In this challenging time for our nation, I have been impressed by the amazing work of our first-responders, nurses, doctors, health care professionals, grocers, pharmacists, truck drivers, and everyone who is working to make sure Americans receive the care and supplies they need to make it through this difficult time for our nation. They are on the frontlines of a fight against an invisible enemy that is hurting the American people and they are doing an incredible job.
I hope Michigan residents will take this virus seriously and do everything they can to limit the spread. Even someone who feels healthy could be carrying the virus and give it to a friend or family member.
Michigan residents should also continue to limit trips outside of the house, only going out for essential supplies, and while they’re out they should stay at least six feet away from other people whenever possible. Handwashing and avoiding touching of the face are also vital to preventing the spread of the virus.
As scientists continue to study this new virus, we know it is more contagious and more lethal than the flu, and there is no known cure or vaccine. That’s why they are hard at work on developing a vaccine and treatments for the virus. Earlier this month, the first vaccine test trial began in Seattle and trial studies are also beginning in some areas to test whether a malaria drug can be used as a successful treatment for the Coronavirus.
Of course, we also need to have a robust federal response to this crisis that is dramatically reshaping our lives.
That’s why this month I voted for two bills that were signed into law to help our nation and the American people through this time.
The first bill contained $6.5 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services. This included $2 billion for the CDC to support local, state and tribal responses through public health agencies, as well as additional funding for the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund. There was also $3 billion for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 as well as the creation of therapeutics and diagnostics to fight the disease. The legislation required that drugs created using these funds must be available for purchase by the federal government at a fair and reasonable price.
Another part of the response was the legislation’s $500 million for the procurement of masks, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies to be distributed in areas with a shortage of medical supplies.
The second bill required free access to Coronavirus testing, ensuring there are no cost barriers to these tests. It also provided $500 million in emergency administrative grants to process unemployment applications and payments.
An additional $500 million is to be made available to states that experience a 10 percent increase in unemployment. This money will be used to provide 100 percent federally funded benefits and extend the number of eligible weeks.
Additionally, it included a refundable payroll tax credit to reimburse local businesses for paid sick leave and family and medical leave wages paid to employees affected by the Coronavirus.
A third package continues to be debated in Washington and I will be advocating for policies that benefit Michigan and the hardworking men and women of the Fourth District.
While we are physically separated during this time, each of us should find new ways to prevent social isolation and connect with our family and friends so they know they are not alone.
I have been heartened with how Michigan residents are doing their part to limit the spread by staying home, washing their hands and taking smart precautions. I hope all of us will continue to do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus, help our health care professionals, and save lives.
— Moolenaar represents Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District, which is made up of Clare, Clinton, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon, Shiawassee and Wexford counties, and parts of Montcalm and Saginaw counties.