Government COVID-19 responses on 5/5//20

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Government COVID-19 responses on 5/5//20
  • Daily Numbers
  • Paycheck Protection Taxed As Income? Braun Says No Way
  • New Legislation Dealing with Disclosure Requirements for PPP
  • Called to Order: Supreme Court Holds First Arguments by Phone
  • U.S. Chamber and MetLife Poll Shows Small Businesses Ramping up Actions to Survive Pandemic
  • U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform Poll Shows Clear Majority of Americans Support Protecting Employers from Coronavirus Lawsuits
  • FDA Sets New Standards for Antibody Tests
  • SBA to Make EIDL Loans Available to Agriculture Businesses
  • EXIM Increases U.S. Exporter Access to Capital and Supply Chain Funding, Raises Lender Guarantee Coverage Option to 95 Percent
  • Model Predicts 134,000 COVID-19 U.S. Deaths
  • States With Few Virus Cases Get Big Share of Federal Relief Aid
  • Versiti Blood Center Seeking Plasma Donations
  • Indiana BMV Announces Branch Visits By Appointment Only

BY THE NUMBERS 

Number of Statewide Cases: 21,033 (+526) 

Marion County Cases: 6,419 (+92) 

Hamilton County Cases: 845 (+51) 

Johnson County Cases: 718 (+102) 

US Cases: 1.18M 

Global Cases: 3.6M 

Number of Statewide Deaths: 1,213 (+62) 

Number of Marion County Deaths: 374 (+11) 

US Deaths: 69,079 (+1,284) 

Global Deaths: 252,346 (+4,182) 

Number of new Hoosiers Filing for Unemployment: 57,397 as of 4/30/20 

FEDERAL 

Paycheck Protection Taxed As Income? Braun Says No Way 

Some business owners are concerned that they will have to pay taxes on the money their business is getting from the Paycheck Protection Program. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), says he’s determined not to let that happen. “That’s gonna get cleared up because that’s gonna be an abomination if after doing all this, business owners would have to declare that as income,” Braun told Fox News. “The first thing I’ll do when I get back Monday is introducing a bill to protect small businesses from paying taxes on forgivable loans from the PPP. The IRS’s interpretation was not the intention of the program and it needs to be fixed right away,” said Braun on Twitter. Braun said he believes that forgiveness of liability constitutes income. In other words, it would hurt businesses to have to pay taxes on money they get from the government because their business is hurting. 

New Legislation Dealing with Disclosure Requirements for PPP 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) are planning to attempt to pass legislation later today that would mandate new disclosure requirements for the Paycheck Protection Program and other disaster relief accounts. The bill would require public daily and weekly reporting of the PPP, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and debt relief programs broken down by geography, demographics and industry. The data would need to be downloadable and would include the names of the entities and the loan or grant amounts. It also would need to detail whether the programs are reaching underserved communities.

Called to Order: Supreme Court Holds First Arguments by Phone 

They politely took turns speaking. Not a child, spouse or dog could be heard in the background. The conference call went long, but not by that much. And with that, the Supreme Court made history Monday, hearing arguments by telephone and allowing the world to listen in live, both for the first time. The arguments were essentially a high-profile phone discussion with the nine justices and two arguing lawyers. The session went remarkably smoothly, notable for a high court that prizes tradition and only reluctantly changes the way it operates. The high court had initially postponed arguments in 20 cases scheduled for March and April because of the coronavirus pandemic. Courtroom sessions were seen as unsafe, especially with six justices aged 65 or older and at risk of getting seriously sick from the virus. But the justices ultimately decided to hear 10 cases by phone over six days this month. The cases the court will hear include President Donald Trump’s effort to shield tax and other financial records and whether presidential electors have to cast their Electoral College ballots for the candidate who wins the popular vote in their state. The court chose a somewhat obscure case about whether the travel website Booking.com can trademark its name for its first foray into remote arguments. The more high-profile arguments come next week. 

U.S. Chamber and MetLife Poll Shows Small Businesses Ramping up Actions to Survive Pandemic 

Earlier today, the U.S. Chamber and MetLife released the monthly Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll—which surveys how small businesses nationwide are adapting their operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other key insights, the most recent poll—taken on April 21, 2020—finds that to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic: 

  • • 27% of small businesses have shortened their hours; 
  • • 26% of small businesses have asked customers for support or started a crowdfunding campaign; 
  • • 19% of small businesses have adjusted employee salaries or hours; and 
  • • 19% of small businesses have applied for a working capital loan, an almost five-fold increase since last month. 

In response to the findings of the monthly poll, U.S. Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley released the following statement: 

"In order to survive, small businesses need to find a path to getting back to work, reopening, and serving their customers, but there are justifiable concerns over what reopening or operating a small business looks like while fighting a pandemic. Reopening is going to happen at a different pace throughout the country based on local conditions, and consistent guidance is necessary as businesses look to reopen and operate in a way that is safe and sustainable." 

U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform Poll Shows Clear Majority of Americans Support Protecting Employers from Coronavirus Lawsuits 

This afternoon, the U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) released the findings of its National COVID-19 Liability Survey which revealed that Americans across the political spectrum believe that employers must have protections from COVID-related lawsuits as they make decisions about how to safely and sustainably reopen their businesses. Among other key findings, the survey shows that more than six in ten Americans say that Congress should extend liability protections to employers from lawsuits related to the coronavirus. Click here for the full report. 

In response to the findings of the survey, the U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform president Harold Kim released the following statement

"As employers plan to reopen safely and sustainably, the last thing they need is to face a financially crippling lawsuit despite their best effort to comply with public health guidelines. Any protections for employers should be targeted, timely, and temporary and that no business should be protected from lawsuits for gross negligence." 

