COVID-19 Federal Response Update – Tuesday, April 14, 2020

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By Capitol Associates, Inc. 

  • Director of the White House Economic Council Larry Kudlow said the Small Business Administration (SBA) has distributed almost all of the $350 billion it received from the CARES Act for the Paycheck Protection Program.
    • Congress is expected to provide more funding for the program. Congressional leaders are currently in negotiations about whether they should pass a standalone SBA funding bill or if that should be part of a broader legislative package.
    • Through April 13, 2020, the SBA has guaranteed 1,035,086 loans totaling almost $257 billion under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
    • More information about the PPP payments through April 13th are available on the SBA’s PPP website.
  • Both the House and Senate postponed the date when they will reconvene in Washington, D.C. from April 20th until May 4th. Congress can still pass legislation before it reconvenes but it will have to rely on unanimous consent procedures until the full body (or a quorum) returns.
  • States are beginning to form compacts to coordinate their easing of economic and public health restrictions. These agreements are intended to prevent one state from re-opening before adjacent states have their COVID-19 situation under control which could cause a new wave of infections.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began accepting applications under a program that provides funding to providers to increase their technological capabilities to provide telehealth services. The CARES Act gave $200 million to the FCC for this program. Funds will be allocated on a rolling basis and will be capped at $1 million per project.
  • The House Ways and Means (W&M) Committee published a breakdown of the $30 billion provider relief fund payments by state.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau is asking Congress to grant it a 120-day extension on some deadlines for the 2020 census, which began soliciting responses from every person living in the U.S. at around the same time as the COVID-19 public health emergency was declared. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham said in a joint statement Monday that the Census Bureau is requesting a 120-day extension to meet data-reporting deadlines that were established by Congress.
    • The Census Bureau already decided to cancel its field work which will hinder data collection efforts.
    • During his April 13th daily press conference, President Trump said the 120-day delay may not be enough time and that a longer extension might be required.
    • Forty-eight percent of all U.S. households have already sent their responses to The Commerce Department.
  • Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, announced the Committee will launch a wide-ranging probe of the coronavirus. The probe will scrutinize many things including the federal government’s preparedness, the World Health Organization’s response, and the origins and spread of the virus.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidance to skilled nursing facilities (SNF) on procedures for transferring or discharging patients. Nursing homes are highly susceptible to COVID-19 outbreaks within the facility. The guidance provides information on transfers and discharges for patients who are positive, negative or unknown/under observation for COVID-19.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it has placed enough orders for ventilators from commercial manufacturers to have 137,431 ventilators by the end of the year.
  • During his daily news conference, President Trump said he will temporarily suspend the United States’ contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO), pending a review of its response to the coronavirus. The United States contributes hundreds of millions of dollars per year to the WHO. President Trump believes the WHO has not done enough to scrutinize China’s role in originating the virus and that it could have done more to share information.
  • McKinsey & Co. published a report on the overall impact the coronavirus will have on African Americans.
  • The University of Chicago Medicine announced Monday that it will launch a clinical trial to study the potential of plasma treatments for COVID-19 patients. Plasma treatments rely on the antibodies developed by past COVID-19 patients to accelerate the recovery process for those who have not recovered yet.

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