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Lamar Alexander: We are #TennesseeStrong

U.S. SenateWashington, D.C. – More help is on the way for Tennesseans in the fight against COVID-19 Coronavirus. This week, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law legislation to provide an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program to continue to make loans to small businesses, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion to strengthen COVID-19 testing.

With money made available in the CARES Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is sending an additional $3.2 million to the Tennessee Department of Health to help small, rural hospitals across Tennessee as we continue the fight against COVID-19 Coronavirus.  

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

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced Tennessee will receive $2 million in emergency grants to strengthen access to treatments for substance use disorders and serious mental illnesses during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that Tennessee will receive nearly $11.2 million in additional funding to support public health department efforts to expand capacity for COVID-19 testing, tracking, and contact tracing to contain the disease.

My thoughts continue to be with those in East Tennessee who were impacted by severe storms on April 12th and 13th. I – along with Senator Marsha Blackburn, Representatives Chuck Fleischman, Scott DesJarlais and Phil Roe – wrote a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to quickly approve Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s request for a major disaster declaration to help the East Tennessee counties impacted by these severe storms. I was pleased to see the president quickly approve this disaster funding on Friday. 

And to those Middle Tennesseans affected by the tornadoes on March 3rd: the deadline to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance is May 4th. If you live in Davidson County, Putnam County or Wilson County and have not applied for assistance, you can click here to do so. 

The U.S. Department of Education announced this week that Tennessee’s state and local education agencies will receive a total of nearly $260 million in emergency relief funds to support continued learning for K-12 students whose educations have been disrupted by the COVID-19 Coronavirus global pandemic.

On April 24th, Governor Bill Lee issued the “Tennessee Pledge,” the state’s guidance and best practices for Tennessee businesses in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to keep employees and customers safe during the ongoing COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Click here for more information.

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


We are #TennesseeStrong          

Over the last couple of weeks, I have highlighted a few examples of how Tennesseans are showing their “Volunteer spirit” by supporting their communities and the medical professionals on the front lines fighting to contain the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus.  While it’s impossible to capture all of the ways Tennesseans are stepping up during this difficult time, here are just a few examples to show how we are all #TennesseeStrong:

  • Jami Clark, a C-17 pilot, member of the Tennessee Air National Guard and a FedEx Express Global Operations Control specialist, joined an overseas mission with the U.S. Armed Forces transporting nearly one million test swabs from Italy in under 80 hours.
  • A fourth-grade student at Linden Elementary School used his 3-D printer to create “ear-savers” to help relieve the pressure around the ears caused by wearing medical masks, which he donated to make those who wear them more comfortable.
  • A seven-year-old boy with autism from Gallatin was upset no one would be able to help him celebrate his birthday due to social distancing. But when the Gallatin Police Department found out, they stepped in and pulled up with their lights on and sirens flashing – and they even brought a present.
  • A 21-year-old Memphis native who recovered from COVID-19 Coronavirus decided she wanted to help others do the same, so she went through the process of donating her antibodies to help others fight COVID-19 Coronavirus. 
  • Future teachers studying at the East Tennessee State University Clemmer College of Education have volunteered to set up a free “Homework Hotline” to help local public school students as they continue their courses remotely amid school closures.      
  • An Uber driver in Memphis raised $12,000 to donate and deliver food to the Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital. 
  • Tennessee Hills Distillery is producing roughly 500 gallons of hand sanitizer a week — enough to fill more than 30,000 50-milliliter bottles.
  • The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation donated $50,000 to get free COVID-19 tests for the uninsured in Chattanooga. 


More help is on the way for Tennesseans in the fight against COVID-19

This week, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law legislation that will provide an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program so that the federal government can continue to make loans to small businesses, which will help keep paychecks coming to thousands of workers in Tennessee and across the country. Since the government has temporarily shut down the economy because of this disease, the government must help those who are hurt by it.

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, created by the CARES Act – and this bill will allow that federal assistance to continue for Tennesseans. 

The legislation also includes $75 billion for hospitals and clinics to help address the harm caused by COVID-19 Coronavirus.

Congress pulled out all the stops to help contain the disease and give Americans the confidence to go back to work and back to school by providing an additional $25 billion to strengthen COVID-19 testing, including over $1 billion to launch a new competitive “shark tank” to create new technologies. There is no safe path forward to combat the novel coronavirus without adequate testing.

To contain COVID-19 Coronavirus and persuade Americans to leave their homes and return to work and school, the United States will need tens of millions of diagnostic tests. We should squeeze every test possible out of current technologies, but we need tens of millions more to really get a handle on how far and wide this disease has spread. 

If there’s a bold idea out there that will work, this bill will help make sure the funding is available to get these tests in the hands of health care providers quickly. We also should improve serologic tests to determine whether someone already has had the disease and is likely immune and able to fight off the disease, at least for a short amount of time. Click here to read the op-ed I wrote with Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) for The Washington Post about how to speed up testing, using a “shark tank” for government.


The importance of learning U.S. History 

2018 Social Studies Scores

This week, the “Nation’s Report Card” 2018 results were released. These results were sobering. They reminded us that the worst scores for American high school students often are not in science and math, but in United States history.

And, if our children do not learn United States history, they will not grow up learning what it means to be an American. America is an idea that has nothing to do with race, region and background. It has to do instead with believing in shared principles—such as liberty, equal opportunity and the rule of law. 

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

Washington Post: Lamar Alexander and Roy Blunt: We need more covid-19 tests. We propose a ‘shark tank’ to get us there.

Chattanooga Times Free Press: U.S. Sens. Alexander, Blunt: $1 billion ‘Shark Tank’ program needed to speed COVID-19 test production

WZTV-Fox Nashville Channel 17: Tennessee Congressional Delegation urges president to approve tornado disaster declaration


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