. I salute you. Our country will prevail in this battle because of selfless heroes like you.