Ryan Calls on Trump to Declare National Stay-at-Home Order

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is calling on President Donald Trump to issue a national stay-at-home order and use the Defense Production Act to organize manufacturers and supply chains to produce urgently-needed medical and personal protection equipment for health-care workers.

The congressman said those steps can go a long way in diminishing the pandemic. He points out that leaving quarantine and isolation orders up to state leaders isn’t going to prevent hot spots from cropping up in less affected states.

“The idea that Florida and Mississippi and some of these other states are not doing this is insane to me,” Ryan said Wednesday during a virtual press conference. “I just don’t understand why we would allow that to happen. We have the evidence. We have the science. The smartest people in epidemiology and infectious diseases are telling us exactly what the problem is.”

Wednesday afternoon, after Ryan’s conference ended, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed stay-at-home orders for their states. There are now 12 states that have not issued such orders.

“[Congress is] sending economic support to make sure everybody is made whole to the best we can, and we’ll do it again, especially for some of these small businesses,” Ryan said. 

Nationally, there are 207,694 cases of COVID-19, the disease spread by the coronavirus, causing 4,657 deaths. In Ohio, 2,547 cases as of 2 p.m. Wednesday and 65 deaths. Ohio health officials are projecting a surge in cases in the next two weeks.

Mahoning County has the highest death total among all Ohio counties and the third-highest number of diagnoses.

“This is a massive public health issue and you have to stay at home, wash your hand and limit your contact,” Ryan said. “It’s spreading in our community and for Mahoning County to have the highest death rate per capita in the state is not a place where we want to be. This is real and we have to take this very, very seriously.”

He relayed stories from health-care professionals who have been working tirelessly to help people and making dangerous sacrifices to their own health due to dwindling supplies like masks, gowns, gloves and eye protection. Besides being on the frontlines, he said workers tell him they are afraid of bringing home the virus to their families. 

“We have one president in this country and he has the ability to organize the production, manufacturing and supply chain for this,” Ryan said. “He needs to do it and he needs to do it now because in two weeks we’re going to be in the same boat that New York’s in because we don’t have this equipment that could be produced here in the United States.”

Ryan said such organization of manufacturing and supply chains is done through the Defense Production Act, which the president invoked portions of March 18, through an executive order. 

The Defense Production Act allows the president to requisition property, force industry to expand production and the supply of basic resources and impose wage and price controls during a national emergency.

While President Trump invoked the act, he wrote on Twitter that he would “invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future.”

“He enacted it a few weeks back and still has not really used it other than what he said about General Motors needing to do the ventilators,” Ryan points out, noting that health-care workers need millions of gloves and billions of masks.

“We’re not talking about producing an airplane. We’re talking about masks and gloves and gowns and face protectors and N95 respirator masks,” Ryan said. “That’s not complicated. I get the ventilators, but we’re the United States of America. We should be able to put this stuff together within a matter of weeks.”

He also commended health department workers and the importance of the contact tracing they are doing when a person tests positive for quarantine notices. He said the work is important but has not been as effective because workers are relying, to a certain extent, on tests, which are critically limited due to shortages in Ohio. The Buckeye State was among the last to receive tests from the federal government.

“We don’t have the manpower in our public health departments like people think we have and we have disinvested in public health. We are now seeing that decision is coming home to roost with the ability to track people, where they are and trace contacts. That system is stressed right now and it all comes back to testing,” he said.

Knowing that is why he said it’s important to be careful and stay home because people can be carriers and be asymptomatic.

“I’m hearing from workers who are maxed out physically, emotionally, mentally already,” he said. “If you want to help them, if you want to help reduce the spread … we can control where we go, who we interact with and we can control whether we’re going to be as responsible as we possibly can.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.