BERGER AND MOORE: Trump aided state efforts on COVID response

Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) and Sen. Phil Berger (R-Eden) in an undated file photo.

President Donald Trump forged a path to move the country forward in the face of an unprecedented crisis. His leadership in Washington helped put North Carolina on the right trajectory to defeat the coronavirus.

As our state faced a historic public health and economic crisis, we were able to leverage federal dollars to tailor our response and recovery. President Trump along with Congress secured more than $4 billion in CARES Act funding for our state, a supply of critical protective equipment, and expanded testing capacity for our state’s most vulnerable patients.

Without such support, North Carolina would have been ill-prepared to respond and recover from this pandemic.

The federal government delivered 13,402 non-contact infrared thermometers for businesses and essential workers, 2.4 million N-95 masks, 14.6 million surgical and procedural masks, 459,000 eye and face shields, 6.7 million isolation and surgical gowns, and 369.5 million medical gloves to our state during the height of the pandemic. That influx of PPE positioned our hospitals and front-line workers to respond quickly to this public health emergency.  

Armed with CARES Act funding, North Carolina addressed immediate needs stemming from the pandemic, like increasing funding for testing and contact tracing to monitor the spread of the virus. While Gov. Cooper failed to regularly conduct surveillance testing at nursing homes, President Trump increased testing in nursing homes in hotspots and required weekly staff testing in states with elevated positivity rates. Nursing homes across the nation — including those in North Carolina — that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements benefited from an additional $5 billion to fight the virus and protect our most vulnerable residents.

When schools closed and students had to adjust to remote learning the General Assembly funded school nutrition and health programs ensuring that students wouldn’t go hungry in the absence of daily classes. Federal funding helped us purchase devices to keep students connected to their classrooms, expanded internet connectivity, and invested in rural broadband infrastructure.

Now, as schools across North Carolina approach the first day of classes, President Trump is fighting to secure $105 billion in education funding, including $70 billion directly supporting K-12 schools.

Studies have shown that long-term school closures have a greater impact on children from families with fewer resources. President Trump understands how critically important it is that we get our students back into the classrooms.

Allowing families to choose in-person instruction gives parents and caregivers the flexibility to return to work. The Trump administration has provided more than $8.2 billion in economic impact payments to everyday North Carolinians, giving them a peace of mind that they’d be able to put groceries on the table and keep the lights on. More than 109,000 small businesses across the state benefited from Small Business Administration loans — totaling more than $12.2 billion — saving jobs and ensuring businesses could survive the economic shutdown.

With an assist from the Golden LEAF Foundation North Carolina established a small business loan program with $125 from the CARES Act funding. So far, the loans have helped retain more than 5,000 jobs in North Carolina. This funding has been transformational for hundreds of businesses across the state during the shutdown.

As we look for the light at the end of the tunnel, we can be thankful that efforts to defeat the coronavirus are firmly rooted here in North Carolina. The General Assembly allocated more than $80 million for COVID-19 research at North Carolina universities. President Trump’s leadership on Operation Warp Speed has put our biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry at center stage. Because of President Trump moving full-steam ahead, we’ll soon have a COVID-19 vaccine in record time without cutting any corners.