COVID-19 Update 15 June, 2020

COVID-19 Update 15 June, 2020

Federal

Treasury’s Mnuchin seeks an additional $250 billion to replenish small-business coronavirus program

  • On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin asked Congress to commit an additional $250 billion to replenish the new $349 billion coronavirus program for small businesses, which is being overwhelmed by surging demand. 
  • The President has said that banks have processed nearly $70 billion in taxpayer-backed loans for 250,000 small businesses just since Friday.
  • However, the President did not say how many of the loans have been approved or how many businesses have received the money. 

Fed to start buying debt from corporations in expansion of rescue effort

  • The Federal Reserve has said that it will begin buying debt from large U.S. corporations, in an effort to cut their borrowing costs. 
  • An index of U.S. corporate bonds will be created and put on an open market to spare companies from having to seek aid directly from any central bank. 
  • The goal, the Federal Reserve said, is to keep cash flowing in the market and “support the availability of credit for large employers”. 

FDA revokes authorization of drug Trump touted

  • The FDA has concluded that the drug hydroxychloroquine does not meet “the statutory criteria” for emergency use, and is unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19. 
  • Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by President Trump as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, but the Food and Drug Administration no longer believes it will be effective as a treatment.
  • They did point out that doctors can continue to legally prescribe the drugs off-label, however, for other approved conditions. 

State

COVID-19 Update: Pennsylvania health officials reported 336 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, as well as four additional deaths. The statewide total number of cases now stands at 78,798. The total number of deaths is 6,215.

Pa. House panel approves police reform bills, with full vote as soon as next week

  • Today the state house judiciary committee advanced five bills to update police hiring and training. The bills would update use-of-force and racial awareness training for law enforcement,  require regular PTSD checks for officers, and create a confidential statewide database of police personnel files that include civic and criminal complaints.
  • Law enforcement officials would be required to check the database before they hire any new officers. This bill is also supported by the state’s police union. The package of bills is expected to get a full house vote next week.
  • Gov. Wolf is supportive of the package of bills. 

The coronavirus exploited the failure of Pa. health officials to improve long-standing problems with nursing home oversight

  • PA’s nursing homes have had serious problems since before the COVID-19 outbreak. These include outdated regulations, dangerously low staffing requirements for nurses, and overarching issues with weak and inconsistent inspections. 
  • COVID exacerbated the issue, leading to Pennsylvania having the seventh-highest death rate for residents of nursing homes and the 10th-highest rate of cases.
  • Once COVID-19 hit nursing homes, Gov. Wolf’s administration decided to relax requirements such as staffing levels instead of requiring nursing homes to practice safe staffing.

Gov. Wolf Announces $260 Million in Funding to Help People with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism During Pandemic

  • The $260 million “will help the more than 40,000 Pennsylvanians who receive assistance through one of the Department of Human Services’ programs or facilities,” Gov. Tom Wolf told reporters today. 
  • The $260 million will be allocated as follows:
  • $90 million to providers of residential, respite, and shift nursing services;
  • $80 million to providers of Community Participation Support services for 120 days of retainer payments, covering operations from March through June; and,
  • $90 million to providers of in-home and community, supported and small group employment, companion, and transportation trip services for 120 days of retainer payments, covering operations from March through June.

Philadelphia

COVID-19 update:  24,475 COVID-19 cases and 1,474 deaths. There has been 96,308 negative COVID-19 tests. 

Philly’s coronavirus budget hole grows by $100 million, and could lead to service cuts or tax hikes

  • Mayor Jim Kenney today announced that the whole in the city budget will be $100 million higher than expected to cost the city $749 million in lost tax revenue.  The revised projection is primarily due to worse-than-expected declines in the realty transfer and sales taxes.
  • The Mayor has not said how he plans on making up the revenue either through tax increases or additional cuts.
  • The administration is still pursuing hikes in the nonresident wage tax and the parking tax.

Philly eyes school reopening plan that would stagger when students and staff come to schools

  • The School District of Philadelphia is working on a hybrid model to open schools in the fall. The plan would require students to cycle into schools in shifts in the morning or afternoon or on alternating days or weeks. 
  • In addition to the alternating schedules, the school district will require students and employees to wear masks and fill out “daily entry questionnaires” to assess whether students and staff have symptoms or have possibly been exposed to the coronavirus.
  • The district is accepting survey responses from parents and community members, students, school staff, and central office staff through Sunday.

Good News of the Day

Quantum Realm’s ‘Fifth State of Matter’ Observed in Space For the First Time

Via The Good News Network – Scientists have observed the fifth state of matter in space for the first time, using ultra-cold atoms which offer an unprecedented opportunity to unlock the mysteries of the quantum universe beyond our current understanding, research showed Thursday.

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