COVID-19 Update 03/26/2020

COVID-19 Update 03/26/2020

Federal 

Happy 80th Birthday Nancy Pelosi! 

Here is a more detailed look at the Federal Stimulus Package that passed in the Senate on Wednesday, March 25th: 

  • $150 billion relief package for States – PA receives  $4,964,000 million
  • $1.5 billion to Economic Development Administration for economic adjustment assistance to revitalize local communities after the pandemic.
  • $30 billion Education Disaster Relief Fund for states, school districts, and institutions of higher education for costs related to the Coronavirus.
  • $45 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund to protect citizens and help them respond and recover from COVID-19. 
  • $75 million for the National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities National Endowment for the Arts.
  • $100 billion for a new program to provide direct aid to health care institutions on the front line of this crisis.
  • $3.5 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the Coronavirus. 
  • $425 million to increase access to mental health services in communities. 
  • $200 million for CMS to assist nursing homes with infection control and support states’ efforts to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in nursing homes.
  • $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile 
  • More than $7 billion for affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs. This additional assistance to prevent eviction and for people experiencing homelessness. 

Nancy Pelosi indicated that this is not the end of relief for U.S. citizens. The next round of legislation she said should give more cash to states and local governments as they try to balance budgets as well as money towards infrastructure. 

Unemployment claims soared to 3.3 million last week, most in history

  • A record number of individuals applied for unemployment due to the Coronavirus. 
  • 3.3 million unemployment claims are the highest number of jobless claims since the U.S. started this data in 1967. The previous high was 695,000 on October 2nd, 1982. 
  • State labor departments are struggling to deal with the high claims of unemployment. 

Child Welfare Courts Take Cases Online 

  • Some child welfare courts have begun handling cases online. 
  • Judges in some states remotely issue emergency protection orders removing children from their homes when it’s unsafe. 
  • However, not every court is ready to work online. 

Coronavirus Outbreak Reinforces Need for Long-Term State Budgeting

  • Coronavirus has led to a high level of uncertainty in state budget development.
  • Often a state’s fiscal policy focuses on balancing the budget one year at a time without thinking about long-term sustainability. This short-term focus can lead states to enact significant new commitments—and defer critical decisions on how to pay for them.
  • States must address long-term budget issues now and that will put states in a better position to face potential problems down the road, such as the Coronavirus.
  • Pennsylvania has a chance to do this in June as policymakers work on the budget.  

Insurers scramble to avoid 9/11-style Coronavirus backlash

  • Insurers have begun to deny claims filed by restaurants, retailers and other businesses that believe they have coverage to protect themselves from a major disruption such as Covid-19. However many are finding out that business interruption insurance policies only cover physical damages. 
  • Insurers are trying to work around this by potentially proposing something similar to the 9/11 victims’ compensation fund. 
  • The National Restaurant Association told reporters that one of their top priorities is finding a way for the federal government to help with business interruption insurance. 

State

Pa. lawmakers approve $50 million in emergency Coronavirus funding for needed medical supplies

  • PA lawmakers approved $50 million in state funding to purchase medical equipment and supplies for hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency workers. Wolf expects to sign the bill. 
  • However, these funds can only be transferred to the extent that funding authorized by the federal government, and the governor’s disaster proclamation are insufficient to meet the needs of the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response.    

PA new unemployment claims top 645,000

  • In the last ten days, 645,000 Pennsylvanians have filed for unemployment compensation.
  • The state is averaging 64,574 new claims per day.

More than half of all confirmed PA Coronavirus patients are under 50 years old, new data shows

  • Information from the Department of Health shows 12% of patients are between 19 and 24, while another 39% are between 25 and 49.
  • Seniors make up 18% of cases. 
  • Currently, PA has 1,687 confirmed cases in 48 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
  • 16 people have died in our state 68% of them were over 65. 

Here are the bills and co-sponsorship memos that have been introduced related to Covid-19:

  • CO3394 Ciresi, Joseph (D)

Extending the budget deadline for school districts due to COVID-19.

