COVID-19 Update 04/10/2020

COVID-19 Update 04/10/2020

Federal

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IRS, Treasury launch an online tool to get stimulus payments to nonfilers
  • The Treasury Department and IRS launched a web-based tool Friday designed to ensure that people who don’t normally file tax returns won’t miss out on upcoming economic stimulus payments.
  • The tool is intended to help those with low incomes who may not file tax returns. 
  • Individuals can also be mailed a check if they do not have an electronic bank. 
DeVos unveils how $6B in emergency financial aid will go to college students
  • The $6.28 billion in aid “will be distributed immediately to colleges and universities,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in the announcement.
  • These institutions are required to use the money to help students pay for expenses, such as course materials, technology, food, housing, health care and child care, which are related to the pandemic.
  • In a letter to colleges and universities, DeVos also recommended that colleges set a maximum funding amount for each student at $6,195, which is the current maximum Pell Grant amount, in order to make sure the money is “distributed as widely as possible.”
  • For post-secondary schools to receive the funds, they will have to submit a signed certification that they will distribute the funds in compliance with the law, then it will be up to the schools to decide which students get the cash grants.

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COVID-19: Apple, Google partner on Bluetooth contact tracing

  • Apple and Google will be working together to help health officials trace coronavirus exposure risks. 
  • The companies said they would make technology available by mid-May that would use Bluetooth on people’s phones to detect when people have come into contact with individuals diagnosed with the virus. 
  • The feature would be designed to work with apps by public health authorities on devices that run Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
  • Customers will have to opt-on to the contact-tracing technology and would have to agree to enter their health status on their phones. They also said the identities of users who report positive test results wouldn’t be shared.

State

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COVID-19 update: 19,979 cases in all 67 counties and 416 known fatalities

 Wolf rolls out $450M emergency loan program for hospitals

  • Today Gov. Wolf authorized the creation of a $450 million emergency loan program for the state hospitals to ensure they do not go bankrupt during COVID-19. 
  •  The Wolf administration said the money would be funneled through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, and administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development through its Pennsylvania First Program. 
  • Earlier on Friday, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said the commonwealth’s hospitals and health systems would receive $1.25 billion from the CARES Act that congress recently passed.

Pa. legislature making few cuts, no promises to tap hefty reserves as the state faces a massive budget shortfall

  • The Republican-led state legislature — one of the largest and highest-paid in the country has so far taken very few steps to cut expenses or offer any money during this crisis. Gov. Wolf has taken action to cut spending, laying off more than 2,500 employees and stopping the paycheck of 14,000 workers. 
  • Neither the House nor Senate has offered to relinquish all or a portion of the money it has in reserves to put toward next year’s state budget. 
  • The legislature’s reserve fund is large enough to fund the individual budgets of several state departments for an entire year, but thus far the State Republicans have not made any effort to release funds to suffering PA citizens.

PA Program will release hundreds from state prisons during the pandemic 

  • Due to the fact that the PA State legislature has not acted, Gov. Wolf announced that he will release up to 1,800 people from the state’s prisons. 
  • These individuals would be eligible for release within the next nine months, or who are considered vulnerable for infection and are within a year of their release date. 
  • The order excludes several groups from being eligible for temporary release, including prisoners serving sentences for violent crimes such as murder, sexual assault and drug trafficking.

City

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COVID-19 update: 5,271 confirmed cases and 104 confirmed deaths. Forty-four of the deaths reported in the city were at nursing homes.

 White House official praises Philadelphia’s coronavirus response

  • Today Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, credited Mayor Jim Kenney’s leadership as the rate of growth in Philadelphia’s COVID-19 cases may be slowing.
  • The number of new confirmed cases in Philadelphia have remained stable around 500 per day for much of this week. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is proof that we need to pay Pennsylvanians a living wage 

  • State Representative Kevin Boyle writes about how the COVID-19 pandemic should push us to fight for a living wage in PA. 
  • He writes that, “We must ensure a living wage for all Pennsylvanians; and we must allow for individual municipalities to use common-sense measures to meet the unique cost of living expenses of their area.”

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Good News of the Day

A couple stuck inside during the lockdown have made an adorable art gallery - for their GERBILS.  See SWNS story SWLEgerbils.  Marianna Benetti and her boyfriend Filippo Lorenzin, both 30, constructed the miniature exhibition last week to keep their pets entertained during quarantine.  The tiny space was furnished with carefully curated gerbil themed takes on classic works of art - including the ‘Mousa Lisa’.  Marianna and Filippo also made mini benches, gallery assistant stools, large print guides, and a sign which read ‘DO NOT CHEW’.  Their two nine-month-old gerbils, Pandoro and Tiramisu, enjoyed browsing the gallery and nibbled their way through one of the delicately constructed chairs.

Friday Funnies: Look Inside This Mini Art Gallery That a Bored Couple in Quarantine Made for Their Pet Gerbils

By Good News Network – A couple stuck inside during the novel coronavirus lockdowns have used their free time to made an adorable art gallery for their pet gerbils.
Marianna Benetti and her boyfriend Filippo Lorenzin, both 30 years old, constructed the miniature exhibition last week to keep their pets entertained during quarantine.
The tiny space was furnished with carefully curated rodent-themed takes on classic works of art—including the “Mousa Lisa”.
From all of us here at Bellevue, stay safe and stay healthy!

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