COVID-19 Update 30 July, 2020

COVID-19 Update 30 July, 2020

Federal

Federal Housing update: 

Today Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) and Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) introduced the Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program Act(HELP Act), legislation that would provide legal aid to families facing eviction amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The measure would authorize $10 billion in Emergency Solution Grants (ESG) to fund legal counsel for renters facing/at risk of eviction, as well as require landlords to inform their tenants of their rights and responsibilities. 

The House of Representatives passed a six-bill appropriations minibus, H.R. 7617, for the fiscal year 2021 (FY21), which bundles the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Defense, Commerce, Justice, Energy, Treasury Labor, Health and Human Services and Education spending bills. The Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD), received strong funding for affordable housing and community development. The FY21 THUD bill includes $50.6 billion for HUD, which is $13 billion above the President’s FY21 request and $1.5 billion above the FY20 enacted levels. 

  • $3.5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program
  • $1.7 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership program
  • $25.7 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA),
  •  $13.1 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) 
  •  $45 million for HUD’s Section 4 program.

Nursing homes to get nearly 1M rapid tests by end of week

  • The federal government will deliver nearly 1 million rapid, point-of-care coronavirus tests to 1,019 high-risk nursing homes by the end of the week.
  • The goal is to relieve the pressure on commercial testing laboratories while increasing the testing of nursing home residents and staff.
  • HHS testing czar Brett Giroir told the House today that the administration is now looking to boost testing at universities.

Giving to Faith-Based Nonprofits Likely to Hold Steady or Increase, Survey Says

  • Eighty-five percent of people who gave at least $1,000 in 2018 or 2019 to a faith-based nonprofit say they expect to give the same amount or more this year as they did last year, according to a new survey.
  • Only 8 percent said they plan to shift their giving to other causes or nonprofits because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • The survey was conducted by North Carolina-based consultancy DickersonBakker collected 1,079 responses to the online survey

State 

COVID Update: 970 additional positive cases of COVID-19 were reported today. PA has 112.048 total cases statewide. There have been 7,189 deaths in PA. 1,104,824 patients have tested negative to date.

Minority-owned small businesses were largely shut out of Pa.’s first coronavirus loan program

  • In March, Gov. Wolf launched a $61 million low-interest loan program as a lifeline to small businesses in PA.
  • Of the 761 approved loans, only 41 — or 5% — went to minority-owned businesses, according to new numbers released by state economic development officials.
  • The administration launched a new $200 million program grant program specifically targeted at the smallest and most vulnerable businesses, many of which were left behind in the frantic rush for state and federal aid.  Half of the money will be going to minority businesses. The new program uses an automated scoring system that gives priority to low-income businesses’ owners.

Pa. will pay postage for all mail-in ballots cast in November election

  • Pennsylvania will pay the postage fee to return every mail-in or absentee ballot it sends to voters for November’s presidential election. The administration plans to use federal COVID-19 stimulus dollars to pay for the stamps.
  • The Wolf administration is working with individual counties to identify the easiest way to implement the policy. 

Philadelphia 

Philadelphia seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases due to spread from family members

  • This week, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley said contact tracing revealed an increase in coronavirus cases spread by family members. Other counties in our area are seeing the same thing.
  • Officials say if you are going to visit family you need to wear a mask and still social distance.

Philly restaurant workers are organizing for higher wages and better work conditions despite the pandemic

  • Restaurants are struggling to address questions about their treatment of staff in an industry fraught with racial, gender, and class inequities. Now that returning to work poses a serious health risk — in an industry where only 14% of workers receive health insurance — many workers are no longer willing to accept the status quo. 
  • In Philadelphia, part of the drive to organize has percolated through Philly Workers for Dignity, a group that started up late last year.

Good News of the Day

Artist Sends 1,800 of His Flower Paintings to a Brooklyn Hospital–One for Every Cook, Nurse, and Janitor

VIA Good News Network – As a means of commemorating their heroics, Michael Gittes gifted a unique floral painting to every doctor, receptionist, janitor, inventory manager, cook, administrator, and nurse at the Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn.

At the height of the pandemic, the nonprofit healthcare facility was chock-a-block full of patients, sometimes treating over 100 people per day.

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