Washington, D.C. March 18, 2020 – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to President Trump calling on him to strengthen the domestic response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic by directing the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) to convert or construct new temporary medical facilities nationwide. The letter comes amid fears that hospitals will be overwhelmed by an influx of confirmed or presumed positive cases of COVID-19, and follows a recent announcement that President Trump has agreed to use the Army Corps and Federal Emergency Management Agency to construct temporary hospital facilities in New York state.
“Given the reality of the exponential growth of the virus, supplemental infrastructure must be designated and ready to receive patients immediately,” wrote Senator Warren in her letter to President Trump.
To rapidly increase hospital capacity, the President can direct the Secretary of Defense to use the Army Corps to retrofit and equip existing facilities, such as military bases and college dormitories, and construct new facilities to serve as temporary medical centers to support the federal response to national emergencies, including the COVID-19 public health emergency.
In her letter, Senator Warren urged the President to exercise this authority, noting that this measure would enhance the federal response to the coronavirus and allow the government to address imminent public health needs.
“The Army Corps is in position to help address this public health emergency by converting existing space into temporary medical centers,” the senator continued. “Taking this action will save lives.”
Senator Warren has also called for a $750 billion economic stimulus package that would focus on recovery from the grassroots up, not Wall Street down. Such a package would apply lessons from the 2008 bailout and provide direct help to families harmed by the coronavirus outbreak, including universal paid leave, increasing Social Security benefits by $200 a month, broad cancellation of student loan debt, and protecting and expanding affordable housing.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has worked to ensure that the Trump Administration is effectively responding to the outbreak and that the U.S. has the resources needed to address this threat. Her ongoing efforts include urging Vice President Pence to take swift, specific action to support Massachusetts and other states as they combat the spread of COVID-19; introducing legislation that would generate an estimated $10 billion in funding for coronavirus efforts by shifting funding from President Trump’s border wall; and asking the CEOs of the U.S.-based “Too Big to Fail” banks how they are preparing to mitigate the economic risks of the outbreak.