Among the things U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler wants to know in a new survey of constituents about the need for federal coronavirus relief is whether they or anyone in their family has been sick with COVID-19.


If so, the Harrisonville Republican also wants to know the outcome. The choices, however, do not explicitly ask if anyone in the household has died of the disease.


Instead, among the four choices that include no symptoms, mild or moderate symptoms and a full recovery, and "hospitalized-fully recovered," is one that states "hospitalized-did not recover."


Spokesman Danny Jativa, in an email to the Tribune, said that "hospitalized-did not recover" is the choice if a family member has died.


"People who died due to the coronavirus did not recover from the virus," he wrote. "We could’ve used did not recover, died, passed away, etc."


In an interview, Lindsey Simmons of Hallsville, Hartzler's Democratic opponent in November, said the survey was incomplete because not everyone made ill by the coronavirus has recovered but not all who have not recovered are dead. Some people remain hospitalized for weeks.


She also said the survey was incomplete because it does not allow for multiple entries for families that have multiple cases.


"The question presupposes there is just one patient," Simmons said. "There aren't multiple options for different outcomes."


The survey is not intended to gather data on total cases in the district, Jativa wrote. Hartzler is relying on state and local health officials for that information, he added.


Another problem with the survey is that so few tests were available early in the pandemic that some providers were requiring that a person have known contact with an infected person before they would conduct a test, Simmons said.


The survey also asks questions about employment and whether "you see needs due to the coronavirus that would warrant the federal government spending additional dollars in another relief package?"


For those who see a need, the survey allows up to six prepared choices, including personal financial assistance and funding for state and local governments, as well as one for the person being surveyed to state a need not included.


The Democratic-controlled House approved a $3 trillion package called the HEROES Act in May, but that bill has languished in the Senate without hearings or a vote. Hartzler opposed the bill.


Negotiations over a package that the Republican-controlled Senate will accept and that President Donald Trump will sign have stalled over the total size of the spending and items like how or whether benefits like a $600 per week unemployment supplement would be continued.


The last week those unemployment benefits were paid in Missouri was for the week ending July 25.


There is no closing date on the survey and it will be used to supplement information coming from local health officials, city and county government leaders and other constituent contacts, Jativa wrote.


There is also no timeline for action in Congress, he wrote.


"We have not received any updates from leadership of either party," Jativa wrote.


The email was sent through Hartzler's Congressional office to her email mailing list. Simmons said Hartzler should be doing more to get the survey before a wider group.


"I do find it quite odd her method of seeking feedback is an email where a large portion of our population doesn't have access to high-speed internet," she said. "She could be in the community, directly talking to people."


rkeller@columbiatribune.com


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