As COVID-19 cuts across Texas and the country, U.S. Rep. Roger Williams is sure of one thing: Americans will persevere and come out strong.
“This is just another moment in history that Americans step up,” said the congressman, who represents Texas’ District 25, which includes Burnet County. “If you look back in history, America has always stepped up.”
Williams said he has faith in Americans and American businesses. Even as the country begins “shutting down” to slow the spread of COVID-19, he has heard from people and businesses who want to help.
Many private sector companies, including large ones such as automakers, have voluntarily shifted production from their products to needed medical items.
“And we’ve had several companies in our district call and say they want to help out,” Williams said. “A tent company called and said they want to stop making tents so they can make hospital gowns. That’s the kind of country we are.”
Williams knows COVID-19 has put stress on the country. His highest priority is looking out for the health of his constituents and all Americans.
“We’re beginning to see more test packages are getting out there,” he said. “And the president’s making sure testing is free to everyone.”
He urged people to continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations on protecting themselves from COVID-19, including washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and limiting travel.
But Williams also knows the issues small businesses face as people stay at home. Without people buying items or using services, those businesses struggle.
“If you shut your doors, you can’t make any money,” he said.
Without cash flow, small-business owners can’t pay their employees, and it could mean letting some go. As a small-business owner himself, Williams understands what others are going through.
“A lot of the employees, they’re like family to you,” he said.
Congress is trying to help businesses and individual Americans with emergency stimulus funding. The Senate is working on a $2 trillion package.
The plan would help businesses with grants and loans as well as direct cash to Americans.
As it currently sits, the plan would send $1,200 to each person or $2,400 to each family.
“That can mean a lot for people, especially if they’re out of work and still have to (make) rent or car payments,” Williams said.
Once the package makes it to the president’s desk, Williams said it could be as soon as two weeks before the checks are sent out.
While the economy has taken a hard hit from COVID-19, Williams pointed out that, unlike the the 2008 recession when financial institutions didn’t have money on hand, they do during this downturn.
“This is not caused by financial problems; it’s a health issue,” he said.
Williams believes once Main Street and America reopen for business, the economy will bounce back. The key, he said, is getting businesses back open and people back to work as soon as possible, but not so soon that it jeopardizes progress being made in the fight against COVID-19.
“The president has set a target date of Easter to get America back open, but the president won’t do that without the advice of health officials,” Williams said.
While COVID-19 has tested the United States, Williams said he knows of no other country that could have responded as quickly and as compassionately.
“Everyone just has to keep doing their part, and I know they will,” he said. “If we do that, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”