Coronavirus Update
July 16, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
Top News
Congressional Republicans and the White House are working on their next coronavirus relief package proposal which they expect to release next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reported to a Kentucky radio station this week that “this new coronavirus package will be front and center. That will dominate our time...starting next week.” With the Senate scheduled to leave Washington on August 7 - and the House July 31 - lawmakers will have a limited amount of time to negotiate and consider a package before the August recess. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she will delay the recess if necessary.

Many details about the GOP’s proposal are unknown, but the package will likely be much narrower than the $3.5 trillion HEROES Act passed by the House in May. According to The Hill , the proposal is likely to include funding for reopening schools; more funding for testing and the Paycheck Protection Program; and liability protections for doctors, hospitals, first responders, schools, and businesses that would be retroactive to December 2019 and extend through approximately December 2024. Majority Leader McConnell and the White House have expressed support for a second round of stimulus checks, though Majority Leader McConnell suggested a lower income ceiling would need to be met to qualify. Unemployment insurance is also likely to be a topic addressed in the Senate bill.

Politico reports unemployment claims fell slightly to 1.3 million last week. Although claims continue to decline, the numbers remain historically high, nearly double the highest numbers from the Great Recession. 

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

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a report outlining the effects of coronavirus on federal land revenues. The report includes information on likely impacts on payments to state and local governments, pointing out the effects on these payments will not be realized until federal fiscal year 2021 (beginning October 1, 2020).

CRS also updated its report on the pandemic’s impact on household employment and income based upon an experimental Census survey. According to the survey, 48.8 million people reported not working due to COVID-19 during the week of May 7. The following week the number declined to 39 million. The survey also shows approximately half of all adults live in a household that has lost some employment income since March 2020, with a disproportionate impact on households with lower incomes

The House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy held a hearing focused on FDA’s process to review and license or authorize candidate vaccines.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to pass Rep. Ami Bera’s (D-CA) bipartisan Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act, legislation that would provide additional mental health resources to our nation’s first responders responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to The Hill, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) will introduce legislation - the Healthy Workplaces Tax Credit - providing tax credits for businesses to safely reopen and pay for extra safety measures. The credit is limited to $1,000 per employee for a business’s first 500 employees, $750 per employee for the next 500 employees, and $500 for each employee after that. For example, if a restaurant with 40 employees spends $60,000 on PPE, testing, disinfecting and plexiglass shields, it would receive a $30,000 tax credit against its payroll.

Administration.   HHS announced a large-scale procurement of FDA-authorized rapid point-of-care diagnostic test instruments and tests to be distributed to nursing homes in COVID-19 hotspot areas.

FEMA and HHS obligated $133.6 billion in support of COVID-19 efforts. FEMA has also been procuring testing materials – specifically, testing swabs and transport media – for the White House Coronavirus Task Force in order to support the Administration’s Testing Blueprint for rapid testing and response plans.

DOL’s Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program provides an avenue to get workers wages they are owed, with more than $7 million in back wages found for more than 11,000 workers. DOL is also increasing efforts to get back wages to workers through its Workers Owed Wages online system . A DOL press release on this initiative is here .

DOL published a request for information regarding the effectiveness of current state- and employer-provided paid leave programs, and how access – or lack of access – to paid leave programs has impacted workers and their families. Written comments must be provided by September 14, 2020. The information will help DOL identify practices related to eligibility requirements, costs, and models of existing paid leave programs.

SBA announced a new, temporary Community Advantage Recovery Loans Program for eligible lenders to provide technical and financial assistance to small businesses located in underserved areas with retooling their business models for the COVID-19 environment and building financial resiliencey against potential future disruptions. Loans will be approved through September 27, 2020. 
Advocacy
Associations representing states, territories, counties, cities, and towns sent a letter to Congress seeking an enhanced federal share for the Medicaid program in the next bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill. The Associations signed onto the letter include NGA, NACo, NLC, ICMA, NCSL, Conference of Mayors, and more.
Webinars, Events and Resources
NACo WEBINAR: Telehealth and COVID-19
July 16, 3:00 PM-4:00 PM EDT

NLC WEBINAR: Cities at Crossroad: Responding to the Impacts of COVID-19
July 16, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

NACo CONFERENCE CALL: Federal COVID-19 Policy
July 17, 1:00 PM EDT

ICMA WEBINAR: Using Data to Guide Your Jurisdiction’s COVID-19 Response
July 23, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT
For more information please contact Mike Miller: mmiller@tfgnet.com (707) 224-8648