U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan: Masks, Employee Vaccinations Will Help Fight Pandemic
U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, supports kids masking up in schools and encourages everyone to wear a mask while indoors if social distancing is not possible.
Hassan also supports employers requiring workers to take the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.
Hassan took part in an interview at Townsquare Media in Dover on Wednesday. She sat down in the newsroom with Kimberley Haas, Seacoast Current's managing editor.
"We Take Care of Each Other"
Parents on both sides are not happy with the decisions of Seacoast school boards when it comes to the mask issue at schools.
"This is a really scary time. Children under 12 can't get vaccinated and the Delta variant is infecting kids and in some cases creates pretty serious illness in children," Hassan said.
Hassan hopes that parents are teaching their children how masking protects students, their friends and classmates from COVID-19.
"In New Hampshire, we take care of each other. We come together when times are tough. We did throughout the epidemic and we continue to do it during this pandemic. The best way to help each other is, get vaccinated if you can and wear a mask indoors," Hassan said.
New Hampshire does not have a mask mandate in place and none is forthcoming from Gov. Chris Sununu. He has left it to individual school districts to decide about mask-wearing for students.
Hassan said the best weapon in the fight against COVID-19 is the vaccine. She said they have been proven safe and effective with the FDA's full approval of the Pfizer vaccine this week.
"The best thing we can do to fight COVID-19 is for everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine to get it. Why is that important? It not only prevents you from getting serious illness from the Delta variant but also lowers the amount of spread," Hassan said. "The more people who have the vaccine the less the variant over time spreads to children who can't get vaccinated."
Hassan said that employers have the right to require workers to take the shot in the name of public health.
"This is about the health and safety of the workforce, as well as the customers and clients that an employer serves. We have had throughout our history times where people have been required to have vaccinations to do certain things," Hassan said.
Hassan is a believer in "American science" that has prevented the spread of disease as something that should be celebrated and not feared.
Pulling out of Afghanistan
Hassan said while she disagreed with an arbitrary date for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the focus needs to be on getting American citizens out along with "Afghan allies and partners" who supported the United States military effort over the past 20 years.
"What is an improvement in the situation is that we are getting more and more people evacuated from Afghanistan more quickly every day and that's good news because our timeline here is very short," Hassan said, adding that the United States needs to remain until the evacuation is done.
President Joe Biden is sticking with a deadline of August 31 to complete the evacuation and said each day of continued operations puts U.S. troops at risk. Hassan said she was encouraged that the White House is looking at a contingency plan.
"If we need to stay longer I think we should," Hassan said.
Support for Veterans
The Senator who makes her home on the Seacoast said one of her major issues is support for veterans.
"They keep us free and secure and safe. We owe them everything and we owe them all the efforts we can to make this country worthy of their service. They also have fought for us and they have earned and deserve benefits," Hassan said.
Hassan said soldiers leaving the service often are unaware of the services available to them. Her Solid Start program requires the Veterans Administration to reach out to vets a minimum of three times within the first year of retirement to inform them of their post-service benefits.
"My bill says that this is a really good program and we always want to be there for veterans. It's going to be required that the VA continue so no administration will have the discretion to stop the program," Hassan said.
Hassan said that many veterans are having a difficult and upsetting time watching events unfold in Afghanistan and they are worried about the fate of their interpreters and others who helped them.
"If you need help please reach out for it. You can always call our office at 603-622-2204 to get referrals to the VA or other points of pure services," Hassan said.