COVID-19 Update 22 July 2020

COVID-19 Update 22 July 2020

Federal 

Senate GOP starts to unveil coronavirus proposal amid deep discord

  • The Senate Republicans unveiled parts of their new coronavirus relief bill today. The proposal is expected to include a temporary flat payment for unemployment insurance for two months, a new round of direct payments to Americans but with lower income restrictions; liability protection for schools and businesses as they begin to reopen; billions of dollars in new funds to upgrade state-level coronavirus testing capacity; additional Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses; $105 billion for schools. The package will likely cost $1 trillion.
  • President Trump has been pushing for a proposal that would include a payroll tax cut, but it is unclear if Republicans are supportive. Another option the Senate Finance Committee is weighing includes the employee retention tax credit from the March CARES Act to incentivize businesses to keep workers.

NATIONAL ACADEMIES TACKLING CORONAVIRUS VACCINE DISTRIBUTION 

  •  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will study how to fairly distribute any coronavirus vaccines following a request from the NIH and CDC.
  • The panel for that politically tricky job will weigh a series of variables, including health disparities, high-risk individuals and where the virus is spreading fastest.

NAACP Sues Betsy DeVos Over Federal Aid Money For Private Schools

  • The NAACP is suing the Education Dept over the distribution of more than $13 billion in federal aid intended for K-12 schools.
  • Besty Devos issued a rule that says that if a state wants to use the funds to provide certain services, it must also fund “equitable services” for all private school students in the district. Normally, “equitable services” is only for low-income students in private schools.

State 

With federal action looming, state actors differ on approach to sweeping liability shield

  • There is a debate in PA and across the county regarding granting blanket liability to protect businesses and other industries from lawsuits stemming from COVID-19.
  • Rep. Barb Gleim has introduced legislation that would grant a blanket immunity shield, promoted by concerns from teachers and nurses in her district that they could be held liable if someone in their stead contracts COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 related lawsuits will need to require that they contracted the virus at a given establishment–something that could be near impossible to prove in most circumstances.

Former Pa. governors, lawmakers launch coalition for ‘safe voting options’

  • A coalition of former Pennsylvania governors, legislators, and members of Congress are joining forces ahead of the November general election to educate voters about their options in Nov and the security of the vote by mail system.
  • The coalition, which is being led by former Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, was formed as part of a statewide campaign organized by the Pennsylvania chapter of VoteSafe.

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Philadelphia

COVID-19 Update: Philadelphia announced 132 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Wednesday. That figure is roughly in line with the recent average number of cases reported per day; Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. The city also confirmed seven additional deaths due to COVID-19 Wednesday. A total of 1,673 Philadelphia residents have now died of the virus and the city has reported a total of 28,874 confirmed cases.

Philly mulls later start time for high schoolers amid the school pandemic planning

  • The city of Philadelphia is concerning starting high school at 9:30 am. The district would not confirm if this is true but did say that it is considering later starts times for older students.
  • The reason for the later start would be to have staggering arrival times to accommodate social distance efforts on school buses.
  • Some see the later start as an issue for working parents who normally drop their students off to school. 

Canceling big parades but allowing protests is ‘unconstitutional,’ U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain tells Kenney

  • Mayor Jim Kenney’s policy of prohibiting large permitted events like the Mummers Parade while allowing protests to happen is unconstitutional according to U.S. Attorney William McSwain. 
  • McSwain, an appointee of President Donald Trump and the top federal prosecutor for the Philadelphia region, said that Mayor Kenney blanket ban on events doesn’t pass legal muster, arguing that cultural parades may also be considered protected speech.
  • The letter obtained by The Inquirer does not say what McSwain may do if the mayor does not change the city’s approach to large events. 

Good News of the Day

On this day in history: It’s Alex Trebek’s birthday! The beloved Jeopardy host turns 80 today. Also on July 22nd – Alexander Mackenzie reaches the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first person to cross North American over the great Divide and through Canada, much of the way on foot, in 1793. And, on July 22nd, 1796, the city of Cleveland was founded.

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