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Lamar Alexander: The Volunteer Spirit is on full display

U.S. SenateWashington, D.C. – My thoughts and prayers continue to be with all of those throughout East Tennessee and the Chattanooga-area who were impacted by severe storms this week.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA)and local first responders have been working to clear debris, restore power, and provide assistance. Tennesseans are resilient, and we will all work together to help our communities rebuild and recover.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced Tennesseans can now be tested for COVID-19 Coronavirus, regardless of traditional symptoms. To learn more and find a testing site near you, visit the governor’s website

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

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), over 34,000 Tennessee small businesses have been approved for more than $6.5 billion from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created by the CARES Act. On Thursday, April 16th, this new program ran out of money.

 I support legislation to provide an additional $250 billion for this program, and I am hopeful that an agreement can be reached next week with Senate Democrats to pass this legislation so we can continue to help small businesses keep paychecks coming to hundreds of thousands of workers across the country.

The U.S. Department of Education announced that 127 colleges and universities across our state would receive $237 million to help students impacted by COVID-19 Coronavirus.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that 69 airports across our state will receive a combined $124 million—made available by the CARES Act—to help them continue operations.

Governor Bill Lee extended the statewide safer at home order through April 30th. 

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 Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law that will keep paychecks coming, relieve financial burdens and help contain COVID-19 Coronavirus.    

The “Volunteer Spirit” is on full display

Last week, I highlighted a few examples of how Tennesseans are supporting their communities and the medical professionals on the front lines fighting to contain the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus. 

Here are some more stories to show how we are all #TennesseeStrong:

  • The CEO of Uncle Nearest Whiskey, in Fayetteville, Tennessee, purchased over $40,000 worth of N95 masks with the intention of donating them to frontline workers. 
  • Medical students across our state are stepping up and volunteering to help their communities and health professionals respond to and recover from the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. Read some of these stories here.
  • Despite having her home destroyed by the tornado in March, a Nashville nurse volunteered her time to serve at the Nissan Stadium testing center. 
  • After seeing a customer struggle to pay his $173 bill, a 17-year-old grocery store cashier in Georgetown, Tennessee, volunteered to cover the tab herself. 
  • Peyton and Ashley Manning, working with The Loveless Cafe in Nashville, donated 600 meals to health care workers at TriStar Summit Medical Center.
  • A business owner in Jackson is using her sewing shop to make face masks, and she has already made over 300 masks.
  • Dollywood donated 850 masks to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and 200 ponchos to local fire fighters and EMTs.
  • Pellissippi State Community College and University of Tennessee students are using their schools’ 3D printers to help make much-needed personal protection equipment and medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A local resident of Karns, Tennessee, started making fabric masks, and now she has the help of about 250 volunteers that produce face masks to protect people from COVID-19 Coronavirus. 
  • The Tennessee Valley Authority established the COVID-19 Community Cares Fund to provide $2 million to support non-profits helping families and businesses affected by the global pandemic. 
  • Ms. Cheap Pop-Up Penny Drive is helping raise funds for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, which is especially important at this time with the increased demand at food banks as a result of the March tornadoes and COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. 
  • FedEx Logistics donated 3,000 face shields to six Memphis area hospitals.
  • The Nashville Predators raised over $2.7 million to help Tennesseans impacted by the March 3rd tornadoes and the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Radians, a respirator mask manufacturer, donated more than 14,000 N95 masks to Memphis and Shelby County to help medical first responders and medical professionals stay safe as they fight COVID-19.  
  • Resolute Forest Products’ plant in Calhoun, Tennessee, is taking innovative steps to increase the production of toilet paper in response to shortages caused by COVID-19 Coronavirus. 
  • The Marathon gas station in Frayser, Tennessee, in partnership with the Pursuit of God Church, gave away $10.00 in free gas to customers for four hours on Wednesday.

Serving on President Donald Trump’s Economic Recovery Initiative 

This week, President Trump appointed me to serve on his Economic Recovery Initiative. The way to contain this disease and get back to work and back to school is to put politics aside and work together as fast as we can on new tests, new treatments and new vaccines. Everyone I know wants this to happen as quickly as we responsibly can, and I welcome the opportunity to help in this way.

Emphasizing the need for widespread COVID-19 testing 

Without more tests with quick results, it will be difficult to contain this disease and give Americans confidence to go back to work and back to school. In the last month, Congress has given federal agencies up to $38 billion to develop tests, treatments, and vaccines.

Nothing is more important than finding a new diagnostic technology that will make it possible to test tens of millions of Americans, something our country has never tried to do before. We should start by using the money Congress has already provided, put politics aside, and work together on more tests with quick results.

 It is also important that these tests be free for all who take them. I along with my colleague, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging him to make clear that the new law passed by Congress allows free tests for Americans who have had COVID-19 Coronavirus and are likely immune to the disease, which the Department has confirmed.   

Some good news for Tennessee students 

Last week, the federal government announced 127 colleges and universities across our state would receive $237 million to help students impacted by COVID-19 Coronavirus. The amount of funding for each school has been announced so Tennessee students can get help from their school for COVID-19-related expenses.

For the full list, click here.  

Below are a few news articles I thought you might want to read: 

Chattanooga Times Free Press: Tennessee higher ed institutions to see $237 million in student-related federal COVID-19 aid

Tennessean: Tennessee Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Lamar Alexander named to Trump’s recovery task force

WRCB-NBC Channel 3: Officials provide updates on Hamilton County storm damage

Chattanooga Times Free Press: Lawmakers push for COVID-19 antibody tests to restart economy as health experts caution limitations


Keep in mind that enough small steps in the right direction will still get you where you want to go.


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