COVID-19 Updates May 21st, 2020

COVID-19 Updates May 21st, 2020

Federal

Mitch McConnell says next coronavirus bill will not extend enhanced unemployment benefits

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told House Republicans the next coronavirus relief bill will not extend the enhanced unemployment insurance benefit. 
  • House Democrats passed a bill last week that would make the $600 per week federal backstop expire after January, rather than July, as was initially decided.
  • This comes as new government data shows more than 38 million people have filed jobless claims since establishments began closing in March. 

Trump calls study findings earlier action would have saved 36K lives ‘a political hit job’

  • Researchers at Columbia University conducted a study this past month that found that had the U.S. begun imposing restrictions just one week earlier in March, approximately 36,000 lives would have been saved. 
  • The researchers said that if the lockdown had been imposed two weeks before that, 54,00 lives would have been saved.
  • The White House deputy press secretary, Judd Deere, said that “What would have saved lives is if China had been transparent”. 

Surgeon general: US now better prepared for reopening but not ‘without risk’

  • Surgeon General Jerome Adams has said that the county is now better equipped to handle a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
  • This is due to the hospitals’ increased number of protective equipment and ventilators, as well as the public practicing social distancing measures. 
  • The Surgeon General also said that the shutdown has helped slow the rate of infections by avoiding overwhelming the healthcare system.

State 

Pa. health officials quietly alter erroneous nursing home case, death counts as providers cry foul

  • The PA Department of Health is now working to correct the data it released two days ago as it contained many errors according to workers, nursing home associations, and associations.
  • Health department spokesperson Nate Wardle said the nursing home data shared with the public was meant to come directly from the facilities, but not enough providers reported the information in time. Instead, the health department used its electronic disease surveillance system, which matches case information and facility address, to compile its own list.
  • In Philadelphia, the health department reported a higher number of cases than the state had in many instances. 

Pa. House panel moves to end Wolf’s executive powers amid pandemic

  • Today, a state house panel (House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee) approved ending Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 disaster declaration outright in a near-party line vote.
  • It is unclear if Wolf would be able to use his red pen and reject the proposal if it reaches his desk. However, regardless, Wolf would be able to issue a new disaster declaration for the pandemic as soon as he wants.

Philadelphia

Covid-19 update: 342 new confirmed cases for a total of 20,700 residents known to have tested positive. Public Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said these numbers are a good sign. 

Penn outlines options for the fall semester: All online courses, smaller classes with plexiglass barriers

  • The University of Penn sent an email to staff and faculty outlining multiple scenarios for the fall semester.
  • All classes of 25 or larger would be delivered online and smaller courses would be held in large rooms that might even include plexiglass barriers for separating lecturers from the audience.
  • Dining halls will likely take reservations or offer takeout and may require those on campus to wear face masks in public. 

School District issues call to action for public education funding

  • The School District of Philadelphia has launched a Fund Our Schools campaign, encouraging people to advocate for public education funding. The district is facing a projected $38 million shortfall in the 2020-21 academic year. 
  • The Fund Our Schools campaign includes a variety of actions people can take to reach out to elected officials.  “The district has prepared sample scripts, letters, and social media examples calling on state elected officials to maintain the 2019-20 education funding levels and to send the district all of its allotted federal relief fund,”  Superintendent Hite said.

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