COVID-19 Update 17 June, 2020

COVID-19 Update 17 June, 2020

Federal 

Nursing homes go unchecked as fatalities mount

  • Thousands of nursing homes across the country have not been checked to see if staff are following proper procedures to prevent coronavirus transmission. 
  • Medicare and Medicaid chief Seema Verma said that states that fail to complete inspections by July 31 risk losing federal recovery funds. 
  • Many states conducted inspections virtually which prevented states from identifying lapses at a crucial time. This was confounded by the fact that family members were unable to visit nursing homes which often provide another check. 

Supreme Court turns down cases on ‘qualified immunity’ for police

  • Under “qualified immunity,” police and other officials are immune from federal civil lawsuits unless their actions violated clearly established legal precedents at the time. On Monday, the Supreme did not take up a case that would have looked at qualified immunity.
  • The court seems to have had trouble finding the appropriate vehicle to address the issue. At least three qualified immunity cases were also turned down by the justices last month. It takes four justices to grant review in a case. 
  • Qualified immunity not only benefits police but other government employees, like hospital workers, firefighters and paramedics. 

Senate GOP proposes policing restrictions, no bans, in ‘Justice Act’

  • Republicans are embracing a new priority with the “Justice Act,” the most ambitious GOP policing proposal in years. The proposal includes an enhanced use-of-force database, restrictions on chokehold, and a study to look at law enforcement and race. 
  • Senate Democrats criticized the legislation,  with Senator Chuck Schumer saying that the bill “does not rise to the moment” and would provide less accountability than House Democrats’ version.
  • The bill also includes a proposal that would have the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture create a law enforcement training curriculum on “the history of racism in the United States.” Lastly, the bill looks to closes a loophole to prohibit federal law enforcement officers from engaging in sexual acts with those being arrested or in custody.

State 

Pennsylvania Launches New Policies to Increase Diversity Among State Contractors

  • There are three new changes that stem from the governor’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Small Business Opportunities in Commonwealth Procurement and in Pennsylvania’s Economy executive order signed in 2015. 
  • The three changes taking effort include. 
    • Each competitive state procurement will use goal setting for SDB participation on each solicitation with the intent to achieve a 26.3 percent state contract spending with SDBs. Goal setting replaces the previous scoring process used to evaluate proposals and starts today for construction solicitations over $300,000 and on August 17, 2020 for goods and services solicitations over $250,000.
    • The state will also set a goal of 4.6 percent of state contract to spend to veteran-owned businesses through the new Veteran Business Enterprise.
    • The administration has told all state agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction to have at least 15 percent of their contract spending go to eligible, state-certified small businesses through the Small Business Reserve (SBR) Program.

Pa. Supreme Court will take up fight between Wolf, Republicans over COVID-19 emergency declaration

  • A lawsuit that was brought by the Senate Republicans to challenge Gov. Wolf’s COVID-19 disaster declaration will be fast-tracked to the Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court, which earlier backed Wolf’s disaster declaration, will now decide if it must end.

Teachers union launches $1 million ad supporting HEROES Act

  • The American Federation of Teachers has launched a $1 million ad campaign, urging the U.S. Senate to pass the HEROES Act.
  • The campaign will be running ads in PA targeting Senator Toomey and asking for him to support the bill in the senate. 

Philadelphia 

Michelle Obama partners with Roots Picnic for virtual concert and voter registration drive

  • The event will happen on June 27th but will not replace the 13th Annual Roots Picnic. 
  • Performers at the virtual concert are slated to include singers Musiq Soulchild, H.E.R., Sza, and Snoh Aalegra, rappers Lil Baby and Roddy Rich and gospel artist Kirk Franklin. There will also be appearances by Tom Hanks, Kerry Washington, Chris Paul, and local influencer Wallo267.

Cupboards of Care gives seniors access to healthier food options

  • Since June 2018, Philadelphia residents have bought more that 12,000 pounds of fresh produce through the Cupboards of Care program – a program that has raised more than $316,000 in an effort to improve food security and teach healthy eating habits in the Philly region. 

Philly officials warn restaurants to separate tables or risk being shut down again

  • As Philadelphia – and the nation – continue reopening efforts, officials are stressing that caution is still needed in everything we do. 
  • Even as case numbers are on the decline, Health Commissioner Tom Farley has said that he is concerned about the return of outdoor dining, stating that he has seen tables are not placed the mandated six feet apart. 
  • Nor, Farley said, are enough people wearing face masks. 
  • Farley said that the Health Department will step up enforcement and “will close restaurants that pose a risk”. 

Mayor Kenney declares Juneteenth an official Philadelphia holiday

  • On Tuesday, Mayor Jim Kenney announced that he will issue an executive order declaring Juneteenth an official city holiday. 
  • On June 19th, 1865, Union troops reached Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War was over, and all previously enslaved people were free. 
  • Juneteenth has been celebrated for years by Black communities across the country, and finally, the day is closer to being an officially sanctioned holiday in the U.S. 
  • Last year, Philadelphia was the record holder for the largest Juneteenth celebration in the country. 

Good News of the Day

This Orchestra Performs ‘Symphonies’ Using Typewriter Sounds—Listen to Their Catchy New Song

Via the Good News Network – Some orchestras have string sections; others have brass—but this particular orchestra is famous for only using typewriters.

For the last 16 years, the Boston Typewriter Orchestra has been delighting audiences across New England by performing original songs and covers composed exclusively for the mechanical clicks, kerchunks, and dings of typewriters.

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