U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist sent a letter Wednesday to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer suggesting additional provisions to bolster the upcoming coronavirus response package.
The letter asks for the package to include paid sick leave for tipped employees of at least $15 per hour, energy bill assistance for workers who have to stay home and emergency funds to make it easier for states to expand Medicaid.
“I have heard from both public health officials and constituents that the government response should reflect the realities on the ground. This package reflects those needs,” Crist said in a news release. “Today, I am suggesting additional measures to further strengthen the bill and get the most assistance to the people who could use the help.
“My proposals would direct additional help to the tipped employees who are the backbone of Pinellas’ service economy, while providing assistance with higher-than-normal power bills for quarantined workers, and an expedited path for expanding Medicaid in Florida.”
Crist said lawmakers have announced legislation for paid sick leave, enhanced unemployment insurance, additional food security, protections for healthcare workers and free coronavirus testing.
Pelosi has also said she wants a package to include emphasis on paid sick leave for Americans impacted by the outbreak.
Last week, Crist wrote a letter the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calling for the agencies to work together to expedite the coronavirus testing process.
The Democratic representative urged the FDA and CDC to allow “private sector providers to be part of the solution.”
The U.S. has about 1,110 confirmed cases of coronavirus out of more than 124,000 worldwide as of Wednesday afternoon. So far, 4,589 people have died, including 30 in the U.S.
Florida has 26 positive cases of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Two people have died in the state.