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@MyKitchenTable - July 16, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Thursday, July 16, 2020

Dear Friend:

Today’s quote of the day is from an unknown author but one that is fitting as we approach the end of the week: “Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key tried that opens the lock."

We’re facing a number of challenges today, but we have to keep going and keep trying!

ImageThe photo of the day is from my Kalamazoo office where I hosted another teletown hall with a few hundred residents about the coronavirus. Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford, Medical Director Dr. Will Nettleton, and Samantha Carlson, Director of the Area Agency on Aging in Kalamazoo, also joined. We answered a good number of questions on the status of a COVID vaccine, students returning to school in the fall, the importance of wearing masks, and steps that we can all take to protect ourselves and others, especially the elderly and our most vulnerable.

We wanted to also share some helpful resources we talked about on our call including:

  • Kalamazoo County’s Data hub, which you can see HERE.
  • Information on testing, which you can see HERE. The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department suggests reviewing the State’s website Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest or calling the MDHHS Hotline COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 and press option 1 (open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
  • For older Michiganders, you can get additional information HERE. There are several phone numbers for resources and information about access to food delivery.
This afternoon, I met with Pfizer’s Kalamazoo site lead to talk about the coronavirus vaccines Pfizer is working on. You’ll remember that their Kalamazoo site is manufacturing the vaccines and received FDA’s fast track status, as I referenced in yesterday’s KT. Pfizer and BioNTech expect to start a Phase 2b/3 trial later this month and anticipate enrolling 30K individuals.

Later this afternoon, I met with a number of local judges in Kalamazoo to discuss our court system, criminal justice reform, and how we can make our communities safer for everyone. We also discussed efforts to get states and county governments additional assistance after their lost revenue due to COVID-19. I expect the SMART Fund to be discussed next week as a bipartisan solution to not only help the state budget, but also provide counties like Kalamazoo with relief as resources have been stretched thin because of COVID. And, as I have written about this week, our discussions continue with the bipartisan task force and the Problem Solvers Caucus on police reform. This evening we had a PSC conference call with Rep. Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. I believe we are making progress and will continue to do so as we return to Washington next week for votes.

When we return next week, we will continue to push for support for our bipartisan, bicameral bill to expand rural broadband. Our legislation would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fund shovel-ready, high-speed internet projects immediately so consumers can access broadband within a year. Sen. Lindsey Graham has even offered his support for expanding broadband, which you can see HERE.

A few more news notes:
  • HHS announced a large-scale procurement of rapid point-of-care diagnostic test instruments and tests to be distributed to nursing homes in COVID-19 hotspot geographic areas in the U.S., which you can see HERE.
  • CDC published an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), reviewing the latest science and affirming that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, which you can see HERE.
  • Michigan’s small businesses and nonprofits working to recover from the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 virus can now apply for grants of up to $20,000 through the Michigan Small Business Restart Program, which you can see HERE.

Be safe and wear a mask!

All the best,

Fred Upton

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