COVID-19 Update, August 14 2020

COVID-19 Update, August 14 2020

Federal

Democrats fight to give ‘severely underfunded’ business rescue new life

  • The $70 billion Economic Injury Disaster Loan program relies on loans and grants directly from the government, not private banks like the Paycheck Protect Program does.  Lawmakers appropriated $50 billion for new EIDL loans and $20 billion for grants during the pandemic.
  • How to put the disaster loan program on stronger footing is one of the major issues lawmakers are trying to resolve before passing the next economic relief bill, which has been held up amid broader disputes over unemployment benefits and state government aid.
  • At the moment, the program has experienced delays and widespread potential abuse according to the inspector general. 

Struggling Farmers Work With Overwhelmed Food Banks to Stay Afloat

  • The Farm to Family program, run by the California Association of Food Banks and supported by the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture, pays farmers to send surplus produce to food banks. More than a dozen other states have a similar program with farmers. 
  • The U.S. The Department of Agriculture has also launched its own $3 billion to buy food from farmers and has delivered 50 million food boxes by the end of July.

Critics Question CARES Act Spending in Some StatesFrom Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.”

  • Many lawmakers have been questioning how states have used these funds such as for road repairs in West Virginia and property tax credits. The scrutiny comes as members of Congress remain deadlocked over whether state and local governments need additional aid.   Democrats  believe that governments need much more money, Republicans say they just need more flexibility to spend existing relief dollars.
  • If federal auditors later find that money was misspent by state leaders, it must be repaid to the U.S. Treasury Department.  

Trump signals openness to compromise on USPS funding

  • President Donald Trump suggested  that he would be open to approving additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service if congressional Democrats agree to his legislative agenda. This funding would include an additional $25 billion for the Postal Service and over $3 billion that could be used for mailing ballots.
  • The Postal Service sent letters to several states and Washington, D.C., warning them that ballots may not arrive in time to be counted based on current state election policies.
  • The letter among other subjects told state election officials that voters should mail their ballot requests at least 15 days before Election Day and send in their completed ballots at least one week before Election Day.

State

Wolf admin asks Supreme Court to extend mail-in voting deadlines

  • Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration asked the state’s Supreme Court to extend mail-in balloting deadlines for the November general election due to the potential that the postal service will not be able to handle mail ballots.
  • The current deadline is the close of polls on election day, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. The Wolf’s administration is asking the state Supreme Court to order that ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 be counted if they are valid and received during the three days following the election.

‘This is about local control’: House GOP rolls out fall sports, school reopening bills

  • Republican lawmakers want to allow local school districts to decide if they are ready for a fall season. Currently the Wolf administration recommended the optional postponement of the fall sports season. 
  • Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford, who rolled out a bill that would allow students to repeat a year of schooling to make up for any ground lost during the pandemic-induced shutdown this spring.

City

Philly leaders and police want residents to turn in their guns in a new campaign to combat violence

  • The surge in shooting this summer, has lead city council to begin a campaign called  “Home Gun-Check Campaign,” residents are asked to turn in guns from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Janes Memorial United Methodist Church, 47 E. Haines St., Germantown, or at Tasker Street Missionary Baptist Church, 2010 Tasker St., Point Breeze.
  • City Council also had two emergency hearings to address this spike in gun violence. 

Indego, Inde-gone: Philly begins installing GPS after record 330 bikes go missing

  • The city is now installing tracking devices on some bicycles, and has taken action to limit the use of stolen credit cards on the system.
  • Of the 330 missing bikes, the city has recovered 180 bikes. 
  • Ridership numbers dipped when the pandemic hit the region in March, but recently began increasing. Monthly usage is now up as much as 13% compared to last summer, according to Indego data.

Good News of the Day

There’s an Elephant Baby Boom in Kenya: Thanks to Rainfall, a Record Number Born Including Rare Twins

Via Good News Network – The combination of interruptions in international travel and periods of heavy rainfall has led to Kenyan wildlife officials reporting a recent elephant baby boom.


In Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, 140 elephants were born in a single calving season–a record in this park known for its breathtaking views of Kilimanjaro and the savanna.

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