COVID-19 Update 04/28/2020

COVID-19 Update 04/28/2020

Federal 
House leadership: Next funding package on COVID-19 likely to target states, not hospitals
  • During a call with reporters today, Democratic House Leaders said that the next bill will have to include money for state and local governments. 
  • The House was originally expected to return next week, but House leadership scrapped that idea after talks with the attending physician for Congress.
  • Although there were few specifics, the leadership said that the next bill could be over $500 billion. 

Teachers union response to the potential for schools to reopen in the fall 

  • American Federation of Teachers has said that more funding is needed such as PPE before schools can reopen in the fall. 
  • State governments have begun to lay out plans to reopen in the fall that include staggered class times, temperature taking and mandatory physical distancing. 
  • The union outlined five conditions that need to be met before opening a school. In addition, AFT and the National Education Association are lobbying Congress for at least $175 billion to distribute to states for K-12 public education and higher education to fill budget gaps, $25 billion for Title I programs for low-income kids and programs for children with disabilities and $2 billion to help address internet access issues. 

State

Gov. Wolf loosens guidelines on home sales 

  • The House approved legislation (HB2412)  that would allow real estate businesses to open back up. However, Gov. Wolf has already begun loosening restrictions on real estate. Here is a copy of the memo sent from Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar. 
  • In-person showings and walkthroughs will also be allowed on an appointment-only basis and will be limited to two people on-site at a time, according to the guidance.

Gov. Tom Wolf says he won’t abandon ambitious spending plan as massive budget deficit looms

  • Gov. Wolf has said that he is sticking to his original budget that includes a 4% increase in spending over the current year and relies on relatively robust revenue growth.
  • As with other states, Gov. Wolf and the state legislature are trying to figure out how to spend the federal dollars as they can only be used for expenditures made due to COVID-19 and can not be used to replace lost revenue. PA has received $2.9 billion of an expected $4.9 billion in relief from the federal stimulus package. 
  • State lawmakers may try to pass a temporary budget, so they can wait for more funds and guidance from the federal government. The short-term budget would be passed before July 1st, as required by the state Constitution. The Wolf administration is not considering a temporary budget at this time, a spokesperson said.

Bills and co-sponsorship memos related  to COVID-19 

HR2438 Owlett, Clint (R)

  • Amends Title 68 (Real and Personal Property), providing for broadband services.

HB2450 Shusterman, Melissa (D) 

  • Amends Title 12 (Commerce and Trade), in small business first, providing for subchapter heading and for relief during emergency.

HB2452 Ciresi, Joseph (D) 

  • Amends Fiscal Code, providing for the small business grant program, imposing duties on the Dept. of Community and Economic Development, and making an appropriation.

HB 2454 Sappey, Christina (D)

  • Amends Title 40 (Insurance), providing for telemedicine, authorizing the regulation of telemedicine by professional licensing boards and providing for insurance coverage of telemedicine.

Philadelphia

Coronavirus could cost Philly up to $647 million — but layoffs are avoidable, city controller says

  • The city controller’s office said that COVID-19 could cost the city government  $344 million to $647 million in lost tax revenue through June 2021. Controller Rebecca Rhynhart said that the city should be able to continue providing services and avoid laying off municipal workers. 
  • Mayor Kenney will be proposing a new budget to the city council on Friday that is expected to include significant cuts. Managing Director Brian Abernathy has said that the city has enough money in reserves to make it through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, without cut
Philly’s water systems are being clogged by ‘fatbergs’ of PPE
  • Mayor Kenney said during his press conference today that 19 of Philly’s pumping stations have been “impacted” by PPE waste. People have been throwing their PPE down the toilet and know the Philly water department is seeing 12 times more clogging than normal at its processing facilities. 

SEPTA and union agree to new safety measure, averting crisis

  • Transport Workers United Local 234 told reporters that his union won its fight for “enhanced safety measures”, such as regular COVID-19 testing for employees and temperature checks.
  • SEPTA will also institute a more rigorous cleaning schedule, requiring workers to disinfectant equipment every two hours. 

 Good News of the Day
Scuba Diving Group Swamped With Orders for Its Face Masks Made From Recycled Ocean Plastic

Via The Good News Network – With face masks being in such high demand amongst the novel coronavirus outbreaks, one company has taken a more eco-friendly approach to supplying the public with protective masks.
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) has partnered with sustainable sportswear company Rash’r to make face masks out of plastic pollution that has been salvaged from the ocean.

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