One of my first jobs was stocking shelves and bagging groceries at the then-new Searstown Publix in Rockledge. It was years ago, but I’m grateful for that opportunity which had a positive impact on my life — I made lifelong friends, strengthened an already strong work ethic, and met my wife Katie, who was a cashier. We all worked hard to keep the store stocked and clean, and our customers happy.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on those days at Publix as we come together to confront this unprecedented pandemic. I’m thankful for our supermarket employees, as well as those who work in the shipping, food service and delivery industries, for their courage in working through this crisis so our families can continue to have the food and products we all need. They join our first responders, doctors, nurses and health care workers as national heroes while fighting on the front lines of this crisis. Please make an effort to let them know how much you appreciate them.
We are fortunate to live in a country with so many selfless and conscientious people who step up every day to serve our communities and get us through this. The coronavirus has quickly forced many unfamiliar and uncomfortable changes. I’ve heard from many constituents who think state and federal guidelines are correct. Others think they are too strict, and some think they are not strict enough. There is much at stake — our freedom, our jobs, our health — and it’s imperative we remain vigilant as we battle this invisible enemy.
Unlike the 2008 financial crisis, this one is not caused by greed, mismanagement or corruption. And, the government’s response is not a “bailout” to reward bad behavior. It is an effort to protect public health and compensate those whose livelihoods have been taken through no fault of their own by the government shutdown.
On the federal level, Congress passed three broad economic relief bills to assist our families, businesses and communities as we confront the coronavirus. Despite some flaws — nothing Washington produces is perfect — I supported the legislation and your federal government is working at record speed to bring these services online and make these resources available.
The legislation includes funding for research and development for coronavirus treatments, funding for medical supplies, testing, and the creation of a national sick leave program to provide temporary relief to employers and employees who may be out of work due to the virus. It also contained funding for nutrition and food programs for senior citizens and low-income families struggling to get by without critical services.
Congress also put in place loan programs to assist businesses of all sizes so they can continue to pay both employees and operational costs while temporarily shut down through no fault of their own. It authorized economic relief payments to workers and families, and increased unemployment benefits to assist those workers who may not qualify under other programs. Also included was my provision to protect the jobs and pay of defense and space contract employees so we can keep our workforce and these important programs intact.
I have also joined with my Florida colleagues in writing to the president requesting states like Florida which have a substantial senior citizen population and tourism industry be prioritized for COVID-19 response funding, and I continue to advocate for other industries that are important to the Space and Treasure Coasts. These actions are meant to help the American people in the near-term and to minimize long-term economic damage.
We created a coronavirus resource page on my website (www.posey.house.gov) to assist constituents in learning how they might qualify for economic relief.
The steps we have taken have begun to flatten the curve of the pandemic in many parts of the U.S. and enabled our health care systems to be in a better position to treat COVID-19 patients. While much more work needs to be done to develop medical interventions to treat patients, we have seen some promising results for many patients. The best way for individuals to fight this virus is to follow the advice of public health officials, particularly for higher-risk Americans, as we begin to phase-in restarting our economy.
Our staff continues teleworking every day and has been assisting thousands of constituents. If we can be of service to you, please do not hesitate to reach out. We’re here to serve you.
Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, represents Florida’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.