COVID-19 Update, 03/18/2020

COVID-19 Update, 03/18/2020

Federal

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Today during President Trump Convid-19 press conference outlined the following updates: 

  • The United States and Canada have agreed to close their 5,500-mile border to all nonessential travel. 
  • Trump will invoke the Defense Production Act to fight the virus. This will help the private sector speed up the manufacturing of emergency medical supplies and equipment. 
  • The White House coronavirus plan aims to send $2000 to many Americans and over $300 billion for small businesses. 
  • All 50 states have confirmed cases of Convid-19 and over 110 people have died from the virus. 
  • 50 FEMA teams will be deployed to help state governments as they begin to activate their emergency operations center.  
  • HUD is suspending all foreclosures and evictions through the end of April.
  •  VP MIKE PENCE said HHS will allow medical professionals to cross state lines to practice in hospitals that need them.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors wants $250 billion in flexible emergency fiscal assistance. “How governments at all levels respond to a viral health threat never before encountered in modern history will determine the severity of its damage to American lives and livelihoods.”

Business Update: U.S. Small Business Administration will offer low-interest COVID-19 disaster relief loans

  • The SBA will issue an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration. Loans up to $2 million will be offered and can be used to pay debts, payroll and other bills that are related to the disaster’s impact. 
  • Interest rates for the loans are 3.75% without credit available elsewhere, and 2.75% for nonprofits. 
  • For more information on the loan program, call 1-800-659-2955 or email the SBA at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

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There Aren’t Enough Ventilators to Cope With the Coronavirus

  • Hospitals are desperate for medical devices such as life-saving ventilator machines. Compared to other European countries, many medical experts have complained that the U.S. has been slow to develop a national strategy for accelerating the production of ventilators.

States look to reopen old hospitals among other Convid-19 responses 

  • New York state has now surpassed Washington state with the largest number of coronavirus cases. He is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Guard, and building trade unions to discuss the construction of temporary hospitals.
  • Four states have extended Obamacare signups. Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington state announced special enrollment periods for uninsured residents.
  • Legislators in at least 27 states have or are considering or have passed measures to deal with the coronavirus. Lawmakers in Arizona appropriated $55 million from the state’s rainy-day fund; Massachusetts authorized $15 million from general revenue. California lawmakers allocated up to $1 billion for the state’s emergency medical response. 
  • A state legislator in Minnesota proposed a bill that would require school districts and charter schools to pay their hourly employees when school days are canceled.

Whole Foods Market has special hours for older adults 

  • Starting today all Whole Foods Markets will service customers who are 60 and older before opening to the general public.

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Senate Passes Coronavirus Relief Package 

  • The U.S. The Senate approved the House’s coronavirus relief package that provides sick leave, unemployment benefits, increased federal funds for food and medical aid, and free coronavirus testing even for the uninsured. President Trump is expected to sign the bill. The bill includes two weeks of paid sick leave for workers employed by businesses with fewer than 500 employees. This bill was considered “phase two” of Congress coronavirus legislative efforts, “phase three” is already being discussed. 
  • Phase Three will include an additional $1 trillion towards combating the economic effects of the virus. 

State

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Senate approved a temporary rule change to operate remotely 

  • Today the State Senate approved a rule change that will allow them to vote remotely during this crisis. This will allow members to file bills and vote on bills electronically until July 31st or 10 days after Gov. Wolf lifts his emergency declaration. 
  • The rule the state senate passed is different from the House version of the rule which allows members to vote by proxy through their committee chairmen or caucus leaders outside the Capitol Complex on bills that are considered in committee and on the House floor.
  • Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County said that the Senate business would only deal with the pandemic. 
  • The Senate will be considering some of the following legislation including waiving the 180-day instructional mandate, changing the administration of state exams, unemployment compensation, election code issues and the possibility of delaying April 28th primary. 
  • Sen. Corman did not rule out the possibility of using this new remote rule to work on the state budget that is due June 30th. 

PA Senate Dems support the American Working Families Relief Action Plan 

Republican Kathleen Tomlinson wins Bucks County Special Election 

  • GOP Kathleen Tomlinson won the 18th House district special election against Democrat Harold Hayes. Democrats remain upset that House Speaker Mike Turazi (R-Allegheny) did not postpone the election. 

Senator Killion seeks co-sponsorship on legislation to help small business 

  • State Senator Killion (R-Delaware) is seeking co-sponsor on legislation that would provide no-interest loans to small businesses. He said that “The process right now with the [U.S. Small Business Administration] is very difficult,  noting that loans must be approved at multiple levels of government before being distributed.”

Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority will now be able to allocate over $60 million in funds for zero-interest loans to businesses with 100 or fewer employees. 

These are bills and co-sponsorship memos that were introduced in Harrisburg:

  • CO3361 Rep. Mary Issacson 

Providing an exemption from eviction for workers who are unemployed, separated from their employment or unable to find employment when an epidemic or pandemic requires the Governor to declare a state of emergency

  • CO3363 Rep. Valerie Gaydos 

Directing the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to administer low- to no-interest emergency loans to businesses.

  • CO3362 Rep. Joseph Hohenstein 

Guaranteeing that all employees will receive emergency paid sick leave if they are not already covered by proposed federal legislation.

City

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Here are updates from Philadelphia: 

  • Philadelphia currently has a total of 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has entered the “rapid growth stage”  of the pandemic. Positive cases have doubled day by day since the weekend. 
  • Philadelphia is in the process of setting up a testing site near the South Philadelphia sports complex. 
  • City Commissioner Lisa Deeley continues to strongly advocate for Gov. Wolf to push the in-person primary on April 28th back to May or early June. 
  • Philadelphia police will be limiting arrests for nonviolent offenses including drug offenses, theft, and prostitution.

Philly vows to pay seasonal workers at libraries and rec centers during the shutdown

  • All non-essential city employees in Philadelphia will continue to get paid during this crisis. In addition, all seasonal workers will get paid which was not the original case when the city first told non-essential employees to not come to work. 

Philly schools forbid graded ‘remote instruction’ during the shutdown for equity concerns

  • The School of District of Philadelphia will not allow teachers to do remote learning while schools are closed through March 27th. With this news, many teachers were confused and Superintendent William Hite then clarified that teachers cannot require students to do work at home or grade them on that work. The district said they are waiting for guidance from the state. 
  • Teachers in other states have also experienced confusion over expectations during this time.  

Good News of the Day

Videos Capture Penguins Going On Adorable ‘Field Trip’ Around Their Aquarium During Shutdowns
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Cute animal videos may not necessarily be a cure-all for everything, but this particular set of Twitter posts has been helping to relieve some of the stress of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Although the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has been closed to the general public amidst nationwide quarantines, the facility’s animal caretakers took advantage of their closure by taking some of their resident rockhopper penguins for a little field trip. (Via The Good News Network)
From all of us here at Bellevue, stay safe and stay healthy!

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