MCALLEN, Texas — Senator Ted Cruz is hosting a virtual tour discussing the latest developments of COVID-19 and his most recent online stop was here in the Rio Grande Valley.

Tuesday, Senator Cruz spoke with The Rio Grande Valley Partnership about what help is needed for the people of South Texas.

“We need much more wide spread testing, PPE, emergency medical equipment, but we need to get out there and get vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, now that’s on the public health side, on the economic side, we got to get people back to work,” said Sen. Cruz.

But the question is when?

Sen. Cruz says fast.

“If we continue to keep the economy shut down for weeks and months, there is going to be enormous public health harms from that, we’re going to see mental illness issues, increased suicide rates, substance abuse, alcohol abuse,” said Cruz.

To prevent that, Texas is asking small businesses to apply for Paycheck Protection Loans to help out.

The majority of businesses in the Rio Grande Valley are locally-owned and hundreds of them are struggling to keep afloat.

“The Rio Grande Valley is an incredible place, I love being in the valley, the spirit and hope and optimism in the valley is great,” said Cruz, ” Just three months ago Texas was booming, The RGV was booming, we had the lowest Hispanic employment ever recorded in U.S. History.”

But now one pandemic later, millions of Americans are out of work.

“We’ve had 17 million people lose their jobs in three weeks, that is 10% of the workforce in America and millions of small businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy, we can’t let that happen,” said Cruz.

Hundreds of people in the Rio Grande Valley depend on the oil and gas industry and Cruz says he’s been in constant communication with leaders in Saudi Arabia on how this will have massive impacts on oil workers and anyone who fuels up.

“We got to get demand back, the big thing that’s killing oil and gas is the demand that has plummeted 30-40% and if people are not driving their cars, trucks, flying airplanes, energy producers will be hurting and we need to get the economy back to save energy producers,” said Cruz.

In the future, the Texas Senator says he hopes personal protective equipment and other supplies are not dependent on other countries.

“When this pandemic is defeated and it will be defeated, I think there’s going to be a serious reassessment of how on Earth did we let critical infrastructure be in China, we can’t be dependent and vulnerable to the Chinese communist government and threaten the lives of Americans.”

For now, all four RGV counties remain in Shelter-In-Place and Cruz says this will come to an end soon.

“We’re going to make it through this, Texans are resilient, Texans are strong, Americans are resilient, we faced enormous challenges before, we will defeat this and we will defeat it the way we always do by coming together and standing as one as Texans,” said Cruz.

Senator Ted Cruz is encouraging Americans to help each other stay positive by giving back to the community in some way and posting it to social media with the hashtag #CombatCOVID19Challenge.