WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said critical progress is being made in the fight to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The senator spoke exclusively to WPTV anchor Shannon Cake on Friday and said more than a million coronavirus test kits will be available across the United States by the end of the week.
In addition, an anti-viral drug to lessen the symptoms of coronavirus, or COVID-19, could be developed in the next 60 days.
"What we can do now is make sure there are more tests available," said Rubio. "To me, that's one of the key things that needs to happen in short order. That more tests become more rapidly and more widely available."
WATCH SENATOR'S INTERVIEW:
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an $8 billion emergency funding plan to fight COVID-19, which will allow for the rapid production of testing kits and the development of a new anti-viral medication.
"I think there's hope that we can have that available in 60 days to 90 days so that we can diminish the symptoms, particularly on the critically ill," said Rubio, adding that clinical trials are currently underway on anti-viral drugs in other countries. "Some hold great promise, they seem to be working."
Rubio said approximately $23 million of that emergency funding package will go to Florida.
"That gives the state Department of Health the resources to then provide local community hospitals, the health care systems, the county hospital systems, to do everything to buy more tests, to buy protective gear, to pay for overtime for personnel," the senator said.
One of Rubio's top priorities in fighting COVID-19 is to make sure companies are producing enough coronavirus test kits. According to the senator, 2,500 packages with 500 tests in each package will be available across the U.S. by the end of the week.
"When you test someone, not only do you know if they have it, whether they have symptoms or not, but it allows you to identify everyone they've come in contact with and also test them," the senator said.
Rubio added that a priority should be placed on testing and treating anyone over 60 years old, as well as health care workers.
"If you're a nurse or a doctor and you contract the virus, even if you don't have symptoms, you can't go to work," said Rubio. "And we can't afford to lose doctors and nurses because then we have no one to provide health care."
The senator urged people to stay calm, not get hysterical, constantly wash your hands, and avoid contact with sick people.
"Imagine if everyone who has a runny nose and a fever shows up at the emergency room. Your hospitals won't be able to handle that," said Rubio.
Following his exclusive interview with WPTV, the senator hosted a coronavirus roundtable involving state and local leaders at the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.
On #COVIDー19 HYSTERIA & COMPLACENCY are the enemy— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 6, 2020
Instead we should:
1. Regularly provide public with advice from MEDICAL EXPERTS
2. Get test kits to states ASAP
3. Prioritize people over 60 & health workers
4. Have Anti-Viral drug in 60 days
5. Have Vaccine in 18 months