Since restrictions forced many businesses to close, Rep. Debbie Lesko said her 8th Congressional District office, which includes parts of Avondale, Litchfield Park and Tolleson, has been “getting hundreds of calls from all kinds of businesses.
“Restaurants and hotels—businesses that cater to tourists—are the ones being hit the hardest,” Lesko said April 23 from her Washington, D.C., office.
After talking to the West Valley View, Lesko returned to the House of Representatives floor and voted for a $484 billion coronavirus relief package that targets small businesses and hospitals. The bill, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump the next day, restarts a small-business loan program that was drained by demand and allocates more money for health care providers and virus testing.
Lesko tested negative for COVID-19 last month.
When Congress passed the $2.4 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Lesko sat out the vote, staying at her home in Peoria.
“I wasn’t feeling well and two doctors told me I shouldn’t travel,” Lesko said.
After being advised to get tested for the coronavirus, she called the Banner Health COVID-19 test number (1-844-549-1851). “I did not identify myself as a member of Congress. They asked my symptoms, I said I had a fever—within an hour I got a text to go get the test,” she said.
Lesko said she went to a drive-thru test location in Peoria. “No one was in line, which leads me to believe there is not a shortage of tests,” Lesko said.
The next day, a Banner representative called her to say she tested negative.
According to a blog post by Arizona Health Director Dr. Cara Christ last week, “anyone who thinks they have been exposed to and could be infected with COVID-19” can now be tested. Previous guidelines made testing only available to those who had symptoms (including fever, cough and difficulty breathing).
With a negative test and no more symptoms, Lesko was able to travel last week and do business in Congress, including her vote for business assistance.
“I’m supportive of small-business funding—the whole goal is to be able to pay workers so they don’t become unemployed,” she said.
“Everybody is hurting.”
The West Valley View asked Lesko her opinion on when Gov. Doug Ducey should lift restrictions and allow nonessential businesses to reopen.
“I think that’s a $1 million question,” Lesko said. “I think Gov. Ducey has more insight than I do. Obviously, he made an executive order to reopen elective surgeries. I think that’s a good first step. I’ve been on conference calls with rural and major hospitals in our district. They’ve been getting calls from people upset that they can’t get elective surgeries done—and these are not cosmetic; they’re health-related surgeries.
“Hospitals have been complaining they’re not making any money and emergency rooms are not at full capacity; they’re just hemorrhaging money.”
Ducey announced April 22 he was lifting part of his March 21 order and that hospitals and surgery centers can resume elective surgeries May 1.
Demonstrators last week demanded Ducey lift all social-distancing restrictions.
“I think everybody has the right to demonstrate,” Lesko said. “People are frustrated. I do wish people practice social distancing and wear face masks … Some of the protesters I saw didn’t seem to be 6 feet apart.
“But people have a right to do what they want.”