Federal, state and local government response to COVID-19 on 4/29/20

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Federal, state and local government response to COVID-19 on 4/29/20

BY THE NUMBERS 

Number of Statewide Cases: 17,182 (+594) 

Marion County Cases: 5,295 5,080 (+215) 

Hamilton County Cases: 746 (+17) 

Johnson County Cases: 563 (+15) 

US Cases: 1,015,289 990,135 (+25,154) 

Global Cases: 3.14 M 

Number of Statewide Deaths: 964 (+635) 

Number of Marion County Deaths: 305 (+23) 

US Deaths: 58,529 (+2,143) 

Global Deaths: 218,649 212,221 (+6,428) 

Number of Hoosiers Filed for Unemployment: 75,483 as of 4/23/20 

FEDERAL 

SBA Temporarily Stops Taking PPP Applications from Big Banks to Focus Until Midnight on Smallest Lenders 

The Small Business Administration on Wednesday afternoon temporarily halted Paycheck Protection Program loan applications for all but the very smallest lenders. 

For an eight-hour period that began at 4 p.m. Wednesday, access to the PPP application portal was available only to lenders with assets of less than $1 billion. Access for larger institutions will resume at midnight. “In addition to ensuring access for the smallest lenders, we expect that providing this reserved processing time today will enhance the SBA’s loan system performance for all users who submit loans outside of this time frame,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza said in a statement issued Wednesday. The PPP is a federally backed program that offers forgivable loans to help small businesses weather the economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for the program has been huge, and lenders have reported difficulties accessing the SBA’s application portal because so many users are trying to access it at once. Borrowers must apply through a financial institution, and there’s a sense of urgency to get applications approved before funding runs out. The program relaunched Monday morning with $310 billion in federal funding after running through its initial $349 billion in 13 days. Observers say round-two funding could run out even quicker. Most U.S. banks are small institutions. According to The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., at the end of last year 4,381 of the nation’s 5,177 FDIC-insured institutions had assets of $1 billion or less. On the other end of the scale, only 10 institutions had assets of more than $250 billion.

Updated PPP FAQ 

Yesterday, Treasury released an updated FAQ on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The updated guidance provides both lenders and borrowers with additional information regarding loans made through PPP. The guidance, as well as an updated Interim Final Rule on disbursements, is attached. Since the program’s relaunch on Monday, Treasury and SBA have issued guidance on a daily basis and have addressed issues including seasonal worker status in PPP and additional information on larger companies accessing the program. In an interview on CNBC yesterday, Sec. Mnuchin further indicated that the Department would audit all PPP loans over $2 million dollars to ensure that entities taking them did not have alternative financing available. Of note, FAQs on the program state that entities that have repaid loans by May 7 “will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification [of need] in good faith.” 

Fed to Announce Decision on Interest Rates 

Today, the Federal Reserve will announce its decision on the U.S. benchmark interest rate. The central bank is not expected to make any changes to the rate, which is likely to remain near zero. Information on U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is also anticipated, with GDP expected to have fallen at least 5 percent in the first quarter alone, the largest drop since the 2009 recess. 

McConnell Downplays Infrastructure 

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) stated that he would not support the inclusion of a broad infrastructure package in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. Leader McConnell stated that he supports doing infrastructure, but that the policy is unrelated to the current pandemic. Leader McConnell’s statement runs contrary to many of President Trump’s recent statements on infrastructure. When the Senate returns next week, it may consider the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019. This bipartisan legislation was reported out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously last summer and authorizes $259 billion for surface transportation spending. The legislation can be found here

Trump to Issue Executive Order for U.S. Food Supply Chain 

Last night, President Trump issued an Executive Order allowing the Secretary of Agriculture to ensure the continued supply of beef, pork, and poultry. The Order comes on the heels of concerns that COVID-19 outbreaks in several meatpacking facilities might threaten the supply chain for beef, pork, and poultry. Using authorities granted by the executive branch by the Defense Production Act (DPA), the Department of Agriculture will take action to allow meat and poultry processors to continue operations uninterrupted. Workers must continue following guidance from the CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure maximum safety. A press release on the EO is here

