This week, I held a call with over 50 of our local leaders from across southern Missouri to discuss plans for reopening our area’s economy.

I believe that the best government is the one that’s closest to the people, which is why it was critical to brainstorm with them on ways to restart southern Missouri in the coming days. In addition, I have also been in contact with Governor Parson and President Trump about how we can get rural America and southern Missouri back to work and lead the country’s reopening efforts.

I fully believe that our rural communities can serve as the example to the rest of Missouri and the other states about how to get people back to work. Our country was founded on personal choice and liberty, and those same values are going to power southern Missouri’s economy back to full force quickly and safely. We must continue to arm individuals with all of the information they need about the coronavirus and empower them to make the best decisions for their families and livelihood.

Another crucial step will be making sure that we are prioritizing the American worker. Since the coronavirus outbreak began, there have been an unprecedented number of unemployment claims filed, totaling over 26 million. When the economy reopens, we must ensure that unemployed Americans are incentivized to return to work and are the first people in line for jobs, not foreigners.

Thankfully, President Trump continues to take bold action to protect the American people’s health and jobs.

First, he suspended travel from China before extending travel restrictions to Iran and most European nations. Next, he further restricted travel along our borders with Canada and Mexico to help slow the spread of the virus. Then, just this week, he signed an executive order suspending new green cards for those seeking permanent resident status for the next 60 days. Not only will this protect American jobs, but it will also preserve vital health care resources for American patients. I’m glad that President Trump is prioritizing getting American workers employed and not allowing a broken immigration system to threaten our nation’s health and recovery.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, I have been an outspoken advocate for rural communities and have made southern Missouri a priority. I will not hesitate to fight for our rural way of life and the values that we cherish. Whether it’s providing immediate and targeted relief for our farmers and ranchers, increasing funding for rural hospitals and health clinics fighting on the frontlines, or expanding low-interest loans for local businesses, I have made it clear to Congress and the White House that my number one priority is rural Missouri.

Fortunately, President Trump shares my concern and I’m pleased that many of my proposals are already being used to help the people of southern Missouri during this national emergency. As our country turns this corner against the invisible enemy, we need to get our economy opened and get people back to work.

The people throughout southern Missouri have done their job, heeding the advice of state and local leaders to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Now, we have to put these business shutdowns behind us before irreversible economic damage is done to our local communities.

To get our economy back up and running, we must implement a game plan as soon as possible. It’s time to focus on reopening our restaurants and coffee shops; our community centers and churches. It’s time for our family owned businesses on Main Street to bring back their workers so they can get back to doing what small business do and drive America forward. The health and safety of southern Missourians is paramount, and with the right blueprint there is no reason we can’t keep protecting the most vulnerable among us while also allowing businesses to open back up.

It’s time to allow southern Missourians to do what they do best and let them to lead the nation by setting the example of how to get back to work.