Frontline workers say suffering will continue without COVID rescue package, fiscal conservatives want to wait

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Frontline healthcare workers and local government leaders say Ohioans will continue to suffer without more pandemic relief from Washington. 

Advocates say unemployment benefits, help with rent to stave off evictions, food assistance, even frontline government services are all in jeopardy if the $1.9 trillion plan is not passed. Some conservatives want to pause first to review the numbers, but the advocates say waiting could cost lives. 

Wendy Patton is a senior project director at non-profit Policy Matters Ohio. She says, “The danger is not that we’re doing too much. The danger is that even with this package we’re still doing too little.” 

Frontline workers, advocates, and local government leaders say the clock is ticking down on Ohioans struggling through the coronavirus crisis. The $1.9 trillion COVID rescue plan includes a third round of stimulus checks and more than $400 billion to help launch a national vaccination program. 

WATCH Ohio Senator Rob Portman said he’d vote to expand the vaccine dosage and distribution plan right now, but he has concerns about several other items in the COVID rescue package he says are unrelated to the pandemic:

Registered nurse Carol Smith says, “We as nurses are ready to administer. We need the vaccine and the supplies.” Smith and others say Ohio and the country are still in crisis mode as people are left to wait. 

Democratic State Representative Beth Liston of Dublin is also a physician, working on the front lines of the fight against the pandemic. She says, “I get questions every day from constituents asking me how they can get their shot. And it’s been really tough to guide them because there hasn’t been a national investment or infrastructure set up.” 

And they say local government is also struggling with collateral damage. 

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley says not getting financial help to make up for pandemic losses means the city cannot have a police class or fire class in 2021. “The issues of not having these frontline services be able to respond as quickly is directly because we’re not getting the federal help.” 

Some conservatives are urging patience, wanting to see how current funding will improve circumstances. 

But advocates say they can’t afford to wait. Mayor Whaley says, “Deciding not to pass this would show they’re not really serious about this pandemic ending as quickly as possible.” 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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