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Mississippi Coronavirus Update June 17, 2020

Dear Friend,

Today, family, friends, and fellow officers gathered to pay their respects to Deputy James Blair, who lost his life in the line of duty last Friday. Deputy Blair was transporting his accused killer to a mental health facility when it is presumed his own weapon was used by the accused to take the life of Deputy Blair. Governor Reeves ordered flags to be flown at half-mast today in mourning. I hope you will join me in remembering Deputy Blair’s service to our state and in praying for his family, friends, and fellow officers.

This week, I introduced two pieces of legislation on the House floor. H.R. 7208 would amend the Small Business Act to allow rural hospitals to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so they can receive critical funds to maintain operations in the areas they serve. I also introduced H. Res 1002, which is a piece of legislation to condemn the violence instigated by extremists in the otherwise peaceful protests following George Floyd’s death. You can find more information about both pieces of legislation below.

H.R. 7208 - PPP Access for Rural Hospitals Act

On Monday, I introduced new legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to make small, rural hospitals eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP Access for Rural Hospitals Act would allow smaller hospitals that are part of a larger health system to waive affiliation requirements to be eligible for the PPP. The language is narrowly tailored to ensure rural hospitals or those in most need are able to participate in the PPP.

Currently, small, rural hospitals that are part of a larger health system are not eligible for PPP provisions if the health system has more than 500 employees across all of its facilities. Smaller hospitals included in large health systems have been left ineligible to apply for PPP loans. These hospitals, many of them rural, have experienced tremendous financial burdens during the COVID-19 pandemic and have expressed the need for the payroll assistance that could be provided by the PPP if the restrictive provisions were eliminated.

Rural hospitals in Mississippi and across our nation provide critical services to their surrounding communities. During this COVID-19 crisis, our doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers have been on the frontlines providing needed care. Unfortunately, our hospitals have seen interruptions in their normal operations during the pandemic, resulting in decreased revenues and financial hardship. I’m proud to introduce this bill that would provide payroll assistance to our rural hospitals, which could help ensure their continued viability.

Condemning Violence in the Otherwise Peaceful Protests Following George Floyd’s Death

On Monday, I introduced legislation to condemn the violence that took place during and after the otherwise peaceful protests following the tragic death of George Floyd as a result of excessive force from law enforcement officers. This legislation includes the following provisions:

  • strongly condemns the violence, riots, and looting in the United States;
  • recognizes that violent opportunists use the cover of legitimate protests by their fellow citizens to sow chaos;
  • recognizes that the actions of those bent on violence does not diminish the rights of other Americans to peacefully protest; and
  • expresses that those responsible for these violent acts be held criminally responsible for their actions.

Peaceful protests have been a catalyst for change in the history of our nation, and the United States Congress should uphold this fundamental right guaranteed by the First Amendment of our Constitution. However, violent extremists have used the peaceful protests as an opportunity to spread chaos and to commit illegal activities, including looting, arson, and the tragic taking of innocent lives. Congress must take a firm stance in condemning these actions and reconfirm our commitment to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of American citizens from acts of destruction and violence. We cannot stand by while violent extremists harm innocent people, small businesses, homes, religious institutions, and government agencies in their pursuit to commit unlawful acts. We hope that members of both parties will join us in condemning these violent and unlawful acts.

The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to peacefully assemble and to petition the government for change, but the instances of violence arising out of the protests is not protected by the Constitution and violates laws instituted by local, state, and federal governments.

SBA and Treasury Department Announce New PPP Loan Forgiveness Applications

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Treasury Department have announced a new, borrower-friendly PPP loan forgiveness application that includes updated provisions stipulated in the PPP Flexibility Act of 2020. In addition to revising the full forgiveness application, SBA also published a new EZ version of the forgiveness application that applies to borrowers that:

  • Are self-employed and have no employees; OR
  • Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees; OR
  • Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%.

Both applications give borrowers the option of using the original 8-week covered period (if their loan was made before June 5, 2020) or an extended 24-week covered period.

I have advocated for a more streamlined PPP loan forgiveness application process for Mississippi’s small businesses and am pleased with these actions by the Treasury Department and the SBA.

COVID-19 Testing Sites and Resources

Saturday, June 6, was the final day that the C Spire Health app was available to be used as a screening tool for COVID-19 testing. Mississippians can now be screened and scheduled for appointment-only testing by calling the UMMC Center for Telehealth at (601) 496-7200 or by going to umc.edu/covidscreening. The testing site in Jackson has moved from the Mississippi State Fairgrounds to the West Street Farmers Market on Woodrow Wilson Avenue and is available from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day, except for Sunday.

  • June 18th - Winston County: Louisville Coliseum, 245 Ivy Ave., Louisville
  • June 18th - Warren County: Pemberton Square Mall, 3505 Pemberton Square Boulevard, Vicksburg
  • June 19th - Covington County: Covington County Multipurpose Building, 68 Collins Industrial Park Drive, Collins
  • June 20th - Leake County: Carthage Coliseum, 729 E. Main St., Carthage
  • June 20th - Yazoo County: Wardell Leach Rec Complex, 500 W. 15th St., Yazoo City

I have compiled a list of resources on my website for your convenience. By visiting my Coronavirus Relief page, you can find helpful information on managing this crisis. We will continue to update the page as more information becomes available, so be sure to check back every few days and subscribe to my newsletter to receive updates.

Latest Statistics

As of Wednesday, June 17th, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 2,132,321 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States. From Tuesday to Wednesday, we saw 27,975 additional cases. The number of individuals who have passed away as a result of infection increased by 722 nationwide, and the total number of deaths in the U.S. from the virus is now 116,862. See below for graphs and infographics from the Mississippi State Department of Health on the number of cases in Mississippi. As reported today, an additional 489 Mississippians have contracted the coronavirus, and 23 more Mississippians passed away from the virus. In total, 244,248 Mississippians have been tested for COVID-19.

Sincerely,

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Michael Guest
Member of Congress

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