COVID-19 Updates, 04/01/2020

COVID-19 Updates, 04/01/2020

Happy April!

Special Series: Today we will be focusing on the funds that were allocated to economic development and housing stability in the CARES Act.

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The CARES Act includes $5 billion is provided for the Community Development Block Grant program to enable nearly 1,240 states, counties, and cities to rapidly respond to COVID-19 and the economic and housing impacts caused by it, including the expansion of community health facilities, child care centers, food banks, and senior services.

    • $2 billion will be allocated to states and units of local governments that received an allocation under the fiscal year 2020 CDBG formula, 
    • $1 billion will go directly to states to support a coordinated response across entitlement and non-entitlement communities.
    • $2 billion will be allocated to states and units of local government, cities, and counties based on the prevalence and risk of COVID-19 and related economic and housing disruption. 

Funding: Pennsylvania will receive $170.65 million in new funding from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and other U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs as a result of the latest coronavirus relief legislation.

  • This initial funding will be provided to jurisdictions that received CDBG for the fiscal year 2020. Additional grants through CDBG are forthcoming. In addition to CDBG, Pennsylvania received funding through the Emergency Solutions Block Grant (ESBG) and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program (HOPWA).
  • At the moment, Philadelphia will be receiving: 
    • $26 million for Community Development Block Grants
    • $12 million for Emergency Solutions Block Grant 
    • $1 million for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program (HOPWA)

  Additional information on other countries funding can be found here: https://dingo.telicon.com/PA/library/2020/2020040178.HTM

To learn more about the CARES Act and opportunities at the local, state, and federal level please join us this Thursday for a virtual town hall. To attend, please use this link: https://zoom.us/j/7214456147 

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Major retailers have opened only 5 drive-thru testing locations, none available to the general public

  • On March 13th, President Trump made the announcement that testing sites were going to be open for the public at Target, Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS. 
  • However, the department of health and human services has confirmed that there are only five locations from these major retailers that are currently offering drive-thru testing — and none are open to the general public.
  • Most of the locations are offering to test to first responders and healthcare workers. 

Lobbyist fight to get more money for Corporate America 

  • The stimulus bill signed into law last week included $454 billion to fund a massive loan program for big and medium-sized businesses backed by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve.
  • Many believe this is not enough money and more money will need to be included in the next stimulus package.
  • Lobbyists on capitol hill have shifted their effort from trying to get their priorities into the legislation to try to shape the rules mandated by the law.

What will be in the next stimulus package?

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the first two bills were about tackling the emergency, the third was about mitigation and the fourth should be about recovery.
  • Besides money towards infrastructure, aides on Capitol Hill have told reporters to expect new electric grid provisions and fuel standard requirements to be included in the next stimulus package. 
  • Other items that may be included: expanded broadband access to rural communities,  more money for state and local governments, enhanced worker safety provisions for those on the front lines, including health care providers and grocery store workers, more money to Americans and the temporary paid family and medical leave provisions to cover even more people. 
  • Democrats want to include in the next bill a repeal of the State and Local Tax provision (SALT). More information below. 

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Economists pan Pelosi’s proposal to lift the cap on state and local tax deductions in next bailout

  • Economists and tax experts have come out against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s idea to stimulate the economy in the next bailout bill by raising the federal cap on tax deductions for state and local taxes.
  • The idea would be to lift a $10,000 cap on the dedication taxpayers are allowed to take for state and local taxes also known as SALT. 
  • This measure is controversial as changes to the SALT deduction are seen as only helping wealthier individuals. More than half of the proceeds from fully repealing the SALT cap would go to the top 1 percent, households making more than about three-quarters of a million dollars a year.

State

COVID-19 update: State and County officials have reported 6,002 known cases with 74 deaths, compared with 1,281 cases one week ago. Gov. Wolf has extended stay at home orders to the entire state until April 30th. 

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Good news! Pennsylvania now allowing alcohol sales online, website crashes due to ‘overwhelming demand’

  • PA is now allowing  Pennsylvania’s Fine Wine and Good Spirits to take online orders.
  • Customers will be limited to purchasing up to six bottles per transaction from a reduced catalog, the board said, and all orders must be shipped to home or non-store addresses. Only one order per address will be fulfilled per day.
  • Today the site crashed because of overwhelming demand. Access to the website will be randomized throughout the day to avoid overwhelming the site, according to a release from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. 

In Pennsylvania, tax revenues were down 6.2% in March 

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue announced that March tax revenues were 6.2 percent less than projected. In March PA had $4.4 billion in revenue, about $294.6 million less than anticipated.
  • The Department of Revenue said that they believe revenue will continue to fall. 
  • Officials are still waiting to see how the recently passed federal COVID-19 stimulus impacts the state, and what future dollars could still be authorized by Congress. 

Pennsylvania extends eviction moratorium as coronavirus shutdowns lead to record unemployment

  • The state Supreme Court has extended the moratorium on evictions until April 30th.  
  • However, housing advocates have pointed out that landlords who do not get a rent payment from their tenants can still initiate the eviction process as soon as the courts reopen on April 30th. 
  • Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler (D., Phila.) said Monday that she and three other lawmakers are working on a bill that would freeze rent and mortgage payments for three months

Calls to Pennsylvania’s  child-abuse hotline fell sharply during the first weeks of the coronavirus 

  • Child welfare advocates have warned that this drop in calls could reflect a more troubling trend, as those who are most likely to report abuse mandated reporters ( such as social workers, teachers, coaches) are now confined to their homes. 
  • In the first three weeks of March, ChildLine received just over 9,000 calls, compared with nearly 18,000 in February. 

City

COVID-19 update: Philadelphia has a reported 1478 cases and 10 deaths. 

Not gonna break my bank’: Developers say coronavirus won’t end Philly’s real estate boom

  • Developers and others in the real estate industry believe that the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic would affect their industry less dramatically than the Great Recession.
  • However,  larger developers who invested in one or two major projects may suffer larger losses than smaller landlords and developers.

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Should we order in tonight? Questions about food safety in the time of coronavirus

  • Many people in Philadelphia have been ordering takeout to support their local restaurants and you should keep doing that if you can. 
  • As of Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration reports “there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of the coronavirus.”
  • Packaging such as cardboard or bags may be able to harbor the virus for 24 hours. However, a lot is still unknown, so it is most important to wash your hands and wipe down takeout containers.  
  • As for the takeout food itself, if you usually trust the restaurant’s fare, it’s probably safe now. If you’re worried, reheating takeout will sterilize it.

Good News of the Day

Museum Asks People To Recreate Paintings With Stuff They Can Find at Home, Here Are The Results

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 The Getty Museum in Los Angeles challenged art fans to post photos of themselves recreating their favorite works of art from the safety of their homes.

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