PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The White House has invited U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse to join a bipartisan task force to help determine how and when to reopen the economy amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Whitehouse received an invitation Wednesday to take part in the group, which will advise President Trump, spokesperson Meghan McCabe confirmed. The third-term Democrat is the only Rhode Island or Massachusetts lawmaker appointed, according to a list published by Politico.
“I hope this panel will be a good-faith bipartisan effort informed by science and best practices,” Whitehouse said in a statement. “Ignoring public health experts and governors to prematurely end stay-at-home orders would lead to more infections and could further hurt our economy.”
“With that in mind, I look forward to working with my colleagues and the White House to determine how to guide our nation through this challenging time,” he said.
The task force held its first meeting by telephone conference call on Thursday morning, according to the senator’s office.
Formation of the task force comes amid an increasingly urgent debate nationwide over how to restore some economic activity while continuing to protect public health. Over 150,000 claims for unemployment benefits have been filed in Rhode Island over the last month as restaurants, retailers and other businesses were forced to shut their doors.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook
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