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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

In Covington, McConnell Lays Out His Vision For Third Coronavirus Rescue Package

mitch mcconnell
Bill Rinehart
Sen. Mitch McConnell and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen toured a COVID-19 testing lab before his remarks Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says after Congress passed the first pandemic relief bill, he thought the smart thing to do was to re-evaluate the situation in July. "We're now in July." McConnell says there's a high likelihood there will be a third, final rescue package. He toured a COVID-19 testing lab in Covington Thursday morning.

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
Sen. Mitch McConnell holds up a mask after touring Gravity Diagnostics in Covington, and says he's a "strong advocate" of wearing a mask to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

President Trump and the Senate Majority Leader both agree on getting students back in the classroom this fall. But they are on different pages when it comes to the "how." Trump this week threatened to withhold federal funding for districts that do not resume in-person classes.

McConnell says the country can't get back to normal without operational schools. "That is going to require significant assistance from us," he says, "because these schools are going to have to adapt to new working situations, with shifts, masks and other things to adjust to working smart during this pandemic, until we get a vaccine."

McConnell says that includes K-12 and college education.

Kentucky's senior senator also says he wants to see universal liability protection in a rescue package. "Unless you were grossly negligent or engaged in intentional misconduct, we're not going to subject you to an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the health care pandemic that we're already having to deal with."

McConnell is not opposed to including stimulus checks to individual Americans again. "People who make $40,000 or less got hit particularly hard because many of those folks work for restaurants and hotels and the hospitality field. We're certainly open to additional cash assistance to them as we provided before."

McConnell says a measure passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives recently is a non-starter. "That would have doubled the debt that we already have."

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.