March 23, 2020 – Speaking in an online forum on Monday, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, expressed frustration with what he regarded as the slow pace of the stimulus relief bill in the Senate.
Speaking from his home in Utah, Romney addressed an online forum on Zoom hosted by Silicon Slopes, a technology industry group in Utah.
Romney is self-isolating himself after sharing lunch and interacting for nearly two hours with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.
After deliberating over the bill, Senate Minority Leader “Chuck Schumer came in breathing fire,” said Romney. Romney accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for being behind the delay of the bill and pushing a “Democrat wish list.”
“This is a rescue time,” said Romney. “It’s hard for me to predict what Nancy Pelosi is going to do,” continued Romney.
The proposed stimulus bill allocates $1.8 trillion in funds to salvage the economy and help Americans hurting economically. This includes loans for small businesses, raising unemployment check amounts, paying individuals $1,200 each depending on income, and loans for bigger businesses.
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox touted the 1,800 tests being conducted a day in Utah, and said by the end of the week, 3,000 tests a day would be conducted.
“We’re trying to follow the South Korea model,” said Cox. “If we can do that, we can get the economy going much quicker,” Cox assured.
In response to an audience question sent through the platform regarding the National Guard, Cox said if the National Guard is mobilized it would be for testing delivery purposes.
“We think we should be doing 10,000 tests a day,” said Cox.
“Are we ahead of the game in Utah?” questioned Silicon Slopes Executive Director Clint Betts.
“We’re leading the way in the ramp up of testing,” said Romney. In South Korea, they took temperatures at every building at gathering and acted accordingly to stem the spread, which significantly helped, said Romney.
Romney suggested enlisting the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that are returning home to work in the health care field by taking temperatures or helping the community as coronavirus continues to spread.
Because of recent advisories by the State Department for Americans overseas to return home, church leaders have begun to return to the United States all 19,800 overseas missionaries that are citizens.
Of those, 12,000 of those will be returning to Utah, and they are being asked to self-quarantine for two weeks, said Elder Craig Christensen, Utah Area President for the church.
Betts raised concerns about large crowds of family members converging on the Salt Lake City airport as church missionaries returned home, creating large crowds of family members not engaging in social distancing.
Church leaders expressed disappointment in the family members’ behavior. Airport and local leaders have discouraged crowds.
“The church has moved rather quickly to respond,” said Christensen. He said that, as a world-wide organization, the church has taken the pandemic seriously.
In addition to missionaries around the world being quarantined or been sent home, church buildings and temples have closed indefinitely, said Christensen.
Christensen said that after missionaries self-isolate, the church is “anxious to get them back engaged,” so helping the community would be a possibility.
Should it become necessary in Utah outside of existing hospital facilities, would the church offer its buildings or Brigham Young University as a makeshift hospital, asked Betts?
Christensen said outside testing locations have already been approved, but there are several buildings that are vacant that might meet medical needs better than a chapel.
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