U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, addressed a number of federal issues with statewide implications during a teleconference Tuesday. He said Washington has been focused on coronavirus economic recovery but "too many people in Louisiana have not felt it."
A full reopening of the economy is entirely dependent upon having an effective response to COVID-19, however waiting for a vaccine is not a viable solution, he said.
"We cannot continue in this mode for 18 months."
Cassidy is working with a Harvard and Louisiana team to develop a strategy that will ensure the safety of employees returning to work and students returning to school. In the meantime, a strong component of individual responsibility is still an essential virus deterrent, he said, reminding of the importance of wearing masks, sneezing into a sleeve and regular hand washing.
"We've got to make a difference with personal responsibility," he said.
Cassidy said voluntary contact tracing is a proven safety measure to help reduce the virus' spread. Additionally, taking cues from countries like New Zealand and Germany — who have had a low rate of infection — would also be beneficial in moving forward.
Regarding the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, riots and calls for police reform, he said the country is now at an "inflection point in this movement." While rejecting anarchist's agendas that have infiltrated peaceful protests, there must be a focus forward moving change, he said.
"At times, frankly, we need to have our consciousness awakened, but once awakened we move towards justice."
Cassidy said he is working on serious reform efforts.
"Not a slogan like ‘Defund the Police.'"
His proposed reforms include incentivizing choke hold bans, increased use of body cams, reporting of no-knock warrants, the sharing of disciplinary records across police departments, increased recruitment of minority police officers and making lynching a federal crime.
"I welcome attempts to make the legislation better," he said. "The goal is how do we have a fair justice system."