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@MyKitchenTable - June 22, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Monday, June 22, 2020

Dear Friend:

John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  

Al Jones, respected and former business editor of the Kalamazoo Gazette and now Project Editor for On the Ground Kalamazoo wrote THIS thoughtful piece entitled “Some boys hear more than others about our threatening world.” It is certainly worth reading and was forwarded to me by a good friend over the weekend.  

St. Joseph County, Michigan is reporting a 54% increase in COVID cases over the last week.  On June 12, there had been 163 total known cases in the county, and Friday they ended with 197. Their county health officer was quoted, “Folks, we are losing to this virus right now. There are several things that you can do to help. Wear a mask when you are out in the public and insist that your family members do as well. Do not congregate in groups…” These are common sense instructions that we all need to follow.

For those faithful readers, you will have followed the Kitchen Table news since mid-April about a home testing device that is making its way through the approval process. As part of the $310B Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) legislation signed by the president in April, we included $1.8B for the NIH to establish a “shark tank” to consider and hopefully approve private sector initiatives for home testing devices. This particular Michigan entity shared with me their presentation of a device about the size of a cell phone with a cavity to test saliva or blood (like a finger prick) that then can analyze whether three different antibodies are being produced within 2-3 days of being exposed to COVID-19. This is so important as otherwise symptoms like fever and cough do not occur until 10-14 days after being exposed. The test, which is completed in about 10 minutes, costs less than $10 and can be synced to a smart phone that then allows the individual to share with their employer, restaurant (table for four?) friends, work space etc., that all is well. Bottom line, Friday night I received the call that this entity is now a finalist as they have proven to the NIH that it works. They now have a month to prove they can produce and sell it in order to obtain final approval for the marketplace. For all of us to really emerge from this pandemic, the testing, therapeutics, and vaccine have to come to be. This is really wonderful news on one of those three imperatives. I will keep you posted.

I participated in a Michigan Credit Union zoom call with other lawmakers to discuss federal lessees. As you might imagine, they are very interested in bipartisan legislation that I have helped initiate (and working with the Problem Solvers Caucus) that would automatically forgive loans less than $150K to employers once they simply verify that 60% was used for employee expenses (salary, insurance, etc). I am hoping we can get this to the president’s desk as early as next month and that it serves as a true lifeline to our small businesses. My staff and I worked extensively with our local credit unions and community bankers to smooth out the glitches with this new program, of which there is still about $100B unallocated.

I also participated in a lengthy zoom call with other community leaders and the President of Western Michigan University and his key team regarding eradicating institutional/societal racism and an update on their COVID response as they get ready for the Fall semester. Class size, masks, and e-learning were all part of the discussion as they have mastered the challenges before them. One, of course, is state funding. I still expect a bipartisan initiative to begin mid-July to help states like ours that can demonstrate loss of tax revenue with large amounts of COVID cases that will help states, cities, and counties with a fair formula based on real numbers. I am a cosponsor of the bipartisan SMART Act and will keep you all apprised. As one can imagine, I am hearing from our many school districts distraught that their usual budget deadline of June 30 will not be met with legitimate questions requiring answers prior to figuring out their budget path.

ImageToday’s photo comes from Otsego, from this group of constituents’ last prayer time in their neighborhood. They have been praying together since March 23rd for five minutes at 5 PM every weekday outside on their curb. TY for sharing! And if you would like to submit a photo, please click HERE. “Stay strong. There’s a rainbow after every storm."

God Bless,

Fred Upton

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If you would like to submit photos to share in these Kitchen Table updates of you social distancing, in your masks, working from home, and other photos of how you are keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic, please click here.

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