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A Doctor's note on Coronavirus

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Washington, April 16, 2020 | comments
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April 16, 2020

Dear Friends,

Congress has a responsibility to help get Americans back to work. By allowing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)to run dry, Democrats have committed legislative malpractice. Lenders are now forced to deny small businesses requesting PPP loans since funding for the program has been exhausted.

The economy is sick because of the virus not because it was a bad economy, and the PPP is helping to protect jobs during the economic crisis. According to the Small Business Administration more than 1,650,000 loans have been approved, over $339 billion in loans have been processed, and almost 5,000 lenders have participated.

Last night, Secretary Mnuchin and Small Business Association Administrator Carranza released a statement asking Congress to quickly approve additional funding.This morning, because the PPP ran out of money, small businesses are now unable to apply for these loans nor can new lenders sign up to distribute loans.

This morning the CARES Provider Relief Fund Payment Attestation Portal went online. Providers who have been allocated funding from the initial distribution of $30 billion from the CARES Act must sign an attestation confirming receipt of these funds,and agree to the terms and conditions within 30 days of payment. These providers can now log in to complete this attestation required as a condition of receiving this CARES Act funding.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a contract with General Electric, in partnership with Ford, for 50,000 ventilators. HHS awarded this contract under the Defense Production Act for 50,000 ventilators to be produced by July 13. HHS finalized contracts to produce or acquire 41,000 ventilators by the end of May and more than 187,000 ventilators by the end of the year.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two new emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 antibody tests. These emergency use authorizations were issued to Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc. and Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. To date,a total of three antibody tests have been issued emergency use authorizations by the FDA.

The FDA is encouraging recovered COVID-19 patients to donate plasma. Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can be used in the development of blood-related therapies. Blood-related therapies are an important potential therapy to this Coronavirus. Recovered patients are encouraged to visit this dedicated webpage to donate COVID-19 plasma.

The FDA made available a new constituent resource for grocery shopping during this pandemic. These best practices emphasize how consumers can protect themselves and others while shopping for food.
Some key practices:

  • Prepare a shopping list in advance.
  • Wear a face covering or mask.
  • Carry your own wipes and wipe down the handle of shopping carts and baskets.
  • Practice social distancing while shopping.
  • Wash your hands upon returning from shopping.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidance on the implementation of the CARES Act. This new guidance is for inpatient prospective payment system hospital payments, new flexibilities afforded to inpatient rehabilitation facilities and long-term care hospitals. CMS granted new flexibilities to health care providers to help battle this Coronavirus outbreak, and these guidance documents will help providers navigate the new regulation changes.

CMS also released guidance on suspension of the two percent Medicare Fee-For-Service payment adjustment due to sequestration. The suspension will be from May 1- December 31, 2020 and was included in the CARES Act.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) validates the study regarding decontamination methods for N95 respirators. This study conducted by the NIH confirms decontamination methods to allow the reuse of N95 respirators, which aretypically for a single use. Three methods were confirmed: vaporized hydrogen peroxide, 70-degree Celsius dry heat, and ultraviolet light.

The Google News Initiative launched a new relief fund for local news organizations. This fund, called the Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, will support small and medium sized news organizations that produce original news for local communities. The fund seeks to help local journalists continue their important work during this time. Applications opened on April 15 and will close on April 29 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

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

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