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Lamar Alexander: Some Good News from this Week

U.S. SenateWashington, D.C – President Donald Trump approved Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s request for additional federal assistance for Tennessee’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which I – along with every member of the Tennessee congressional delegation – asked the president to do. 

This disaster will continue to place a significant financial burden on individuals, the state, and local governments, and President Trump’s quick action will help Tennessee respond to this crisis.    

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

The U.S. State Department has been sharing with me and my staff the most up-to-date information provided by our embassies so that Tennesseans traveling overseas who are trying to return home can be assisted.

The Department reports that over 50,000 American citizens have been brought back from more than 100 countries around the world in the last few weeks, but there is more work to be done. Click here if you know of a Tennessean who is overseas and needs help returning to the United States. 

How can the CARES Act can help you?

I encourage Tennesseans to visit my website to learn more about how you can take advantage of the federal assistance package Congress passed and President Trump signed into law that will keep paychecks coming, relieve financial burdens and help contain Coronavirus (COVID-19) .  

The “Volunteer Spirit” is on full display

These are trying times, but Tennesseans are resilient. Despite all of the current anxiety, illness and economic harm caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19) , we have seen countless examples of Tennesseans stepping up and volunteering their time and resources to help fight back.

Here are just a few examples of how Tennesseans are supporting their communities and the medical professionals on the front lines fighting to contain the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) :

  • When Baptist Memorial Health Care in Memphis found 30,000 N95 masks in storage that they couldn’t use because the elastic bands were old and rotten, a group of Memphis volunteers came together and repaired the masks in one weekend so they could be used by those who need them. 
  • Myron Rolle – a former Tennessee Titans football player and current neurosurgery resident at Mass. General and Harvard Medical School – has volunteered to serve in a Mass. General clinic treating patients coming in off the street with Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms.
  • Many across the Tennessee Valley are dedicating their time and their resources to contribute to the production of facemasks. Read about some of those efforts here
  • One Middle Tennessee man has donated 500 masks to first responders and hopes to provide even more.
  • A Clarksville resident has set a personal goal to produce 10,000 masks for medical responders.
  • Girl Scouts in Memphis had to put selling cookies on hold due to the pandemic, so they decided that they would instead donate them to Memphis-area hospitals, the YMCA and the Mid-South Food Bank.
  • “I believe in Nashville” has donated over 10,000 protective face masks to protect Tennesseans. 
  • A Carhartt plant in Camden is using its facility to produce personal protective equipment for health care workers. 
  • Over 100 inmates in Tennessee’s Department of Corrections are creating suits and masks for the state’s medical facilities fighting the spread of the virus.
  • Distilleries across our state have stepped up to contribute to the containment efforts of this virus by using their facilities to produce hand sanitizer. You can view a list of some participating distilleries here
  • Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton has personally donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to help fight the spread of this disease.  
  • Food banks across our state are working hard to give food to those who need it during this difficult time. 
  • Members of the Tennessee National Guard have volunteered to join the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) by assisting the COVID-19 Medical Task Force. 
  • A veteran and small business owner has been traveling across Tennessee in her mobile food truck providing free meals to those in need. 
  • Jacks of Knoxville has transformed its business into a distribution center for masks that will be donated and distributed to those at-risk of coronavirus.
  • FedEx, collaborating with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is participating in Project Airbridge and is transporting more than 450,000 Tyvek suits, and seven million facemasks to help support COVID-19 relief in the U.S.
  • The Tennessee Titans, partnering with Project C.U.R.E Nashville, opened a medical supplies drive in Nissan Stadium. The Tennessee Titans have also donated $50,000 to the Metro COVID-19 Response Fund. 
  • The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has donated 50,000 respiratory masks to help emergency workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic. TVA is also helping by making $1 billion in credit available to help 154 local electric utilities keep the power on for families who may have trouble paying their electric bills during this crisis. 
  • Nissan has donated over 20,000 face masks to Tennessee’s medical professionals fighting Coronavirus (COVID-19). 
  • HCA Healthcare, partnering with Google, has developed a data portal that will provide health care workers across the country with much-needed health care data related to COVID-19. 

Protecting small businesses in Tennessee 

America’s small businesses are the backbone of our nation’s economy, but too many are struggling to stay in business as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The good news is that sweeping relief is on the way. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – a nearly $350 billion program – is now open for applications. 

This program can help small businesses with fewer than 500 employees cover eight weeks of payroll costs, most mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. The federal government has temporarily shut down the economy because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and the federal government must help those who are hurt by it. The first goal of the CARES Act – legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 2th7 to combat the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) – was to keep paychecks coming to American workers.

The Paycheck Protection Program aims to do just that. If an employer maintains its payroll, then the portion of the loan used to cover payroll costs, most mortgage interest, rent, and utilities can be forgiven for the 8 weeks after the loan is made. Click here for more information on how you can take advantage of these small business loans.

Urging U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to make COVID-19 antibodies test free for everyone

This week, I, along with Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri, wrote to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging him to confirm that the CARES Act requires free tests for Americans to find out if they have had Coronavirus (COVID-19) and are likely immune to the disease, at least in the short-term.

We are dealing not just with a medical issue here, we are dealing with an issue of confidence. For weeks, Americans have watched 24/7 news coverage of the dangers of Coronavirus (COVID-19) . Even if the government says you can go back to work and back to school, many Americans may be reluctant to leave their homes.

The availability of two types of free tests—one, a diagnostic test to determine if you have Coronavirus (COVID-19) , and two, an antibodies test to determine whether you have had it and are likely immune, at least for the short term—will give Americans confidence that it is safe to go back to work and to school and restart the economy. A copy of the letter is available here.


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