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WASHINGTON, DC (FOX Carolina) - US Rep. Jeff Duncan on Thursday released a statement on re-opening America.

Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina, said he believe's the path forward from the pandemic must include fighting the virus and opening up America so soaring unemployment numbers, distressed families, and shuttered businesses do not become "the new normal."

Below is Duncan's full statement:

“The fight against the coronavirus from Wuhan, China has turned our nation upside down. It has been devastating to our economy, the livelihood of countless Americans, the health care system, the families that have lost loves ones, and the small businesses along America’s Main Streets as well as our largest employers. The coronavirus has been a silent attack on everything we hold dear and an attack on the greatest economy in the world – an economy which had historic low unemployment numbers, rising wages, and the record-breaking jobs numbers we experienced under President Trump’s Administration. While it has been a hard fight, it’s been a necessary and essential goal to flatten the curve while limiting the spread of the novel virus throughout the country.

“There’s no doubt COVID-19 is a threat to the health of Americans – especially the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Work is being done on therapeutics, treatments, and a possible vaccine. In the meantime, we’ve needed proper measures in place to help protect the vulnerable, bolster the health care system, and do all we can to stop the virus from gaining a stranglehold on our health and well-being.

“We cannot, however, let these measures be more harmful than the virus itself. Let me be abundantly clear when I say that: the virus is real, it is novel, it is a threat, and it is highly contagious. But at the same time, we can’t wage war against our economy while we fight off the coronavirus on another front. We MUST handle both. Economic devastation and health devastation are equally as important for us to confront. At the same time, however, we cannot allow soaring unemployment numbers, closing businesses, and distressed families be the new normal.

“I believe the path forward must have two top priorities: fight the virus AND open up America. 

“This is not a call I make lightly, nor one I make without deliberations with health care professionals. The permanent economic damage of keeping industries closed, pushing people into poverty, taking away life savings, and foreclosing on hard-fought dreams will be even worse than the virus itself in the long run if we continue down our current path. We need a plan that mixes opening the economy with commonsense social distancing and hygiene practices. We must also provide increased protections for our most vulnerable populations by keeping certain guidance in place at nursing homes and medical facilities. I believe we can have these measures and have Americans go back to work.

“Congress provided financial measures and resources to aid businesses and individuals with meeting their obligations while businesses are closed including payroll assistance for employers to keep their employees paid and expanded unemployment insurance benefits for those who were laid off due to COVID-19. The goal was the ability for a rapid restart of economic activity once the virus curve flattened and we knew more about both the virus itself as well as the impacts it is having on the economy and nation.

“President Trump has said that deciding the timing of this transition will be the most important decision that he has ever had to make. I ask the nation to pray for wisdom for our President as he makes these decisions, and that Governors in red states and blue states will put politics aside and come together as Americans to support a national strategy for reopening America.

“America needs the “Open” signs turned on along Main Street, and Americans need the opportunity to return to work.”

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