Weekly Update - 3.15.20

Good afternoon and welcome to our Week-End Update.

This week's update will be different than our usual political update. Unlike some that are unfortunately attempting to use the coronavirus as a political issue, this is a time for America to stand united and face this common enemy… just as our nation has done throughout history.

Appropriately, much of the activity and news in Washington and the District have centered around the coronavirus. This is a serious issue and something we all must stay vigilant of, especially for those of us who are regularly in contact with our seniors who are particularly vulnerable to this disease.

I conducted an interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal regarding the impact of the coronavirus. I confirmed that the Trump Administration has been on top of this issue and are providing the nation with all available resources to combat the virus. On Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency over coronavirus. President Trump and his administration have taken appropriate actions to contain this disease by implementing travel bans in China and much of Europe. This measure, instituted by the President, has helped to save lives.

The most important actions our government has taken have been effectively working to allow public-private partnerships so we can maximize the innovation of the private sector. That is why our nation is most prepared to contain, mitigate and ameliorate this situation because we have a superior health system and innovation. 

While I think it is important for everyone to take this issue seriously, the reality is that while this virus is contagious, it has not yet impacted the number of people that prior diseases have on this scale, like swine flu. We need to be realistically precautionary. Not overreacting. It is critical that you take proactive measures to protect yourself and I have included some important and informative handouts from CDC below to keep you safe. Here is a link to the CDC. In all the congressional briefings I've received on the coronavirus issue, all of the materials I have been provided have also been offered on the CDC website. The President and his team are being very transparent.

 

CMS expanded its guidance to nursing homes on how facilities should monitor, limit or restrict visitors & staff who may have coronavirus. We contacted every nursing home in the 9th District to ensure they have the latest guidance from the federal government. Click here to read the information we disseminated.

On March 4, Congress passed an $8.3 billion supplemental bill that provides:

  • More than $4 billion to make diagnostic tests more broadly available; supports treatments to ease the symptoms of those infected with the virus; invests in vaccine development and procure vaccines when they are available. Funds are also made available for the Food and Drug Administration to protect the integrity of medical products manufactured overseas and identify and prevent potential shortages.

  • $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a robust response, including:

    • Nearly $1 billion exclusively for state and local response efforts

    • $300 million for CDC’s Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund to prevent, prepare for, and respond to diseases – keeping our nation prepared and positioned for any health threat.

    • $20 million to administer disaster assistance loans for small businesses impacted by the virus.

    • $1.25 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to protect Americans abroad and prevent the spread of the virus worldwide, including:
       
      • $264 million to evacuate Americans and maintain consular operations overseas

      • $200 million for USAID’s Emergency Response Fund to prepare for and respond to emerging health threats – working to prevent the spread of illness and infection before it reaches U.S. soil.

In part, this aid package will help pharmaceutical companies work to find a vaccine to combat this disease. While we support those efforts, realistically, we are at least eight months away from a solution. I have met regularly with all the leading scientists and heads of HHS and the CDC. We are taking direction from the leading medical experts.

Perhaps the leading expert on infectious diseases in the world is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Click here or below to watch an interview Dr. Fauci conducted on This Week ABC this morning, where he confirmed the administration is doing everything possible to combat the coronavirus.

On Friday night, Congress passed a bipartisan coronavirus response package that expands access to free testing, includes $1 billion in food aid and extend sick leave benefits to vulnerable Americans. Click here to read a story from the Washington Times, which breaks down details regarding the bill.

Lastly, if you are feeling sick, please take the appropriate actions. The CDC has outlined steps if you feel sick (See below or click here). It is also important to note that large gatherings should be avoided, particularly for older persons with existing underlying issues.

Please stay tuned as we will continue to provide updates on the virus. Rest assured, our offices will remain open and ready to assist you.

Thank you and we will see you soon,

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Dan Meuser


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