Some good news on the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) front — 3M yesterday agreed to produce 55 million N95 masks per month for the next three months. I continue to work with my colleague Congresswoman Slotkin seeking the FDA approval of a new method to cleanse used masks and PPE at local hospitals easing the worldwide search for such equipment. Hopefully, that request can be turned around within 24-48 hours once submitted because, as you may have seen on the news, as many as 2,200 health care workers in SE Michigan have tested positive for Covid-19.
As part of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, we held another zoom conference call. One participant, U.S. Senator and doctor Bill Cassidy, wrote a recent WSJ story that you can read here regarding folks who have survived Coronavirus and the antibodies that remain in the blood stream. He believes we can use those antibodies to stem the tide come Fall. 98% of those infected will survive, and we included $500 million for the CDC in the CARES Act to establish a CDC registry that could be utilized to infuse the infected antibodies into healthy folks as a vaccine.
With some $70 billion approved in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) since Friday, it is very clear that these funds targeted toward small businesses retaining their employees will be exhausted very quickly. I’m aware of just a handful of lenders in Berrien County that have seen nearly 500 loans exceeding $125 million approved with hundreds more likely in the next day or so.
As a consequence, the president called for an additional $250 billion to be added to the original $350 billion included in the CARES Act. Early reports show that the U.S. Senate is likely to approve this on Thursday by unanimous consent with the hopes that the House could do the same without requiring all of us to travel back to DC. My car is “pointed out” should I have to go back and forth again. In my many discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, there has been solid agreement that this program keeps the lights on for our small businesses and their employees and was a very important element of the overall package. The self-employed are allowed to apply on Friday.
This afternoon I participated on a teletown hall with Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, Health Director Nicki Britten, and an FTC attorney. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) made the point that there are many phone and text Coronavirus scams that have resulted in thousands of complaints and sadly millions of dollars taken from unsuspecting innocent folks already. DO NOT GIVE YOUR PERSONAL FINANCIAL INFO TO FOLKS. Social Security nor the IRS will be calling you seeking such private information.
Many of my colleagues continue to work on bipartisan initiatives. I cosponsored an initiative establishing a National Commission on the COVID-19 pandemic which would analyze the nation’s response and make recommendations to better prepare for any future pandemic. I know a good number of my Problem Solvers Caucus members will be joining in.
I also signed onto a bipartisan letter to the WHO and UN to take action to shut down “Wet Markets” in China and other countries. These markets are where folks sell all sorts of different animals—from wildlife to pets—for human consumption. It is believed that these were a source of Coronavirus as they were for SARS and perhaps Ebola. There is a similar letter initiated in the U.S. Senate by Cory Booker and Lindsey Graham.
I also announced $4 million in grants for four local health services assisting in responding to the Coronavirus crisis. These Community Health Centers serve the most vulnerable and the funds will literally help keep the doors open and staff working.
In closing, lets reflect on the words of Viktor Frankl, a well-known philosopher and concentration camp survivor. He learned we can often not choose our situation but we CAN choose how we react to it.
Stay safe, please.
God bless, always.
Member of Congress
RESOURCES FOR SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN
NEW CORONAVIRUS RESOURCE GUIDE FOR SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN
My office today put together a Resource Guide to help southwest Michigan families, workers, and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus crisis. We wanted to be sure you had all of the information in one place, but as this crisis continues, we will continue to update it and make additions. Click here for the Resource Guide.
KALAMAZOO COUNTY: FACE COVERINGS RECOMMENDED IN PUBLIC
Health officials in Kalamazoo County are recommending that citizens wear face masks when out in public. The preventative measure is recommended especially for areas where social distance is difficult to maintain. The use of simple cloth face coverings may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Click here for more information.
BEWARE OF NEW CORONAVIRUS EMAIL SCAM
On Sunday, a national email phishing scam was distributed in the state, according to the Michigan State Firemen's Association President Michael McLeieer. The scam requests the recipient to purchase gift cards for preventative items for those affected by the coronavirus disease 2019.Click here for more information.