Coronavirus Update
July 20, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
Top News
Senate Republicans announced they will release details of their next coronavirus relief proposal sometime this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows today to discuss details of the package. Bloomberg reports there may be disagreement between Congressional Republicans and the White House on some proposed provisions such as a plan to allocate billions of dollars to states to assist with testing and contact tracing. These issues will need to be worked out before the GOP proposal is released.

Bloomberg reports the GOP proposal will largely resemble the CARES Act which was passed by the House in March. The proposal may include extended unemployment insurance, tax incentives for employers, and a new round of stimulus checks, but it is not likely to include a new round of direct aid to state and local governments or the full $600 per week in unemployment assistance. Bloomberg notes “Republicans plan to include some level of unemployment subsidy, and to allow more flexibility for use of remaining state aid funds provided in the CARES Act, with an estimated tens of billions of that funding still unspent. But people familiar with the drafting process don’t expect new appropriations, as part of an effort to keep the legislation within a $1 trillion cap that Republicans and the White House have set.” It is important to note that many reports about the details of the GOP’s proposal remain speculative; the proposal is clearly still being negotiated and consensus has yet to be reached. We hope to report more concrete details on the proposal in Thursday’s edition of the Coronavirus Update.

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.

Both the House and the Senate are back in session this week.  As noted above, the Senate Republican’s coronavirus relief bill is likely to be the focus of attention.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she would offer an amendment to Leader McConnell’s relief bill prohibiting sending relief funds to states that have not adopted a mask mandate.  

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. wrote a memorandum providing an outline of the vaccine development process. The memo is to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in advance of tomorrow’s hearing entitled “Pathway To A Vaccine.” A link to the hearing is below.

Retired General Joseph Dunford, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, has withdrawn from consideration to lead a congressional commission tasked with overseeing the Administration’s implementation of a $500 billion coronavirus relief fund, according to Politico .  

There are a few hearings this week, including: 

Administration.   CDC released a statement calling on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 spread. In the press release, Director Dr. Robert Redfield stated, “we are not defenseless against COVID-19… face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting.”

CBS News reports the CDC is delaying the release of updated guidance on school reopening of schools; the guidance was supposed to come out this week. CDC said full guidance will be published before the end of the month. The CDC previously provided a “ school reopening decision tree tool ” intended to help administrators make decisions regarding K-12 schools.

HHS released updated guidance for hospital reporting and FAQs for hospitals and hospital laboratories.The new guidance explains how the responsibility of collecting daily reports about hospital patients, including bed availability and number of ventilators in use, will move from the CDC to HHS. However, HHS has not yet announced if this database of information will be open to the public, including researchers, modelers, and health officials who are making projections and decisions in response to COVID-19 information tracking.

The Trump Administration rescinded the recently published rules that would bar international students from being in the US if they were taking virtual classes this fall.

DOD announced two Defense Production Act (DPA) actions to help sustain and strengthen essential domestic industrial base capabilities and defense-critical workforce in the aviation and shipping industries throughout the disruption caused by COVID-19.

CDC is seeking general public and federal agency comment on a proposed informed collection project entitled National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The program will provide descriptive statistics to measure the health and nutrition status of the general population. 
The National Governors Association (NGA) urged the Trump Administration to delay changes to hospital reporting requirements “in order for hospitals to learn a new system, as they continue to deal with this pandemic.” In addition, NGA urged the Administration to make this information publicly available.

The NGA also sent a letter to congressional leaders urging Congress to “provide the significant resources necessary for schools to balance learning and safety in the fall, while respecting the long-standing principles of state and local control that govern our education systems.” The NGA was joined on the letter by groups representing state K-12 education agencies, local school boards, universities, community colleges, educators and the special education community.

The US Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlining the Chamber’s priorities for the next round of coronavirus relief. The Chamber’s priorities in order: liability protection against unwarranted lawsuits, support for small and midsize employers, support for childcare and K-12 schools, unemployment and job training, and state and local assistance.
Webinars, Events and Resources
NACo WEBINAR: County Public Health Departments on the Front Lines
July 22, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

ICMA WEBINAR: Using Data to Guide Your Jurisdiction’s COVID-19 Response
July 23, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT

NACo WEBINAR: How Counties are Investing CRF Dollars to Support Small Businesses and Nonprofits Impacted by COVID-19
July 24, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

NACo WEBINAR: Tech Challenges and Opportunities During COVID-19
July 28, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT

There are a few CRS Reports of interest, including:
For more information please contact Mike Miller: (707) 224-8648