COVID-19 Updates, August 17th 2020
- Speaker Nancy Pelosi finalized plans Monday to provide billions of dollars in funding to the flailing Postal Service as Democrats seek to prop up the agency ahead of the November election.
- The House will vote Saturday on legislation that will deliver $25 billion to address funding shortfalls and block organizational changes.
- The Postal Service Board of Governors requested $25 billion earlier this year to head off expected funding shortfalls due to the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats agreed, including the $25 billion in a coronavirus relief bill the House approved in May.
- A study in Utah conducted between March and June found that Hispanic and nonwhite workers made up 73% of those cases — despite representing just 24% of the workforce in sectors where outbreaks occurred.
- A majority of those outbreaks — 58% — were in three sectors: manufacturing, wholesale trade and construction.
- In addition, a new report from the National Urban League, released last week, noted that white people were nearly 50% more likely to be able to work from home as their Latino counterparts, and 35% more likely than Blacks.
- A joint Kaiser Health News and Associated Press investigation finds that many communities with big outbreaks have spent little of that federal money on local public health departments for work such as testing and contact tracing. The states, territories and 154 large cities and counties that received allotments from the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund reported spending only 25% of it through June 30,
- Many republicans have been pointing to this slow spending to argue against sending more money to state and local governments.
- For example, Bucks County has spent 0% of its $109 million that it received from the federal government. Philadelphia has spent 41% of its funds thus far. Montgomery County has spent 3.3% of its $144 million and Delaware County has spent 25.6% of its $98 million.
- The Wolf Administration and Lebanon County have finally struck a deal on CARES Act funding, which was initially withheld by the Governor due to Lebanon County’s early opening in response to COVID-19.
- Today, the Governor agreed to free up $12.8 million in federal CARES Act assistance, and Lebanon County agreed to launch a $2.8 million campaign to promote the use of face masks in the area.
- The county will use the rest of the money to reimburse COVID-related costs for municipal governments and school districts, as well as small business grants and PPE distribution, among other things.
- After a tumultuous primary, the nation mail service is still being strained by the impact of COVID-19 – and the state is worried about how late ballots might affect the presidential election in November.
- Governor Wolf has petitioned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to extend the deadline for mail-in voting, allowing ballots to be received and counted within three days of Election Day.
- President Donald Trump has repeatedly opposed a proposed increase in funding to the U.S. Postal Service, so it remains to be seen how Pennsylvania will solve the problem of disenfranchised and delayed post offices in the election.
- Many of the speakers at the upcoming Democratic National Convention have significant ties to Pennsylvania, and specifically Philadelphia.
- While the event will be downsized and mostly virtual, there are still a number of speakers, including:
- Senator Cory Booker,
- U.S. Representative Brendan Boyle;
- Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester;
- And of course, Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden.
- Philadelphia has been chosen, along with four states – California, North Dakota, Florida, and Minnesota – to be the first to prepare plans to efficiently distribute the coming COVID-19 vaccine, once it becomes available.
- The distribution pilot program will be headed by staff from the CDC and the Department of Defense.
- The plans that both Philadelphia and the included states create will be used to shape the federal effort to distribute the vaccine.
Good News of the Day
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