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Federal inaction hurts at home

This latest wave of COVID-19 infections is placing an even bigger spotlight on the cringeworthy theater playing out in Washington, D.C.

Warren County, which had been relatively untouched by COVID-19 for the first several months of the pandemic, finds itself with new cases — and new COVID-related deaths — each day.

“You can test negative today and become positive the next day,” Joe Akif, Warren General Hospital chief nursing officer, told The Times Observer recently. “This is why it is so important to understanding the need for quarantining and isolating.”

Quarantine and isolation may be necessary to protect hospitals — particularly in rural areas. But such measures are devastating to families who are seeing jobs evaporate.

The Warren YMCA is being forced to close for the next three weeks under Gov. Tom Wolf’s newest executive orders. Thad Turner, YMCA executive director, said the organization has already seen a 32% decrease in membership since March. Staff remained employed through federal Payroll Protection Plan loans — but the political gamesmanship in Washington, D.C., hasn’t replenished such funds.

So, two weeks before Christmas, many people’s worst nightmares may be coming true.

“Fortunately through the last shutdown, we were able to keep everybody on the payroll,” Turner said, through the PPP. “It looks dicey now… We’re trying to figure out what’s the best thing to do for our staff.”

Several local restaurants and recreational sites will be closed into January. Each of those businesses employs people who now find themselves trying to take care of their families with precious little support from the federal government.

So, Democrats and Republicans, approve a compromise COVID-19 relief bill. Do it now.

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