WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today spoke with members of the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association (WVHTA) on a teleconference call to provide an update on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. During the call, Senator Capito heard from industry leaders about their concerns, answered questions, and provided an update on what she and her colleagues are doing at the federal level to offer assistance and relief.
“Tourism and hospitality are major industries in West Virginia that employ thousands of people who have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak,” Senator Capito said. “Many of these employers are small businesses, which makes up much of our state’s workforce. Around 95 percent of businesses in our state are small businesses, and many of those are within the tourism and hospitality industry. One of my top priorities throughout all of this—in addition to ensuring the health and safety of West Virginians—is making sure these small businesses have the support and relief they need during this uncertain time. I understand the frustrations and worries these businesses have for themselves and their employees, and I’m working hard through my leadership position on the Appropriations Committee and through other avenues in the Senate to make sure we are delivering important resources to help these businesses keep their workers employed. I appreciate the WVHTA members for taking the time today to offer suggestions and express to me their concerns and needs. Feedback like this is critically important as we continue our efforts in Congress.”
“We appreciate Senator Capito taking time out of her busy schedule to hear the concerns of West Virginia’s hospitality and travel industry, and are thankful for her continued efforts to ensure that the small businesses at the heart of our industry have the resources they need to navigate these difficult times. While the hospitality and travel sectors have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, we are continuing to do everything we can to provide essential services to West Virginians on a daily basis. We look forward to working with Senator Capito and others at both the federal and state levels to ensure that West Virginia emerges from this pandemic as strong as possible,” said Carol Fulks, WVHTA Executive Director.
Senator Capito launched a page on her website to help bring current and accurate information to West Virginians during the COVID-19 pandemic. ClickHERE to access the webpage for the latest updates and resources.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic. Click HERE to read Senator Capito’s statement on this announcement, and keep scrolling to learn more about the bill highlights and Senator Capito’s efforts to stay on top of this issue.
BACKGROUND ON SENATOR CAPITO’S CORONAVIRUS EFFORTS:
Senator Capito continues to be focused on this issue, particularly in ensuring the appropriate agencies have the funding they need to mitigate the spread of the virus, test those feeling ill, and treat those infected.
Senator Capito has been in touch with the White House directly to express the need for more testing kits and additional flexibility for West Virginia’s hospital as the situation continues to evolve.
As chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Capito has made a point to ask the agencies she funds if they are prepared and ready to combat the coronavirus. Below are more details on Senator Capito’s efforts:
· Met with a number of officials, including:
o Vice President Mike Pence, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services (WVDHHS) Commissioner and State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp, members of the Coronavirus Taskforce, and others on the issue.
· Communicated with West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Secretary Bill Crouch about the state’s testing issues.
· Spoke with West Virginia Hospital Association President and CEO Joe Letnaunchyn and West Virginia Health Care Association CEO Marty Wright.
· Voted in favor of the emergency supplemental funding package to help states treat, prevent, and prepare for the Coronavirus. A portion of the funding provided for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is specifically tied to the FY2019 Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) grant awards for states and localities. In West Virginia, this means the state will receive at least $5 million in funding.
· Attended a senators-only Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee briefing to ask questions directly of leadership from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
· Spoke with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice about West Virginia’s preparedness and readiness.
· Asked various government officials about the role of the aviation industryin containing the spread of the disease.
· During two Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee hearings:
o Questioned Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske about TSA’s coordinating efforts with health agencies.
o Asked Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf about the department’s efforts to monitor and control the coronavirus.
Click here for more information on the coronavirus.