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Update on Coronavirus

March 14, 2020
e-Newsletter Archive

Update on Coronavirus

I’d like to provide you another update on the ongoing efforts to address the impacts of Coronavirus, recent action by Congress and the Trump Administration, and what preventative steps you can take.

What is being done to limit the impact of Coronavirus? 

Coronavirus Response in Congress

After Congress appropriated funds last week to address the medical aspect of this outbreak, the focus turned to economic impacts on workers and small businesses. This morning, a comprehensive bill passed the House with my support, and will provide assistance to workers, small businesses, extended unemployment benefits, and other necessary measures to confront this crisis. Here are some of the emergency measures, which we are implementing in a temporary fashion to mitigate the economic impact on Americans:

  • Free Coronavirus testing, regardless of insurance coverage
  • Targeted emergency and sick leave, including for those with Coronavirus and also parents home with children after school or daycare closures
  • Emergency nutritional assistance for senior citizens, women, children, and low-income families
  • Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization, waiving the requirement to seek work for those with Coronavirus 
  • Increased federal Medicaid funds to allow states and localities greater ability to address urgent medical needs
  • Strengthening of health care workplace standards to protect workers from transmission of the virus
  • Increased access to telehealth options for Medicare beneficiaries 

Last week, the House passed, and President Trump signed a bipartisan emergency supplemental package that includes approximately $8 billion in funds designed to aid states and the federal government in the fight against Coronavirus. These funds will be used to create testing kits, provide personal protective equipment, aid local and state health officials, and research efforts.

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Action taken by Trump Administration 

President Trump addressed the country multiple times this week, as well as declaring the pandemic as a National Emergency. Here are some of the benefits from President Trump's declaration:

  • $42 billion is opened up to state and local communities to address their needs
  • Federal student loan interest is temporarily waived 
  • Removes barriers to care
  • Gives health officials streamlined decision making capability
  • The Small Business Administration has the authority to give $7 billion in loans to qualifying small businesses

The President announced an economic assistance package to help support businesses and workers who have been harmed by this outbreak. This package instructs the Small Business Administration (SBA) to exercise available authority to provide loans to businesses affected by the Coronavirus. Those affected by the Coronavirus would receive tax deferments from the Department of Treasury, which would add more than $200 billion in liquidity to the economy.

President Trump and Vice President Pence held a meeting recently with leaders of insurance companies and industry associations in which many health insurance issuers announced they will be treating COVID-19 diagnostic tests as covered benefits and will be waiving cost-sharing that would otherwise apply to the tests. 

Health and Human Services (HHS) has also assisted with the development of a rapid, one hour diagnostic test that may detect Coronavirus. This development will save valuable time and potentially help limit further exposure.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has also taken important action by creating a pledge for broadband providers to not terminate service. With increased telehealth, remote learning, and telework, it is more important than ever that Americans have access to broadband and telephone connectivity and I commend Chairman Ajit Pai for his leadership on this matter. 

Update on Michigan 

This week, we had our first confirmed Coronavirus cases in Michigan. I have been in contact with Governor Whitmer’s office as cases have been identified, as well as medical professionals to ensure we are responsive to their real-time needs. Michigan has taken serious action to limit social contacting including closing schools.

I recognize the consequences of long-term school closures, including child care issues, and also meals provided through the school lunch program. While Michigan has applied for a waiver from USDA to get additional flexibility, I cosponsored bipartisan legislation to allow the lunch program to operate under flexible distribution models, which still limit the spread but allows alternative meal delivery to continue. 

Thanks to public-private partnerships, testing breakthroughs have been taking place and availability of tests will sharply increase, with a projected 5 million tests by the end of the month.

The Michigan State Legislature also appropriated $25 million to assist the effort to limit the spread of the virus in our state.

If you are experiencing symptoms

  • CALL your doctor – do not schedule an in-person visit
  • Stay home. Limit contact with others and avoid public places
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands frequently – wash with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your face
  • IF you are displaying symptoms, wear a mask

 

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Additional Resources 

 

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