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Marsha Blackburn Report: Efforts to Combat Coronavirus

 

U.S. SenateWashington, D.C. – I’m sure most of us never imagined a day when restaurants would stop seating customers, and the bars on Broadway would shutter. There is no sugarcoating it: we are living in uncertain times.

We’ve had to adjust our daily routines and make major changes to our lives. Federal, state, and local governments have all kicked into gear to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and support those adversely impacted by the fallout. 

Senator Marsha Blackburn.

Senator Marsha Blackburn.

This week, President Donald Trump triggered the emergency war powers under the Defense Production Act to accelerate the production of medical supplies, including ventilators. The decision will ensure our hospitals, public health professionals, and first responders have the equipment needed to keep themselves and their patients safe. 

The President has created a White House Coronavirus Task Force and declared a national emergency, freeing up access to over $42 billion in existing funds. 

Our small businesses that have felt the brunt of the coronavirus are now each eligible for up to $2 million in disaster loans. 

Congress has passed $8.3 billion to combat the spread of the coronavirus, and we are continuing to examine how we can build off of that initial effort. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded Tennessee $10 million to increase our public health capacity where we need it most. 

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced that we’ve already begun testing an experimental vaccine on humans, which was developed in record time. 

The FDA approved two COVID-19 tests that will produce faster results. They have also made it easier for more tests to be developed. 

Expanding Telemedicine

Telemedicine is key to helping hospitals reduce overcapacity and preventing the spread of the coronavirus. It was made for this kind of health care delivery, but for years has been bogged down by strict regulations. After I spoke with officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the White House, President Donald Trump gave the green light for Medicare to lift those regulations.

Folks like Barbara have been telling me on Facebook that they’ve already been able to use telemedicine to receive treatment from their doctor, without having to risk exposure to the virus. Now, it’s time for state Medicaid officials and private insurers to get on board. 

 


Securing Our Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has reminded us that relying on foreign countries can lead to critical shortages. When China threatens to withhold access to life-saving medications, the integrity of our pharmaceutical supply chain becomes a national security and public health issue. We are home to innovators, dreamers, entrepreneurs, and researchers. It’s time we ensure a steady supply of life-saving medications when it is needed the most. 

Senator Menendez (D-NJ) and I introduced the bipartisan Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet (SAM-C) Act to encourage pharmaceutical ingredient companies to bring manufacturing back to the US. The legislation prioritizes issues related to national security and critical drug shortages. It also authorizes $100 million to develop centers of excellence for advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing to encourage innovation similar to what we see in the automotive, aerospace and semiconductor industries.

What Did China Know, When Did They Know It?

Reports of China ordering the destruction of early coronavirus testing samples come as no surprise. The communist country has mobilized the full force of its propaganda machine to spread lies about the Chinese coronavirus originating in the United States.

To be clear: this is a bold-faced lie and an attempt to shift the blame away from Beijing. China is now using the power behind their diplomatic corps to try and avert public humiliation for sparking yet another global pandemic.

Marsha’s Roundup

Helping Our Small Businesses

Tennessee workers and small business owners are struggling to keep their doors open and meet payroll. They need our support to create solutions that work for their employees. 

Facebook Town Hall

Understandably, Tennesseans have a lot of questions swirling around in their minds about the coronavirus pandemic. While it’s important to practice social distancing, we can still stay engaged with one another through video chat and on the phone. This week I held a Facebook town hall to discuss our response efforts. 

 


 

Preventing The Spread of Coronavirus

We must focus on taking the proper precautions to protect ourselves and our communities. Keep washing those hands! 

Coronavirus Resources

  • COVID-19 testing sites can be found here.
  • General information about the coronavirus can be found here
  • Information regarding COVID-19 in Tennessee can be found here
  • You can call the Tennessee Coronavirus Public Information Line from 10:00am to 10:00pm CT 877.857.2945 

Tornado Recovery Updates, Resources

  • The deadline to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance is May 4th, 2020. To register click here or call 800.621.3362. 
  • If you are located in a disaster declared area (Davidson County, Putnam County, and Wilson County), you may be eligible for financial assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA). To apply, click here.

Stay In Touch

As a reminder, you can reach any of my six offices in Tennessee to share a concern or request assistance with a federal agency. 

Be sure to follow my work on behalf of Tennesseans on social media

Facebook: facebook.com/marshablackburn
Twitter: @MarshaBlackburn
Instagram: @MarshaBlackburn

My Best, 

 
Marsha


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