Coronavirus Update
July 23, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
Top News
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was expected to unveil the GOP coronavirus relief package – “CARES II” – at the beginning of today’s Senate session but it appears there may be a delay. Majority Leader McConnell met with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this morning to discuss some “final details” of the package, according to Bloomberg Government, but it appears some additional negotiation is needed. When released, the package is expected to be rolled out in separate pieces by different Senators, according the Associated Press , CQ , and others. CARES II will serve as the basis for negotiations with House and Senate Democrats.

Leaders hoped to negotiate a final compromise package by the end of the month; that timeline looks increasingly unrealistic. Negotiations on a final package are likely to continue into August.

According to several different press reports, the approximately $1 trillion CARES II is expected to include:

  • Additional flexibility on the use of Coronavirus Relief Funds;
  • Liability protections for businesses, schools, medical providers, and others;
  • School reopening assistance (K-12 and higher education;
  • Additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program;
  • Additional funding for testing;
  • Another round of stimulus checks, but limited this time to those earning less than $40,000; and
  • An extension of the extra unemployment benefit provided in earlier relief, although at a reduced amount.

The package is expected not to include:

  • Additional direct assistance to state and local governments;
  • An extension of the eviction moratorium, which expires tomorrow; and
  • A payroll tax break.

These details may change as negotiations continues. We will provide more information on CARES II when bill language is released.

There is reportedly some Senate Republican opposition to CARES II, particularly from several Members concerned about existing and potential impacts of coronavirus relief on the federal budget.

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

There are a few hearings this week, including: 

Administration.   President Trump commented on the federal government’s coronavirus epidemic progress during a press briefing yesterday. During a Tuesday press briefing the President said the epidemic “will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better…”

HHS announced an agreement with U.S.-based Pfizer Inc. for large-scale production and nationwide delivery of 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement also allows the U.S. government to acquire an additional 500 million doses. President Trump announced the deal was part of Operation Warp Speed.

HHS also announced a new program - the  National Testing Implementation Forum  – which will bring together representatives from key stakeholder groups to share information and provide input to federal leaders COVID-19, testing and diagnostics.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA – an agency under HHS) announced it will begin distributing $10 billion in a second round of high impact COVID-19 area funding to hospitals starting next week.

The Department of Labor reports unemployment claims rose to 1.4 million last week, ending 15 weeks of consecutive declines in new applications. In the week ending July 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,416,000, an increase of 109,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 7,000 from 1,300,000 to 1,307,000. 
Advocacy
Yesterday the US Conference of Mayors held a media call to urge Congress to provide direct fiscal assistance to all cities in the US. The group sent a letter calling for $250 billion for cities and also released a report outlining challenges facing cities.

NACo released research showing that the COVID-19 pandemic could impact county budgets by at least $202 billion through FY2021. The findings also show that despite a recovery in the unemployment rate nationwide, local governments have continued losing jobs since March.

NACo also released their 2020-2021 American County Platform and Resolutions document that reflects the upcoming objectives of NACO’s membership, including policy provisions related to COVID-19 recovery.

ICMA has collected several useful data resources for cities; note the ICMA webinar below.
Webinars, Events and Resources
ICMA WEBINAR: Using Data to Guide Your Jurisdiction’s COVID-19 Response
TODAY, July 23, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT

NLC WEBINAR: Cities Addressing Food Insecurity During COVID-19 and Beyond
TODAY, July 23, 3:00 PM – 4:00 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

NACo WEBINAR: How Counties Are Using CARES Act Dollars to Support Local Economies and Workforce
August 6, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

There are a few CRS Reports of interest, including:

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