COVID-19 Update 08 July, 2020

COVID-19 Update 08 July, 2020

Federal 

Congress wary on future aid as well-connected businesses rake in millions

  • The revelation that well-heeled businesses and nonprofits benefited from emergency small business loans is making it more likely that Congress will impose new limits on aid in its next rescue plan for employers and workers. Lawmakers found out this week that recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program included Kayne West’s clothing brand, P.F. Changs, and top lobbying firms.
  • Lawmakers negotiating the next round of small business aid were already discussing ways to target funds at employers that were hardest hit by the pandemic-induced shutdown, even before the data was released.
  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers who want to let businesses apply for second Paycheck Protection Program loans are also proposing that the additional aid be limited to the smallest businesses that took hits to revenue.

Trump threatens to cut federal funds from schools that don’t reopen

  • On Tuesday night, DeVos said she is “very seriously” looking at withholding federal funds from schools that don’t open their doors this fall. However, 90% of school funds come from state and local governments.
  • Federal funding for K-12 schools includes billions for low-income schools and special education. But education leaders immediately questioned how the administration would propose to hold back those funds or others. 

Support Grows for Guaranteed Income Among America’s Mayors

  • Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, California has been working with researchers to disburse $500 a month to 125 residents.  This week they announced the formation of the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income Coalition, a group of city leaders who have committed to investigating how to launch direct guaranteed income projects in their communities and advocating for state and federal solutions. Pittsburgh is a member of the coalition.
  • While Stockton’s program was supposed to wrap up this summer, COVID-19 introduced new stressors, and after a last-minute donation from a private philanthropist, SEED was extended, allowing recipients to keep getting their monthly disbursements until January 2021.

State

Education official: Part-time schedules, small groups best way to reduce COVID-19 transmission when schools reopen

  • Pennsylvania education officials are urging schools across the state to offer some form of in-person instruction this fall. The announcement by Deputy Education Secretary Matthew Stem represents a stronger stance than the one the Pennsylvania Department of Education took previously. 
  • Stern mentioned that told the state Board of Education on Wednesday that mounting evidence shows that students “benefit tremendously” from in-person classes.
  • Pennsylvania officials have given schools free rein in how they work to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks. The state only required that they adopt health and safety plans, and submit them to the state if they want to resume in-person instruction.

Spying wave of evictions, House Dems call for Wolf to extend the moratorium to year’s end

  • Democratic lawmakers from across PA have asked Gov. Wolf to give renters another five months without facing the threat of eviction. The letter was written by Rep. Fielder and signed by 43 of her House colleagues. 
  • Wolf’s eviction moratorium ends this Friday, threatening thousands with homelessness across the state. 

Philadelphia 

Philly has waived all citations against protesters after they said arrests violated their rights

  • More than 750 were arrested during the most recent protest in Philly for curfew violations, failure to disperse, and disorderly conduct.
  •  Mayor Jim Kenney on Wednesday announced that all of the code-violation notices issued to protesters from May 30 to June 30 would be waived. 

Census takers hit Philly streets next month in protective gear

  • Census takers will go door-to-door in protective equipment next month for the 2020 Census.
  • The bureau is collecting items of personal protective equipment, including washable cloth masks that census takers will be required to wear, and is directing workers to stay at least six feet apart from interview subjects and to stay outside of people’s homes. 
  • Pennsylvania’s self-response rate is slightly higher at 65.1% and the Philadelphia response rate is 51%.

Good News of the Day

The largest city in Australia is now powered 100% by renewable energy

The city of Sydney, Australia will now be powered by using locally sourced clean energy from wind and solar farms in New South Wales, and the region will now see CO2 emissions reduced by around 20,000 tonnes each year. The move will save an estimated A$500,000 (€308,000) per annum over the next decade.

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