Alexander: “More Help is on the Way” for Tennesseans in Fight Against COVID-19

Posted on April 24, 2020

MARYVILLE, Tenn., April 24, 2020 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said “more help is on the way” for Tennesseans in the fight against COVID-19, after President Trump signed into law a bill the Senate passed Tuesday that provides an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program to continue to make loans, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion to strengthen testing.

“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 more help is on the way. The legislation the president signed into law today provides an additional $310 billion for this program to continue to make loans, which will help keep paychecks coming to hundreds of 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.”

Visit the senator’s website to learn more about how you can take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Alexander continued, “This legislation also includes $75 billion for hospitals and clinics to help address the harm caused by COVID-19, and an additional $25 billion to strengthen testing, including over $1 billion to launch a new competitive ‘shark tank’ to pull out all the stops and create new technologies. There is no safe path forward to combat the novel coronavirus without adequate testing. To contain COVID-19 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 has hopefully created the necessary immunity to possibly fight off the disease in the future.”

Click HERE to read the Washington Post op-ed Alexander wrote with Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) about how to speed up testing, using a “shark tank” for government.

“Just last week, owners of a senior living facility gave a COVID-19 diagnostic test to 2,500 employees and residents of its 26 communities in Tennessee and Kentucky. The owner, Gary Keckly, told the Tennessean, ‘Because of the fear, we decided the only way to make sure residents didn’t have the virus was to test them. There is no substitute for testing everybody.’ Governor Lee and our state’s leaders understand the importance of testing – the governor announced on Wednesday that Tennesseans can now be tested for COVID-19, regardless of traditional symptoms. The expanded testing efforts launched over the weekend, and more than 11,000 COVID-19 tests were administered.”

Alexander concluded, “Congress and the president have now given federal agencies up to $63 billion to develop tests, treatments, and vaccines. This is the time for both the government and its industry partners to step up and pull out all the stops.”

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act includes $25 billion in funding to improve diagnostic and immunity testing for COVID-19 including:

  • $11 billion for states
  • $825 million for community health centers and rural clinics
  • $1.8 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), some of which will support a new “shark tank”
  • $1 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)
  • $22 million for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • $1 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)