Schlossberg issues statement on COVID-19, announced office operation plans
ALLENTOWN, March 12 -- State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, released the following statement on COVID-19 and the temporary closure of his district office:
“We have unquestionably entered an uncharted moment in modern history. It is not an exaggeration to say that how we act now will determine the fate of thousands, if not millions.
“The good news is that the vast majority of us will ultimately live through this outbreak, and after some time, resume our daily lives. The bad news is that the coronavirus will result in the deaths of fellow Pennsylvanians. It will make even more people sick. Stopping it is no longer an option. Promisingly, as has been made clear by conversations with medical professionals and public health experts, we are not powerless to lessen its impact. We all have a critical role to play.
“Members of the public must understand that the official count of 21 cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania is unquestionably a low number. It comes as a result of what represents the disease’s relatively long incubation time, a lack of symptoms and a lack of tests. The real number of people who have the new coronavirus is unquestionably higher.
“If we avoid unnecessary contact, we can slow the spread of this disease. This will give hospitals time to treat the sick and help maintain their capacity to treat the thousands who will need treatment. Any large social gathering should be postponed or moved to virtual means. Please, stay at home if you can. For many, this is not a possibility. However, if it is, I urge you to do so.
“We must see this pandemic in broader terms than our own health. Many of us who get the coronavirus will be just fine. I am a healthy, 36-year-old man. Odds are extremely good that, if and when I get the coronavirus, I’ll recover. But if I infect my diabetic, 70-year-old dad, I may kill him. I’m staying home as much as possible. I urge my constituents to do the same.
“My office will be shutting its doors today. While we will reevaluate on Monday, I would imagine that we will have to remain closed for an extended period. However, my staff and I will continue working remotely. We will have access to voice mail and will respond to messages and emails, providing assistance however we can. For additional information, please visit my website (www.pahouse.com/schlossberg), social media (www.facebook.com/RepSchlossberg) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/RepSchlossberg). You can also call my office at 610-821-5577.
“I know that legislative leadership of both parties values the health and safety of our staff, guests and members above all else. I hope that measures can be taken to allow session to be held electronically. If there is critical government business, we should do it. Anything else must wait.
“The importance of access to accurate, scientific-based information has never been more critical. I encourage people to stick to reputable news sources, not social media news from unverified accounts. Such resources include the Pennsylvania Department of Health (https://www.health.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/).
“With the elections coming up, I urge my constituents to apply to vote by mail at www.votespa.com. I also ask people to fill out their census information when they get it. That information is critical to the allotment of future resources – including public health funding.
“Some of us can work from home. Many of us cannot. First responders, medical professionals and members of our armed services deserve our unending praise and support however possible.
“When this pandemic runs its course – and it will – we need to have a broader conversation about the health care system in America. Paid sick leave is an absolute must. If we had it today, fewer would die. We need enhanced investments in public health care. I would also hope that the federal government would step up over a variety of fronts. This includes increasing testing capacity, providing assistance to hospitals and distributing economic relief for the countless workers affected. We also must look at broader measures that they have taken in Italy, including temporary mortgage relief and a pause on student loan collection. A pandemic is not an individual problem. It is a shared problem and we need to treat it that way.
“For now, this moment demands calm, prudency and planning. If you can, please, stay home. We’ll get through this. America, Pennsylvania, Allentown and South Whitehall have survived worse pandemics, with worse medical care and less access to accurate scientific information. This moment will test us, but it will not break us.”