As the nation turns a corner, time to stop the bleeding
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The unprecedented and difficult measures our nation has taken to limit the spread and impact of COVID-19 have successfully blunted the severity of the health crisis. But with critical components of our economy receiving permanent damage, it’s time to stop the bleeding.

Remember, most of the measures we put in place across our country, like social distancing, the closure of certain businesses, and stay at home orders, were put into place to “flatten the curve” – in other words, to keep the sudden spike in cases from overwhelming our hospitals and ICU beds.

Any death is tragic, and my home state of Alabama has sadly seen over 200 people die from COVID-19. However, these are far fewer than the number of flu deaths in our state in any given year. And importantly, in most areas of the country, hospitals and ICU units have remained below critical capacity.

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Our testing capacity and efficiency, a critical method to gauge our progress and prevent future outbreaks, has greatly improved. Nationally, we are conducting over 225,000 tests per day and rising. We have already tested over 7 million people throughout the country. Like most states, Alabama’s rate of new infections appears to have started to come down. As testing has significantly increased, our state’s positive test rate is now under 10 percent, a figure that Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci's wife speaks out about criticism: 'They are making things up' Fauci says relationship with Trump is good, but would step down from task force if asked Hillicon Valley: Twitter accounts of Obama, Biden, Musk, others compromised | U.S. announces sanctions on Huawei, citing human rights abuses | Pompeo 'confident' foreign adversaries will interfere in elections MORE, the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, pegs as a sign of adequate testing. Despite what some questionable studies and fearmongering reporting has suggested, data shows that our response to the coronavirus has positioned us to turn a corner.

However, the measures we have put in place to combat the coronavirus spread have caused serious damage to the fabric of our country. The physical, emotional, and mental toll on Americans is real. In my district alone, over 67,000 people have lost their jobs. Even with unprecedented government assistance, an untold amount of small businesses have gone under, never to open their doors again and ripping livelihoods away from their employees. Small business owners, many who have worked six or seven long days a week for years to reach their vision of the American dream, have had it snatched away from them by our response to the invisible enemy. Even with economic impact payments beginning to transfer to their accounts, many unemployed parents are struggling to pay their bills. Parents are trying to work full-time from home while balancing the homeschooling of their children.

No coronavirus can change economic fundamentals. The government doesn’t have access to enough money, even in a favorable public financial market, to solve the nation’s economic ills. We can cushion the blow to some extent. We have done that, but even that ability is limited. There is just no substitute for reopening the American economy. Now, certain places, like the New York metro area, will take longer. But there is no reason why the rest of the nation can’t begin moving toward Phase One of the president’s guidelines on reopening the economy. That will have a bunch greater impact than any bill Congress could pass.

I voted for the CARES Act and the supplemental funding bill, but I’m unwilling to continue voting for bills that spend hundreds of billions of dollars with no end in sight. Conservatives need to stand up to the panic generated by some poorly derived public health projections and a national news media that is determined to provoke the public with sensational headlines, not only to increase viewership but also to hurt a president they openly loathe. We need to lead with common sense and our gaze pointed to the future.

Conservatives are supposed to be for less government and free market solutions. We are supposed to be for capitalism and it’s amazing productivity, which leads to real economic opportunity. We are supposed to be for personal liberty. I worry that conservatives have been far too acquiescent in the rush to shut down the economy and deny people independence of movement and behavior.

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With our current situation, the time has come for us to stop letting someone else negotiate bills spending unprecedented sums of money to solve a problem that no amount of government aid will ever be able to fix.

I’m not saying more coronavirus legislation will not be needed or that Congress should close its doors. It is unthinkable to me that Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi signals flexibility on size of renewed unemployment payments Car on fire near Supreme Court Watch live: Pelosi speaks on coronavirus funding MORE (D-Calif.) has effectively rendered the House of Representatives “nonessential” during this crisis. Congress should return to Washington immediately to begin real, substantive debate among its 435 members on how we can best solve the ongoing health and economic crisis.

I would like to see us debate legislation that includes tax relief for individuals and small businesses or spends money on items leaving us with real value to show for it, like needed weapons systems to defend the country and expanded rural broadband access.

But, I’d much prefer reopening our economy sooner rather than later, which creates real value and restores lost personal liberty. Otherwise, much of the damage will be irreversible.

The stakes right now could not be any higher, and we cannot be silent or complacent any longer. Americans and their elected representatives must change the trajectory of all this before it's too late.

Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneJerry Carl wins GOP Alabama runoff to replace Rep. Bradley Byrne Jeff Sessions loses comeback bid in Alabama runoff Sessions fights for political life in Alabama runoff MORE represents Alabama’s 1st District.