April 2, 2020
My morning kicked off with an interview on Mornings with Maria. I spoke with her about the economic impact ofCOVID-19 and the importance of Congress waiting tosee the effect of the existing relief packages before putting together another. Congress needs to understand what is needed, not rush to pass something to say we did something.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued resources on decontamination and reuse of filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs). Reusing disposable FFRs has been suggested as a method of mitigating the current shortage of medical supplies. Decontamination and subsequent reuse of FFRs should only be used as a last resort during a crisis of capacity.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)adopted a new process to manage federal ventilator resources. FEMA’s new process seeks to ensure that ventilators will be shipped to states in the amount needed to manage the immediate crisis, defined as necessary to sustain life within a 72-hour window. The federal government has 10,469 ventilators available.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its blood donation guidance to address the severe blood supply shortage. These updates will allow for increased participation in blood donation.
The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for an antibody test for COVID-19. This test is manufactured by Cellex and is the first that can test for antibodies in a patient’s blood that indicate the patient has this Coronavirus.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) distributed more than half a million medical supplies that were confiscated from those illegally price gouging. HHS and DOJ have been working together to ensure that bad actors who engage in price gouging are held accountable and distributing this hoarded personal protective equipment to health care workers in need. Anyone who learns of hoarding or price gouging of PPE should report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by dialing 1-866-720-5721 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FDA will continue to issue warnings for products that made misleading claims about mitigating, preventing, treating, diagnosing, or curing COVID-19. Most recently, the FDA and FTC issued a warning letter to Neuro XPF, a company selling CBD products with misleading claims as to COVID-19.
The American Diabetes Association has resources and guidance for individuals with diabetes that are uniquely impacted during this Coronavirus outbreak. Those with diabetes may be at higher risk of getting sick or having worse symptoms from COVID-19 and should understand their risk and know their legal rights. Individuals who are struggling to pay for insulin or diabetes medication should visit www.insulinhelp.org.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has worked with FEMA to open up additional beds for Coronavirus patients. The VA has opened 20 beds at its East Orange, NJ Medical Center to help assist with Coronavirus patients in Northern New Jersey. These 15 acute care beds and five intensive care beds will help with a shortage of resources in caring for COVID-19 patients.
The VA has asked veterans to lead our communities in practicing social distancing. Veterans are asked to use VA telemedicine for health care and prescriptions. This will help keep our veterans and communities safe from this outbreak. Another way to practice social distancing is through reading – free audio books are available for veterans with disabilities.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has new resources explaining the refundable tax credits available to small and medium sized businesses. Certain small and medium businesses are required to provide leave under the CARES Act, and these refundable tax credits may help. Businesses that qualify are encouraged to use the resources put out by the IRS.
Tonight, Governor Abbott’s executive order requiring all Texans to stay at home except to provide essential services goes into effect. Governor Abbott released a video explaining this executive order and the importance of staying at home to save lives.
Until tomorrow, this is your doctor's note.
Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D.