As of today, the U.S. Capitol and all House and Senate office buildings have shut down all public tours due to the coronavirus. The complex is now limited to official business only, Politico reported.
Earlier this week as he testified on Capitol Hill, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks called on the agency to do more to help the public with internet access during the outbreak. Thursday, he tweeted that he and his staff will be working remotely beginning today. Also yesterday, his colleague, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, said the Commission should take “aggressive action” to help with the response.
“The coronavirus is already exposing hard truths about the digital divide, but the Federal Communications Commission has the power to help. Nationwide this crisis means that we are going to explore the expansion of telework, telehealth, and tele-education,” said Rosenworcel.
The agency should convene the nation’s broadband providers to discuss what they’re doing, she said. “We need to explore how we can facilitate public-private partnerships and consumer education campaigns to expand the reach of connectivity as quickly as possible at little or no-cost to Americans who are impacted by the coronavirus.”
She suggests the agency work with health care providers to ensure connectivity for telehealth services are available for hospitals, doctors, and nurses treating coronavirus patients and those who are quarantined. As classrooms move online, the FCC should identify how it can use its authority to provide WiFi hotspots for loan for students whose schools have closed their doors, Rosenworcel said.
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