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April 18, 2020
e-Newsletter Archive

Coronavirus Update

We are in this fight together, and I'd like to provide another update regarding the ongoing response efforts, direct you to resources, and thank you for all the feedback I have been receiving. While I've been missing face-to-face interactions around the district, I have been working at all hours at the desk in my home office. Along the way, I've been sharing information to keep you updated on social media, newsletters like this, telephone town halls, conducting virtual meetings, and posting video updates.  On daily phone calls and virtual meetings, I continue to stay in contact with local hospitals, frontline workers, small businesses, manufacturers, state and local officials, congressional colleagues, and many more folks around the district. My website can be used to find additional resources and information about economic relief from the CARES Act.

Economic Impact Payments

The IRS launched the "Get My Payment" application, which allows individuals to update direct deposit information if you had not used direct deposit for your 2018 tax return, or the information was entered incorrectly and you received a paper check refund. This portal also allows you to update banking information like direct deposit, if necessary. Please visit, https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments

As a reminder, if you filed 2018 or 2019 taxes, or are a Social Security recipient, no further action is required if the IRS has your direct deposit information.

If you are not a Social Security recipient, and you did not file, you can register for your payment at: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here 

Nearly 80 million Americans have already received their direct deposit, however do not worry if you have yet to receive it as these deposits will continue to be rolled out. If you filed your 2018 taxes and utilized direct deposit, you do not need to take additional action at this time. If you have specific questions regarding individual circumstances, IRS has developed a webpage to provide further clarity on many different situations: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center or https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment-frequently-asked-questions

Paycheck Protection Program

More than 1.65 million loans have been approved for small businesses through this bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Since the program’s launch, I've been working with interested lenders to successfully set up if they typically do not process Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. I've also been working with and doing conference calls with local small business owners and chambers of commerce, to answer specific and lingering questions about the program and other SBA loan options.

With $339 billion in loans already approved, the PPP funds have unacceptably run out. Congress must act immediately to replenish PPP funds. Our small businesses are the backbones of our local communities, and they should not be used as collateral to advance a political agenda. We must authorize a replenishment of funds to keep people employed and our Main Street businesses afloat.

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More Supplies Headed to Michigan

Again, FEMA provided Michigan with more supplies including:

  • 1.4 million gloves
  • 50,000 face shields
  • 161,000 masks
  • 750,000 N95 masks
  • 6325 Tyvek suits
  • 21,000 shelf stable meals

FEMA's Regional Administrator was also in Michigan this week to listen to feedback from state and federal officials, and give a tour of FEMA Alternate Care Sites. The Novi Alternate Care Site opened this week with a lower bed count than initially planned due to positive trending numbers.

Federal Relief for Colleges and Universities

Local area colleges and universities will receive more than $22 million in grants to help students who have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. The emergency relief funding is made available as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress at the end of March.

Grant Amounts to Area Colleges
Adrian College – $1,752,186
Jackson College – $3,892,134
Lansing Community College – $5,804,315              
Monroe County Community College – $1,300,516
Olivet College – $1,315,786         
Siena Heights University – $1,545,879                     
Spring Arbor University – $1,581,268                       
Washtenaw Community College – $4,968,890

Update on Testing

Coronavirus testing has expanded across the United States, including in Michigan. We recently saw the opening of another drive-through testing location in Jackson, as well as Lansing.

Approximately 3.5 million Americans have been tested. Well over 100,000 Americans are tested each day and that number continues to grow as more labs go online, and private companies continue to expand the scale and timeliness of results. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has worked with more than 315 test developers, and issued 37 emergency use authorization (EUA) requests for COVID-19 tests. At this point, 48 different tests have been approved by the FDA, and the Administration is working with 300 companies and labs to further expand capacity. The federal government has also distributed over 600,000 Abbott ID Now point-of-care tests, which has been an extremely valuable breakthrough in diagnostic testing. 

Sanofi and Luminostics announced they are joining forces to develop COVID-19 smartphone-based self-testing. Luminostics would contribute its proprietary technology for consumer-diagnostics for COVID-19 testing while Sanofi would bring its clinical research testing experience and capabilities.  The goal is to provide a smartphone-based solution that eliminates the current need for healthcare professional administration or laboratory tests. 

The FDA has issued EUAs for additional antibody tests, which will be used to determine whether an individual may have been a carrier. This is another crucial step in determining safety measures as we look towards plans to reopen sectors of the economy in a responsible manner. These tests will also increase the availability of plasma, which can be used to help treat patients.

Recently, the FDA provided an update on this potential treatment called convalescent plasma and is encouraging those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma to help others fight this disease. Convalescent plasma is an antibody-rich product made from blood donated by people who have recovered from the disease caused by the virus. The agency launched a new webpage to guide recovered COVID-19 patients to local blood or plasma collection centers to discuss their eligibility and potentially schedule an appointment to donate.

In regards to treatment, hydroxychloroquine continues to display positive results for many patients. Remdesivir is going through an expedited clinical trial and showing promising results. Expanded access will allow physicians and hospitals to apply for emergency use of remdesivir for multiple severely ill patients at a time.  

Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), this week, also announced a $483 million award to further accelerate the development of mRNA Vaccine (mRNA-1273), a vaccine against COVID-19.

Be Vigilant for Scams

Unfortunately, as many American receive their economic impact payments, scammers are using this as an opportunity to swindle citizens through misinformation. Here are some helpful reminders from the IRS regarding payments and potential scams: 

  • The IRS isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster
  • That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don't open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information
  • Taxpayers should watch not only for emails but text messages, websites and social media attempts that request money or personal information

For Seniors

  • The IRS reminds retirees who don't normally have a requirement to file a tax return that no action on their part is needed to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment.
  • No one from the agency will be reaching out to seniors by phone, email, mail or in person asking for any kind of information to complete their economic impact payment
  • The IRS is sending these $1,200 payments automatically to retirees – no additional action or information is needed on their part to receive this.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers may:

  • Emphasize the words "Stimulus Check" or "Stimulus Payment." The official term is economic impact payment.
  • Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
  • Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
  • Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer's behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
  • Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

Reporting Scams

Those who receive unsolicited emails, text messages or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should forward it to phishing@irs.gov.

Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone. Learn more about reporting suspected scams by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov.

Official IRS information about the COVID-19 pandemic and economic impact payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov. The page is updated quickly when new information is available.

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