COVID-19 response memo, 6/16/20

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COVID-19 response memo, 6/16/20

Hope you had a good Tuesday. Get out your reading glasses today - there is a lot of news to cover. Some highlights in today’s memo:

  • SBA, Treasury Release Updated Data on Second Round PPP Funding

  • Fed Announces Lending Facilities for Main Street Lending Program

  • Fed to Seek Public Feedback on Expanding Main Street to Provide Access to Credit for Nonprofits

  • Fed to Resume Examination Activities for Banks

  • Fed to Begin Purchasing Corporate Debt

  • U.S. Expects Insurers To Cover COVID-19 Vaccine Without Copays

  • Many Businesses Asking Customers, Workers to Waive Legal Rights

  • FDA Revokes EUA for Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine

  • SBA Announces EIDL Loans No Longer Limited to Agriculture

  • NIH Launches Analytics Platform to Accelerate Treatments

  • Over 100 Economists Tell Congress More Relief is Needed

  • Retail Sales Spiked 17.7 Percent in May, After Two-Month Collapse, Sending Markets Higher

  • 30 US Senators Send Bipartisan Letter in Support of Telehealth to Senate Leadership

  • Daily Numbers

    Let’s dive in.

SBA, Treasury Release Updated Data on Second Round PPP Funding

Big News: Yesterday, SBA and Treasury released updated funding numbers on the second round of PPP funding.

The Numbers: More than 4.5 million loans have been approved in excess of $512 billion, with an average loan size of $111,667. $130 billion in funding remains ready for use.

More information can be found here.

Fed Announces Lending Facilities for Main Street Lending Program

What’s New: On Monday, the Federal Reserve announced the establishment of three lending facilities to support small and medium-sized businesses through the Main Street Lending Program. The facilities include the Main Street New Loan Facility (MSNLF), the Main Street Priority Loan Facility (MSPLF), and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility (MSELF).

Details: Businesses eligible for Main Street must have 15,000 employees or fewer, or have business revenues from 2019 not exceeding $5 billion. Loans issued under the Program have a five-year maturity, as well as deferred principal payments for two years and deferred interest payments for one year. 

More: Eligible lenders can originate new loans through MSNLF or MSPLF, and can increase the size of existing loans through MSELF. Lender registration is now open. All information, including a press release from the Fed, registration instructions, and forms for lenders and borrowers are here.

Fed to Seek Public Feedback on Expanding Main Street to Provide Access to Credit for Nonprofits

What’s New: The Federal Reserve has announced it will seek public comment on a proposal to expand the Main Street Lending Program to include access to credit for nonprofits. The expansion would offer loans to small and medium-sized nonprofits that were in sound financial condition before the pandemic. 

Details: The proposed loan terms for nonprofit loans are the same as the terms defined for Main Street business loans. The minimum loan size is $250,000 and the maximum loan size is $300 million. Principal payments are delayed for the first two years of the five-year loan, and interest payments are deferred for one year. 

And: Borrower eligibility requirements for nonprofits would be modified from the for-profit facility requirements. Under the proposal, nonprofits that have a minimum of 50 employees but no more than 15,000 employees, have an operational history of at least five years and have endowments not exceeding $3 billion would be eligible.

More information is here.

Fed to Resume Examination Activities for Banks

What’s New: On Monday, the Fed announced it will resume all bank examination activities. Examination practices had previously been limited in the wake of the pandemic.

Fed to Begin Purchasing Corporate Debt

What’s New: The Fed will begin buying corporate debt from large corporations in an effort to cut borrowing costs in the wake of the pandemic. The purchases will be made through the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF).

Details: The Fed will create an index of U.S. corporate bonds that will be purchased on the open markets. The move is seen as an effort to assist large companies without having them seek direct aid from the Fed.

The Goal: To purchase $750 billion in corporate bonds to support the availability of credit for large employers. To be eligible under the corporate bond purchasing program, most of the debt has to be investment grade, though debt that has been downgraded to junk since late March will also be included. 

More information is here.

U.S. Expects Insurers To Cover COVID-19 Vaccine Without Copays

What’s New: U.S. officials say they expect health insurance companies will cover vaccines for COVID-19 without charging copays, once those vaccines are developed and become available.

Details: At a briefing for reporters Tuesday, a senior Trump administration official said the government has been talking with insurers about offering vaccines at no cost to patients. The industry earlier made a similar commitment to cover testing for the coronavirus without charging copays.

More: The White House has launched an initiative to quickly manufacture millions of doses of COVID vaccines, once the Food and Drug Administration approves one or more formulations. Candidate vaccines are in early trials, and the goal—considered ambitious—is to have 300 million doses by early next year.

The White House initiative, dubbed Operation Warp Speed, is a joint project of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Pentagon, under the overall direction of HHS.

Insurers generally have a strong financial interest in covering vaccines, seeing them as a win-win. Vaccination helps the insurers’ customers stay healthy, and preventing disease saves the company money.

Many Businesses Asking Customers, Workers to Waive Legal Rights

What’s New: As businesses reopen across the U.S. after coronavirus shutdowns, many are requiring customers and workers to sign forms saying they won’t sue if they catch COVID-19.

Details: Businesses fear they could be the target of litigation even if they adhere to safety precautions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials. But workers’ rights groups say the forms force employees to sign away their rights should they get sick.

More: The liability waivers, similar to what President Donald Trump’s campaign is requiring for people to attend a Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, would protect businesses in states that don’t have liability limits or immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits.

Where Is This Happening? So far, at least five states—Utah, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama—have such limits through legislation or executive orders, and others are considering them. Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are lobbying for national immunity legislation.

