Friday, April 10, 2020
 
@MyKitchenTable - Friday, April 10, 2020

Dear Friend:

"It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Could you be mine?
Would you be mine?..."

Let’s make the most of this beautiful day. Since we’re together, might as well say...

Wear a mask and enjoy a Good Friday!

Breaking news this morning:

  • Pfizer announced that it has identified a potential antiviral to combat COVID-19; the potential therapeutic blocks a key enzyme viruses need to replicate. Learn more here.
  • More than two million folks have been tested in the U.S. (now about 120k/day)
  • FDA’s Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program has 19 therapies and treatments being tested and 26 more in active planning for clinical trials
  • More than $125 billion in forgivable loans have been approved through the Paycheck Protection Program thus far
  • The Federal Reserve announced it will take action to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy, including bolstering PPP by supplying liquidity to participating financial institutions, purchasing $600 billion in loans through the Main Street Lending Program, and offering up to $500 billion in lending to states and municipalities. Learn more here.
  • The Department of Education announced more than $6 billion will be distributed immediately to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students thru the CARES Act. Learn more here. I understand from some of our local institutions that red tape is minimal (close to $8 million for WMU but funds going fast).
  • NIH began a trial today to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of adults hospitalized with COVID-19 with the first enrolled in Tennessee. Learn more here.
  • An NIAID-funded research team developed a microneedle vaccine candidate for the virus that causes COVID-19.  If successful, the components of the experimental vaccine could be made quickly and at large-scale and not needing refrigeration. Phase 1 trial could start within the next couple of months.
  • The FDA issued information and best practices for retail food stores, restaurants, and pick-up and delivery services to protect both workers and customers. Learn more here. Other jurisdictions are insisting on customer masks—let’s all do it, PLEASE!!

Pretty rapid fire, eh?

Some more good news.  The Michigan congressional delegation conferenced this morning with the Michigan Hospital Association.  All of us have been working hand in glove (no pun intended) with our local health providers.  As part of the CARES Act, hospitals were able to “reach back” and receive funds from their previous CMS Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements in order to keep some kind of funding stream alive for them.  By canceling all the routine surgeries and other important functions that hospitals do, they were desperately trying to avoid personnel layoffs during this very difficult time. I helped lead our delegation signing a bipartisan letter to the Congressional leadership that will allow these loans to be converted to grants as the PPP initiative for small businesses. See HERE for the letter. Every delegation member except Amash agreed to sign the letter.  So far, CMS has delivered more than $51 billion in accelerated/advance payment program requests. Some 21,000 supplier and provider payments (more info here) are out the door. 

This morning, I heard from one of our employers that we helped earlier in the week navigate the PPP process.  He texted me, “Received funds yesterday from the PPP. Huge positive for our employees and our company...". Yes, there are still major glitches a week later but here are some local numbers collected this afternoon from just six local lenders...nearly 1450 loans approved totaling $315 million with the average at $212K. One lender said that their $32 million represented paychecks for 4000 folks.  

Some more good news. I have been working with a company to supply some 50,000 masks each to Borgess and Bronson for a week now, and it looks like they will arrive next week. :) 

And, Perrigo, the largest employer in Allegan County responding to the crisis, has begun donating major supplies of hand sanitizer to hospitals and police departments and other first responders here in SW Michigan and as far as New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey...bravo!!

There’s an often used saying by hockey players that to be really good, one does not skate to the puck, but rather to where it is going. That is our next big step.  How do we keep small businesses open and able to survive against the bigger fish? How do we work with everybody on frequent testing so that we have some assurance that we won’t go through a massive stay at home/shutdown again? What can we do to expedite a vaccine and be prepared for the next tsunami? The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus has begun to put our heads together to try and figure the best way forward - will be anxious to get your thoughts as well.  

As we celebrate Easter this Sunday, we pray the power and promise of God's love gives us strength, healing, and hope for the days ahead.

Fred Upton
Member of Congress


RESOURCES FOR SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

QUESTIONS ABOUT MICHIGAN'S UNEMPLOYMENT?
Yesterday, MLive published a helpful article about common questions regarding Michigan's unemployment system. You can find article that here. 

FAQ ABOUT CORONAVIRUS IN MICHIGAN
The state of Michigan's website has a list of the most common questions folks are asking about coronavirus in Michigan. See a list of their FAQ here.

 
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