Coronavirus Update
October 8, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
Top News
On Tuesday, President Trump announced via Twitter that he was halting negotiations with Congressional Democrats on the next coronavirus relief package until after the election. Instead, he called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to “focus full time” on approving the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the President’s decision to stop negotiations a “terrible mistake.” However, just hours later, President Trump expressed support for a more piecemeal approach to stimulus, supporting the approval of specific measures related to stimulus checks and aid for airlines and small businesses. In addition, this morning on the Fox Business Network the President said he was negotiating a “bigger deal” than just piecemeal aid for airlines. Regarding his decision to shut down relief talks, the President said, “I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out. Now they’re starting to work out.”

According to The Hill, Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have indeed been negotiating aid for the airline industry; however, Speaker Pelosi stated this morning that she has told Secretary Mnuchin that the House will not do a standalone bill on airlines without a guarantee that the other stimulus items are going to be addressed. There has also been no indication that talks on a broader relief package have resumed.

In addition, this morning, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the next presidential debate, scheduled for October 15, will now be virtual. Shortly after the announcement was made, President Trump said he would not participate in a virtual event. Stay tuned!

Capitol Hill. The House is currently scheduled to be in recess until November 16 while the Senate will be in recess through October 19. If a deal were to be reached on a COVID-19 relief package later this month, House lawmakers could return to Washington for a vote, or vote via proxy. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said lawmakers would be given 24 hours’ notice ahead of a potential vote.

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

Administration. On Wednesday evening, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a lower court’s order saying the Trump Administration must continue the 2020 Census count until October 31, however, the ruling said the Census Bureau may still attempt to deliver the data to President Trump while he is still in office, by December 31. The Administration immediately appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it for a stay of the lower court’s actions.

The CDC announced the coronavirus can spread through “airborne transmission” to people who are more than six feet away under certain circumstances. The update on the agency's website is an important change to the understanding of how the virus spreads – one that many experts have been pointing to for months. The guidance is careful to say that airborne transmission “sometimes” happens but the virus “most commonly” spreads between people who are within 6 feet of each other. The danger of airborne transmission beyond six feet largely occurs indoors in poorly ventilated space, which is part of the reason why outdoor activities are considered safer. 

The Veterans Administration published a final rule extending by 90 days the deadlines for former members insured under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) to apply for Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) coverage following separation from service in order to assist former members directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19.

The New York Times reported the drug maker Regeneron submitted an application to FDA for emergency approval of the experimental antibody cocktail that President Trump praised.

DOL reported the number of initial unemployment claims was 840,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level. The 4-week moving average was 857,000, a decrease of 13,250 from the previous week's revised average. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 7.5 percent for the week ending September 26, a decrease of 0.7 percentage point from the previous week's revised rate.

The IRS reminded taxpayers who filed an extension that the October 15 due date to file their 2019 tax return is near. Some taxpayers may have more time to file, including members of the military and others serving in a combat zone (180 days after leaving combat zone) and taxpayers in federally declared disaster areas who already had valid extensions.

The IRS announced an extension of its deadline for non-filers to register for their coronavirus relief Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), from October 15 to November 21, giving these individuals an extra five weeks to submit their information.

The Department of Homeland Security released its weekly response to COVID-19.

FTA announced the availability of $10 million in grant funding through a new Public Transportation COVID-19 Research Demonstration Grant Program.

The Department of Agriculture is investing $72 million in grants to fund 116 projects across more than 40 states and territories to help healthcare and educational institutions deploy distance-learning and telemedicine services to rural residents. 
Industry & Advocacy
NLC released a statement highlighting disappointment with the President’s tweets instructing representatives to stop negotiating towards a COVID-19 relief package until after the election. “America’s cities, towns and villages are reeling from the financial impact of the pandemic while continuing to expend significant resources to combat ongoing cases of COVID-19, recover from natural disasters and provide essential services to their residents,” stated NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony.

U.S. Conference of Mayors also released a statement concerning the President’s decision to halt negotiations. “Today’s failure to delivery badly needed fiscal assistance to cities of all shapes and sizes is going to amount to increased job losses, decreased public safety and a greatly impaired economic recovery,” stated U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

As reported in TFG Transportation Notes, Airlines for America also released a statement calling on Congress to reach an agreement that will save jobs and extend the Payroll Support Program (PSP) in order to rebuild the travel industry and restore the economic health of our country. The Association of Flight Attendants is also calling on Congress to pass an extension of the PSP.  

The National Confectioners Association connected candy makers with Members of Congress this week to discuss what Halloween during the coronavirus pandemic will look like. Halloween is the first major holiday during the pandemic that is putting the candy industry at risk and stands as a first trial for how holidays during the epidemic will be handled by the public. 
Webinars, Events and Resources
ICMA Webinar: COVID-19 Mass Vaccination: Preliminary Guidance for Local Government Leaders and Managers
October 14, 1:00 PM EDT

NACo Webinar: Navigating the Needs of Unhouse Populations Amidst COVID-19
October 14, 3:00 PM EDT
For more information please contact Mike Miller: (707) 224-8648