COVID-19 Update 03/31/2020

COVID-19 Update 03/31/2020

Federal 

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Special Series: All this week, Bellevue Strategies will be going into depth on certain sections of the CARES and Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that were passed at the federal level. Today, we will focus on changes to unemployment compensation. 
  • FFCRA allowed states greater access to emergency funds to provide unemployment compensation to impacted employees who lose their jobs or have hours reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Act added $1 billion in funds for state unemployment programs and pushed States to amend criteria, reduce waiting time, and quickly produce checks for unemployment compensation.
The CARES Act had four major implications regarding unemployment insurance: 
  1. Unemployment will now cover those individuals not otherwise covered by traditional unemployment benefits including business owners, gig- workers, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and part-time workers. New hires who could not begin their employment are also covered even if they do not have a sufficient work history to qualify under their normal state unemployment eligibility rules.
  2. Expanded coverage to 39 weeks or 9 months.
  3. An extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits in addition to what one is eligible for under existing state programs.
  4. **Nonprofits, government agencies and Indian tribes will be reimbursed for half of the costs they incurred related to unemployment.
To learn more about the CARES Act and opportunities at the local, state, and federal level please join us this Thursday for a virtual town hall. To attend, please use this link: https://zoom.us/j/7214456147
TOWN HALL April 3rd
  • CMS is now allowing hospitals to care for patients outside of their facilities and bolster their workforce.
  • Doctors and Nurses can now care for patients in such settings as ambulatory surgery centers, hotels, and dormitories.
  • Medicaid will pay lab technicians to travel to homebound patients to test for COVID-19.
  • CMS will also make it easier for the health system to hire nurses and doctors from other states.

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  • Federal judges in Alabama, Ohio, and Texas have blocked orders banning nonessential medical procedures from limiting abortion access during COVID-19.
  • This is a win for abortion rights activists as more states are trying to limit abortions.
  • Nancy Northup, president, and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement Monday that the ruling in the Texas lawsuit “sends a message to other states: Using this pandemic to ban abortion access is unconstitutional. Abortion care is time-sensitive and essential health care that has a profound impact on a person’s health and life, which is why it is protected as a constitutional right.
  • A bill introduced (Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act.) by Republican Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Democrat Seth Moulton of Massachusetts would provide $60 billion in assistance to charities along with a wide variety of other benefits to nonprofits.
  • The bill will also create a universal charitable deduction and allow nonprofits larger than 500 employees to apply for the new SBA loans.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy has provided a website that provides a wide range of resources for nonprofits and nonprofit leaders.

State

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COVID-19 cases update: As of midday Tuesday, state health officials had confirmed 4,843 cases of COVID-19 in 60 of 67 Pennsylvania counties, an increase of 756 cases since Monday. Statewide, 63 Pennsylvanians have died as a result of the illness.

  • This Friday, the number of new unemployment claims filed since the shutdown surpassed the total for all of 2019. Long wait times, sites crashing and webpages freezing are some of the issues that have plagued individuals trying to claim unemployment in PA.
  • The Department of Labor and Industry said it employs 83 claims examiners and 109 intake interviewers within its larger unemployment compensation division. That is 220 positions fewer than at the same time in 2016.
  • The Department of Labor and Industry said Sunday it intends to add 100 new staffers and will continue to expand as needed.
  • Pennsylvania has delayed the deadline for filing personal tax returns until July 15th.
  • The delay in tax returns will also delay much-needed revenue for the state. Already, Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered a hiring freeze and general purchasing ban for state agencies in an effort to cut spending.
  • This will most likely affect when PA will pass its state budget normally done in June.
  • Other options for states facing cash flow problems because of the delayed tax deadlines include slowing spending, delaying payments to vendors or funding to local governments, or dipping into their reserves, according to a report from Moody’s Investors Service released Friday.
  • Pennsylvania school districts will be able to apply for grants next week to help buy laptops or instructional materials for use during the coronavirus closures. The Department of Education will have $5 million in initial funding.
  • Schools with the highest percentage of students lacking access to resources
  • Grant applications will be available April 6 and must be submitted by school districts by April 10.
Bills and Cosponsorship memos filed in the state: 
CO3409 Wheatley, Jake (D)
  • Preventing lawsuits made against school districts for changes in operation due to the 2020 pandemic
CO1488 Brewster, Jim (D)
  • Provides an additional, one-time grant to each fire and EMS company agency that has been approved by the PA Emergency Management Agency and the Office of State Fire Commissioner for an annual grant for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
CO3404 Fielder, Elizabeth (D)
  • Implements a rent and mortgage freeze.
CO3406 Dush, Cris (R)
  • Proposes a one-time transfer of previously appropriated and unused funds for distribution by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner to all first responder organizations.
CO1478 Killion, Thomas (R)
  • Providing for a temporary halt on any foreclosure or eviction notice, should they be unable to make payment.
CO3407 Ciresi, Joseph (D)
  • Creates a $50 million grant program for certain small businesses.
CO1480 Farnese, Lawrence (D)
  • Making it illegal to evict someone suffering from unemployment due to an emergency disaster declaration.
CO1484 Pittman, Joe (R)
  • Providing an additional one-time grant to each fire and EMS Company that has been approved by PEMA and the OSFC for an annual grant for the 2019-20 Fiscal Year.
CO1485 Schwank, Judy (D)
  • Exempting money received by individuals from the CARES Act from certain definitions of “income.”
CO1486 Williams, Anthony (D)
  • Creating a “Pennsylvania Common Wealth Fund” restricted account overseen by the Dept. of Revenue that will provide an additional option to Pennsylvanians who wish to voluntarily give back all or part of the stimulus.
CO3401 Stephans, Todd (R)
  • Establishes a program that will provide much-needed assistance for the small businesses to retain their employees through the mandated business shutdown.
CO1477 Schwank, Judy (D)
  • Supports childcare centers, pre-K, and Head Start programs and their employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

City

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COVID-19 update: Philadelphia has a total of 1,315 positive cases and the total number of deaths is 14. Healthcare workers made up 88 (6 percent) of the city’s total positive cases.

  • Today during the Mayor’s press conference, city Managing Director Brian Abernathy told reporters that officers may, at their discretion, issue citations for disorderly conduct or failure to disperse to people who violate the order.
  • Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that more Blacks were testing positive for the infection in the city. However, racial demographic data on residents testing positive remained limited, representing only 15 percent of confirmed cases
  • There have been 106 shootings in the city since the beginning of March and five people were killed this weekend.
  • Police have counted 93 homicide victims since the beginning of the year — a 21% increase over the same date last year.
  • In its 13th year, the Roots Picnic is an annual music and cultural festival that is beloved by many in Philly!
  • All original tickets will be honored
  • While it is unclear if this date change will affect the festival’s lineup, all previously scheduled acts and events remain listed on the website

Good News of the Day

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Danya Henninger/Billy Penn
Any night this week you can look at Philadelphia tallest building and see a message of hope.
The design is the work of the Four Seasons hotel, which takes up the top floors of the Comcast Technology Center at 19th and Arch streets.
Engineers were able to make the design remotely and decide which rooms should be lit up and which to stay dark in order to make the heart shape.
From all of us here at Bellevue, stay safe and stay healthy!

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