A southwest Missouri congressman who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee has been chosen by President Donald Trump to serve on the President’s task force on reopening the economy.

U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, represents southwest Missouri on Capitol Hill (official photo courtesy of Congressman Long’s Washington office)

U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, emphasizes that it’s a bipartisan task force.

“There’s some Democrats on there and it’s really interesting to hear them on our conference calls, bragging on the president, telling him what a good job he’s doing, and then the rest of the year they don’t have such kind things to say about him,” Long says.

Long is confident we can protect our citizens, “without crushing our economy.”

“Folks are ready to get back to work. They want to open up the stores and go out and get a haircut and get their dog groomed and go out to dinner and sit down and have a nice meal,” says Long. “And the people that work in those places are more than ready to get back to work.”

Long says COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on American businesses and workers.

Springfield health officials say there have been 93 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Springfield and Greene County, including eight deaths. 35 are active cases, and 50 have recovered.

Congressman Long tells Missourinet that three weeks ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was considering building temporary hospitals for coronavirus, in his district.

“And as of the night before last, there was a total of six COVID patients in hospital beds in the 7th (congressional) District,” Long says.

He says five of those patients are in Springfield, and one is hospitalized in Joplin. Long’s district includes Springfield, Branson, Joplin and Republic.

Long also says Springfield’s Cox Hospital completely converted an empty floor for COVID-19 patients, and that it has not been used. He praises CoxHealth’s preparation.

He also says rural hospitals have been hurting financially, because they haven’t been able to perform elective surgeries.

Long voted for the bipartisan COVID-19 legislation on Capitol Hill on Thursday, which contains $75 billion for personal protective equipment for health care employees and another $25 billion to expand testing.

Instead of flying to the nation’s capitol, he rode in a vehicle with U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, who met Congressman Long on Wednesday morning in Rolla. Smith drove the vehicle, and they arrived in Washington D.C. late Wednesday night.

State health officials say there are now 6,321 confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri, along with 218 deaths. The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced the latest statistics Thursday afternoon. The number of deaths has increased by ten, from Wednesday’s number of 208 deaths.

Click here to listen to the full five-minute interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, which was recorded on April 22, 2020:

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