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Extraordinary Times Require Swift and Bold Action

By Sen. John Thune

March 20, 2020

By now, it would be hard to find any American who hasn’t been affected one way or another by the coronavirus outbreak. Our day-to-day lives have been upended, people around us are anxious, and we’re learning about new terms like “social distancing.” Everyone is wondering how long this outbreak will last, when it will peak, and what life will look like on the other side. While I wish I knew the answers to those questions, I’m certain we’ll eventually get beyond this, and we’ll be stronger for it.

It’s not often that our nation faces moments like these – moments where Americans are asked to band together to confront a collective challenge. There are things we all can do to help. Yes, it can be inconvenient, but by staying home and avoiding large crowds, we can hopefully put a dent in this pandemic. And you’re going to hear a lot more of this in the coming days and weeks, but continue to wash your hands regularly and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. These are among the most consistent tips I hear from the medical professionals who I’ve been in touch with in recent days.  

Like you, I’ve seen stories about some folks who are taking these recommendations less seriously than others. I can’t stress this enough, but successfully beating this outbreak will require a bit of sacrifice from all of us. If the worst side effect is feeling inconvenienced, that’s a small price to pay to help ensure we protect our communities and loved ones. For many people, though, it goes beyond a simple inconvenience. Not everyone can telework, so staying home can mean missing a paycheck. That’s where Congress can step up to help.

The Senate is focused on providing as much relief to the American people as possible and doing it as quickly as possible. We’ve already sent two relief packages to the president, which are now law. We’ve invested in research and development, provided support to medical professionals around the country, ensured that anyone who needs to be tested for the coronavirus can be tested at no cost to the patient, and leaned on 21st century tools like telemedicine. It’s a good start, but there’s more relief on the way.  

These are extraordinary times that require swift and bold action, which is why I’ve been working with my colleagues to develop another round of proposals to address the economic effects of this crisis – to ensure workers and small businesses around the country can effectively weather this storm. I’m glad to report that the Treasury Department has already approved one of my proposals that would extend this year’s federal tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15. The last thing on people’s minds right now is filing their taxes, so the least we can do is give them a temporary reprieve from having to deal with the IRS in the middle of this outbreak. To those South Dakotans who are expecting a tax refund and would like to file early, you can exercise that option today.  

I’ve heard from many folks who are looking for additional ways to pitch in and help their communities and neighbors through this difficult time. Small businesses across South Dakota are going to feel the effects from this outbreak, so as simple as it sounds, I’d encourage those who want to help to consider ordering food from your favorite local restaurant, purchasing an online gift card from a Main Street shop, or calling in orders for products or services that can be redeemed at a later date.   

We’re all in this together, but America’s elected leaders have a heightened responsibility, particularly in times like these, to prove that we can rise to the occasion. In the coming days, I hope we can live up to that goal. In the meantime, I want South Dakotans to know that I’m leaving it all on the field. We’ll get beyond this – together.