Richmond Times-Dispatch

Relief package

- Mmartz@timesdispa­ (804) 649-6964

to the uneven state approaches to encouragin­g or requiring face masks to control the spread of the highly communicab­le coronaviru­s disease.

“Masks are good, vaccines are good, testing should be available for all on a frequent basis,” Holston said.

Success will depend on more aid from the federal government, especially for schools to reopen safely and allow parents to return to their workplaces, he said. Businesses also need help soon to survive until vaccines are distribute­d widely enough to bring the pandemic under control.

“The longer we wait to provide critical support, especially for small businesses, the harder it’s going to be to recover,” Holston said.

Spanberger conveys a similar urgency in her letter to Trump and congressio­nal leaders.

She calls for enhanced unemployme­nt benefits for those still out of work because of the pandemic and additional grants or loans to small businesses to survive a winter that could be difficult because of a diminished holiday shopping and tourism season.

“Similarly, as the winter approaches, public health officials have warned that outbreaks of this virus may significan­tly worsen over the next few months,” Spanberger said. “While there have been encouragin­g signs in the search for a vaccine, [Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] and other leading public health experts have warned that the distributi­on of a vaccine, once approved for emergency use by the FDA, could take months.”

She urged the leaders of both parties to put aside partisan difference­s to reach a deal on emergency relief before the end of the year.

“The campaign is over, and now is the time to heal,” Spanberger said. “We must not allow partisan posturing to stand in the way of the relief Americans so desperatel­y need.”

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