Paycheck Protection Program is Working
Last week, Congress voted in a near-unanimous fashion to approve more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), additional funding for medical providers, and additional funding for COVID-19 testing.
I want to highlight some local stories and give some additional information regarding the PPP loans.
While some small lenders do not typically issue Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, my office helped facilitate many of these lenders get online so they could provide PPP loans for local businesses. One of these lenders, Chelsea State Bank, processed more than 175 loans totaling $30 million. As a result of a loan issued by Chelsea State Bank, a small Michigan manufacturer was able to continue operations and retool to produce parts for Ford’s ventilators. You can read more about this story by clicking here.
Overall, in the first round of PPP loans, nearly 43,500 Michigan small businesses received these forgivable loans, which allows them to make payroll and keep their workforce employed during this difficult time. Over 62% of loans from the first installment of the Paycheck Protection Program went to businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
During this second round of PPP loans, the average loan amount is under $100,000. This means the program is working to provide relief to the local “Mom & Pop” shops that we not only cherish in our local community, but provides employment to many members of our family or our neighbors. I continue to spend time to talk with small business owners on how to further improve the program which is vital in our efforts to restore our economy and get people safely back to work. For more stories about how the PPP is making a difference, please click here.
Telephone Town Hall for Seniors
This week, in addition to my numerous conference calls and virtual meetings, I conducted a telephone town hall focused on Coronavirus issues for seniors to provide both an update and also direct them to resources available. Along with prevention tips and information regarding the identification of COVID-19 scams, we discussed federal and state response efforts and plans to move forward.
The health and safety of seniors remains paramount to my efforts in Congress and in my collaboration with officials from the Trump Administration and the Coronavirus Task Force. To increase safety, FEMA is sending supplemental shipments of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all 15,400 Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing homes in America. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is providing States with $81 million from the CARES Act to increase their inspections of nursing homes at this critical time.
The Administration also announced the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. This panel will be made up of top minds in the medical and scientific field, resident and patient advocates, industry leaders, infection specialists, family members, and state and local authorities.
Our final topic of discussion was scam identification. In this digital age, there is an increased need to recognize potential scams. I have introduced legislation to limit the impact of scams on seniors, but unfortunately, nefarious actors are using this challenging and confusing time to trick vulnerable individuals into giving out personal information. For more information from the Treasury Department on how to identify potential scams, please visit: https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/coronavirus.shtml
As of earlier this week, FEMA, HHS, and the private sector combined have coordinated the delivery of or are currently shipping:
FEMA recently shipped approximately a million more masks to Michigan, in addition to 20,000 swabs requested by the state for testing purposes. FEMA also delivered and installed the Battelle Decontamination Unit last week, which allows for decontamination of N95 masks further aiding PPE availability.
President Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force unveiled a new testing blueprint for America, which is designed to facilitate State development and implementation of robust testing plans critical to the reopening of America. Federal, State, and local governments all have a role to play, as well as the private sector.
Approximately 6.5 million diagnostic tests have been conducted in America, and over 200,000 tests take place daily. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued 70 emergency authorizations for new tests, including 8 for serological tests, which will play an increasing role in our testing strategy moving forward. Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and others are working to expand testing capacity or testing locations, and the federal government is continuing to assist individual tests to help ensure their labs are operating at their full strength.