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A Doctor's note on Coronavirus

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Washington, March 26, 2020 | comments
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March 26, 2020

Dear Friends,

Late last night, the Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Many of the health provisions laid out in CARES are provisions that I have championed. These important provisions will help American health care workers, patients, and our communities.

While some of these provisions are new and specific to COVID-19, several of them are policies for which I have advocated for years. I am pleased that they are included because they will aid in the government's response to COVID-19 and future outbreaks.

  • U.S. Public Health Service Modernization – provides our Ready Reserve members of the U.S. Public Health Commission Corps the benefits they earn by protecting the public health of the American people.
  • Coverage of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 – ensures that American patients who need testing will be able to receive it.
  • Title VII and Title VIII Reauthorization – maintains and strengthens our health care work force in the United States.
  • Treatment of respiratory protective devices as covered countermeasures – ensures that these respiratory protective devices are considered countermeasures for the purposes of Coronavirus response resources and tools.
  • Good Samaritan and PREP Act – ensures that those who step up during public health emergencies are immune from liability and able to care for patients.
  • OTC Monograph Reform – modernizes over-the-counter medicine regulations to better serve patients.
  • Extends authorizations for public health programs – including programs such as community health centers and the Special Diabetes Programs, through November 2020.

National Update:
New emergency use authorization granted for ventilators. The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for anesthesia gas machines modified for use as ventilators, which will help increase the supply of ventilators in the United States. Individuals and companies with questions are encouraged to email: CDRH-NonDiagnosticEUA-Templates@fda.hhs.gov.

The Department of Health and Human Services will begin implementing President Trump’s Hoarding Prevention Executive Order. This Executive Order was issued to prevent the hoarding of medical resources that are essential to respond to this Coronavirus outbreak. A list of scarce materials subject to this order can be found here.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released information for laboratory surveyors. This guidance will provide labs information about how to get COVID-19 testing up and running quickly, and how pathologists could be able to review slides remotely. These FAQs will be helpful in allowing labs to make decisions and operate appropriately during this pandemic.

Health care facilities have a new resource to better optimize the use of personal protective equipment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a PPE Burn Rate Calculator to help manage the use of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 response.

Guidance is available for correctional and detention facilities for managing this Coronavirus. This interim guidance will help protect workers and incarcerated and detained individuals.

CVS Health announced they will be waiving cost sharing for inpatient hospital admissions related to this Coronavirus outbreak. Members commercially insured by Aetna will face no cost when receiving inpatient hospital care for COVID-19. This is a great way to ensure that American patients are receiving the care they need.

Texas Update:
Texas Department of State Health Services has issued guidance for reporting positive and negative COVID-19 tests results. This guidance applies to both public and private entities using approved Coronavirus diagnostic tests. This will allow Texas to update their interactive case count site.

Local Lewisville distillery, Bendt Distilling Co.,is working to use its facility to make hand sanitizer. This is a great example of businesses stepping up to help ease our supply chain concerns and provide necessary materials for the Texas response.

During this Coronavirus outbreak, internet has become an important tool for those who are working or attending school virtually. Texans should visit Connected Nation Texas’s citizen feedback page for any connectivity issues.

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

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