Coronavirus Update
September 8, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
Top News
The Senate returns to Washington this week for the first time since August 13. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other top Senate Republicans have been rounding up votes for a narrow COVID-19 economic stimulus relief package they will bring to the floor. The $500 billion-plus proposal includes $300-per-week federal unemployment payments on top of regular state benefits, another round of funding to aid small and medium-sized businesses, liability protections for businesses, schools and charities, and $105 billion for education, among other provisions. Notably, the Republican proposal does not include Democratic priorities like additional aid to state and local governments to cover lost revenue or another round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

Senate Republicans plan to introduce the proposal on Tuesday, McConnell said in a statement, adding that he will move "immediately today to set up a floor vote as soon as this week." "It does not contain every idea our party likes," the Kentucky Republican said. "I am confident Democrats will feel the same. Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation." It is unclear whether McConnell has at least 51 Republican votes for the plan, let alone the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and his Democratic colleagues remain opposed to the Republican proposal. Leader Schumer said in a September 3 letter to the 47-member Senate Democratic Caucus that a "skinny" bill would fall short of the sweeping legislation they believe is necessary to confront the health and economic fallout from the virus. Senate Democrats have joined with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in calling for at least $2 trillion in new spending, and Senate Democrats will block further action if the Republican proposal comes up for a vote this week.

Capitol Hill. In addition to action in the Senate regarding a narrow COVID-19 relief package, Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reached a tentative agreement late last week to continue funding for federal agencies and departments beyond the September 30, 2020 deadline marking the end of fiscal year (FY) 2020, taking the possibility of a government shutdown largely off the table. Some lawmakers and aides have discussed attaching COVID-19 relief provisions to a stopgap spending bill, but reaching a consensus there could be difficult. The clean Continuing Resolution (CR), which will be free of controversial policy riders and will fund the federal government at enacted FY2020 funding levels, will likely last through mid-December 2020. This will provide Congress around six weeks in the "lame-duck" session, following the November 3 election, to reach an agreement on a FY2021 appropriations package(s).

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

Administration. The Treasury Department updated its guidance and FAQ documents on CARES Act relief funding usage for state and local government recipients.

As reported last week, CDC published an agency order under the Public Health Service Act to temporarily halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The official Federal Register Agency Order from September 4 is here.

CDC published Interim Guidance for Rapid Antigen Testing for COVID-19. The goal of the guidance is to help healthcare providers make the most effective use of antigen tests in different situations.

The Federal Communications Commission released a Public Notice on September 3 providing additional information and guidance for potential applicants for its Connected Care Pilot Program. The Pilot Program will provide up to $100 million from the Universal Service Fund over a three-year period to support the provision of connected care services with an emphasis on supporting these services for low-income Americans and veterans.
Industry & Advocacy
Companies developing coronavirus vaccines announced they intend to release a public pledge that they will not seek government approval unless they’ve concluded their vaccines are completely safe, according to the WSJ. The vaccine developers would also pledge to adhere to high scientific and ethical standards in the conduct of clinical studies and in the manufacturing processes.

Airlines for America (A4A), in an announcement last week, predicted that demand for air travel won’t return to pre-COVID-19 levels for a few years. “We don’t see any significant increase in demand. We don’t see it fully rebounding until 2024,” said A4A CEO Nicholas Calio, according to The Hill.
Webinars, Events and Resources
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: (707) 224-8648