Calls for protections for most vulnerable, outlines plan to address public health emergency




Washington (March 11, 2020) – As states ban large events and declare public emergencies, the NCAA shuts its annual basketball tournament to spectators, and the number of coronavirus cases reaches 1,000 in the United States, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today called on President Trump to immediately declare the coronavirus pandemic an emergency under the Stafford Act. That declaration would allow FEMA access to more than $42 billion dollars in the Disaster Relief Fund, and support states and communities directly as they deal with the spread of the virus. Senator Markey called for this step in remarks on the floor of the United States Senate and outlined an immediate plan that Congress and the Trump administration should deploy to address the growing threat of coronavirus.


“The bottom line – families need clear, non-biased, accurate, and reassuring information,” said Senator Markey. “They need it from public health officials. They need it from their elected leaders. There should be no partisanship in pandemics…


“Sadly, the reality is that this pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better. But this is our call to come together. We all have a responsibility to act -- to show leadership, and to support those who are most vulnerable and will be most impacted by this virus – the elderly in nursing homes, our young children, the uninsured, and the undocumented. They need our help. These are the lives to be saved, livelihoods to be protected, futures to ensure.


In his remarks, in addition to calling for the federal emergency declaration, Senator Markey called for:

  • Widespread and free coronavirus testing, and affordable treatment for all
  • Increasing the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage to increase the amount of federal dollars that go into Medicaid, immediately pumping more resources into states to deal with this health crisis
  • Ensuring paid sick leave for workers
  • Enhancing Unemployment Insurance and expand and support programs, like SNAP, WIC, school lunch and other initiatives, to support food security. He also called on banks to suspend payments on mortgages for those struggling with the economic impacts of this crisis, and for rental assistance for those who need it.
  • Protecting consumers and shielding them from scams and price gouging


As part of his effort to address the threat of coronavirus, Senator Markey has introduced legislation to invest $1 billion in an universal coronavirus vaccine. On January 27, he Called for the reestablishment and appointment of a Permanent Health Chief to address the virus, well before President Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence on February 27. After reports of massive mark-ups for products such as hand sanitizer and face masks on, Senator Markey called for Amazon to stop and prevent coronavirus-inspired price gouging. Senator Markey also called for the Department of Transportation to require all airlines to suspend their ticket change and cancellation fees in light of the spreading coronavirus.