Sen. Manchin wants assurance of safety before reopening W.Va.

Published: Apr. 16, 2020 at 7:34 PM EDT
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U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, is weighing in on when the state and rest of the country should start opening back up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some leaders in West Virginia have been talking about transitioning from stay-at-home orders to parts of the state opening back up.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, Manchin said he doesn't think West Virginia should reopen until there are more assurances the virus is contained.

"Without the economy, it's going to be hard for people to survive," Manchin said. "I understand that, but without their health, the economy means nothing."

Manchin says when businesses do start reopening, it should be a soft opening with younger, healthier employees being the first to return to their jobs.

Manchin says he'd support another $250 billion in emergency lending to small businesses. He wants part of that set aside for small businesses and hospitals in rural states like West Virginia. Manchin says he expects that additional money will be approved by Monday.

"If we are not careful and you have the health care industry, especially in rural America, rural West Virginia, that's not able to survive, you've got serious problems even when the economy does come back," Manchin said.

Manchin says he thinks it would be common sense for everyone who goes back to work to get tested for COVID-19 first.

Manchin criticized President Donald Trump's move to cut funding for the World Health Organization, and he says Trump needs to put effort toward testing, antibodies, and a vaccine, moves Manchin says will be needed to prepare the country for the next pandemic that might come.