COVID-19 Updates 04/27/2020

COVID-19 Updates 04/27/2020

Federal 

White House to announce testing partnership with drugstore chains

  •  Several national retailers, including CVS Health, are set to announce a significant expansion of self-swab coronavirus testing efforts. 
  • CVS expects to have 1,000 testing locations that can conduct 1.5 million tests per month up and running by the end of May, if enough supplies and lab capacity are available. 

Round two of the paycheck protection program opened today with some frustration 

  • Today the second round of funding was released and many individuals have complained of processing delays and computer glitches. 
  • Community bankers across the country have been complaining about how hard it is to file their client’s loans. 
  • In addition, the New York Times found in an investigation that 200 public companies received PPP loans worth more than $750 million.
Betsy DeVos Introduces Grants to ‘Rethink’ Learning During COVID-19
  • U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has announced that more than $180 million in grants to help statewide virtual learning and course access programs. There will also be microgrants to help families access technology to help their children. The grants will be called Rethink K-12 School Models Grant. 
  • The funding would be available in about two weeks and would be about $300 million.  The new grant competition is open to state education departments. More information on grants can be found here. 
  • The National Coalition for Public Education, an advocacy group that opposes vouchers, said in a statement that, “Public dollars should fund public schools. This scheme is no different than other attempts by this administration to divert federal funding to unaccountable private educational entities.”

Public Coronavirus Data Varies Widely Between States

  • The ways states collect data and how much information they provide to the public varies significantly state by state. There has been an increase in calls for more transparency and this has revealed systemic failures by some states to collect that information when tests are administered. 
  • Under pressure from experts and the press, Pennsylvania on April 20th began including ZIP code-level data on coronavirus tests, both those that come back positive and negative. However, state officials still only provide deaths by county. 
  • Other states have begun to release COVID-19 cases by nursing homes, however, Pennsylvania has decided not to. Pennsylvania has cited a decades-old law to hold back the names of nursing homes with COVID-19 cases.

State 

COVID-19 update: 42,050 cases and 1,597 deaths. 161,372 negative tests. New cases of COVID-19 dropped below four digits on Monday, with 885 new cases announced by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Direct federal aid trickles in for states, counties﹘but restrictions confound officials
  • Pennsylvania has received $2.5 billion in funds from the CARES Act. 
  • Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, Lancaster, and Allegheny will also be receiving money from the CARES Act because they have populations over 500,000. However, these counties have not seen their funds yet. 
  • The money must only be used for actions taken to respond to the public health emergency as per the CARES Act. These can include payroll for public health and public safety workers, PPE equipment, and state or local grant programs to support small businesses. 

State to allow some recreational activities to resume on May 1

  • Gov. Wolf has made the announcement that some recreational activities, allowing golf courses, marinas, private campgrounds, and guided fishing trips to resume operations on May 1. This opening does not include campgrounds at state parks which will be closed until May 14th. 

Elective procedures set to resume statewide as long as they don’t jeopardize COVID-19 response

  • Today the Department of Health made the announcement that elective procedures can assume. This is important news for many hospitals that have lost revenue due to the lack of elective surgeries. 
  • The announcement comes after similar moves in New York, Colorado, and West Virginia in recent days

Today in the House, there was a discussion on refunding the  COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program Fund. The COVID-19 Working Capital Access (CWCA) Program is administered by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) and provides critical working capital financing to small businesses located within the Commonwealth that are adversely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Applications for this fund can be found here. 

Philadelphia 

COVID-19 update:  12,868 confirmed cases of Covid-19  and 484 deaths. 

Philadelphia appears to be ‘past the peak’ of coronavirus crisis, health commissioner says

  • Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said at today’s press conference that he believes Philly has passed the peak of the epidemic and that we are on a downward trajectory.
  • Farley said that the city’s reproductive rate — the average number of people that someone with the virus infects — has fallen since late March.

 Philly unions are calling for a citywide essential worker bill of rights during the coronavirus pandemic

  • Unions across the city are working on getting better protection for workers during the pandemic. 
  • The letter that was sent to Mayor Kenney can be found here. 

Philly expands criteria for coronavirus tests to include new CDC symptoms, more people could be eligible

  • On Saturday, the CDC added six new symptoms (chills, muscle pain, repeated shaking with chills, headache, sore throat, newly discovered loss of taste or smell) to its official lists. Philadelphia will be expanding its parameters that qualify people for testing in order to keep with the new CDC guidelines. 
  • Health Commissioner Tom Farley cautioned that due to the lack of testing materials, these new criteria may not make much of a difference. “I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference,” Farley said Monday afternoon. “What’s going to make the biggest difference, as far as the number of people we test, is just how many of the swabs we have and how many tests our laboratories can run.”

Good News of the Day

Instead of Selling Lemonade, Boy Sets Up ‘Drive-By Joke Stand’ to Spread Laughter During Quarantine

Via The Good News Network – 6-year-old Callaghan McLaughlin had been looking forward to starting his own lemonade stand once the weather warmed up—but since the novel coronavirus outbreaks has forced the world into quarantine, he had to improvise.
Rather than spend his times indoors, Callaghan decided to spread joy in his community by setting up a “drive-by joke stand” so he could make his neighbors laugh while respecting social distancing guidelines

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