Coronavirus Update
August 27, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
Top News
The TFG Coronavirus Update will be published weekly on Thursdays until September 14 when we will resume our normal schedule.

The New York Times reports Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will meet this afternoon for the first time since talks on an economic recovery package collapsed earlier this month.

The Hill reports Mr. Meadows said at a Politico event that another COVID-19 relief package should be coupled with appropriations action in September. Meadows said he was “not optimistic” that a deal would come together soon. Speaker Pelosi has said she doesn’t want to wait until the end of September to pass more coronavirus aid. Mr. Meadows also said President Trump is looking at further executive actions to address the coronavirus.

HHS reported to the WSJ that only a fraction of the $25 billion Congress set aside to be given to federal agencies and states to expand testing and contract tracing in the CARES Act has been used. According to the HHS data, only about 10% to 15% of the total funding has been spent or committed to various efforts. 

Capitol Hill. Legislative action remains slow during the August recess but is expected to pick up significantly immediately following the Labor Day holiday.

Speaker Pelosi sent a Dear Colleague letter calling for “a Day of Action For The Children” on Wednesday, September 2. “As students return to school, I encourage Members to hold virtual events in their districts” focusing on “the urgency of Senate passage of the HEROES Act passed by the House in May.”

CRS published a report on the effect of COVID-19 on the US blood supply. Mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as closures of schools and workplaces, have led to blood drive cancellations at the places where such events are often held. In addition, individual state stay-at-home orders and general fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus might dissuade individuals from scheduling appointments to donate blood.

Please visit our TFG Coronavirus Legislative Trackers public health & safety, local government relief, and business assistance for detailed information on recently introduced bills.  

Administration. The Justice Department (DOJ) requested COVID-19 data from the governors of states that issued orders which, according to DOJ, may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents. DOJ alleges in a press release that New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing.

DOL reported the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 9.9 percent last week.  In the week ending August 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,006,000, a decrease of 98,000 from the previous week's revised level.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued 13 exemptions in response to requests from 12 licensees. The exemptions allow these licensees temporary relief from certain requirements under NRC regulations. The exemptions are in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency.

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced it is allowing exceptions to certain date of receipt rules. The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted operations at all Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) regional offices since the beginning of March 2020. Correspondence containing claims, information or evidence sent to VA during this period was likely delayed due to interrupted operations of VBA regional offices. Because VBA regional office mail systems were impacted, VA has established updated exceptions to the standard date of receipt rule.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) published an interim final rule addressing the ownership percentage that triggers the applicability of owner compensation rules for forgiveness purposes and limitations on the eligibility of certain nonpayroll costs for forgiveness.

SBA also published an interim final rule informing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers and lenders of the process for a PPP borrower to appeal certain SBA loan review decisions to the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals.
Industry & Advocacy
The National Governors Association (NGA) published a recording of the “Responding to Natural Disasters During COVID-19” webinar hosted on July 22. NGA speakers focused on strategies to both respond to severe summer weather, as well as how to maintain social distancing requirements to mitigate COVID-19 spread.

As reported on in TFG’s Transportation Notes newsletter, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) will become the first US airport to provide free on-site rapid coronavirus testing for its employees. SFO will be using Dignity Health’s GoHealth Urgent Care to administer testing inside the airport, with results in about 15 minutes. SFO officials said the goal is to eventually extend the service to passengers. 
Webinars, Events and Resources
NACo WEBINAR: How Counties are Investing CARES Act Dollars in Social Safety Net Services 
August 27, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT 
 
CRS reports of interest, including:  

For more information please contact Mike Miller: mmiller@tfgnet.com (707) 224-8648