COVID-19 Updates, 04/02/2020

COVID-19 Updates, 04/02/2020

Federal

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Banks warn of the chaotic launch of small business lending program

  • Banks are warning that a $350 billion lending program for struggling small businesses won’t be ready when it launches Friday because the Trump administration has failed to provide them with the necessary guidelines and has set requirements for the loans that are unworkable.
  • One of the main issues for banks is the extent to which they’ll be expected to vet borrowers before approving loans and distributing funds.
  • Secretary Mnuchin is confident that the program will launch tomorrow. 

6.6 million US workers filed for their first week of unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28, 

  • Unemployment benefits have surged more than 3,000% since early March.
  • 3.3 field the week before bringing the total to 10 million in just two weeks. 
  • The increase in claims remains concentrated in the services industries, according to the Department of Labor, particularly accommodation and food services. 
  • States have reported increases in claims from workers in the health care, manufacturing, retail, and construction industries.
  • The greatest number of new unemployment claims was in California. Pennsylvania was next with 405,880 claims. 

New Poll: Broad support for virus control efforts by state leaders 

  • A new poll from the Associated Press Center for Public Affairs Research found that a majority of Republicans and Democrats alike approve of how state and local governments are handling the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • Sixty-one percent of Americans say they support postponing elections scheduled to take place in the next two months — a view held consistently by both Democrats and Republicans.
  • 15% of Americans overall say hospitals are very or extremely prepared; 38% say they are not very or not at all prepared. About half of Democrats, but just about 2 in 10 Republicans, think their area hospitals are not prepared to handle the outbreak.

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 CARES Act Educational Stabilization Fund

  • Colleges and universities are anxiously waiting for how and when the $14 billion in direct aid to them is going to be distributed.
  • The agency hasn’t yet provided any indication of how or when it plans to distribute the funding.
  • A spokesperson for the education department told reporters that “We are working diligently to go through all of the applicable provisions of the CARES act and look forward to providing details to the field in the coming days on how to access the stimulus funding Congress provided,” said Angela Morabito, a department spokesperson.
  • Colleges do have a rough idea of how much they will be receiving from a preliminary analysis by the American Council on Education. 

State

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COVID-19 update: There have been 7,016 confirmed cases in 62 counties and 9o deaths. 

PA Treasurer Torsella extends state a $2 billion credit line 

  • The treasure has extended the commonwealth a $2 billion credit line to meet critical expenditure needs. 
  • Originally authorized to run through April 12, the credit line will expire June 12, with the interest rate capped at 2 percent. 

How much will PA receive from the $2 trillion stimulus package

  • Pennsylvania will be receiving almost $4.9 billion from the CARES Act to be used for any  COVID-19-related expense that was not previously budgeted for. Some of that $4.9 billion will be going to counties with over 500,000 people. Counties will apply directly to the U.S. Treasury. 
  • How that money will be distributed in PA is still up for debate. State officials say they are in the preliminary stages of determining how much the state will receive and where the funds will go.
  • A spokesperson for Wolf said that the administration was “awaiting additional guidance from the federal agencies on any limitations on the dollars that will be allocated.” 
  • The Cares Act has allocated a $127 billion Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund with $100 billion of that fund going directly to grants for hospitals, nonprofits and Medicare and Medicaid enabled suppliers. Although we are still unclear how much money will be allocated to PA, Gov. Wolf indicated that much of the $24 million needed to keep Easton Hospital open, for instance, will come from the stimulus.

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Lawmakers are trying to get an exemption for construction companies to continue working 

  • House Speaker Mike Turazi is pushing legislation that would require the Wolf administration to issue an industry-wide waiver exempting public and private construction from Wolf’s order, as long as they comply with social distancing guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Other states have been more lenient with what construction is allowed to continue. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s list of essential businesses includes emergency construction, work on health care facilities, roads, and bridges, as well as affordable housing and homeless shelters. 
  • Gov. Wolf is resistant to allowing all construction to remain open but has allowed it to continue on public health facilities. 
  • Lyndsay Kensinger, a spokesperson for the governor said that claims that attempt to frame Pennsylvania as an outlier with its approach to construction are “completely false,” adding that the National Governors Association has sought guidance from the Wolf Administration on COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Cosponspershop and Memos that have been introduced related to COVID-19 

  • CO3461 Wheatly, Jake (D)

Provides additional wages to essential workers, prohibits employers from requiring employees to use their paid time off directly before being laid off, and suspends all mortgage and rent payments for those who lost their job.

  • CO3427 Wheatly, Jake (D)

A resolution urging the governor to sign an executive order for the Department of Corrections to furlough all non-violent offenders, pregnant women and inmates over the age of 65 until the emergency declaration is over.

  • CO3411 Diamond, Russ (R)

Allowing for the immediate reopening of all Pennsylvania businesses willing to comply with specific recommendations by the CDC and OSHA during the ongoing COVID-19 disaster emergency.

  • CO3415 Dermody, Frank (D)

A resolution urging the Department of Human Services to submit an application to join this pilot and enable Pennsylvania SNAP participants to purchase groceries online during this unprecedented time.

  • CO1489 Collett, Maria (D)

Provides front-line workers with the tools necessary for maintaining strong mental and physical health and to mitigate the spread of coronavirus on worksites that are still in physical operation.

  • Regan, Mike (R)

Co-sponsorship memo that amends the Heart and Lung Act by providing law enforcement and firefighters with their continued salary should they contract COVID-19 and are unable to work or ordered to quarantine.

City

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Philadelphia city approves $85.4 million in coronavirus relief spending 

  • Today Philadelphia approved the transfer ordinance in a remote voting session
  • Council President Darrell Clarke left open the possibility of more funding being needed for COVID-19. 
  • City Managing Director Brian Abernathy will oversee how the emergency funding is spent. 
  • A vast majority of the $85 million will be going towards maintaining essential services and healthcare to address the coronavirus. 
  • $400,000 will be used by members of the city council to encourage social distancing recommendations via social media.
  • The Kenney administration will provide details on how it is spending the money every two weeks to a monitoring group made up of members of the council. 
  • The City council’s next scheduled session is April 16th. 

Philadelphia Museum of Art extends closure to June 30 with staff salary cuts, but no layoffs

  • Art Museum employees with the largest salaries will face the biggest reductions, some as much as 60% at the executive level. However, most reductions will be in the 20% range.

Free resources to help lift your quarantine mental health

  • Billy Penn has provided a list of free resources to help those struggling with mental health. 
  • For example, Employees of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Keystone PA are working remotely through April 6, but are still answering calls to the helpline (1-888-264-7972) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
  • Philly based Urban recovery is offering free online recovery meetings 5 times a day for those struggling with substance abuse. 

Good News for the Day

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Moose on the Loose! Police chase moose through Idaho city

April 2 (UPI) — Residents of an Idaho neighborhood watched an unusual police chase unfolding outside their homes when a moose went for a run through town.
Rexburg residents said they noticed police outside their homes Wednesday morning and they looked out their windows to see the officers were chasing after a loose moose.
From all of us here at Bellevue, stay safe and stay healthy!

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