COVID-19 Update 04/16/2020

COVID-19 Update 04/16/2020

Federal 

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Small business fund expires with deal out of reach this week
  • The small business rescue fund set up by Congress exhausted its $350 billion funding capacity Thursday morning and will wait until at least next week for any movement on Capitol Hill.
  • Without additional funding, banks and the Small Business Administration will be unable to approve more of the Paycheck Protection Program loans designed to avert layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic, which can be forgiven if businesses agree to maintain their payrolls.
  • Democrats are asking for additional money to minority businesses and money to states and local governments. 

USDA to buy $2B in ag goods as part of coronavirus aid

  • The Agriculture Department is planning to spend nearly $2 billion to purchase agricultural commodities to help get surpluses to food banks, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said today.
  • USDA is expected to announce its plans for the first installment of around $16 billion in aid as soon as this week.

$400 million towards the Help America Vote Act to help states 

  • $400 million was provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to ensure the health and safety of voters and election workers during the COVID-19 outbreak. The extra grant money can be used for coronavirus-related expenses such as mail-in balloting, buying protective equipment for poll workers and disinfecting voting machines. 
  • PA will be receiving $14,155,505. 

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State 

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COVID-19 update: 27,735 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 707 deaths. 

Pa.’s Casey, Scanlon call for a fairer distribution of COVID-19 relief fund money

  • Senator Casey and Congresswomen Mary Gay Scanlon said that the Trump administration is creating an uneven playing field by unfairly distributing the $2 trillion in federal aid according to 2019 Medicare revenues.
  • Specifically, Casey and Scanlon are pinpointing the $30 billion that is being distributed to states based on their past Medicare revenues, not how many coronavirus patients the states have treated. 
  • The actions of Republican lawmakers seem “so senseless and so completely opposite to what we need to do for our communities and for our health care system,” Scanlon told reporters. 

Pennsylvania to use liquor stores for online fulfillment

  • Workers will be back on the job at more than 100  state-owned liquor stores to help process online orders.
  • Gov. Tom Wolf’s office gave the OK to reopen 106 of the state system’s 600 stores to help with online fulfillment. 

Gov. Wolf Emergency SNAP Benefit Distribution to Begin Today, Local Feeding Programs Available

  • In line with federal guidelines from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, PA Department of Human Services will begin distributing emergency funds to families who receive  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  • Payments include a supplemental increase for both March and April and will continue to be issued for current SNAP households through April 29.
  • These emergency payments are for March and April and will be distributed as a one-time issuance distributed on a staggered schedule beginning April 16

Bills filed this week related to COVID-19:

HB2391 Hohenstein, Joseph (D)

  • Act establishing public health emergency leave.

HB2411 Davis, Austin (D)

  • Act establishing the Child Care Grant Program for Front Line Medical Facility Personnel; providing for duties of DCED; establishing Fund; and making an appropriation.

Philadelphia

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COVID-19 update: 8,045 have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 264 confirmed deaths.

Pandemic could lead to foreclosure surge but in Philly, help is just a call away

  • In Philadelphia, if you are facing foreclosure you can reach out to the Philadelphia Legal Assistance.,  a nonprofit that runs the housing hotline and provides free civil legal services to low-income city residents.
  • Foreclosures are frozen until April 30th due to a decision by the PA Supreme Court, 
  • Homeowners can enter the diversion program by calling the Save Your Home Philly Hotline at 215-334-HOME. 

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Philly’s ambitious plan to put caterers back to work serving the homeless

  • The effort is called Step Up to the Plate and was launched this week by the city with nonprofits including Project HOME, Prevention Point, and Broad Street Ministry. 
  •  The goal of the program is to ensure that homeless individuals have access to two meals a day while helping to keep caters with a job.
  • The program was started with a grant by the Independence Foundation of $850,000.

Philly’s public school students to start remote learning Monday

  • Superintendent Hughes told reporters today that “We will start our formal digital learning plan on Monday where we will do a review on previously covered material and its enrichment using the digital platform,”
  • Approximately 7,000 teachers have been trained on digital platforms including Google Classrooms, Hite said.

Good News of the Day

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Starbucks to open some stores on May 4th 

Beginning May 4, Starbucks will re-open as many stores as we possible with modified operations and best in class safety measures and will intend for any partner who is healthy to return to work. Most of Starbucks’ operations in the first few weeks will include drive-thru and “others may utilize the mobile ordering experience for contactless pickup and delivery, and others may reopen for “to-go” ordering.”

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