Coronavirus Update
September 3, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
Top News
The CDC provided vaccination planning guidance to state and local jurisdictions and indicated a vaccine might be available as early as November. Documents released by CDC include a brief on COVID-19 vaccination program planning assumptions for jurisdictions and a brief outlining vaccination scenarios for jurisdictional planning. The latter document indicates early vaccine supplies, though “constrained,” might be available in Q4 2020. McClatchy and other media report CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield sent a letter to governors urging expedited approvals for vaccine distribution centers to ensure full operational capability by November 1.

Following an executive order issued by President Trump, the CDC issued an order under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act to temporarily halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The CDC order is effective through December 31, 2020.

Capitol Hill. Legislative action is likely to remain relatively slow until next week when the August recess concludes. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sent a Dear Colleague letter to Members outlining the House’s September priorities; coronavirus relief is at the top of the list, along with appropriations for virtually all federal agencies. Congress must act by September 30 to avert a government shutdown.

Apparently little progress has been made between congressional leadership and the White House regarding coronavirus relief. Senate leadership is likely to consider a “skinny” or “targeted” stimulus bill as early as next week. The bill comes with a significantly lower price tag than the House’s HEROES Act and provides funding for schools to resume classes, another round of the Paycheck Protection Program, and additional unemployment assistance. The bill also provides liability protection for schools and business – it is unclear whether protection will extend to local government. Also, the Senate bill probably will not include direct financial assistance for local government. It is unclear whether the current version of the bill has enough support to pass the Senate and set a House-Senate Conference into motion.

The House Oversight Committee announced an investigation into the cancellation of a $646 million contract for ventilators last week. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) stated the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy will investigate contracts negotiated by the White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro to ensure the federal government is not overpaying for equipment.

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

Administration. FCC, HHS, and USDA announced a collaboration to work on the Rural Telehealth Initiative, a joint effort to collaborate and share information to address health disparities, resolve service provider challenges, and promote broadband services and technology to rural areas in America. This comes after the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of telehealth in delivering quality healthcare to rural areas.

DOL reported initial claims for unemployment insurance at 881,000, a decrease of 130,000 from the previous week's revised level. The 4-week moving average was 991,750, a decrease of 77,500 from the previous week's revised average.

CBO released an updated 2020-2030 budget outlook report. CBO projects a federal budget deficit of $3.3 trillion in 2020, more than triple the shortfall recorded in 2019, mostly because of the economic disruption caused by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and the enactment of legislation in response.

During a call with state and tribal emergency managers, FEMA announced it will no longer reimburse states for the costs of cloth face coverings or personal protective equipment (PPE) in nonemergency settings, including schools, public housing, and courthouses. The policy will go into effect on September 15. The change in guidance will narrow what constitutes an “emergency protective measure,” and limit eligibility for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program funding. 
Industry & Advocacy
According to the Natural Marketing Institute, vitamin and supplement usage has increased by 28 percent in the US and by 25 percent worldwide since the start of COVID-19. The increase in demand has slowed supplement supply chains and allowed for certain businesses to take advantage of the opportunity by marketing their products as means to prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19. However, the FDA has no way of tracking the sale of these supplements as they are sold under the category of “dietary supplement.” The CDC has stated that dietary supplements are not meant to treat or prevent COVID-19. The FDA issued warning letters to firms for selling fraudulent products with claims to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose, or cure COVID-19.

Due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, many airlines have been forced to lay off or furlough thousands of employees and adjust their fee systems for flight changes and cancellations. American and United Airlines announced plans to lay off or furlough over 10,000 workers in the upcoming months. American also announced they will reduce their flying capacity by 55% in October. 
Webinars, Events and Resources
U.S. Conference of Mayors Webinar: Council on Metro Economies and the New American City: Economic Recovery
September 3, 1:00 PM EDT

NACo Webinar: County De-incarceration and Jail Reentry Strategies During COVID-19
September 11, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

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