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Quarantine Routine is a regular feature that asks political power brokers how their daily lives have changed -- and how they're still doing their jobs -- during the coronavirus crisis.
Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., headed to Washington in 2019 as a freshman representative for the 9th Congressional District. But now in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Meuser is finding his hardest work at home, trying to help local businesses, constituents and health care organizations navigate the crisis.
Meuser, a former businessman, is focused on helping his constituents get help under the massive relief package, known as the CARES Act, that gives direct payments to most Americans and forgivable loans to small businesses.
He's worked with local businesses on getting donations of face masks and delivering them to health care providers as well as helping food banks get meals to hard-hit families.
Meuser has found some comfort in seeing how his constituents are doing whatever it takes to help each other through the tough times. He's relied on running for relief, too, especially letting off steam after forcing himself to watch MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in the morning, he said.
Meuser described how his daily routine has changed in a Q & A with Fox News.
How has your daily routine changed since social distancing measures began?
Meuser: I have been primarily working remotely out of my office, as well as makeshift offices at various locations throughout the district that provide a properly social-distanced office space. My staff and I have often been working half-days, 12 hours a day (haha), working on the public health and economic crises of COVID-19. We are working with all affected entities – constituents, hospitals, employees, employers and organizations such as food banks. Our office has helped businesses navigate the “life-sustaining” definition set by Governor Wolf. Fortunately, the governor’s office has been responsive to our advocacy. We’ve connected small businesses with local banks to access SBA Paycheck Protection Plan loans and worked with mid-sized businesses in shaping guidance for the Main Street Lending Facilities.
As you know, the CARES Act appropriated nearly $200B to hospitals, so we’ve been in constant contact with our hospitals to ensure they have the equipment and resources they need to care for the people of PA-09. I have worked with food banks to guarantee access to food and have supported local restaurants in sponsoring “take out” events. We have also encouraged and received many contributions of personal protective equipment (PPE) from local companies and individuals, primarily masks and delivered them to needy healthcare entities. I have spent a tremendous amount of time with local radio, TV and print outlets to communicate the state of affairs to my constituents. Since this crisis began, our team has been 100% engaged with our constituents, doing whatever it takes ... to deliver for them.
What are the biggest challenges in doing your job during this crisis?
Meuser: This crisis has affected every corner of our community, and it has been challenging to ensure we are helping every affected constituent, health care provider and business. For individuals and families, the emotional toll of remaining confined to their homes, sometimes without income, is a serious concern. Businesses are suffering from a crisis they had no part in creating, and it is quickly threatening their ability to keep their doors open. Our hospitals are working tirelessly to ensure they have everything they need to care for our communities. My top priority has been executing on the provisions within the CARES Act, assuring that the plan, as intended, is accessed by those it is designed to serve. This is important, because the plan is not perfect and there are various unique situations that the resources of my office can assist with. We are helping as many constituents, hospitals, and businesses access the resources they need to weather this storm.
Q: What do you miss the most about how you did your job before this began?
Meuser: Before this crisis, our nation was on a path to prosperity. New open markets, coupled with improved tax and trade policies, contributed to record wage growth and the lowest unemployment rate in half a century. In Congress, I was working to advance President Trump’s America First agenda and planning for what could be done next year, should the President win reelection and Republicans take back the House. This work was extremely rewarding because the policies we were advancing positively impacted the lives of millions of Americans. Now, we are fighting an invisible enemy in the coronavirus. I remain confident that we will move past this and begin a great American comeback.
Q: What surprised you the most about how life has changed?
Meuser: Besides having my college-aged children home with me, which has been wonderful, I am surprised at the wide-ranging nature of this pandemic. So many Americans have been affected in so many different ways, which has actually had a unifying effect. What has not been surprising, but great to see, is the American spirit alive and well. People are not just taking care of their own, they are extending themselves beyond their comfort zone to offer help and at times ask for help. There has been an amazing exchange of communication and resources across our communities with the simple goal of helping all get through this crisis. The all-hands-on-deck approach on display in America today will enable our country to get past this crisis and thrive once again.
How do you blow off steam?
Meuser: I am a runner. Running is a great outlet, particularly after I force myself to watch [MSNBC's] "Morning Joe" for five minutes, I have a lot of steam to blow off.