COVID-19 Updates 04/13/2020

COVID-19 Updates 04/13/2020

Federal

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Essential Workers Bills of Rights 

  • Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) today unveiled “Essential Workers Bill of Rights,” which outlined nearly a dozen of their policy priorities. 
  • The Essential Bill of Rights includes priorities such as premium compensation for essential workers, protections for collective bargaining agreements, support for childcare and universal paid sick leave. 

 National Governors Associations Outlines the need for additional financial assistance to states: 

  • The NGA has asked congress for an additional half a trillion dollars to offset devastating budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic. 
  • They are asking that any funds directed towards states should not be tied to only COVID-19 related expenses and that Congress must amend the CARES Act to allow this flexibility for existing federal funding.

Trump is putting pressure on the insurance industry to pay businesses claims

  • President Trump is putting pressure on the insurance industry to pay business claims for coverage for interruptions such as pandemics. However, insurers have been turning down these claims because they say viruses are excluded in their policies. 
  • On Friday, seven Republicans led by Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo of Idaho warned the president in a letter that forcing insurers to retroactively cover the costs of the pandemic in business interruption insurance policies would threaten the solvency of the industry.
  • Insurance companies say the claims could be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. 

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UFCW: 3,000 grocery workers may be infected with COVID-19

  • The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) told journalists that over 30 of its members have died from COVID-19. 
  • UFCW  is pushing for increased protection from the government for its members. The union is asking the CDC to classify grocery workers as first responders and to give them a priority for testing and protective equipment.
  • Most companies that have implemented the two-week COVID-19 sick leave policy required by the federal government also require employees to provide positive COVID-19 diagnoses before they can receive sick pay. This is extremely difficult because tests are only given to first responders such as nurses and doctors. 

State

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COVID-19 Update: 24,199 confirmed cases in 67 counties and 524 known fatalities. Secretary Levine said today that the rate of new COVID-19 cases and fatalities is slowing in Pennsylvania, and remains lower than what other states are seeing more than one month into the pandemic. She also said that PA has collected tests for one percent of its population. 
PA joins 5 Northeast governors planning a regional economic restart

  • Speaking on a conference call, the governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island agreed that it was essential to work together in developing plans to reopen businesses, schools, and public transportation after weeks on lockdown.
  • Gov. Cuomo from New York told reporters that each state will provide a public health official, an economic development official and the governor’s chief of staff to form the working group.  
  • However, President Trump recently made the announcement on Twitter that he, not the governors, would decide when stay-at-home orders could be lifted. 

PA House Committee advances bill that would reopen auto sales

  • The Republican majority in the  House advanced another bill this week that would exempt auto sales from Gov. Tom Wolf’s business closure order. The bill passed out of the State committee today. 
  • Under HB2388 dealerships would be able to continue selling cars as long as they follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designed to protect workers and limit transmission of COVID-19.
  • New York state allows car sales through remote or electronic means and Maryland is allowing car and truck dealerships to continue operating. 
  • The bill is the third piece of legislation considered in recent weeks by the legislature that would roll back Wolf’s orders. 

Pennsylvania hospitals will receive $1.25 billion from the CARES Act

  • Senator Toomey on Friday announced that $1.25 billion of the CARES Act will be going to PA hospitals. 
  • The Hospital and Healthcare Association of Pennsylvania said that, of the state’s 12,000-odd facilities eligible for the funds, the first round of money is not enough to address their immediate needs. 
  • Part of the $24 million required to save Easton Hospital from being shuttered will come from the stimulus as well, Wolf has confirmed. 
  • HAP has said that hospitals are losing $1.5 billion each month in PA. 

Bills and Co-Sponsorship Memos filed related to COVID-19. 

HB2396 Ravenstahl, Adam (D)

  • Amends Title 35 (Health & Safety), in Commonwealth services, providing for work-related hazardous duty.

HB2403  Cephas, Morgan (D) 

  • Amends the Housing Finance Agency Law, in general provisions, providing for suspension of interest payment collection.

HB843 Dermody, Frank (D) 

  • Resolution urging the Department of Human Services to submit a request to the United States Department of Agriculture to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Online Purchasing Pilot.

SB1109 Farnese, Lawrence (D) 

  • Act establishing public health emergency leave.

CO3449 Wheatly, Jake (D)

  • Creates a fund, paid for by a bond, allowing hospitals to apply for reimbursement for a portion of the uncompensated care directly related to COVID-19.

CO3451 O’Neal, Tim (R )

Privatizes the sale of wine and spirits in the commonwealth.


CO1504 Killion, Thomas ( R ) 

  • Allocating a grant program funded by the CARES Act for non-profit, charitable and community organizations.

 

Philadelphia 

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COVID-19 update: Philadelphia has 6,813 confirmed cases and 190 deaths.  

  • Of the 190 total deaths, 125 (66%) were of people over age 70, and 93 (49%) were long-term care facility residents. 
  •  711 patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Philadelphia hospitals, with a total of 1,289 people hospitalized in the region (including Philadelphia).

Philadelphia school income taxes are still due this week — despite coronavirus

  • Despite extended filing and payment deadlines for city, state and federal taxes, the Philadelphia School Income Tax is still due on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
  • Taxpayers who cannot meet the deadline are encouraged to file an extension request (available online or in the SIT packet mailed to taxpayers) and to pay an amount equal to their 2018 SIT liability.
  • Forms for School Income Tax are available on the Department of Revenue’s website here: https://www.phila.gov/documents/2019-school-income-tax-forms.

Mayor Kenney pleas to Federal Government for financial assistance

  • In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Kenney wrote that without federal intervention, the city will be forced to cut existing programs and see an increase in the number of residents facing homelessness and hunger. 
  • Mayor Kenney also asked for: direct and flexible funding, pension relief, housing resources and relief for homeowners, increase the federal medical assistance match percentage, clarification on how the funds from the CARES ACT directed toward minority institutions will be released and more relief for small businesses. 

Good News of the Day

By Good News Network – As a means of entertaining lonely adults during the novel coronavirus outbreaks, a team of Canadian high schoolers created a hotline that plays pre-recorded messages of positivity.
The Joy4All project was launched by students from the Ever Active Schools recreational leadership program run by the Calgary Board of Education.
The youngsters say they created the free hotline as a means of comforting quarantined seniors across North America. However, people of all ages are encouraged to dial 1-877-JOY-4ALL in order to enjoy the regularly updated selection of jokes, stories, guided meditations, and educational messages.
From all of us here at Bellevue, stay safe and stay healthy!

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