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Screenshot: Axios Events

The country "overreacted" in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Axios' Mike Allen during a virtual event on Wednesday.

What Johnson's saying: "[I]n hindsight, I think we overreacted. We closed too much of our economy down, and I don't think we focused enough on what we needed to do: isolate the sick, quarantine them, protect the vulnerable."

  • "At the same time, elected officials. I'm not overly critical ... they've had to make really tough decisions with imperfect information."
  • "The first assumption we all made is that COVID is nobody's fault. It's basically an act of God. And so the businesses that are suffering ... it's not their fault."

The big picture: Johnson said the government needs to look at ways to recapitalize businesses that have been devastated by the pandemic. He says financial support from the government needs to be as inclusive as possible.

  • "We really need to be taking a look at some program or programs ... to potentially restore capital to viable businesses that can reopen. But those same businesses need to have some kind of game plan."
  • "We need to make sure they have the financial resources to restore the capital so they can reopen."

Watch the event.

Go deeper

Medical ethics in pandemic times

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The COVID-19 pandemic is rife with scientific and medical uncertainty, including debates about the ethics of using experimental treatments.

The big picture: As the global pandemic continues, the tension between providing the best available care for patients and performing trials to determine whether that care is effective risks complicating the medical response.

Updated Oct 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he won't take part in virtual debate

Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images

President Trump, who continues to battle a coronavirus infection, told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo on Thursday that he will not take part in a virtual second presidential debate, with his campaign later saying he would do two in person debates later on this month.

What he's saying: "I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. It’s not what debating is all about. ... It’s ridiculous," the president said.

Updated Oct 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden balks at Trumpless town hall debate

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images; Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

After President Trump announced he would not participate in a virtual debate next week, Joe Biden's campaign released a statement Thursday that the former vice president would instead "find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly."

The state of play: The Commission on Presidential Debates announced the town hall would be entirely virtual "for the health and safety of all involved" as Trump continues to recover from coronavirus.