News From Congressman Ben Cline
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Sixth District Perspectives
with Congressman Ben Cline

Coronavirus Update

    As the coronavirus continues to dominate the news cycles, I want to take a moment to ensure that you have all the latest updates about the virus and information about how to protect yourself during this evolving situation.

     Across our Nation there is a great deal of fear and confusion regarding this virus, and that is why I have been working hard both from the District and Washington, DC to ensure Sixth District residents are informed. First, I have created a new page on my website that provides the latest updates and resources from the CDC and across the Federal Government. I've also been sharing a great deal of information you may find useful on my Facebook and Twitter pages. Further, I have continued to pass on information gathered from numerous conference calls I participate in each day, including calls with the Administration, Governor's Office, state and federal health officials, and my colleagues in the House and Senate. Additionally, I am looking forward to hearing from constituents during my coronavirus telephone town hall this coming Tuesday at 2:00pm. If you would like to sign up for this event, please click here. The contact information for each of my offices can be found at the bottom of this page. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or require assistance. 

     I've also been out and about in the community hearing from local businesses about how this situation has impacted them. I have assured them that there are resources available to help their business get through this difficult time.  

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     In addition to keeping constituents informed, my colleagues and I in Congress, in conjunction with federal, state, and local officials, have been working to curb the virus from spreading to more of our Nation’s citizens. As demonstrated below, our goal is to "flatten the curve." That is, we should slow the spread of COVID-19 so that as more cases arise, our healthcare system has time to adapt to meet demand, and medical professionals and scientists have time to develop vaccines and cures.

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     On March 4, I voted for and Congress passed $8.3 billion in emergency coronavirus funding for our public health agencies, which the President subsequently signed into law. New funding of $7.8 billion will be used to address this public health crisis, while $500 million will be used to replenish reserve funds that have been depleted over the past several weeks.

     Additionally, this emergency funding invests over four billion dollars to make diagnostic kits more available. It allocates nearly one billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exclusively for state and local response efforts. And it allows for billions in low-interest loans to small businesses, limiting the economic impact of the disease.

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     Further, Congress most recently passed a second bill mandating paid leave for employees of some small businesses, appropriating additional funds for state unemployment and Medicaid programs, and providing for free coronavirus testing. While there were several provisions in the second coronavirus bill with which I agree, I could not support the flawed and rushed process by which it was considered.

     Currently, Congress is working on a third piece of coronavirus legislation that would make direct payments to certain individuals, provide assistance to small businesses, and supports some of our largest transportation and financial entities to help them remain solvent. It is expected that the Senate will pass the bill early next week, and I look forward to reviewing the legislation when it is sent over to the House for consideration.  

     Finally, in addition to these pieces of legislation, I have signed onto a several letters to House Leadership and various Administration officials urging them to support policies that help combat this crisis and keep our Nation financially strong. Among them are letters promoting telemedicine in rural communities, ensuring our farms have the needed workforce to provide an adequate food supply, and urging Speaker Pelosi to keep the House in session to effectively manage this crisis. 

  The Administration has taken a government-wide approach and initiated a $50 billion economic assistance package to support small businesses and workers harmed by the outbreak, as well as expanding loans to businesses, deferring tax payments for certain businesses and individuals negatively impacted, and calling on Congress to pass payroll tax relief.

     On March 13, the President declared a State of Emergency, thus allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to exercise the authority under the National Emergencies Act to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children's Health Insurance programs and of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule throughout the duration of the public health emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

     To protect the health of Americans, the Administration is bringing together government and private industry in a collaborative process to expand testing capacity and access to pharmaceuticals, general-use face masks, therapeutics, and vaccines.

     Further, testing is now available in every state lab in the country, and commercial labs are now deploying tests to localities, which will help generate a dramatic increase in availability.

     This week, the Trump Administration announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Medicare will now temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries across the entire country.

     In an effort to better understand and fight COVID-19, I have included two resources that provide valuable information which you may find beneficial from the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC. While the CDC is working toward vaccines and cures, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from infection:

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Graphic released by the CDC on March 16, 2020. For more information, please visit coronavirus.gov. 

      By taking these simple steps in your day-to-day life, you are helping "flatten the curve."

     As U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.” If you experience symptoms or have been to an area where coronavirus is spreading, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening. 

     Rest assured, I will continue to monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country and will work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this insidious and deadly virus.

CDC Resources:

     Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.

     For the latest updates from Washington, please follow my social media accounts: FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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