Numerous States Set to Partially Reopen Businesses Friday 

Many states, particularly in the South, are set to partially reopen businesses this Friday. Georgia will reopen personal care services such as salons and gyms, as well as some restaurants and retail businesses. Oklahoma is reopening businesses and state parks, and allowing its hospitals to resume elective surgeries. Texas and Florida are also expected to reopen many of the same businesses. Personal care businesses will largely operate at 50 percent capacity in the initial reopening. Other states are mildly easing restrictions by adopting “safer” stay-at-home guidelines. The safer guidelines will recommend residents stay home but will not require them to do so. 

US Chamber Provides New Resources 

Please find below new materials from the U.S. Chamber regarding the federal government’s response to the ongoing pandemic. Among these resources, you will find the following: 

Also, as many states begin to issue guidance on reopening businesses, we are seeing many new questions surrounding when and how businesses can and cannot operate. Therefore, we want to direct your attention to a press release and letter sent today by the Chamber regarding the need for consistent and uniform return-to-work policies. 

STATE 

Republican State Convention Update 

The Indiana Republican Party’s first goal remains to safely host an in-person state convention as planned on June 20th, dependent upon the latest facts as we continue to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, if the situation won’t allow for an in-person convention to happen, the state committee today unanimously approved temporary rules that would allow for a convention’s appropriate structure to be built. This structure would ensure delegate participation in the selection of the lieutenant governor and attorney general nominees. You can read these temporary rules – which expire on October 1, 2020 – here

LOCAL 

Marion County to Begin COVID-19 Testing Thursday Aimed at Minority Populations 

The Marion County Public Health Department and the city of Indianapolis will begin community testing for COVID-19 on Thursday. Tests will be administered from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Eastern Star Church’s main campus at 5750 E. 30th St. to address the disparities in the impact of COVID-19 among African Americans and other high-risk populations. The testing program was announced last week. After this week, the tests will be performed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The site includes drive-through and walk-up testing options. Law enforcement will be on-site to direct car and pedestrian traffic to the designated site. Testing will be conducted by appointment only for residents who are experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pains, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste/smell. Residents who are older than 65, have a weakened immune system or are a frontline essential worker are also eligible—even if they are not experiencing symptoms. 

Local Firm Offering Self-Pay COVID-19 Testing Without Doctor’s Order 

Indianapolis-based Aria Diagnostics on Wednesday said it would begin offering self-pay COVID-19 testing to people who weren’t showing symptoms or didn’t have an order from a physician. The company said individuals can schedule and pay for the drive-through tests online, and get test results through an email within 48 to 72 hours. The tests are priced at $175. Aria’s new web portal also allows people to schedule doctor-ordered tests and pay for them with insurance. The tests are being performed at Aria’s facility at 5635 W. 96th St. 

Hamilton County Starts Pandemic Recovery Task Force 

Hamilton County has formed a Workforce Recovery Task Force that will meet Wednesday for the first time to plan for local business recovery from the pandemic. Eleven leaders from area chambers of commerce, education, county government, business and economic development groups will meet to create a plan for addressing the unemployment brought on by the spread of COVID-19 over the next nine months. “The task force may also apply for grant dollars,” Carol Sergi, executive director of the Hamilton County Economic Development Corp., said in a written statement. “Those dollars could be used to cover the costs of training programs, potential job fairs, and supplies to help businesses reopen.” According to a statement provided by the county, Hamilton County’s 21st Century Talent Region will assume the task force’s efforts by October. 

IMPORTANT LINKS 

Links to all executive orders may be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm 

Link to the Stay-At-Home Order FAQ may be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/3232.htm 

More information may be found at the ISDH website at in.gov/coronavirus/ and the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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