  • CO1473 Tartaglione, Christine (D)

Improving working conditions for grocery store workers by addressing social distancing, cleaning, paid benefit policies, attendance policies, and protocols if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • CO1474 Tartaglione, Christine (D)

Designating workers at food processing/protein facilities across the Commonwealth as “essential employees” and/or “front line employees” for all matters/circumstances, including but not limited to childcare & safety measures.

  • CO1475 Tartaglione, Christine (D)

Providing that Coronavirus will be presumed to be an occupational disease for employees of life-sustaining businesses and occupations. 

  • HB2373 Dermody, Frank (D)

Act providing for insurance coverage for business interruption.

  • HB2372 Ortitay, Jason (R )

Amends the Health Care Facilities Act, in-licensing of healthcare facilities, providing for a report of inventory by the health care facility.

  • SB1090 Tartaglione, Christine (D)

Act providing for testing for dangerous levels of radon and remediation measures in school buildings, residential buildings, residential homes, and commercial buildings; and imposing penalties.

City

Philly City Council adds $400,000 to spend as it chooses in $85 million Coronavirus response measure

  • The Philadelphia City Council took the first steps to approve Mayor Jim Kenney’s request for $85 million to respond to the Coronavirus. The bill also gives the City Council $400,000 to spend as they see fit.
  • The $400,000 would be used for mailings providing details about testing locations, unemployment benefits, meal pickup locations offered by the school district, and other information.
  • $85 million will be used to secure quarantine space, buy protective gear and medical equipment. The managing director could not provide exact details on what the money would be spent on. However, there were some specifics   Specifically: 
    • $3 million for N95 masks
    • $2 million for IT needs
    •  $2 million in relief for small businesses
    • $500,000 to help nonprofits
    • $20 million per pay period in salaries and benefits during the pandemic for essential workers who are being paid 50% more than their base salary. 
  • The money will be redirected from unspent money in the budget. 

Philly social distancing map: 50% less movement, data company says

  • Norway-based Unacast has created the Social Distancing Scoreboard, ranking areas on residents’ mobility, or their average distance traveled.
  • Philadelphia has an A grade right now. City residents have moved around an average of 52% less since the company started tracking data on Feb. 28.

Holiday Inn Express in Center City to become quarantine for homeless people with Coronavirus

  • The city will be turning the Holiday Inn Express to house homeless people who test positive for the virus.
  • People showing signs of the virus and awaiting test results will quarantine on certain floors while those who test positive will be isolated on another floor. 

PA nurses’ union report card: Not enough masks, few separate units for COVID patients

  • The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals has put out a report card with its views on how prepared hospitals are to handle a convid-19 outbreak. The union surveyed its members to get these answers. 
  • Workers at 21 of 23 hospitals surveyed said they were concerned about levels of PPE (personal protective equipment) for workers.
  • Only 7 of 23 hospitals had designated a separate unit in the hospital for COVID-19 patients.
  • 10 of the 23 hospitals have established adequate tent or outdoor triage stations for COVID-19 patients.
  • More than half of the hospitals surveyed have not established an absence policy for COVID-19 diagnoses among staff.
  • Nine hospitals were ranked as offering “inadequate” benefits for workers who need to quarantine for 14 days. 

Good News

Introducing the ‘Grandparents’ Academy’

  • The New York Times today did a story about a community that created a Grandparents Academy. Classes that were offered by grandparents included  Bill of Rights, game theory, number patterns, presidential history, anthropology, law, and conversational Polish.
  • The classes have been hit! 
  • The author writes that “In this time of fear and uncertainty, it’s powerful to be reminded of Grandpa’s steadfastness. Because he has been through stuff like this before. And he is not immobilized by fear. He is right there in front of you, asking you to focus — and start work on the next problem.”

Dr. Fauci doughnuts are selling like hotcakes at Donuts Delite

  • A bakery in New York State has started selling doughnuts featuring the likeness of renowned immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

From all of us here at Bellevue, stay safe and stay healthy!

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