COVID-19 Update 04/07/2020
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that he is working with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to deliver more money to the Paycheck Protection Program, the popular $350 billion program for businesses to cover payroll and expenses during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he’s spoken to all four House and Senate party leaders about sending $250 billion to the program.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed to reporters that there would have to be “considerations” to ensure that women- and minority-owned businesses had equal access to the funds.
- Pelosi made clear that she considers Mnuchin’s request an “interim package” and still plans to pursue another legislative package that would expand unemployment benefits, include another round of direct cash payments, and increase funding for state and local governments.
- Most of the 42 million Americans who receive food stamps aren’t allowed to use them to shop for groceries online.
- Only six states allow online purchases with benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.
- Nonprofit groups are lobbying Congress and the Agriculture Department to relax rules and encourage the rapid expansion of online shopping and delivery options.
- USDA said they are working with states to help them offer online shopping through the SNAP program. Thus far, only California has requested permission from the USDA to build a program.
- Hospitals have been waiting for the federal Department of Health and Human Services to provide details on how the administration plans to dole out funds.
- The CARES Act gave HHS Secretary Alex Azar substantial discretion to disburse the massive $100 billion emergency fund.
- The White House said in a press conference this week that they plan to begin awarding about $30 billion in funds next week.
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom has defended his position on allowing construction to continue in his state.
- Newsom’s statements came days after leaders of California’s powerful construction industry appealed to him in the wake of a move by seven Bay Area health officers, who issued updated stay-at-home orders that specifically prohibited most residential and commercial construction.
- The building trades in California said that they take temperatures at work sites, sterilizing tools and equipment, have banned food trucks, implemented strict measures to discourage gatherings and mandated strict social distancing.
- The fund would provide premium pay to essential workers. In addition to hospital workers, the funds would also go to transit workers, drivers, and grocery store clerks.
- Under the Democratic proposal, the pay increase would be up to $25,000 per worker from the start of the pandemic to the end of the year. This would be a $13 an hour raise. In addition, the proposal would include a $15,0000 recruitment incentive for home and health care workers, as well as first responders.
- Senator Bob Casey is supporting additional funds.
COVID-19 updates: 14,559 confirmed cases and 240 deaths.1,165 Pennsylvanians have required hospitalization. Of the hospitalizations, 548 have required the use of a ventilator.
- Today the Senate allowed local governments to conduct business remotely. The legislation also gives local governments the ability to collect property taxes as normal in August.
- Along party lines, the House passes SB327, a bill that establishes the COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force. On the House floor today, Democrats spoke out against this bill saying that it adds additional bureaucratic red tape to the executive branch and will make it more difficult for the Gov. to allocate federal dollars. A Senate vote is expected soon.
- In the house appropriations hearing, an amendment to SB613 was voted out of committee on party line votes. The amendment requires that the governor shall develop and implement a plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 using recommended guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chair Bradford mentioned that Sec. Levine has said that the passage of the amendment to Senate Bill 613 would have a negative effect on public health and that it would lead to more people infected with COVID-19.
- HB2386 Mehaffle, Thomas ( R)
- HB2384 Keefer, Dawn ( R)
- HB 2390 Warren, Perry ( D)
- Mayor Jim Kenney said that the city will need to work on a new budget given the economic downturn.
- Kenney said the city has been spending more while losing revenue from hotel and liquor taxes from restaurants.
- The city will present a new budget to City Council by May 1st.
- Construction work continued at the site of the new Live! Hotel & Casino in South Philadelphia, despite Union leaders saying that the general contractors were not complying with CDC regulations.
- Many workers felt unsafe working as one of the construction workers had tested positive for COVID-19 in March.
- Real estate developers, general contractors and some union leaders have argued that construction should be given wider permission to open back up, especially given that neither New York or New Jersey have shut down construction.
- The Register of Wills Office will offer virtual operations of both probate and marriage licenses starting Monday.
- Services will only be available via video conference. Individuals must have a smart device or computer with video conferencing capabilities in order to take advantage of these services.
- Billy Penn has provided a guide to important city leaders who are in charge of the COVID-19 response. These leaders include Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley, Philadelphia’s managing director Brian Abernathy and Cynthia Figueroa, the head of the Office of Children and Families.
Good News of the Day
BILLY PENN – Health care workers at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital have been boosting team morale by breaking it down. The video is full of energy, despite the circumstances. In a triangle formation, nine nurses clad in blue gowns, latex gloves and face masks drop down into a squat, bounce up and down and bat their bended arms to Ciara’s Jersey club-inspired “Level Up” song.
From all of us here at Bellevue, stay safe and stay healthy!