West Virginia Rep. David McKinley discusses national response to COVID-19 pandemic

Friday afternoon, U.S. Rep. David McKinley met with WV News representatives to discuss the federal government’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

McKinley said that while the pandemic is still very much an ongoing threat, he’s encouraged by the action taken both by legislators and the citizens of the country as a whole over the past few months.

“I’d like to say we’re winning the battle,” McKinley said. “I’m much more comfortable dealing with it today than I was three months ago. There were too many things that were unknown. … Something has worked in West Virginia. Whatever it is, it’s worked.”

McKinley also said he’s hearing encouraging news from the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other officials about a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus, and he hopes it will be out sooner than originally anticipated.

“We poured billions of dollars into it, and the timeline started moving back,” McKinley said. “Fauci said at the last briefing we had with him that he wouldn’t be surprised if we had a vaccine in December of this year. Someone mentioned the other day maybe November.”

McKinley also said he’s in support of finding alternative treatments for COVID-19 alongside development of a vaccine, noting that the more ways the country has of fighting of the virus, the better.

“Why aren’t we doing equal effort over here in therapeutic treatment?” McKinley asked. “There are some diseases we still don’t have the vaccine for, like HIV. We don’t have a vaccine for that, but we found the therapy to treat people. Why aren’t we doing the same thing (with COVID)? Even if someone gets it, we may not have a vaccine, but they’re going to be fine. We’d have therapeutic treatment for them. … They’re now talking about that, as well, and they’re saying we might have a therapy in October or November.”

The congressman spoke about not only flattening the curve to slow the spread of the virus, but also preventing the spread of misinformation and panic about the virus. He stressed that in order for society to return to normal, people must start living their lives again, also mentioning that he hopes to lead by example in that effort.

“We haven’t flattened the fear,” McKinley said. “The fear has grown exponentially. I want to find a way to flatten the fear. … I want people to know to come back to the world. … We’ve got to get back, and our society has to be operating again. We know we have people who are risk averse, but we’re a nation that’s willing to take a chance to go out there.”

The idea of an additional economic stimulus package was also a key topic of discussion.

McKinley said he is in favor of another stimulus measure to help the American people and businesses, but he wants to see some changes in how states control their money and how additions to unemployment benefits will work.

“The argument is, ‘What does the stimulus look like?’” McKinley said. “Our communities and our cities and states are struggling too with it, trying to provide services to people. In the CARES Act package that came out, each state got a minimum of $1.25 billion. There was a release that people are arguing over … that said that with all of the money that was given, two-thirds of it has still not been spent by the states. … I don’t know the details, but the fact is that they’re raising that issue. …

“Why would we then authorize $1 trillion to go out now? … I can understand some hesitation.”

Overall, though, McKinley said he’s confident the United States — and the rest of the world — will have the virus under control soon, and he shared his appreciation for those who have worked so hard to help beat COVID-19.

“I’m so impressed that we got word in mid-January that this thing has escaped, and here it is in September, and we’re that close and confident that we’re going to have a vaccine, given all of the other diseases that have preceded it,” McKinley said. “I’m proud of our scientific community for what it has done.”

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