Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Portman Continues to Deliver Results for Ohio
During the coronavirus crisis, Senator Portman has continued to work in a bipartisan manner to respond to the needs of Ohioans affected by this unprecedented challenge. As a member of President Trump’s Opening Up America Again Congressional Group, he has fought to ensure Ohio has a voice in the national response effort.
Portman has also continued to communicate with constituents and stakeholders by hosting seven tele town halls and six Facebook town hall events, and by participating in more than a dozen conference calls with hospitals, small business owners, nonprofits, foodbanks and more. In addition, over the past few weeks, Portman has secured a number of critical victories for our state.
Here are some of the key priorities Portman has been working on during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic:
Support for Ohioans:
- Portman led a letter urging the Small Business Administration not to deny second chance business owners access to loans provided by the Paycheck Protection Program. Portman has received praise from reentry and second chance coalition leaders, law enforcement, and local officials in Ohio and around the country for this effort;
- Portman encouraged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to approve Ohio's request for their Crisis Counseling Program to help Ohioans struggling with mental health issues as a result of this pandemic. The request was approved on April 30th.
- Portman wrote a letter urging the Department of Justice to increase COVID-19 testing at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Elkton in Lisbon, Ohio, where a major outbreak of the virus has occurred. This letter comes after Portman successfully helped stop the Bureau of Prisons from sending new prisoners to Elkton as the Ohio National Guard works to provide medical assistance to the staff and prisoners.
- Portman helped break through bureaucratic red tape that was preventing UC Health in Cincinnati from getting a critical cobas 6800 testing device. With this device, UC Health will now be able to process more than 1000 diagnostic tests per day in southwest Ohio, filling a key testing gap in the state;
- Portman worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure an extension for filing of claims and appeals for veterans’ compensation benefits was put in place since VA offices have been closed due to the pandemic;
- Portman worked to help get Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's major disaster declaration request approved quickly by President Trump, unlocking additional Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance and funding for Ohio;
- Portman helped secure swift approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to operate the Disaster Household Distribution Program in Ohio. This will allow ODJFS to efficiently and safely provide meals to foodbanks and Ohio families in need.
Helping the National Response:
- Portman helped facilitate Cleveland-based SecondBreath getting approved by the Food and Drug Administration to begin producing ventilators for shipment across Ohio and the country. These ventilators are already rolling off the assembly line and going to coronavirus hotspots.
- Portman facilitated a donation by Dublin-based Cardinal Health of 2.2 million non-surgical gowns to the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile so they can be distributed to health care centers in coronavirus hotspots around the country;
- Portman encouraged U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer to implement key tariff exclusions necessary for Gojo in Akron to be able to distribute larger quantities of Purell hand sanitizer, a key tool in slowing the spread of the virus, and;
- Portman helped Columbus-based Battelle earn approval by the FDA to decontaminate protective facemasks to help address the supply shortage that our health care professionals on the frontlines are facing. He later helped Battelle secure a federal contract to provide 60 decontamination machines to hospitals to allow for the decontamination of upwards of 4.8 million masks per day at no cost to health care providers.
Portman also released a series of policy summaries about how the CARES Act will help Ohio during the coronavirus crisis including how it will help individuals and families, small businesses, hospitals, veterans, seniors, rural communities, manufacturers, students, nonprofits, and the economy. He will continue to work to ensure Ohioans get the support they need for the duration of this pandemic and that our state can continue to be a leader in the national response to this health care crisis.