COVID-19 Update 08 June, 2020

COVID-19 Update 08 June, 2020

Federal 

Civil rights groups receive a flood of corporate donations

  • Since the killing of George Floyd, U.S. companies have pledged more than $450 million to groups focused on social and racial justice which normally depends more on individual donations. The Advancement Project said celebrities’ tweets had helped it raise $520,000 from 50,000 online donors — more than 10 times its entire 2020 digital fundraising goal.
  • Walmart and its foundation promised to put $100 million into a new racial equity center; Warner Music and Sony Music announced $100-million funds with few details attached, and Nike pledged $40 million to various organizations. Goldman Sachs, Target, United Health, and Verizon’s foundation each gave $10 million.
  • This money is especially important at this time. The Center for Effective Philanthropy, or CEP, will report on Monday that 80% of nonprofits have tapped or expect to tap their reserves, and those working on racial equality have been particularly affected.

As Businesses Reopen, Workplace Testing Is the ‘Wild West’

  • Employers have been left to their own devices as they navigate the public health and legal minefield that comes with administrating a testing place for workplaces. Because we do not have a federal response, it undermines the ability of businesses to predict how and when and where to do [testing],” said Dr. Ingrid Katz, an infectious disease specialist at the Harvard Global Health Institute.
  • Many states have not released any direction when it comes to workplace testing and leaving it up to businesses in deciding when to test employees, how often, and how to act on the results.
  • Public health officials in Pennsylvania and California said they have not issued any directions for employers that wish to test their workers. Pennsylvania has mandated that businesses conduct temperature checks on all essential workers – which is more guidance than many other states.

George Floyd protests created a surge in voter registrations, groups say

  • Latino voter registration groups in recent weeks have noticed an uptick in their communities mobilization to vote, particularly from younger voters.
  • Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO of Vote Latino 501 ©(4) said her group surpassed its June goal of registering 20,000 people, including in the key states of Arizona and Texas, and is expected to have 50,000 Latino youth registered by Sunday. 
  • Rock the Vote, a nonprofit dedicated to registering voters said that since Monday, it had seen over 50,000 new voters.

‘Black Americans want to stop being killed’: Democrats unveil sweeping police reform bill

  • The House and Senate Democrats unveiled police reform bills today. Policies in the bill include a ban on chokeholds and making it easier to sue police officers who unjustly injure or kill citizens. The bill will also limit qualified immunity which shields officers from lawsuits and create a National Police Misconduct Registry.”
  • The Democratic House leaders said they will vote on the package once the bill is finished, but it faces a tough time in the Senate. In addition, House Republicans are aiming to release their own policing proposal by the end of the week.

State 

COVID-19 update:  Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has reported 75,943 cases of the novel coronavirus, including 5,953 fatalities

Gov. Wolf Announces $225 Million Grant Program for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Black Dems take over Pa. House floor; Turzai calls for a special session on police reform

  • The Black Democratic members of the PA State house occupied the House chamber and refused to allow Monday’s voting session to begin until there was a guarantee of action on the legislation. They are asking for their legislation, which includes a ban on chokeholds and changing use of force guidelines, to get a hearing and a vote.
  • Turzai told the Black lawmakers, who were joined Monday by some white colleagues, that House leadership would meet to discuss the legislation, and send a joint letter to Gov. Tom Wolf to call for the special session.
  • Special sessions rarely result in concrete legislative action. The notable exception was a special session in crime in 1995, under former GOP Gov. Tom Ridge, that saw lawmakers passed many tough on crime bills.

Major Republican donors are getting a $25 million marijuana permit in the Pa. budget

  • A pair of major Republican donors and the former head of the Pennsylvania Lottery Commission who operate Bay LLC are poised to receive a lucrative permit to sell and grow medical marijuana in southwest PA valued at $25 million. 
  • Although the inserted provision is not illegal, Bay LLC stands to benefit enormously from the last-minute addition to the budget. However, they have to first wait for    Agrimed (the current holder of the permit)  non-renewal permit to go through court systems. The Department of Health decided not to reinstate the Agrimed permit after marijuana plants mysteriously disappeared from the facility.
  • At question is why a lawmaker was able to slip in the language without debate that allows for an unidentified company to acquire a permit that was revoked from another marijuana grower. That company would be allowed to claim the permit.

Philadelphia 

Covid-19 update: Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health has reported 23,691 cases, including 1,414 deaths.

Fourteen Council members call for significant police reforms in letter to Mayor Jim Kenney

  • Councilman Johnson’s office wrote the letter and told reporters that his top priority is changing the police arbitration process, which a 2019 Inquirer investigation from the Inquirer showed how more than 100 questionable Philly cops who were disciplined or fired had their sanctions reduced or overturned.
  • In addition, the letter outlines 15 specific reforms, such as calling for community representatives and outside experts to have a seat at the table in contract negotiations between the city and police union; for an early warning system that tracks indicators of officers who are likely to conduct misconduct among other reforms.
  • The only members to not sign the letter were Brian O’Neill, David Oh, and Bobby Henon.

Police officer surrenders to face charges in protest arrest

  • A Philadelphia police officer surrendered Monday to face aggravated assault and other charges stemming from a video that shows him striking a student protester in the head with a metal baton.
  • Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna has been suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss him from the department.
  • The attorney representing the engineering student, who according to the district attorney’s office needed about 10 staples and 10 stitches, declined to comment on the charges or arrest.

Good News of the Day!

Anonymous Donor Gives $40k to Florida Cafe to Help it Stay Open During Pandemic – And Feed Hospital Workers

Via the Good News Network – An anonymous donor has saved a Florida restaurant that might otherwise have closed for good, due to the coronavirus lockdown. Not only has his generosity kept the restaurant open, it also enabled the owners to offer a big “Thank you” to some local healthcare workers.

The donor then asked Bill, the owner, if he would be willing to send 100 sandwiches per day to Naples Community Hospital across the street. Bill jumped at the chance, and all of the food was given to the hospital’s employees for free.

The donations were purchased and distributed over the course of a few weeks—and they totaled $40,000.

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