Sen. Cory Gardner has been taking his temperature twice a day while self-isolating after being exposed to a person infected with COVID-19 — and on Wednesday, he will be released from his quarantine.
He told Colorado Matters on Monday that he’s feeling great and talked about personal protection equipment, the national coronavirus relief package and the federal response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Monday afternoon, Senate Democrats had blocked a coronavirus relief package and introduced their own stimulus plan. The Senate is largely deadlocked over the plans that deal with trillions of dollars. Gardner said he is imploring his fellow senators to get a plan passed.
“The fact that we can't even get on the bill to debate it is heartbreaking,” he said. “We need assistance now. The American people that I talk to each and every day in Colorado are terrified.”
The failed GOP relief package included direct payments to individuals, the possibility of grants and flexible loans for small businesses — some approaches that Gardner may have labeled as socialism six months ago.
“This is about keeping people on track. This is not universal basic income. We've had unemployment insurance in this country for a very, very long time,” Gardner said. “We've seen nothing in our lifetimes like this. And Congress has a responsibility to get this economy going again. What we have to do is get people back to work.”
Over the weekend, Gov. Jared Polis said that the state might be 7,000 ventilators short of what’s needed, but Gardner said that he’s been working with the governor and the federal government to get Colorado what it needs.
“I have worked to not only get the stockpile shipments all to Colorado but worked with the White House on the production to make sure that we reroute supplies that are essential to Colorado, Gardner said.
On Monday, the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center and the state health department began shipping supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. The supplies include nearly 50,000 N95 masks, 21,000 surgical gowns.
Gardner also said that he’s considering Colorado-specific solutions for some of the medical supply shortages.
“We've been working with the marijuana industry for instance, on personal protective equipment. We found some hemp manufacturers that can make cotton swabs,” he said.
Gardner also defended the president’s calling the new coronavirus the “Chinese virus.”
“This virus did come from China. I think China did some horrible things when they lied about this happening.”
Ultimately, Gardner said that Americans are more in tune with how they are going to pay their mortgages or rent, and whether their jobs will still exist.
“I don't think they're weighing in on the day to day conversation of ‘Should we call it this or should we call it that?’ They're scared as hell for their lives," he said.