@MyKitchenTable: Monday, August 31, 2020
Today’s inspiration of the day once again comes from the mother-daughter duo who created Pillarpoetry. We included this as part of a Kitchen Table report last week and we received great feedback from a number of you on the first poem, so we wanted to share another of theirs.
We received really good news today from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last Thursday, I sent a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to extend the waivers to allow school meal programs to continue serving students in need – regardless if they were physically back in school or taking virtual classes. Today our request was approved. This is a huge victory for southwest Michigan’s students and for students across the United States. Without these waivers, there would have been students in need who would not be able to access healthy and nutritious meals. Our students should be able to focus on their education without having to worry about where their next meal will come from. Learn more HERE.
We also got word today from the FDA about a concern Debbie Dingell and I raised last week about COVID-19 patients being kept from receiving convalescent plasma. You’ll remember that last week the FDA issued a new Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. There was a requirement in that EUA that might’ve acted as a barrier to use certain convalescent plasma products distributed prior to the EUA issuance, potentially limiting the use of convalescent plasma collected and distributed prior to August 23. Today FDA told us that they’ve been in contact with blood establishments and health care institutions to answer any questions and to help prevent any disruptions to treating COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma. In issuing the EUA, the FDA said they did not intend for the convalescent plasma units already collected to no longer be available for use, and they intend to revise their guidance. This is good news and something we’ll continue to monitor.
On Friday afternoon, I drove to Niles to check out the progress on constructing the new $1.1 billion Indeck Niles Energy Center. Almost a year ago I was at the site to help break ground on construction, and they’ve got a lot of work done in the past 11 months. Once this facility is finished, it is expected to begin producing about 1,085-megawatts of power — enough electricity for some 700,000 homes — by March 2022. This project is a huge win for southwest Michigan, and it’s importance delivering clean, affordable energy to families across our region can’t be understated. Click HERE to check out the progress on this project from the South Bend Tribune.
Also last week I met up with a number of our farmers, producers, and ag members at local farm bureau events in Van Buren County and Allegan County at the Kubiszak Family Farm and the Jeff Lenhart Farm. I updated them on a number of important ag issues, including the PPP and food security here in southwest MI. The events also gave me an opportunity to thank all of our local farmers for their hard work as they continue to literally feed the world during the COVID-19 crisis.
A few more notes:
- Total COVID-19 numbers include some 183K deaths with 6M positive cases in the U.S. with 850K deaths and 25M worldwide. The 7-day average for new cases in the U.S. is 41,409 and has been trending down since July 24. The masks are working.
- In Michigan, there were COVID-19 surges in Monroe and Isabella counties, which you can see HERE.
- The FDA announced that a public meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will be addressing the general development of COVID-19 vaccines on October 22. The FDA intends to make background material available to the public, including the meeting agenda and Committee roster no later than two business days before the meeting (HERE). We had the FDA Director, Stephen Hahn, on an Energy and Commerce Committee conference call this afternoon and hope to have a formal Health subcommittee hearing with him in September.
Our photo of the day comes from one of my staffers in Kalamazoo. Toni is a veteran, and her picture featured here will be part of the nationwide campaign for women veterans called “I am Not Invisible.” You can read more about it HERE. She is one of 34 veterans participating from the Battle Creek VA in this national campaign. Michigan is home to over 43,000 veterans, and I am so proud to have one as part of our team. TY for your continued service, Toni!
Lastly, today’s photo was shared by my colleague Billy Long (R-MO) - an avid reader of the KT updates! - who says one of his favorite masks is of Yogi Bear. We’d love to keep seeing your favorite masks - you can share your mask photos HERE.
All the best,