WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., spoke with WPTV's Mike Trim about several topics Tuesday, including another round of the Payment Protection Program, rapid testing for Florida and reopenings throughout the state.
On the topic of additional benefits for COVID-19 and PPP, Rubio said Republicans were putting together something that can pass in the Senate.
"Another round of PPP, help to hospitals and money for testing and to reopen schools and things of that nature, that would be helpful towards that, potentially individual relief to people, another round of that, some extension of the additional unemployment benefit -- maybe not the $600, but something beyond what the state provides."
Rubio said Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are taking the position that they get $2-3 trillion for what they want or do nothing at all.
"It's my view that they've calculated that they think they'll be better off in November if we do nothing at all," Rubio said.
Trim asked about the oversight process of PPP.
"Anyone who qualified got it," Rubio said. "You had to have applied."
Rubio said he found that some business owners didn't think that they qualified.
"The amount of money you got was based on how many employees you had," Rubio said.
Rubio said there was no discrimination between industries, referring to the initial PPP loans given to nonprofits such as churches and newspapers.
He said the second proposal is to limit it to businesses with 300 or fewer employees that can prove within a three-month period of the first six months of the year that revenue decreased 35% or more.
Rapid tests for Florida
Rubio sent a letter Friday to President Donald Trump urging rapid tests be sent to Florida after it was announced the federal government had secured 150 million made by Abbott Laboratories.
"We need more of a different kind of testing," Rubio said of the coronavirus testing in Florida.
Rubio said the saliva tests, at about $5 per test, are faster and more cost-effective.
"My argument is, with 7% of the country's population, we should get at least something close to 7 (or) 8% of the tests," Rubio said.
He said they should be deployed to universities and school districts.
Remaining Florida counties moving into Phase Two
Rubio said the number of coronavirus cases in Florida have "unquestionably gotten better" and is no longer leading newscasts.
But, he cautioned, as the news tends to focus more on civil unrest throughout the country, people tend to let their guards down.
"What we saw last time is the combination of the news being about something else with the numbers coming down and some upcoming long weekend in which people got together with other people, led to this explosion 14 days later," Rubio said. "We're back there again, and so I hope that this time we're a little bit wiser about that than we were the first time."
"We're going to have multiple vaccines, eventually," Rubio said. "The challenge is vaccines don't create immunity. Vaccinations do."
Rubio said those people who are at high risk have to be a priority for any vaccine.
"The more people are immunized, the virus starts to burn out," he said.
'Heck of a year'
Rubio called 2020 "a heck of a year, and we still have a big election ahead of us that we know is going to be very close and conflicted."
The senator from South Florida said he gets his hope from history, recalling the last pandemic 100 years ago in the midst of a world war.
"People persevered and fought through it," Rubio said. "We're going to have a vaccine faster and a solution for this problem faster than they did 100 years ago. Luckily, we don't have a world war."
Rubio said between the civil unrest in the streets and the coronavirus, 2020 has been a struggle. But he offered some hope.
"It's not going to be this way forever," he said. "But it will require us to persevere and fight through it one day at a time like the people before us did. They faced even greater challenges. We'll overcome these. There are better days ahead. They're not next week. They're not next month. It'll take some time, but we will get there."