FDA Revokes EUA for Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine

What’s New: On Monday, the FDA revoked an emergency use authorization (EUA) that allowed chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate to be used to treat hospitalized patients suffering from COVID-19.

Why? The agency pulled the EUA after it determined the legal criteria for issuing the authorization could no longer be met. The FDA determined both medications are unlikely to be effective in treating the virus, based on the authorized uses provided in the EUA.

More: The FDA relied on recent clinical trials in making the decision to revoke the EUA. A recent clinical trial demonstrated hydroxychloroquine showed no benefit in expediting recovery or decreasing mortality rates. The trial results were consistent with recent data suggesting both medications are unlikely to kill or inhibit the viruses that cause COVID-19.

A press release from FDA is here.

SBA Announces EIDL Loans No Longer Limited to Agriculture

Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program to a broader group of small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EIDL Advance Portal will also be open to eligible applicants and will provide up to $10,000, or $1,000 per employee, for emergency relief to businesses negatively impacted. The emergency grants do not have to be repaid.

What Does That Mean: The EIDL Program is now open to an increased number of small businesses and nonprofits. The loans can be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that businesses are currently struggling to pay. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofits. The first payments on all loans is deferred for one year and the maximum loan length is 30 years.

More information is here.

NIH Launches Analytics Platform to Accelerate Treatments

What’s New: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced a centralized database to store and study medical record data from individuals diagnosed with COVID-19. The database is part of an effort through the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C) which aims to assist scientists in analyzing the data to better understand the disease and accelerate the development of treatments.

More: The analytics platform will collect clinical, laboratory, and diagnostic data from healthcare providers across the country. The aggregated information will then be grouped into a standard format that will be made available to researchers and providers in an effort to accelerate research and treatments for the virus. 

A press release from NIH is here.

Over 100 Economists Tell Congress More Relief is Needed

What’s New: In a letter led by former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, a group of more than 100 economists called on Congress to immediately pass an additional COVID-19 relief package.

And: The letter calls for continued support for unemployed Americans, state and local governments, and additional aid that stabilizes the demand for such relief. The signatories say aid must be “commensurate with the nearly $16 trillion nominal output gap our economy faces over the next decade.”

Text of the letter and a list of all signers is here.

Retail Sales Spiked 17.7 Percent in May, After Two-Month Collapse, Sending Markets Higher

What’s New: Retail sales spiked 17.7 percent in May, rising sharply from rock-bottom levels, and sending stocks rallying with fresh hopes for a stronger-than-expected recovery from the pandemic-related slump.

More: Markets soared Tuesday morning on the retail news, with investors betting the economy is starting to rebound. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 835 points, or about 3.3 percent at its open, as investors cheered a record jump in retail sales, as well as news of a possible medical treatment for covid-19. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.6 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose about 1 percent. 

And More: Data released Tuesday by the Commerce Department showed that retail spending began to rebound last month as parts of the country reopened their economies even as the COVID-19 death toll continued to rise. The May bounce follows two months of record-breaking declines, as Americans abruptly pulled back on discretionary spending. Retail sales fell 8.3 percent in March, and 14.7 percent in April, which is a revised figure.

By the Numbers: Retail spending is still down nearly 8 percent since February, and it’s also down 6 percent compared to May 2019, with economists warning that it could take years for retailers and shoppers to rebound from the economic devastation of the pandemic. Yet, the latest economic data has suggested a glimmer of hope.

30 US Senators Send Bipartisan Letter in Support of Telehealth to Senate Leadership

The Lead: In a story from The Hill newspaper in Washington, DC, Chris Mills Rodrigo reports a group of 30 senators from both sides of the aisle on Monday urged leadership to make permanent the expansion of telehealth services that has been undertaken during the coronavirus pandemic.

Details: The letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) calls for provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act included in previous COVID-19 legislation be extended after the public health emergency is over


Why Telehealth?: 

  • Telehealth has grown in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic as a safer alternative to in-person visits.

  • The services help doctors work with patients diagnosed with COVID-19 without putting themselves at risk.

  • It also helps providers care for high-risk patients who might contract the disease if forced to leave their homes for medical visits.

  • Advocates say enhanced telehealth capabilities could result in improved service with lower fees even beyond the pandemic.

  • And In Indiana: In the past few months, doctors across Indiana are reporting an unprecedented spike in telemedicine, across nearly all medical specialties and types of ailments. It’s a $21 billion worldwide industry that has long promised to overhaul health care but struggled as recently as six months ago to get steady traction. IU Health, the state’s largest hospital system, said its doctors have conducted about 80,000 telemedicine visits this year, representing an increase of more than 10,000% since the novel coronavirus hit Indiana in late March and forced many doctors to close their clinics.

Other health systems, too, are reporting huge jumps in telemedicine. Ascension St. Vincent said it had 109,000 remote visits in April and May, up sharply from just about 1,000 during March. Community Health Network said it has conducted nearly 90% of its patient visits by video or phone during the shut-down. And Franciscan Health said about two-thirds of its visits in recent months have been conducted by telehealth.

COVID-19 Cases

New cases: 440

Total cumulative cases reported Tuesday: 40,786

Total cumulative cases reported Monday: 40,430

Increase in cumulative cases: 356

Increase in cases reported June 10-16: 2,753

Increase in cases reported June 3-9: 2,796


COVID-19 Deaths

New deaths: 14

Total deaths: 2,265


County Numbers

Marion County new cases: 46

Marion County cumulative cases: 10,834

Marion County new deaths: 3

Marion County cumulative deaths: 654

Hamilton County cumulative cases: 1,368

Johnson County cumulative cases: 1,174


U.S. and Worldwide Numbers

U.S. cases: 2,118,798

U.S. deaths: 116,250

Global cases: 8,075,962

Global deaths: 437,939

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