COVID-19 Update 12 August, 2020
- The SBA opened its forgiveness portal to receive applications from lenders, but tax professionals advise clients to wait as further guidance is released.
- Even though the forgiveness window is open, small businesses are sitting on the sidelines, accountants have said. This is due to the fact that the SBA continues to issue guidance in the form of frequently asked questions.
- Professionals are also still waiting for Congress to address a burning issue on the mind of many PPP applicants: Will expenses covered by these forgivable loans be deductible on tax returns?
- Among the key outstanding issues is the overall price tag for the next coronavirus relief package. The White House and Senate Republicans want to keep the cost of the package around $1 trillion, while Pelosi and Schumer initially pushed for the nearly $3.5 trillion HEROES Act that the House passed in May.
- In a sign that negotiators won’t reach an agreement anytime soon, most members of Congress have left Washington for the traditional August recess, with a 24-hour notice to return. The Senate is technically in session.
- The Senate Republican bill does not include any money for state and local governments.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES RURAL HEALTH PAYMENT MODELS — The CMS Innovation Center unveiled new ways of paying for health care in rural areas, where care is less accessible and the rate of preventable deaths is higher than in cities. The move comes after Trump signed an executive order on the issue, first reported by POLITICO, last week in a pre-election effort to bolster his health care record.
What the models will do: The payment experiments aim to give up-front dollars to cash-strapped providers and grant them more flexibility to create their own health care programs, such as helping patients out with transportation or giving them gift cards.
One option will give 15 rural communities up to $5 million to try to transform care and is slated to start next summer. Another track will invest in rural accountable care organizations, tentatively scheduled to begin in January 2022.
- The League of Women Voters sued the state’s top election official in federal court on Friday, saying the state’s uneven methods for authenticating mail-in ballots don’t guarantee voters enough time to fix issues before their votes are disqualified.
- Plaintiffs said that Pennsylvania counties have inconsistent methods for verifying mail-in ballots, and don’t all give voters the opportunity to fix problems to ensure their vote is counted.
- The League of Women Voters is asking the federal court to bar counties from using signature-verification methods to authenticate mail-in ballots.
- Penn State is forcing students to sign a liability waiver arrangement that says that they will be assuming all risks of COVID-19 if they return to campus for the fall semester.
- Penn State isn’t alone in asking students to assume risk of COVID-19. A handful of colleges and universities across the country have started to ask students to sign liability waivers in advance of returning to campus.
- At the University of Pittsburgh, which is reopening its campus in waves, students have to sign a “community compact” and “student acknowledgment” upon return to campus, but they aren’t asked to waive liability.
COVID-19 update: Today Philadelphia reported 141 new cases and nine additional deaths. New cases of the virus in Philadelphia have decreased in recent weeks, after increasing in July. In the week that ended Saturday, the city had an average of 105 new cases per day. The previous week’s average was 123 cases per day, and the average was 166 cases per day the week before that.
- Philadelphia’s Office of Violence Prevention on Wednesday got an earful from a City Council committee, whose members accused the agency of being unprepared and lacking urgency.
- Police have attributed the rise in gun violence to existing rivalries between gangs and other groups, a continued competition over drug turf and other issues. The Department also said that COVID-19 has played a role as well.
- GlaxoSmithKline has pledged to donate $10 million over the next decade to help Black, Latino, and female students in Philadelphia pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
- The grant will be channeled through the newly-announced Philadelphia STEM Equity Collective, a collaboration between GSK, the School District of Philadelphia, local universities and museums, and dozens of nonprofits.
Good News of the Day
Via the Good News Network –
Understanding that the family road trip is one of the quintessentially American vacations, HearHere delivers short, interesting audio tidbits as you and your family drive across America’s vast expanses.
The narration team includes Costner, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Phil Jackson, and others, who tell stories about points of interest, a region, native tribes, the local history of war, art, culinary tradition, and more.