McConnell in Covington: "We have a full-scale Manhattan-project to get a vaccine with this."
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell visited Covington on Monday, stopping at CTI Clinical Trials and Solutions at RiverCenter to discuss the firm's work in the COVID-19 pandemic.
CTI founder and CEO Tim Schroeder said that the region should be proud of its role in fighting the virus.
"Locally, we have patient care and ground-breaking research that rivals hospitals around the world," Schroeder said. "Our health systems have provided unmatched care to patients who were critically ill with COVID-19. Innovative laboratory support and testing for both patient care and coronavirus research around the country has been provided by Gravity Diagnostics, right here in Covington."
Schroeder then went on to tout how CTI is working quickly and efficiently to help tackle the virus - currently recruiting subjects for the largest COVID-19 vaccine in the world, sponsored by Janssen, a J&J company. CTI has been designated a priority site for the 60,000-person study, and anticipates enrolling 1,000 or more subjects from the local populis.
"I've been reminding people to wear masks and practice social distancing when possible," McConnell said. "At least until a company like CTI can help develop a vaccine."
While remarking on how unprecedented these times are, Senator McConnell raised his concerns about the rising national debt, claiming that we have a debt as large as our economy for the first time since World War II.
McConnell then went on to talk about the possibility of another relief package, highlighting the need for liability protections and getting students back into schools - stating that kids could attend in-person classes or online instruction, depending on the needs of the local district. He estimated that this second relief package would cost approximately $1 trillion, but did not address the need for direct cash assistance seen in the first package.
McConnell and Schroeder concluded the conference by saying that vaccine manufacturers are 'betting' on any medication that is seen as promising by ramping up the production on those drugs to be prepared before testing is completed.
"Some people may not realize this, but I was a victim of polio," McConnell said. "And that wasn't a disease that we had a full-scale Manhattan-project-sized initiative to address. We have a full-scale Manhattan-project to get a vaccine with this."
McConnell is up for reelection this year for what would be his seventh six-year term. He faces Democrat Amy McGrath in November. McGrath's campaign issued the following statement about McConnell's visit:
"While Sen. McConnell sent the Senate home for a 25-day recess and let Kentuckians’ unemployment benefits lapse, retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath released her plan, Mission: Rebuilding Kentucky, in Northern Kentucky last week that addresses how to come back from the economic pain caused by COVID-19. Leaders don’t leave during a crisis, but this is nothing new for Mitch. He abandoned Kentuckians a long time ago."
Written by Connor Wall, associate editor