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@MyKitchenTable - June 30, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Dear Friend:

"In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” – Mister Rogers

Fitting as today’s Health Subcommittee hearing was on mental health and anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis. More on that below.

After a lot of back and forth travel between Washington, D.C. and home in St. Joe, the KT update is back.

It was a full day in Washington that started with my weekly Tuesday interview with Gary Stevens on WHTC where we talked about the latest on the coronavirus and the rising number of cases, efforts to protect seniors in nursing homes, and the latest on police reform. You can listen to the full interview HERE.

The Republican conference had a call this morning with my friend and former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who said we are making progress on the health side of things and are seeing the COVID-19 death rate fall because of new treatments. For example, using blood thinners have helped after COVID-19 has been known to cause blood clots. This was reassuring news. He also highlighted how some companies are already looking at a second-generation vaccine to improve on the first ones we will hopefully soon have. He did discuss the concern over the rising number of COVID-19 cases in states across the nation. He stressed that folks should be wearing their masks. It’s not about politics – it’s about protecting yourself and others. Wearing masks, social distancing, and washing your hands are three steps we can take to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Fauci echoed this message during a Senate hearing earlier today, too. He also warned that we could see 100,000 COVID-19 cases per day if we fail to control the virus, saying that we are moving in the wrong direction. You can read more HERE. Again, we are not anywhere close to being out of the woods. Please continue to take precautions and wear your masks.

This morning the Health Subcommittee held a virtual hearing called, “High Anxiety and Stress: Legislation to Improve Mental Health During Crisis.” We know that the COVID-19 crisis and the shutdowns have certainly impacted folks’ mental health and wellbeing. The Energy and Commerce Committee is considering a number of bipartisan bills to make meaningful improvements to mental health services in this country. During this unprecedented and often overwhelming time, I have talked to many of our dedicated social service workers.  They see firsthand the impact of this crisis and need all the resources possible to help those hurting. Remember, the state of Michigan has a hotline to help folks with trauma from COVID-19 – it is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. at 888-PEER-753 (888-733-7753). United Way 2-1-1 can help too, and you can connect with them HERE.

A few more notes:

- The FDA on Tuesday released final guidance laying out its standards for approving coronavirus vaccines, requiring that any vaccine candidate be at least 50 percent more effective than a placebo. The agency also left open the possibility it would issue an emergency use authorization for a vaccine, which you can read more about in Politico HERE.

-  Gilead Sciences announced its pricing for remdesivir, which has proved to be effective in helping treat COVID-19. Gilead’s CEO explains how they came to the price and announced they were entering into agreements with generic manufacturers to deliver treatment at a substantially lower cost in the developing world, which you can read HERE.

-  HHS announced yesterday they have secured large supplies of remdesivir for the United States from Gilead Sciences through September, allowing American hospitals to purchase the drug in amounts allocated by HHS and state health departments, which you can read about HERE.

-  The Detroit News published an editorial earlier today in support of an agreement I helped make possible with Governor Snyder and Enbridge to bury Line 5 in a tunnel 100 feet below the lakebed. Remember, Line 5 is a pipeline that travels through Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas through the Straits of Mackinac. We should replace it with this new tunnel rather than closing Line 5, which would cause energy prices to skyrocket. You can read more HERE.

-  This past weekend I met one of the project managers who’s working to reroute a major gas pipeline under the still-to-be completed US-31 project. Work continues, and this project is likely to be finished in September, which will then allow us to proceed to link US-31 with I-94 and I-96.

Tomorrow we will be reintroducing our bipartisan bill to expand broadband services to rural counties with our Senate partners. This bill will provide $1 billion over the next 10 years ($108M per year) to Michigan to increase access to quality broadband. The goal would be to try and get this to the President’s desk in July. Stay tuned.

ImageToday’s photo is of corn sown in a residential greenhouse in Kalamazoo Township during the COVID-19 shutdown which was recently transplanted outdoors. They write, “'Chest high by June 16th’ doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘Knee high by the Fourth of July!'”  TY for sharing. Here is a link you can submit your photos at.

God Bless,

Fred Upton

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