COVID-19 Updates 04/20/2020

COVID-19 Updates 04/20/2020

State 

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Today we will start with the state section since there have been lots of developments.

Gov. Wolf’s “A Plan for Pennsylvania” to reopen May 8th 

  • Gov. Wolf has released a basic framework for reopening the state. The provided plan has three sections (Healthcare, Human Services, and Businesses).  Throughout this week, Bellevue Strategies will provide an overview of important information on each section. Today we will be focusing on his business reopening plan.  Gov. Wolf’s complete plans can be found here. 

A  Plan for Pennsylvania’s Businesses: Relief, Reopening, Recovery 

  • An evidence-based state innovation strategy. 
    • Gov. Wolf’s 20-21 proposed budget included a Pennsylvania Innovation Plan that will provide funds to help businesses startups and entrepreneurs in PA. $12.8 million funding will go to  support the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, Industrial Resource Centers, PREP Network and Invest Penn State 
  • Financial Support for small businesses and manufactures: 
    • A recapitalization of the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program. 
    • The creation of a grant program for small businesses that make no more than $3 million in gross annual receipts or employee 3o full-time employees. 
    • A manufacturing tax credit for  manufacturers who converted or retrofit their facilities or operations in order to produce personal protective 
  • Economic Development incentives 
    • The creation of a construction job tax credit for manufacturing or processing facilities to receive a tax credit that is created during the construction phase.
  • Investments in food banks, farmer markets, and the agriculture industry: 
    • Full funding of $23.1 million for the PA Farm bill in addition to a $1 million increase to the PA Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) Program to improve food security while supporting PA agriculture. 
    • Fund a state match program for SNAP bucks. 
    • Fund PA Fresh Food Financing Initiative that provides grants and low-interest loans to food banks and healthy grocery stores. 
  • Funding for nonprofit organizations and local governments with less than 500,000 residents. 

Easing statewide restrictions  on Construction: 

  • Gov. Wolf made the announcement today that he will be easing statewide restrictions on construction statewide beginning on May 8. Under the amended executive order, construction projects will be allowed to resume statewide on a limited basis under “strict guidelines.”
  • Gov. Wolf also signed a bill that would allow for electronic notary services during his disaster declaration, paving the way for online car sales in the state. 
  • Gov. Wolf stressed that the May 8th date would not mean that life would go back to normal as there is still no vaccine or antibody test. 

 Pa. nursing homes left to largely police themselves as coronavirus deaths mount

  • Currently, nursing home residents account for half of the COVID-19 deaths in PA.
  • State and federal officials have not released patient and death data for individual homes, which has made it hard to know if nursing homes are following guidelines on COVID-19.
  • Advocates are calling on Gov. Wolf to make public a list of nursing homes that have COVID-19 cases and reported deaths. However, Nate Wardle, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said a list of specific facilities cannot be released because the data are being collected through multiple sources

Please read the oped by our client, Dr. Sanul Corrielus, the founder of Community Cardiovascular Initiative, a non-profit organization that focuses on providing integrated cardiovascular health and wellness education to underserved communities.  He addresses why telemedicine may be well suited to help during this pandemic.  

Federal 

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Coronavirus relief package stalls just short of a deal
  • Although no deal was reached today, the Senate will be reconvening tomorrow where they hope to pass a short term relief package. 
  • The package will include roughly $300 billion in new money for the Paycheck Protection Program, $60 billion in loans for economic disaster aid, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for coronavirus testing.
  • Democrats are also pushing to give states and localities more flexibility to use funds in the last rescue package to make up for lost revenue. 

Less than 1 percent of federal emergency cash for college students doled out

  • Colleges and universities are frustrated with the Department of Education’s lack of guidelines on how they will specifically be allowed to distribute the $6 billion to students that has been allocated in the CARES Act.  
  • The money is aimed at helping students cover expenses stemming from the coronavirus, such as food, housing, health care, and child care costs, technology and course materials.
  • Education department officials are working on a policy that explains in more detail how the higher education stimulus money can be used, but it hasn’t been released publicly yet

Nearly 3 Million Homeowners Get Mortgage Help, But Others Hit Roadblocks

  • About 2.9 million homeowners have been allowed to put their mortgage payments on hold. Under the CARES Act, Congress mandated that lenders offer forbearance to homeowners who’ve been hurt financially due to COVID-19. 
  • The biggest increase in forbearances is happening with loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Philadelphia

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COVID-19 update: 9,553 cases in Philadelphia and 370 deaths.

ACLU files lawsuit against City 

  • The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the Philadelphia Department of Prisons for their treatment of inmates during the COVID-19 crisis. 
  • As of Monday, city officials reported that 126 inmates had tested positive for the disease and that 56 of them are ill and remain incarcerated.

Philadelphia’s Small business taskforce

  • Philadelphia has announced the members of its  COVID-19 Small Diverse Business and Community Task Force, whose goal is to work with small minority-owned businesses to help them receive local, state and federal funds. 
  • The task force will launch initiatives that will ensure diverse small businesses get equitable access to contracting opportunities.
  • Harold O. Epps, senior adviser at Bellevue Strategies and former Philadelphia commerce director has been appointed to this task force. 

Good News of the Day

Bored in Quarantine, 15-Year-old Transforms Her Bedroom Wall into 8-Foot Climbing Structure

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Via The Good News Network – Rather than twiddle her thumbs in quarantine, this bored 15-year-old girl recently turned one of her bedroom walls into a proper 8-foot climbing wall—and it only took her one week.
Erin Sloan says she was inspired to build the structure after the North West Face Climbing Centre—which is where she has been climbing for the past four years and working as an instructor—was closed due to COVID-19.

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