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Sen. Rick Scott discusses COVID-19 issues, Tampa event with president

Sen. Rick Scott talks about legislation on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Rick Scott talks about legislation on Capitol Hill.(CNN)
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 4:35 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) was recently in the Tampa Bay area with President Donald Trump, where a journalist covering the events later tested positive for COVID-19. Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) was also in attendance. The White House confirms that the person, who is from DC and traveled to cover the Commander-in-Chief last weekend, initially tested negative for the virus.

Scott says he consulted with the Senate physician about this development but has not experienced any symptoms. Scott says he was not in close proximity to the journalist and that it was deemed a low threat for transmission. He says he and his family have been taking many precautions and he has been tested three times for COVID-19.

“I don’t have any concerns,” said Scott. “I want everybody to be safe. I hope everybody is wearing their masks. I wore my mask. I hope everybody is social distancing, that’s what I did.”

You can watch the clip below for more of his reaction to this incident:

White House Correspondents’ Association president, Zeke Miller, sent this email after a member of the press corps tested positive for the virus:

Dear colleagues-

The WHCA has just been informed that a member of our press corps tested positive for COVID-19 this morning. We’ve already reached out to those who were in the pools with this individual, and the White House Medical Unit is conducting additional contact tracing and providing follow-on tests for those in the pools and potentially exposed.

This is a reminder of the need for continued vigilance. Mask wearing is absolutely critical at all times, including in our crowded workspace, in pool vans and when asking questions in the briefing. We are all in this together.”

Miller also sent this response to Gray DC regarding public health protocols among the press corps:

“Since the beginning of this public health emergency, the WHCA has been in regular contact with the White House about ensuring that the critical work of covering the president can continue in as safe a manner as possible. This includes raising concerns about specific events and implementing our own social distancing measures and mask-wearing policies. Due to privacy concerns, we can’t publicly discuss details of any particular positive case. Those potentially at risk have been notified by the WHCA and, in some cases, the White House Medical Unit, whose professionals have conducted contact tracing.”

Staffers at the White House say the president is routinely tested for COVID-19. Lawmakers, members of the media and others scheduled to be in close contact with Trump are also tested beforehand.

A spokesman for DeSantis says the governor is regularly tested for the virus and has not experienced any symptoms since last Friday’s event.

On Capitol Hill, bipartisan Congressional leaders and the Trump administration are still in talks to reach an agreement by the end of the week for more federal coronavirus relief. Stakeholders are still at an impasse over extending unemployment benefits, liability protections for businesses, and various other issues.

Democratic leaders have touted a plan in the ballpark of three trillion dollars, while many Republicans have favored another round of aid closer to one trillion dollars.

Scott speaks about the priorities he thinks another stimulus bill should include. You can watch the video below to hear his thoughts:

As those discussions continue on Capitol Hill, the Small Business Administration says business owners have until Saturday, August 8th, to apply for forgivable loans through the paycheck protection program.

Florida’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry is taking a major hit from the COVID-19 crisis, but emergency funding is still available for struggling businesses in need. This is especially a concern for the Panhandle - where many communities are still recovering from Hurricane Michael - and hoped to make up the difference this tourism season.

If business owners use at least 60 percent of the emergency relief funds for payroll, nothing is owed. If the money is used toward other business expenses, the interest rates are very low on paying off the loans.

Scott encourages businesses look into the various options offered by the federal government right now.

“I know it’s a tough time as we figure out how we get our tourists to come back, and I’m going to do everything I can to help our businesses.”

Since the paycheck protection program went into effect, more than five million loans have been approved. Scott says you can call his office and staff can help business owners navigating these resources. You can hear more of his thoughts on this issue in the video below:

Florida Senator Rick Scott is also pushing a bill aimed at increasing testing for COVID-19.

The senator says this comes in response to news reports that some insurance companies are using loopholes to deny coverage for coronavirus screenings.

His bill would require insurance companies to cover regular testing and anti-body tests for patients. The Republican lawmaker – who represents one of the hardest-hit states in the pandemic – says aggressive testing is key to getting things back to normal.

”If we want our kids to be back in school, if we want people going back to work, if we want to get people back out enjoying our economy, then we’ve got to make people safe and part of that is testing.”

Scott says the bill would also mandate that the federal government set aside funding to cover uninsured patients. The bill, the Affordable Coronavirus Testing Act, is co-sponsored by Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally. There are no Democratic co-sponsors listed yet on the legislation.

You can watch him talk about the bill in the video below:

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