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@MyKitchenTable - July 14, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Dear Friend:

Teddy Roosevelt said, “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” That is the situation for so many of us who are trying our best to somehow get the nation back on track. Despite the stumbles and hurdles yet to cross, I remain convinced that with hard work we are indeed on a path that will lead us to a finish line of accomplishment.

ImageI have been reading the book on Frederick Douglass by David Blight (769 pages) who said, “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” With all the bullets flying at all of us in these tough days, we need to remind everyone to work together to get things done. An interesting factoid... Douglass was the most photographed individual in the 1800s, Muhammad Ali in the 1900s, and Barack Obama in the 2000s - in the world.

More than 41M tests for COVID-19 have been performed in the U.S. Some 720K were reported yesterday with 823K (the first time above 800K) last Friday. HHS made May and June COVID-19 Testing Plans for all states and localities publicly available on HHS.gov. The State Testing Plans serve as a roadmap for each state’s testing strategy and include details on response to surge cases and how to reach vulnerable populations, which you can see HERE.

HHS announced approximately $3B in funding to safety net hospitals and approximately $1B to specialty rural hospitals and hospitals in small metropolitan areas, while also allowing dentists to apply for relief, which you can see HERE.

CMS announced that it plans to deploy Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) across the country to provide immediate assistance to nursing homes in hotspot areas. This should improve the quality of health care to Medicare beneficiaries and coordinate efforts to these facilities, which you can see HERE.

CDC released a report on characteristics of folks who died with COVID. The report describes 10,647 decedents with confirmed COVID and found that a majority were older than 65 with underlying conditions. Overall, more than one third of Hispanic (34.9%) and nearly one third of nonwhite decedents (29.5%) were under 65 years of age, compared with 13.2% of white, non-Hispanic decedents. You can see the full report HERE.

Governor Whitmer today signed a new executive order extending the governor’s emergency and disaster declaration until August 11, which you can see HERE

More news from Pfizer. They and BioNTech announced that the FDA granted Fast Track to two COVID-19 vaccine candidates being jointly developed. The companies are expecting to start a Phase 2b/3 trial later this month and anticipate enrolling 30K individuals, which you can see HERE and the Detroit Free Press story HERE. Pfizer will be testifying before the Energy and Commerce’s Oversight Subcommittee on Operation Warp Speed, which I referenced in yesterday’s Kitchen Table report.

Good news as well regarding Gilead who released new data about remdesivir, including that remdesivir was associated with a 62% reduction in the risk of mortality compared to standard of care, and that a trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of remdesivir across different racial and ethnic patient subgroups found that traditionally marginalized racial or ethnic groups treated with remdesivir in this study experienced similar clinical outcomes as the overall patient population in the study, which you can see HERE.

The First Lady urges Americans to wear masks and practice social distancing, which you can see HERE. A table showing cases in each state with respective death rates per 100K was released by CNN. Michigan is 13th with 77,198 cases which you can see HERE. Michigan is now one of 22 states requiring masks inside public areas (you can see HERE), and I would note that a House colleague and member of the Energy Subcommittee, Morgan Griffith (R-VA), tested positive (now 7 members of the House that have tested positive) today.

Last news bit of the day is that the government rescinded a policy that would have stripped visas from international students whose courses move exclusively online during the pandemic, which you can see HERE. I had signed an earlier letter with other Republican colleagues to the USCIS asking for the students’ status to be retained. I heard from a number of schools including WMU, Calvin, and Kalamazoo College that expressed concerns about this policy, and they are happy this has been resolved. One of the school’s leaders sent me a note saying that our students and communities will be better off as a result of this decision.

Much of my day was consumed with the Secretary of Energy testifying before my Energy Subcommittee in a virtual hearing. I quizzed him on grid security and the president’s Executive Order issued in May to better secure the grid by blocking Chinese equipment. I also referenced HR 7435, the Methane Emissions Reduction Act, which I introduced earlier this month. Tomorrow will be consumed by an Energy and Commerce Full Committee virtual “mark up” of nearly 30 bills. 

The Congress returns into formal session with Floor recorded votes all next week. Discussions continue with the Problem Solvers Caucus on the police reform issue this week with progress continuing, particularly on the issue of Qualified Immunity. I expect to begin to see some details on discussions involving a COVID package early next week as the Senate also returns into formal session. 

Today’s constituent photo of the day is of a rainbow over Amberly Elementary in Portage. TY for sharing that. If you would like to submit a photo for us to use, click HERE.

All the best,

Fred Upton

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