COVID-19 Updates September 16th, 2020

COVID-19 Updates September 16th, 2020

Federal

More Americans lacked health insurance last year — even before pandemic hit, census reports

  • The ranks of the nation’s uninsured continued to grow last year, even before the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic that devastated the economy, new federal data show.
  • Nearly 30 million Americans went without health coverage at some point in 2019, up by roughly 1 million from the previous year, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data. 
  • The latest numbers from the census, considered the definitive snapshot of the nation’s health insurance rates, don’t account for the pandemic’s unemployment crisis, which is believed to have thrown millions off their job-based coverage and further strained Americans’ ability to afford care.

Trump Census Plan Might Leave Out Some Legal Residents

  • A Trump administration plan to use the census to exclude from congressional representation immigrants who are living here illegally might inadvertently exclude many U.S. citizens living under the radar in states such as Alaska, New Mexico and West Virginia.
  • Last week, a federal appeals court in New York blocked the administration’s strategy, ruling that “the President does not have the authority to exclude illegal aliens.” 

State

Pennsylvania: Mail ballots can’t be discarded over signature

  • Officials in PA told counties they aren’t allowed to reject a ballot solely because an election official believes a signature doesn’t match the one in the voter’s file.
  • The new guidance from Pennsylvania’s Department of State — that state law does not allow counties to set aside mail-in ballots based on their signature analysis — prompted the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh to drop a lawsuit in federal court Monday.

$20 million in state money awarded to Pa. museums and cultural organizations for COVID-19 relief

  • The governor’s office announced Tuesday that pandemic relief grants totaling $20 million have been approved for 164 museums and cultural groups across the commonwealth, including 44 in Philadelphia.
  • In Philadelphia, they range from a high of $500,000 — for the Philadelphia Zoo, the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Kimmel Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and other cultural heavyweights — to $25,000 for smaller organizations like the Brandywine Workshop, Smith Memorial Playground, Theatre Exile, and the American Swedish Historical Museum.

Top Pa. Republican’s campaign sues journalists over public records costs

  • The campaign committee of the state Senate’s top Republican is suing a publication of LNP Media Group and two journalists who uncovered questionable spending by the lawmaker and other politicians.
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati’s campaign filed the suit on Aug. 10 in district court in his home county of Jefferson, seeking $6,070 from the Caucus, its bureau chief Brad Bumsted, and Spotlight PA reporter Angela Couloumbis.
  • Should it prevail, the suit could make it easier for politicians to hide their campaign spending from the public, while at the same time having a chilling effect on investigative reporting, media experts said.

City

Pa. coronavirus recovery: Philly testing positive at lowest rates since March

Today, the Philadelphia Health Commissioner announced tat the average daily COVID-19 cases are the lowest they have been since the first week of the epidemic back in March. During last week, which ended Saturday, the average number of cases each day was only 67, amounting to 2.6% of tests coming back positive.

Philadelphia offers COVID-impacted tenants more help with rent — up to $1,500

  • Any new applicants – and those that have already applied – for the Emergency Rental Assistance program’s second phase will be receiving up to $1,500 a month in rental assistance.
  • This is up from the previous limit of $750 a month.
  • “Applicants must be Philadelphia residents, have lost more than 30% of their income due to job loss or reduced hours during the pandemic, and the renter’s income prior to March 1 cannot be more than 100% of the area median income — or $87,000 for a family of three.”

Good News of the Day

Caring Conservation Programs Have Prevented At Least 48 Animal Extinctions, Says Study

Via the Good News Network – Since 1993, 48 mammal and bird species, including the scimitar-horned oryx, California condor, and black-footed ferret, have been saved from extinction by conservation actions, a new study finds.

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