Here’s the latest:

  • A bipartisan House bill that makes several needed improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program cleared the Senate last night, sending it to President Trump’s desk where he’s expected to sign it into law soon.  The bill gives small business owners, particularly restaurants, needed flexibility to help them make the most of their PPP loans and put those dollars to their most effective use. 
  • The Treasury Department and the IRS announced yesterday that 159 million CARES Act stimulus payments, worth more than $267 billion, have been disbursed to Americans in the last two months.  These payments were delivered by the Trump Administration in record-setting time,  and despite being forced to use outdated equipment and technology, the Administration was able to put much-needed cash in people’s pockets faster than all expectations.
  • The FDA announced earlier this week that it is taking more action to help increase the supply of hand sanitizer for the public during the COVID-19 outbreak.  The agency has updated its guidance to provide more clarity on the necessary manufacturing processes for alcohol-based sanitizer to ensure that harmful levels of chemicals are not present in hand sanitizer.  More information is available here.
  • Under the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed, the FDA and other federal agencies are working around the clock on new COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccine options.  Here’s an additional update on COVID-19 testing from the FDA:
    • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has worked with more than 400 test developers who have already submitted, or said they will be submitting, Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) requests to the FDA for tests that detect the virus or antibodies to the virus.
    • To date, the FDA has authorized 120 tests under EUAs, which include 104 molecular tests, 15 antibody tests, and 1 antigen test.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development has published a resource guide for our rural communities and farm families that outline the actions it has taken to help rural areas impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.  View it here.

  • The CDC continues to update its guidance for agricultural workers and employees, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Labor and the USDA.  View its latest guidance and best practices here.

For today’s good news story, I’m highlighting the work of Rotary International District 7730, which covers all of southeastern North Carolina.  Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the 1,800+ Rotarians in southeastern NC have raised almost $27,000 to buy food to help feed those in need because of the crisis.  Bolstered by a $25,000 grant from Rotary International, the group was able to buy enough foodstuffs to provide 20,000 meals to food pantries, Salvation Army chapters and Family Assistance Groups all across our region.  It’s just one of the ways America’s civic organizations are working together to combat the crisis.

As always, stay tuned to Coronavirus.gov and the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ website for the latest on the outbreak.  And please feel free to send good news stories our way to highlight in this newsletter by replying to this e-mail.