Members of Kentucky’s Congressional Delegation Respond to the Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Paducah Congressman James Comer says he’s most concerned about how children in his district will continue to get hot meals if the spread of the coronavirus forces schools to close.

“If something happens and there are school closures, there’s going to be a lot of days when kids don’t have access to meals during the week,” said Comer.

“In rural Kentucky and in my district, we have a lot of school systems that not only prepare meals for the school kids. They also prepare meals for drug treatment centers. They prepare meals for orphanages. They prepare meals for even some charitable organizations that house senior citizens and the elderly,” he added.

Comer introduced the COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response Act with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat from Oregon. If adopted, it would create a nationwide waiver for schools to allow school officials to distribute food in various settings. 

“This is something we are all expecting will eventually spread across the United States,” said Comer. “It’s a contingency plan.”

Comer and Bowling Green Congressman Brett Guthrie, both Republicans, say they are satisfied with the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic even though Congressional Democrats argue the pace of testing for the virus has been unacceptable. Still, Guthrie says he’s being overly cautious.

“I was going to have lunch at a Veterans Center in Radcliff next week and I shake a lot of hands here and I see a lot of people here in Washington DC, I’m not going because I don’t want to expose them,” said Guthrie.

“We are hoping to get to a point of care test where a physician can do a test and do a swap at the same spot without sending it to a lab. Those are coming and coming quickly,” Guthrie added.

Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth, the lone Democrat in Kentucky’s delegation, is less confident in the Trump administration’s response.

“I understand first of all that there’s not a lot known about this virus so the information can’t be totally clear and unequivocal but the lack of transparency from this administration…it doesn’t build confidence that the administration is being honest with the American people and that they really know what they are doing,” said Yarmuth.

Democrats are calling for free testing, a paid leave program and unemployment insurance as part of the legislative response.

Kentucky’s senior senator Mitch McConnell dismissed their plan as an ideological wishlist.