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A Doctor's note on Coronavirus
Posted by on March 31, 2020 | comments
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March 31, 2020

Dear Friends,

I started off my day by speaking with KLIF's Dave and Amy. On the show, I reminded them that there is a dawn on the horizon, but it's still a tough slog for everyone. The one thing that remains true as new reports come out each day is together we will defeat this coronavirus .

National Update:
Nearly 100,000 people are being tested each day for this Coronavirus infection. HHS has released information between state and local public health laboratories, commercial laboratories, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and hospital laboratories, more than 1,018,415 samples have been tested in the United States as of March 31.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued new temporary regulatory waivers to ensure flexibility during this Coronavirus response. These new flexibilities are aimed at increasing hospital capacity, expanding the health care workforce, putting patients over paperwork, and promoting telehealth in Medicare. Physician owned hospitals will also be able to expand their capacity during this response for the first time since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act – a big win for patients. This is unprecedented flexibility to help our health care system treat patients during this unique time.

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued information on optimizing ventilator use during this Coronavirus outbreak. This open letter from the Assistant Secretary for Health and the U.S. Surgeon General outlines how to best optimize ventilator use.

Sanofi is partnering with Translate BIO on a second potential COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Sanofi is also working on another vaccine candidate with BARDA and will continue to work on both potential vaccines. Multiple vaccine candidates will help us get closer to developing a COVID-19 vaccine for the American people.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is deploying mobile units to increase medical resources during this Coronavirus outbreak. The VA will be sending these Mobile Vet Centers to hotspot areas such as New York City, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. These centers provide counseling, outreach, and care coordination to veterans impacted by this Coronavirus pandemic.

The VA is working to grow its telehealth system. Veterans will have unlimited data while using VA Video Connect to conference with VA providers. This will help ensure that veterans can access the health care they need and continue to free up medical resources to help combat this outbreak.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced $200 million for telehealth programs. This money will be spent on a telehealth program to be used during this Coronavirus outbreak. The FCC program seeks to help expand access to the necessary broadband connectivity and devices for telehealth services.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working to move supplies to the United States to combat the spread of this Coronavirus. FEMA, in coordination with HHS and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, are working to facilitate the allocation of medical supplies to Coronavirus hotspots and other areas in need.

Treasury Department Update:
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued new guidance for the small business paycheck protection program. The CARES Act funded $349 billion in emergency small business capital for this Paycheck Protection Program. This program is designed to help small businesses during and after this Coronavirus pandemic.

Texas Update:
Today, Governor Abbott issued an Executive Order implementing new Essential Services and Activities Protocols. These new protocols direct all Texans to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact within and throughout the state of Texas. This executive order renews previous orders regarding social distancing and amends protocols for schools and public places such as bars and restaurants.

Following itsapproval of Texas’ 1135 Waiver yesterday, CMS has issued new guidance on 1135 waivers. CMShas waived requirements in an effort to provide flexibility during this time and has allowed for states to best respond to the needs of its’ citizens.

Until tomorrow, this is your doctor's note.
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Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D.

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