COVID-19 Updates August 19th, 2020

COVID-19 Updates August 19th, 2020

Federal

Contact tracing apps have been a bust. States bet college kids can change that.

  • Colleges across the country are testing contact-tracing apps, hoping that tech-savvy students already accustomed to sharing so much of their life online will embrace the digital tool as densely populated campuses try to reopen.
  • The tracing apps have not been used as widely as originally planned, the contained environment of college campuses may be the ideal testing ground to boost lagging digital efforts to trace infections, say state officials and public health experts behind this push.
  • State officials said college campuses were a natural place to launch the technology. Given the volume of possible exposures on campuses, apps will “probably be more effective than the more traditional way of tracing,” said Vern Dosch, who’s heading up North Dakota’s contact tracing effort.

HUD to extend foreclosure ban protecting 8.1 million people until 2021

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development will extend a ban on evictions and foreclosures for homes backed by the Federal Housing Administration through the end of the year.
  • HUD’s move only covers FHA mortgages, not those backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-run companies that guarantee about half of the U.S. residential mortgage market.
  • Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, dismissed HUD’s action as “practically meaningless.”
  • “The very limited number of covered properties with renters living in them are already covered under existing law, the Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act,” Yentel said. “Existing law requires that renters in these properties be given a 90-day notice to vacate.”

State

SEPTA threatens to cut Regional Rail lines, pull back subway and trolleys in next decade if Harrisburg doesn’t boost funds

  • SEPTA is warning that over the next decade, it may have to get rid of  Regional Rail lines, reduce stations, pull back subway service, and convert trolley routes into bus routes unless Pennsylvania officials find a way to resolve its budget crisis. 
  • A “service reduction plan” over the next 10 years would turn city trolley routes, as well as the Sharon Hill Line, into bus lines; eliminate the Chestnut Hill East, Chestnut Hill West, Cynwyd, and Fox Chase Regional Rail Lines; cut more than 100 stations on the nine remaining Regional Rail lines; suspend service on the Broad-Ridge Spur; reduce frequency on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines; and limit service on the Norristown High Speed Line.
  • Many of the speakers at the transportation hearing in Harrisburg today said that this funding should be bipartisan as public transportation is important to businesses across the commonwealth.  

Amid pandemic, Wolf signs 11th renewal of opioid disaster declaration

  • The declaration, which Wolf has renewed every 90 days since January 2018, gives the state additional leeway to combat substance abuse. 
  • On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine signed an updated naloxone standing order permitting community-based organizations to provide naloxone by mail.

2021 Pa. Farm Show will be virtual, Agriculture Secretary Redding says

  • State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced Wednesday morning that the 2021 Farm Show will be held virtually as the state grapples with the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Farm Show has never been cancelled in its 104-year history, continuing even through the disruptions of two world wars. 

City

Restaurant owners eager to restart indoor dining await Philly’s decision

  • City officials are expected to announce this week whether indoor dining can resume in September.
  • Indoor dining has been allowed in surrounding Pennsylvania counties since late June — with restrictions, including limiting indoor seating to 25% of a restaurant’s capacity.

Obama to deliver DNC address from Philadelphia to underscore American democracy

  • Former President Barack Obama will deliver his speech to the nation Wednesday night from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.
  • For Obama, it’s his fifth speech at a Democratic National Convention. His first appearance was in 2004, when he delivered the keynote address in Boston, during his bid for the US Senate.

Good News of the Day

Tiny Elephant Shrew Rediscovered in Africa After 50 Years–And All it Took Was Coconut and Peanut Butter as Bait

Via Good News Network –
Despite not being documented by researchers since 1968, the sengi, a tiny big-eyed mouse with a long tail and a trunk-like nose that’s native to Somalia, was rediscovered living in well-preserved habitat in neighboring Djibouti, and in relatively-stable populations.

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