Sen. Coons: ‘We should only be having a conversation about loosening restrictions on people's movement and reopening the economy when our public health experts say it's time to do so.’

Sen. Coons: ‘We ought to make provision for the Senate to be able to vote, if we all have to go back to our homes and shelter in place, and for the American people to be able to vote.’

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the latest news on negotiations on a third COVID-19 response package, the President’s remarks yesterday about “opening our country up” against the advice of public health experts, and his recent legislation to expand vote-by-mail and early voting.

Senator Coons is leading the call for national vote-by-mail and early voting in response to COVID-19: “I think we should make it possible for every state in America to vote by mail, given that we've had six very significant states already defer their presidential primaries. There is a real risk that the primaries will get pushed back and pushed back and that the general election in November will have to take place under an ongoing cloud. So, there are some states, like Colorado, that already mail a secure ballot to every registered voter. I have a bill that is being led by Senators Klobuchar and Wyden that I have joined, where I am supporting the funding for it, that would require every state to make provisions for vote-by-mail and for 20 days of early voting. We managed to have our troops vote in the height of the Civil War and the second World War. We ought to make provision for the Senate to be able to vote, if we all have to go back to our homes and shelter in place, and for the American people to be able to vote. It's a fundamental constitutional right that I think we should be addressing.”

Senator Coons cautioned against the President’s call for “opening up our country”: “One of the most important things in public leadership is to know what you don't know. As a senator, as a county executive, I relied upon the professionals, the experts. I've been on the phone repeatedly in recent days with our own Director of Public Health, our Secretary of Health and Social Services in Delaware and with folks who are currently and formerly in leadership in CDC, in FEMA, in NIH. Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx are seasoned, non-partisan, professional epidemiologists and public health leaders. We should only be having a conversation about loosening restrictions on people's movement and reopening the economy when our public health experts say it's time to do so. Countries in other parts of the world, like South Korea, succeeded in handling this virus quickly by scaling up testing and getting to massive amounts of testing and by managing their expectations of the public and the economy and then having some loosening and reopening – not the other way around. Decisions here shouldn't be driven by a political or partisan interest, by economic interest. We have a lot of people anxious and nervous about their children, about their health, with loved ones in the hospital. We need to listen to public health experts first.”

Full audio and video available here

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