Coronavirus Update
May 21, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to towns and townships
Federal Response
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a spreadsheet of the estimated direct funding allocations that localities across the country would receive if the HEROES Act is enacted into law. As previously reported, the HEROES Act would create a new State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund that would provide direct funding to all localities regardless of population. This funding would not require a local cost share and could be used for response and recovery efforts and to cover lost revenue.

Congressional Republican leadership and the White House agreed to wait on crafting another coronavirus response package, allowing additional time to assess how existing funds are being spent and how state re-openings go before moving forward with the next aid package. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett suggested another stimulus package may not be needed. “If the economy continues the momentum that we’re beginning to see over the last couple of weeks of data, then I think that one might conclude that the stimulus we’ve already passed is enough,” he told reporters. And on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that President Trump wants to be slow approaching additional coronavirus relief and not rush into a large amount of government spending.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced H.R.6954/S.3752 , companion bills providing $500 billion in emergency funding to every state, county, and community in the country. The bill includes formulas by which allocations would be distributed and prioritizes assistance to the areas with the greatest need. Many view this initiative as middle ground for negotiations on the next relief package move forward.

Capitol Hill. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates real gross domestic product will contract by 11 percent in the second quarter of this year, equivalent to a decline of 38 percent at an annual rate. The CBO also estimated that the number of people employed will be almost 26 million lower than the number in the fourth quarter of 2019. 

Bills and Letters of Interest

S.4755 (Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)) creates a new fund to provide compensation for injuries to any individual, or their families, who are deemed an essential worker and required to leave their home to perform services and who have become ill or died as a result of the coronavirus.

S.3767 (Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)) requires that 45% of Coronavirus Relief Funds from the CARES Act already directed to state governments be distributed to local governments, including counties, cities and towns with populations under 500,000.

S. 3785 (Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), et.al.) provides $1 billion for food and agriculture aid to states.

S. 3779 (Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), et al.) creates a flexible skills training tax credit ($4,000 per person) to cover the cost training programs that build skills expected to be in high demand by employers in the coming months. The credit will be available to any worker who has lost their job as a result of the pandemic in 2020 and the credit may be applied to cover training expenses incurred through the end of 2021.

S. 3778 (Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)) allows the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to waive a requirement that states provide a 20 percent match for the $400 million in election assistance grants if circumstances related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic prevent them from providing this match.

Administration. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the administration is working to expand the loan period for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in order to give small businesses more time to use funds. According to The Hill , at a meeting at the White House earlier this week, restaurant industry leaders asked Mnuchin and the President to expand the loan period from eight weeks to 24.

President Trump issued an executive order on May 19 directing federal agencies to alter or eliminate regulations "that may inhibit economic recovery" in order to boost the economy following the pandemic. Under the order, these regulations may be "temporarily or permanently" rescinded, waived, or modified.

The CDC has released a 60-page set of recommendations for reopening schools, childcare facilities, restaurants and mass transit systems as some states have already started reopening businesses. The guidance includes a three-step approach to reopening after a community assesses readiness based on coronavirus transmission rate.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is delivering $11 billion in new funding to support testing for the coronavirus. The CDC will provide approximately $10 billion to states, territories, and local jurisdictions and the Indian Health Services will provide $750 million to tribal and urban Indian Health programs. HHS also announced $225 million will be provided to Rural Health Clinics for coronavirus testing.

The Treasury Department disbursed just $37.5 billion of the $500 billion allocated to the Coronavirus Relief Fund as part of the CARES Act, according to the first report of the Congressional Oversight Commission.

The CDC is planning a nationwide study of up to 325,000 people to track how the coronavirus may spread into next year and the future. The study will test samples from blood donors in 25 metropolitan areas for antibodies created when the immune system fights the virus.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced nearly $77 million in fourth round grants under the CARES Act. The funds will be used to support up to 8,300 additional housing vouchers provided through HUD’s Section 811 Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program.

HHS will partner with private industry to expand pharmaceutical manufacturing for medicines critically required by healthcare systems for coronavirus response and to better prepare a supply for future public health emergencies. The pharmaceuticals will be manufactured at facilities in the U.S., including a new facility to be built in Virginia.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released enforcement guidance for work requirements related to the coronavirus.

The Federal Communications Commission released draft language for several items it will consider at its June 9 Open Meeting , including updates to wireless infrastructure rules that would further streamline local government review of permitting applications and auction procedures for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. USDA’s  Farmers to Families Food Box  program is partnering with regional and local distributors whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need. Beginning May 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses.
Resources and Advocacy
A report from the Urban Health Collaborative at Drexel University found current stay-at-home orders likely reduced the number of coronavirus deaths by 232,878 and prevented 2.1 million people from requiring hospitalization.

A Columbia University study , funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, found that 83% of deaths from coronavirus would have been avoided had stay-at-home orders been implemented just 1-2 weeks earlier. The disease modelers concluded approximately 36,000 fewer people would have died if the lockdown would have been in place on March 1.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 51 of its member organizations sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to pass targeted liability relief legislation that would give businesses safe harbor from lawsuits related to the coronavirus pandemic and re-openings.
Events
Federal Recovery Resources from the Economic Development Administration
CDFA Webinar
May 22, 1-3pm EDT

CDFA will host an eight-part “ Federal Financing Webinar Series, ” convening finance experts, federal agencies, and local practitioners to discuss the variety of federal programs available to finance economic development, with a special focus on coronavirus stimulus funding approved by Congress. These webinars will be held every other Friday through September 11, 2020.
For more information please contact NATaT Federal Director Jennifer Imo at jimo@tfgnet.com or 202.454.3947