FDA Sets New Standards for Antibody Tests 

On Monday, the FDA issued new standards in an attempt to crack down on potentially inaccurate coronavirus antibody tests. The revised standards will be strictly enforced and are an effort to tighten FDA policy and requirements of antibody tests. The Agency had previously allowed hundreds of antibody tests to exist on the open market without first reviewing such tests. The new standards require commercial test companies to submit an application for an Emergency Use Authorization. Tests now need to be 90 percent sensitive to detecting COVID-19 antibodies, and 95 percent specific in their accuracy in avoiding false results. Tests that fail to meet these standards will be required to make adjustments. If necessary adjustments are not made, a failed test will be removed from the market. Antibody tests have become a tool for medical professionals in determining the spread of the virus, but remain limited in their impact as medical researchers continue to research the level of antibodies a person needs to have immunity from the virus. Additional information on the new standards is here

SBA to Make EIDL Loans Available to Agriculture Businesses 

In a press release Monday night, the SBA announced that its Economy Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program and EIDL Advance Program will be made available to agricultural businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The EIDL portal will reopen today following passage of the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act last week. The legislation provides access to funding for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural businesses. The legislation defines agricultural businesses as those engaged in the legal production of food and fiber, ranching, and the raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming businesses and agricultural businesses. Eligible businesses are those with less than 500 employees. New EIDL loan applications will be processed on a limited basis. There is no need to reapply for those that submitted applications prior to the most recent legislative package. All other applications will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis. 

EXIM Increases U.S. Exporter Access to Capital and Supply Chain Funding, Raises Lender Guarantee Coverage Option to 95 Percent 

In a press release Monday evening, the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of the United States raised the guarantee coverage option to 95 percent for both its Supply Chain Finance (SCF) Program and Working Capital Guarantee Program (WGCP). The guarantee coverage option is normally set at 90 percent. Lenders who choose the 95 percent coverage option under SCF will be charged a guarantee fee of at least 2.06 percent with a risk premium to be added to non-investment grade credit. Under the WCGP, lenders choosing the 95 percent option will be charged a guarantee fee of at least 2.13 percent. Under the new conditions of both programs, guarantees are not to exceed one year in length from the date of origination. Fees for the SCF will be charged on a monthly basis, while fees for WCGP will be due upfront. The move to increase the guarantee coverage option for both EXIM programs is seen as an effort to expand availability to U.S. suppliers and exporters, as well as enticing lenders to make increased supply chain financing available by offering an incentive via reduced credit risk. 

Model Predicts 134,000 COVID-19 U.S. Deaths 

A model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington is predicting the potential for 134,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the United States through August. The number is nearly double its previous prediction. The University of Washington model has been credited for its accuracy in recent weeks and is often cited by the Administration. The spike in the rise of expected deaths is largely due to relaxed social distancing guidelines by states across the country. 

States With Few Virus Cases Get Big Share of Federal Relief Aid 

Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Wyoming are among the least-populated states in the United States, and not surprisingly have the lowest numbers of residents who have tested positive for the new coronavirus. Despite their small size, they scored big this spring when Congress pumped out direct federal aid to the states. An Associated Press analysis shows those four, along with other small states, took in an outsized proportion of the $150 billion in federal money that was designed to address coronavirus-related expenses, when measured by the number of positive tests for the COVID-19 disease. Their haul ranged from $2 million per positive test in Hawaii to nearly $3.4 million per test in Alaska. In Wyoming, the smallest state, with less than 600 positive cases, the $1.25 billion it received from the congressional package equates to 80 percent of its annual general state budget. By comparison, New York and New Jersey, by far the hardest-hit states, respectively received about $24,000 and $27,000 per positive coronavirus test. Other states with high numbers of coronavirus cases, including Massachusetts, Michigan and Illinois, received less than $100,000 per positive case. The money for state governments is a slice of a $2.2 trillion federal stimulus passed in late March. Governments are supposed to use it for new, coronavirus expenses incurred from March 1 through Dec. 30. Under federal guidelines issued last month, the money has to be linked to coronavirus-related expenses but cannot be used, for example, to make up for lost tax revenue to keep general government services running. 

STATE 

Versiti Blood Center Seeking Plasma Donations 

Versiti Blood Center of Indiana is encouraging people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their blood plasma. According to the center, blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients is full of potentially life-saving antibodies being used by Versiti’s hospital partners throughout Indiana to treat seriously ill COVID-19 patients. 

Indiana Supreme Court to Hold May Oral Arguments Remotely 

For the first time in its history, the Indiana Supreme Court will hold oral arguments using videoconferencing when it hears cases in May. That will honor social distancing guidelines during the ongoing public health emergency caused by coronavirus pandemic, it said Friday. 

Two cases will be heard on May 14. Six more cases are scheduled for remote oral arguments on May 21 and May 27. The Supreme Court says justices and attorneys will interact with each other using Zoom web conferencing software. The resulting video and audio will be available to the news media and the public on the court’s existing live-stream website. Chief Justice Loretta Rush says the Supreme Court is meeting remotely several times a week, and is regularly handing down orders and opinions. 

Indiana BMV Announces Branch Visits By Appointment Only 

Some of Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles license branches will re-open with an appointment-only service format beginning Monday. BMV Commissioner Peter L. Lacy announced on Friday that customers will be able to schedule an appointment for transactions that are not available online. The BMV has modified its operations to ensure the safety of its employees and customers during the coronavirus pandemic. To get more information on available transactions and to schedule a branch appointment, customers can go online. Customers with verified appointments will be required to check-in upon arrival. Driving skills exams are not available from the BMV at this time. 

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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