Coronavirus Update
October 15, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
Top News
The U.S. Census Bureau announced it will end all enumeration efforts for the 2020 Census in a matter of hours, October 16 at 6:00 a.m. EST. The Supreme Court on Tuesday approved an Administration request to suspend a lower court order that extended the count’s schedule to October 31. Visit 2020Census.gov to respond TODAY.

Late last week, the White House proposed a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package to Congressional Democrats (which included $300 billion in aid for state and local governments), but the offer was largely rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Since then, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have continued efforts to negotiate a relief package, with talks expected to continue today. Secretary Mnuchin said the President told him to “Keep at this until you get this done.” However, at a conference this week, the Secretary said, “At this point, getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult, just given where we are in the level of details.”

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the Senate will vote on a narrow coronavirus relief bill next week, which is expected to include approximately $500 billion in aid for hospitals, schools, an extension of unemployment benefit, and additional Paycheck Protection Program funding, among other provisions (details have not yet been released). Within minutes of Majority Leader McConnell’s announcement, President Trump tweeted, “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!,” a message seemingly at odds with Majority Leader McConnell’s scaled-back approach. With both the White House and Congressional Democrats interested in approving a more robust relief package, the new $500 billion package from Senate Republicans is not expected to further negotiations and the legislation is unlikely to receive the 60 votes needed to advance.

President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will participate in separate town hall events this evening. Both town halls will begin at 8:00 p.m. EDT. President Trump will be in Miami and appear on NBC while Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will be in Philadelphia and appear on ABC. The final presidential debate is currently scheduled to be in-person on October 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.  

Capitol Hill. The House is in recess until November 16 while the Senate will return on October 19. The Senate Judiciary Committee is wrapping up its fourth day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings today. The Committee will hold a vote on Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 22 followed by a final Senate floor vote during the week of Oct. 26.

Last week, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress laid out parameters for a limited return to earmarks in its draft final report recommending process changes on Capitol Hill for the 117th Congress.

CBO estimates the federal budget deficit was $3.1 trillion in fiscal year 2020. Relative to the size of the economy, the deficit—at an estimated 15.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—was the largest since 1945, and 2020 was the fifth consecutive year in which the deficit increased as a percentage of GDP.

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

Administration. CDC updated its Coronavirus Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) with a focus on transmission by age group. Consistent with prior TFG MMWR reporting, in several areas of the US an increase in positivity among young adults precedes an increase in positivity among older adults; positivity in older age groups is likely to result in more hospitalizations, severe illness, and deaths. The report notes there is “an urgent need to address transmission among young adult populations…:

NIH announced the beginning of a clinical trial to test the safety, tolerability and efficacy of a combination treatment regimen for COVID-19 consisting of the antiviral remdesivir plus a highly concentrated solution of antibodies that neutralize SARS-CoV-2. The study is taking place in hospitalized adults with COVID-19 in the United States, Mexico and 16 other countries on five continents.

NIH launched a  study designed to determine whether certain approved therapies or investigational drugs in late-stage clinical development show promise against COVID-19 and merit advancement into larger clinical trials. The ACTIV-5 Big Effect Trial, which will enroll adult volunteers hospitalized with COVID-19 at as many as 40 US sites, is being conducted in collaboration with the NIH’s public-private partnership Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Innovations and Vaccines (ACTIV) program.

The Hill reports CDC Director Robert Redfield warned governors that small gatherings are “increasingly becoming a source of COVID-19 infection around the country.”

DOL initial unemployment insurance claims was 898,000, an increase of 53,000 from the previous week's revised level. The 4-week moving average was 866,250, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week's revised average.  The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 6.8 percent for the week ending October 3, a decrease of 0.9 percentage point from the previous week's revised rate. The previous week's rate was revised up by 0.2 from 7.5 to 7.7 percent.

SBA and the Treasury Department, on Oct. 8, released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. The simpler loan forgiveness application is here and instructions are here.

EPA is conducting a voluntary survey to learn how drinking water and wastewater utilities across the country have been affected—operationally and financially—by COVID-19. EPA has pre-identified utilities for participation based on a statistically representative sample draw.

USDA announced the extension of flexibilities to allow free meals to continue to be available to all children throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year.

Politico reports that cybercriminals from around the world and in the U.S. have stolen an estimated $8 billion in CARES Act funding allocated for state unemployment benefit payments due to lax applicant verification requirements. 
Industry & Advocacy
Eli Lilly paused its late-stage clinical trial of a monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 due to a safety concern. The clinical trial is designed to evaluate Lilly’s neutralizing antibody as a treatment for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients in combination with the antiviral drug remdesivir. Johnson & Johnson also paused its study of a COVID-19 vaccine due to an “unexplained illness in a study participant,” according to Stat News.

The Administration expects to have 1 million doses of the monoclonal antibody treatments on hand before the end of 2020. According to Bloomberg, the pharmaceutical company Regeneron stated last week that they have produced enough doses for about 50,000 patients and expects to have enough doses available for 300,000 patients in the next few months.

NACo CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony released a statement urging Congress and the White House to come quickly to an agreement that would provide “critical resources to local leaders on the front lines of the pandemic.”

A number of airlines are partnering with health companies to ensure passengers can take an FDA-approved test, either at home or in-person, and receive the results before boarding a plane. United was the first airline to announce testing options for passengers flying from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii. The rapid tests are administered by GoHealth, cost $250, and results take about 15 minutes. American Airlines has partnered with health providers LetsGetChecked and CareNow for tests for routes to Hawaii, Costa Rica and the Caribbean.

NACo will be hosting their Federal Policy Summit next week on October 21 and 22. Topics scheduled for discussion include COVID-19 relief, healthcare, broadband, public lands, disaster assistance, and more.

HHS and DoD announced an agreement with Cytiva, headquartered in Massachusetts, to expand the company’s manufacturing capacity for products that are essential in producing COVID-19 vaccines. The agreement provides approximately $31 million to Cytiva for vaccine-related consumable products, such as liquid and dry powder cell culture media, cell culture buffers, and mixer bags.

DOD awarded a contract to Cue Health Inc. of San Diego aimed at expanding US production capacity of point-of-care COVID-19 tests. Cue Health will increase production to 100,000 COVID-19 test kits per day by March 2021. The Cue COVID-19 Test is a molecular test that detects the ribonucleic acid of SARS-CoV-2 in about 20 minutes using a nasal swab sample.
Webinars, Events and Resources
NACo Webinar: COVID-19 Testing Solution Available through NACo/CVS Health Partnership
October 19, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST
NACo and CVS Health are launching Return Ready, a new program aimed to help get our county employees back to work with a new level of safety precaution.

USCM Webinar: Helping Your Local Restaurants Survive this Winter
October 19, 3:00 PM EST

USCM Webinar: Maximizing COVID-19 Funding Six Months into the Pandemic
October 22, 1:00 PM EST

NACo Webinar: Improving Children and Families’ Access to Services during COVID-19
October 26, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST
For more information please contact Mike Miller: mmiller@tfgnet.com (707) 224-8648