With all the continuing bad news with numbers spinning out of control in terms of infected folks, mortality rates, and Michigan being the next bullseye, let me at least report some positive news.
The FDA announced the creation of the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program to expedite the development of potentially safe and effective life-saving treatments. Currently ten therapeutic agents are in active trials and another 15 therapeutic agents are in planning stages. Click here to learn more.
The SBA unveiled their $350 billion loan guidance and hope to be approving loans by Friday. As noted in earlier reports, the loans to small businesses will be facilitated by our local lending institutions with the loans converted to grants two months from now after verifying that the money was used for personnel expenditures. 75% of that loan will need to go to payroll - hopefully incentivizing these businesses to retain their workforce. I would note that this provision was initiated by the SBA and was not specifically written into the law. I have heard from a number of lenders that feel the guidance rules may be too harsh. I have joined with a number of my colleagues to remedy the rules so that the money can be disbursed as quick as possible. It was a major discussion item on my conference call this morning with nearly 200 of my colleagues. Small Businesses should check out the SBA website for information.
This morning, I joined the Problem Solvers Caucus (the group with 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans...update - Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT) participated, too. He was hospitalized with the virus and said he was at 90%), to participate in a lengthy conference call with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA Administrator and now with the American Enterprise Institute. He is a long time personal friend and witness before the Energy and Commerce Committee and his thoughts are being sought by all the news networks. His column appeared earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal. His discussion confirmed that April would be a very rough month and our national numbers would increase dramatically as Florida and Texas were very slow to mitigate and those large state numbers will soon be reflected in the national numbers (Florida today just announced mitigation restrictions). He indicated that just like 9/11 changed our lifestyles, this will as well. He thought we may have some different “tools in the toolbox” by the end of summer after a likely dramatic slowdown of cases in July and August. He concurred that we were doing all the right things now with the ramp up of testing. Hopefully, we will have some news on therapeutics and a vaccine but this will be a seasonal virus for some time. He underscored that even if we do everything right, the peak is still some 10-14 days away and to flatten the curve, we really have to avoid personal contact.
On the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) front, the federal government has distributed more than 11.6 million N95 masks, 8,100 ventilators, millions of face shields, surgical masks, and gloves. FEMA delivered 400 ventilators to Michigan, and I will be joining our two U.S. Senators Thursday on a FEMA conference call to see if we can shake loose any more. You can imagine that the national stockpile is running low, and it is encouraging to see a number of Michigan businesses respond by adding production in those critical fields.
On that same conference call Dr. Tony Fauci confirmed that the models show that we will likely see 100,000 Americans die of this illness even with the best physical separation and stay at home policies.
No business or enterprise has been spared and we continue to be grateful for those brave and talented folks working so hard in essential workplaces—whether it is keeping our food supply moving, energy producers, law enforcement, and most obvious, our health providers who are putting their lives and their families at risk.
One frantic afternoon call from one of my Michigan colleagues contained the information that a major health provider was in the position of laying off as many as 2,500 employees as the cash flow was starved with no surgeries and other outpatient procedures that have been stopped to prepare for bed space for Coronavirus patients. Included in last week’s legislation was $100 billion for hospitals, and they and physicians are now eligible for loans matching their last 6 and 3 months respectively of income from CMS. These loans will likely be converted to grants in the next round of legislation. Otherwise, they simply will not survive.
One last item. Sadly, there are scam efforts using the phones to get access to your personal financial information. Calls like one I got yesterday, suggesting that your last bill was overpaid and they would like to deposit that excess back into your checking account if you could give them the account number....please, hang up on those folks ASAP.
God bless, always.
Member of Congress
RESOURCES FOR SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN
ICYMI: MI.TALENT.ORG HAS JOB OPENINGS
Michigan companies need to fill thousands of critical, immediate vacancies to support work during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those in logistics, healthcare, manufacturing, and agribusiness industries. The State’s employment search engine - Pure Michigan Talent Connect - provides job seekers and employers with an online portal at MiTalent.org to post, search, and connect to these job openings.
DAILY LIFE & COPING RESOURCES
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. The CDC has resources. If you're feeling overwhelmed, you can connect with family, friends, or a healthcare professional. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. Click here to learn more.
PURE MICHIGAN BUSINESS CONNECT LAUNCHES NEW PROGRAM
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Pure Michigan Business Connect program has launched a new grant program providing a total of $1 million in grants to Michigan’s small manufacturers looking to retool and produce critical health and human service supplies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Click here to learn more.