NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, says he is working with an Ivy League university on a new testing strategy and Cassidy thinks businesses would benefit from frequent testing of workers. He also has an idea that would add familiarity to the contact tracing process.
“Clearly, COVID-19 continues to hinder the economy and to kill people,” said Cassidy.
He said he met the Harvard team that is working on a testing strategy through retired Gen. Russell Honore’ of Louisiana.
“I am working with a group out of Harvard that’s developing such a strategy, working with people in Louisiana as to how to reopen schools. We need to figure it out both for those students, for those workers, for of us,” said Cassidy. “We need a strategy in which we know the incidence of the virus is so low that people can safely go back to school, go back to work, go to the shop, live their lives.”
As some small businesses fear they may have to shutter their operations again because of staffers contracting the virus, Cassidy, who is a physician, said frequent testing could benefit businesses.
“For the businesses, we need a testing strategy, ideally, we have enough testing that when somebody goes back to work, they are tested,” Cassidy said. “If you’re able to check people twice weekly then you are negative now, oh, you just came [back] positive but that’s okay, you’re just early positive, you’re not shedding enough virus, you go home.”
To be sure, the spike in COVID-19 cases in Louisiana is worrisome.
“Hopefully, the people of Louisiana are paying attention, they’re seeing these numbers,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards.
And as the state encourages more people to cooperate with contact tracers Cassidy thinks it would be good to enlist the help of religious and community leaders.
“It should be someone who’s trusted that first gives the call or knocks on the door, so if you have a pastor who knew that he had an elderly person in his or her congregation, [they] could call up and say Mrs. Jones I’m working now along with folks at the state Department of Health, they tell me that you’re positive, we want you to be safe,” he said.
Cassidy said such community contact tracers would have to be trained.
“It depends upon a professional, trained, dedicated staff of people that would be doing the contact tracing and they don’t go back out and tell everybody,” he said.
And he said everyone has personal responsibility in the battle against the virus.
“If people go out, socially distance, if don’t wear a mask, have a reason not to. If you’re six feet from somebody that’s one thing but if you’re like up close at a bar like this that doesn’t work,” said Cassidy.
He is eager for more progress in combatting the pandemic.
“We need to be like Germany which has had far fewer cases per capita, or New Zealand which has totally eradicated the virus,” said Cassidy.
And he thinks the Congress will approve more federal help for Americans who are struggling because of the pandemic.
“So, I’m hoping that we can do something that helps those who are unemployed but does not give a disincentive to work,” said Cassidy.