COVID-19 Updates 13 May, 2020

COVID-19 Updates 13 May, 2020

Federal 

What is in the new stimulus bill for students and schools 

  • The Heroes Act extends the student loan relief from the CARES Act for another year, pausing student loan payments until September 30th, 2021. And interest accrual would be stopped at the same time. 
  • The bill also includes a $10,000 student loan cancellation within 30 days of the passage of the bill. 
  • The legislation also appropriates $90 billion to a state stabilization fund with 30 percent of the funds to be used for public higher education.
  • The Heroes Act also provides an additional $10 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs).
  • The  Heroes Act requires states to chip in too to receive the money. The bill includes maintenance of effort provision so states will maintain their higher education funding, rather than use federal dollars to replace state money.
  • Lastly, the House bill would also include $5 billion to help close the so-called digital Homework Gap by funding Wi-Fi hotspots and other connected devices, set to be administered through the FCC E-rate program.

Postal Service’s Struggles Could Hurt Mail-In Election

  • If Congress does not pass a $75 billion bailout, the Postal Service says uninterrupted mail service may not last past September. September is when counties and state governments will begin sending out their absentee ballots.
  • Even before the outbreak, the Postal Service has struggled with debt due to the rise of the internet and competitive private mailing services such as FedEx and UPS. In addition,  Congress has not funded the Postal Service since 1970. Instead, it relies on revenue from selling stamps and packaging.
  • This week, Amazon and other retailers launched a $2 million ad campaign to convince Republican lawmakers to oppose Trump’s proposal for the postal service to charge Amazon to deliver packages. 

State 

Covid-19 update: The state currently has 57,991 cases and 3,806 confirmed deaths. 237,989 individuals have tested negative 

Cocktails-to-go bill is approved by Senate, and is on way to Gov. Wolf

  • Today, the state Senate unanimously approved a bill allowing bars and licensed restaurants to sell mixed drinks for takeout during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Gov. Wolf has said that he is going to be signing the bill. 
  • The measure is not intended to be permanent.

Senate approves measure to allow counties to make reopening decision

  •  The Senate again approved legislation that would give counties a greater say in the re-opening process. 
  • The provision, amended to SB 327 authored by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill), would give counties the ability to opt-out of Wolf’s stay-at-home and business closure orders if they so choose.

City 

Covid-19 update: 

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced the largest number of coronavirus deaths recorded in any single day on Wednesday but said it was due to matching two separate databases. There were   78 confirmed deaths. Today there were 242 more confirmed cases of COVID-19. The citywide total stands at 18,779.

Philly slashes polling places, 4 in 5 will not open for the June primary

  • Philadelphia will have nearly 80% fewer polling places in the upcoming election due to the strains placed on the city’s election machine by the coronavirus.
  • In assigning the new locations, city officials said they tried to concentrate them in neighborhoods where fewer mail-in ballot applications have been submitted.
  • Conventional wisdom holds that more voters turn out if their polling place is close to home. Now, some residents will have to trek up to 20 blocks to cast their ballots in person.

Murphy: Expect ‘new normal’ at the Jersey Shore by Memorial Day weekend

  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday that he expects “some semblance” of a new normal at the Jersey Shore by Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start to the summer season.
  • Official guidelines have not been released. Murphy has said that limiting parking in state parks to 50% worked, hinting that a similar limitation could be part of guidance the state is expected to issue.

Philly investigating 1,742 percent more respiratory deaths, and many at-home deaths

  • Natural deaths investigated by Philadelphia’s Medical Examiner’s Office shot up 171% in April alone, a time of year when overall fatalities typically begin to decline. 
  • The Philadelphia Department of Health said that  COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 respiratory deaths, such as influenza or pneumonia had increased during the pandemic because the office was conducting far more tests than before.
  • In addition, they cited the fact that more people have been staying away from hospitals and dying at home.

Good News of the Day

Know a Healthcare or Frontline Worker? These Companies Are Offering Wonderful Free Stuff to Say Thanks

Via The Good News Network –

The private sector, though affected by worldwide closures of brick-and-mortar locations, is still coming out strong to reward healthcare and frontline workers across America and across the world.

Many corporations recognize that nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff like custodians, are heroes—and that the risks they are taking and sacrifices they’re making need rewarding.

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