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@MyKitchenTable - August 7, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Friday, August 7, 2020

Dear Friend:

Golda Meir said, “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” In today’s world, use your elbow... and mask!

ImageWe asked a couple days ago for folks to send in photos of their favorite masks for us to share! We love to see them. This photo is from a constituent in Berrien Springs. She and her friends met up to celebrate turning 60 years old with matching t-shirts and masks. Happy birthday and TY for sharing! If you’d like to send us a photo of your favorite mask, click HERE.

We now have 4.8M positive cases in the U.S. but the 7-day average has trended down for the last  three days. MLIVE reported Thursday that SW MI was among the regions with declining coronavirus cases and you can read that story HERE. You can see the county by county numbers provided by MLIVE HERE.

I spoke to a good number of our local school superintendents during the week and, rightly so, they continue to be most troubled with the lack of broadband that is needed for their students to participate in e-learning this Fall. Some of our school districts could exceed 50% of their school families unable to connect. On Thursday, I spoke with Benton Harbor Superintendent, Dr. Andrae Townsel, who indicated Benton Harbor schools are looking at a plan that has high school students taking classes all online the first quarter of the year. Parents with students in K-8 will have an option to have in-person classes or virtual.

Discussions continue today in the Senate with the White House on a COVID IV package with major funding elements for states/cities/counties, elementary and higher education, stimulus checks, Unemployment, hospitals, and liability protections. It is in this package that I would like to see our bipartisan broadband proposal attached. Remember, my broadband bill with Democrat Majority Whip Jim Clyburn would expand access to broadband to millions of Americans, which you can learn about HERE. Media reports this morning indicate that it is a tough slog and I have downgraded my “hopeful” characterization from earlier in the week. Maybe this morning’s news of the U.S. economy adding 1.8M jobs in July and the national unemployment rate falling to 10.2% will provide the kick in the pants needed to see a deal.  

A few more notes:
-Politico had a good story on the partnerships between drug manufacturers and developers to expedite a vaccine. This is a big reason why I anticipate we can get an FDA-approved vaccine this Fall with tens of millions of doses immediately available to the public. You can read that story HERE.

-HHS released a podcast on Operation Warp Speed (OWS). The Assistant Secretary and Dr. Moncef Slaoui discussed ongoing vaccine development efforts, convalescent plasma, and the role of the military and you can listen HERE.

-HHS released a series of PSAs asking Americans to donate their plasma and help save lives, which you can see HERE.

-HHS and DOD announced an agreement with Johnson & Johnson to demonstrate large-scale manufacturing and delivery of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. As you know, the federal government will own 100M doses that could be used in clinical trials or a vaccine campaign once FDA approved, which you can see HERE.

Image-The FDA Commissioner, Stephen Hahn, published an op-ed making clear that any vaccine must adhere to standards that will ensure safety and effectiveness. Once that vaccine meets those regulatory standards, a pathway will be created to make it available without delay. This was a critical element of the 21st Century Cures legislation that I sponsored and was signed into law by President Obama in 2016. You can read that op-ed HERE.

-NIH released a blog post on developments with COVID-19 testing and therapeutics. Last week, RADx announced that seven biomedical tech companies will receive $248M to accelerate their efforts to scale up new lab-based and point-of-care technologies. This week, two clinical trials for an antibody treatment by Eli Lilly were launched, which you can see HERE.

-The NIH also launched a clinical trial testing remdesivir anticipated to enroll more than 1K hospitalized adults at as many as 100 sites, which you can see HERE.

-The CDC released a report about South Dakota meat processing employees where 969 folks were infected with two deaths. The highest attack rates occurred among employees who worked fewer than six feet from each other on the production line reminding us all about social distancing.

-CMS is proposing to permanently allow telehealth services, including home visits for the evaluation and management of a patient, as well as certain types of visits with cognitive impairment. CMS is also proposing to extend payments for other services such as emergency visits. This is another huge reason why we need to pass the Clyburn-Upton bill expanding broadband to rural and underserved areas. You can read that CMS proposal HERE.

-Governors of six states – Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, and Michigan – have announced a major interstate agreement to expand the use of rapid point-of-care antigen tests to slow the spread of COVID-19 and continue safely reopening the states. Learn more HERE.

I hope to report to you all next week on progress on the vaccine production front here in our district and success in the home testing area, too. I remain very encouraged on both those fronts. Be safe... wear a mask... remember social distancing... it makes a difference...

All the best,

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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