Thursday, April 2, 2020
Kitchen Table Update - Thursday, April 2, 2020

Dear Friend:

It's been a busy and full day of several calls from my kitchen table.

I joined State Rep. Pauline Wendzel on her teletown hall tonight. Several important questions!

A few weeks ago, as my office started to figure out how we all could be connected both in Michigan and DC from our homes, we had a number of staff discussions on how we could provide service to our district, state, and, nation.  Our concern for those most vulnerable and those often left behind stirred emotions. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is now accepting applications for FY 20 Emergency Grants to Address Mental and Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19.  SAMHSA recognizes there are currently 57.8 million Americans living with mental and/or substance use disorders and this crisis will certainly contribute to the growth of those numbers as we all struggle with increased depression, anxiety, trauma, and grief. We’ve reached out to some of our local providers to see if they would like to apply for this $110 million program. For details, see HERE.

We’re still working on seeing constructive changes for the SBA’s $350 billion 7A program that is slated for operation Friday.  Our local lenders have voiced real concerns over the processing of these applications and we are trying to move “heaven and earth” to make some changes to reflect their concerns.  Click HERE for the latest (hopefully still changing)....more tomorrow.  Remember these loans change to grants once the proper verification is made that the money is being used for personnel.

I also participated in a regional, bipartisan call with the FEMA Region 5 director.  We all knew that the national stockpile’s shelves are fairly bare and they are desperately trying to restock PPE. They are now focusing on “air bridges” rather than relying on cargo ships that could take 30-40 days from port to port.  I made the point that I have already worked with the White House to allow air shipments of PPE into Battle Creek - which has U.S. Customs in place and a 10,000 foot runway that can accommodate large cargo aircraft flying directly over the Pacific. This could help west Michigan meet our needs with PPE. I would also note that the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) announced that its member respiratory device companies have dramatically expanded the limits of their present production capacity, producing on average 2,000-3000 ventilators per week, collectively.  These numbers are likely to triple in a couple weeks.  See HERE for more information.

Furthermore, I've confirmed the $1,200 Treasury checks for individuals will first go to those that have previously established direct deposit accounts with the U.S. Treasury.  Thus, those that have filed their taxes electronically or receive Social Security checks via direct deposits will be ahead of those that receive them by mail.

Dr. Deborah Birx (who serves on President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force) announced that a Coronavirus antibody test could be available “within this month." She stated that the Administration is calling on universities and states to develop ELISA tests, which detect and measure antibodies in blood. Such a test could help identify those who have had the virus and recovered. I will be joining our two U.S. Senators on a conference call Friday with HHS to discuss the testing issue in Michigan. It is a follow up call from Sunday.

I’ve also cosponsored bipartisan legislation to establish a Pandemic Response Commission that will be patterned after the  9/11 Commission.

This morning, I participated in a lengthy tele-town meeting with Michigan veterans that was set up by the Governor’s office and our National Guard and Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.  Last Friday’s bill contained nearly $20 billion to provide support for our veterans across the country.

Lastly, SW Michigan First conducted a conference call with their 300 members and Jeff Donofrio, a key Governor Whitmer aide who once worked for the Energy and Commerce Committee for Chairman John Dingell.  He's a very respected and trusted public servant.  He discussed the enormous challenges our state is now undertaking with the unemployment insurance program and the claims process which would swamp any state. I also gave a federal report, as I did last week.

Let me conclude by saying there has likely never been a time when one needs to rely on their faith like today.  I asked my wife, Amey, who has a Masters in Divinity, to help select today’s final thoughts taken from The Prayers of Peter Marshall, the former U.S. Senate Chaplain:
“Lord Jesus, Thou knowest the things that are trembling upon our lips, stirring in our hearts and along the corridors of our souls, walking on tiptoe across the cloistered spaces of our consciousness, conforming to the distant pealing of an angelus, looking expectantly upward, making prayers without words, breathing aspirations that have only wings.  Hear Us, we pray Thee, as we call upon Thee for help, for strength, for peace; for grace, for reassurance, for companionship; for love, for pardon, for health, for salvation—for joy,  Hear us, Lord Jesus.  Amen."

God bless, always.

Fred Upton
Member of Congress


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