@MyKitchenTable: Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Today’s constituent pics/videos certainly mark the start of summer. As most of us hunkered down for a different Memorial Day without large community parades and distinguished cemetery events, this solo “Taps” coming from Paw Paw certainly is relevant and marks the national 3 PM playing of Taps yesterday. Click here to watch his video. Also, Ken from St. Joseph highlights a beautiful flower in his neighborhood. If you would like to submit a photo/video, please send it HERE. TY.
I paid my respects to my family members in Riverview Cemetery over the weekend who served our nation in the armed forces. The PBS Sunday night tribute was truly outstanding playing to a national audience of TV viewers, and an empty Capitol lawn that would normally have tens of thousands.
Today I prepare to travel back to D.C. for votes Wednesday and Thursday. I did start this morning with the South Haven Rotary zoom meeting that averages some 45 folks participating at 7AM. I gave them a preview of votes for the week as well as an update on COVID-19 and of particular interest to them, Lake Michigan water levels. They had a good many questions on all those and more. We are all hoping that the “not to be missed” South Haven Blueberry Festival will be able to occur in August. The Rotary has a tradition of hosting the blueberry pancakes breakfast, and they average nearly 2K folks for a wonderful event that has always been a tradition for me.
News items of interest:
- FDA and the USDA released recommendations to help address shortages of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment for our new readers), cloth coverings, disinfectants, and sanitation supplies in the food and agriculture industry, which you can see HERE.
- The FDA issued an updated FDA COVID-19 Response-At-A-Glance summary that provides a quick look at facts, figures, and highlights of the agency’s response efforts, which you can see HERE.
- To date, the FDA has authorized 109 tests under Emergency Use Authorization (EUAs), which include 96 molecular tests, 12 antibody tests, and 1 antigen test. The FDA has worked with more than 400 test developers who have already submitted or will be submitting EUA requests to the FDA for tests that detect the virus or antibodies to the virus, which you can see HERE. You will remember that $1.8B in funding for the NIH and FDA for these new innovators was included in the last bill that the president signed last month.
- Merck & Co. unveiled development plans for a pill to treat the coronavirus and two vaccines to prevent it. The U.S. drugmaker bought rights to develop a promising antiviral discovered at Emory University and will work with partners to advance candidate vaccines based on the technology behind Ebola and measles immunizations, which you can read HERE.
- The CDC published guidance for communities of faith. The guidance is intended to help prevent exposures to COVID-19 in facilities used by communities of faith and to keep their staff and attendees as healthy as possible as they exercise their faith, which you can see HERE.
- CDC published updated information in COVIDView, a weekly surveillance summary of COVID-19 activity, which you can see HERE.
- CMS finalized requirements that will increase access to telehealth for seniors in Medicare Advantage plans, expand the types of supplemental benefits available for beneficiaries with an MA plan who have chronic diseases, and provide for more options in rural communities. This approach provides plans with adequate time and information to design the best coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, which you can see HERE. This is yet another reason why we need to add greater access to broadband across the nation.
- As of May 20, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), has a portfolio of 32 products supported under public-private partnerships. Of these, 17 are diagnostics, seven are therapeutics, four are vaccines, and two are rapidly deployable capabilities to help protect Americans from COVID-19.
- The New York Times has a new interactive site where one can see COVID rates. You can see that site HERE.
- Governor Whitmer signed an executive order to expand the types of medical personnel that can order a test, and creates a new category of community testing sites that offer testing to anyone with reason to be tested without an advance order, which you can read HERE.
Over the weekend, we all saw new hot spots not only here in the U.S. but across the world. We all remember that the president imposed a travel ban on China early on, and I asked why not the same for Brazil? That Executive Order was issued shortly thereafter.
Also over the weekend, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus confirmed their support for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act, which will be on the House Floor Wednesday. This plan was initiated in the first spending bill for COVID and allows small businesses to seek loans from local lending institutions to cover 75% of their employee expenses (salaries, health insurance, etc). Eight weeks later, once verified by that same lender, the loan can be converted to a grant. As I have noted, as much as we all wanted to be “up and at ‘em” by Easter, that was not going to be the case. Now many of these small businesses are approaching 8 weeks, and, because of state restrictions, are not able to confirm that 75% figure. As a result, this bipartisan proposal should pass and extend the lifeline to our small businesses.
The quote of the day comes from the National Governors Association who reminded me last week of Dolly Parton’s line, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!”