News from Representative Upton


April 30, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: April 30, 2020

Dear Friend:

I’ve been upgraded to my side porch where I can also watch my birds at the feeder, and it’s better for the zoom conference calls without the sun glare!

Lots of activity today on the medical/therapeutic/vaccine side of the pandemic. Image
  • NIH launched the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative to speed innovation of testing technologies using $1.5 billion included in last week’s bill that refunded the PPP legislation.  As we look for the light at the end of the tunnel, employees will want their worksites safe, which will require testing before they return to work in large numbers.  This funding will help identify successful products and dramatically shorten the timeline from discovery to development to deployment. I am working with some Michigan interests that believe they may have a product that could provide daily testing at a minimal cost (<$10).  Let’s face it...where we ultimately want to be is a successful treatment and vaccine and until then, the economy won’t really return back to normal without workers feeling safe and that means accurate testing.  So success in this step is absolutely critical.  Kudos to the NIH that established a framework so quickly with nearly 100 independent interests already pursuing this challenge.  Earlier today our Energy and Commerce Commitee members had the opportunity to conference call with NIH Director Francis Collins to discuss a number of issues and I focused my attention on this issue.  You can read more about this program here.
  • CDC and EPA released updated guidance to help facility operators and families properly clean and disinfect spaces, providing step-by-step instructions for public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes....see here for more info.
  • Project Air Bridge has completed 95 flights with an additional 22 scheduled bringing millions of PPE to the States
  • Gilead announced results evaluating 5 and 10-day dosing durations of Remdesivir in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19.  No new safety signals were identified...See HERE for more info.
  • University of Oxford researchers have begun testing a COVID-19 vaccine in 1,110 human volunteers...see HERE for more info.

Much of my day was spent with pharmaceutical CEOs discussing their many efforts on cures—-whether it be treatment for those impacted or work on a vaccine. As I noted earlier, our Energy and Commerce Committee hosted Dr. Francis Collins for a lengthy question and answer forum.  Because of the urgency of finding a successful vaccine, he expects - and some of the pharmaceutical companies confirmed - that we may indeed see a ramping up of production before we really know whether a particular product may work. It may be like building an airplane before one really knows it will fly because if it works, the world will want hundreds of millions of the dosages “yesterday”.

 The day started with a Michigan congressional delegation conference call with Jim Hackett, CEO of Ford.  I’ve known Jim since his days at Steelcase, and he set the tone reflecting back to his leadership surviving 9/11 and the fiscal crisis back in 2008.  Ford has really stepped up making PPE— whether it be shields, masks, or ventilators. They have lost 14 employees and he contemplated that if they had stayed operational rather than closing back in March, that number would be...1,500.  We raised the potential bankruptcy of Hertz and the impact on fleet sales as well as individual consumer sales.  We also discussed supply chain issues and the ramifications of their payments to suppliers that are usually made 45 days after the delivery of their parts as they then assemble and ship to dealers.  Because this shutdown is now longer than 45 days, the Ford  payments to suppliers from the previous deliveries may not cover the cost of raw material by the suppliers that they must have to begin production anew...

There was another conference call with our entire delegation with the Michigan Hospital Association. You may recall our bipartisan letter last week to the respective political leaderships regarding  advance payments made to hospitals and the possibility of converting those payments to grants.  Other states are now following our lead.  I would also note the MLIVE story re: Kalamazoo hospitals adapting to a new normal (see HERE). We are all hoping of course that the curve is flattening and will not return.

I helped introduce our Governor on a zoom call with SW MI First.  I made the point that our congressional delegation communicates every day multiple times and there has not been a day this month that our two offices have not communicated.  I am looking forward to her announcement Friday that perhaps will open up some of the construction industry and allow some of the critical hospital operations that are their sources of revenue (surgeries, cancer treatment, etc).  The state also has to resolve MIOSHA standards with this pandemic which impacts all of our manufacturing base.   

The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus zoomed with the CEO of Regeneron, and I completed the day with my Republican colleagues getting an agriculture update from the top Republican on the Ag Committee regarding the strained supply chains in the meat industry. 

Inspiration of the day comes from Henry Ford..."Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”  Tomorrow we start again.  

God bless all of you and our country.


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