Durbin Continues Call for Senate to Pass Families First Coronavirus Response Act Immediately

Durbin also pays tribute to first Illinois coronavirus-related death; continues to push Administration for personal protective equipment and robust supply of test kit supplies for Illinois

WASHINGTON – Amid the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today once again called on the Senate to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act immediately.  The legislation takes additional smart, strategic, and science-based measures to help protect families’ economic security, food security, and health security.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin also paid tribute to Illinois’ first coronavirus-related death, Patricia Frieson.

“I come to the floor this morning with sad news.  Illinois has lost its first resident to the coronavirus, a pandemic which is threatening our country and the world.  Her name was Patricia Frieson, 61 years old, a retired nurse,” Durbin said.  “She was an exceptional person, and her brother said she cared for everyone but herself.”

Durbin continued, “It’s a package [Families First Coronavirus Response Act] which was designed to provide some help, some financial assistance to workers and families across the United States who are coping with either the illness or losing their jobs or being laid off because of the state of the economy,” Durbin said.  “We put together this package with the White House on a bipartisan basis that provides an extension of unemployment benefits that are necessary for many workers across this country.  In passing this bill… it is an important step forward to let the people across America know we’re doing what we can here in the Senate and in the House to be responsive.”  

In his speech on the Senate floor, Durbin also called on the Trump Administration to take immediate action to fulfill Illinois’ personal protective equipment (PPE) request, as well as supply the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) with a robust supply of test kit supplies.  Yesterday, Durbin and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) pressed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar on both of these needs.

“Hospitals and frontline responders are telling us that they’re worried they lack the equipment and resources that we need.  Some experts predict that as many as 1.9 million intensive care unit admissions from this outbreak will take place over the next several months, swamping existing facilities,” Durbin said.  “There is also a major dearth of necessary masks, respirators, ventilators, gowns, goggles, all of the things that are essential to protect health care workers and save the lives of those who are facing this illness.  What a frustration it is in my state – the State of Illinois – that I still get reports from virtually every level that the so-called National Stockpile has not opened up its doors for my state when it comes to basic needs.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor are available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.