Government response to COVID-19 on 5/4/20

  • 0
  • 13 min to read
Government response to COVID-19 on 5/4/20

BY THE NUMBERS 

(Numbers updated from Friday, May 1, 2020) 

Number of Statewide Cases: 20,507 (+1,877) 

Marion County Cases: 6,327 (+573) 

Hamilton County Cases: 845 (+51) 

Johnson County Cases: 718 (+102) 

US Cases: 1.16M 

Global Cases: 3.53M 

Number of Statewide Deaths: 1,151 (+89) 

Number of Marion County Deaths: 339 (+11) 

US Deaths: 67,795 (+4,799) 

Global Deaths: 248,164 (+14,460) 

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

FEDERAL 

Treasury Plans to Borrow $3 Trillion From April through June as Enormous Coronavirus Costs Pile Up - Low-Interest Rates Make the Borrowing Cheaper, But The New Debt Shows How Much New Spending Outpaces Falling Revenue 

The Treasury Department plans to borrow $2.99 trillion from April through June to cover the federal government’s massive response to the coronavirus pandemic, issuing a tremendous level of debt to try to limit the economic impact on U.S. businesses and workers. 

Last year, Treasury borrowed $1.28 trillion over 12 months. Its plan to borrow $3 trillion would be done over just three months. “This is just a recurring experience, which is you look at the numbers, and they’re bigger than you ever imagined could be possible,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “And then you look at the size of the problem and you think that’s perfectly justified.” Congress has approved nearly $3 trillion in spending in the past two months to try to arrest the economic fallout of the crisis. Because revenue is falling, Treasury is planning to issue large amounts of debt to cover these costs. 

Why You Shouldn't Hold Your Breath for the Next COVID-19 Stimulus 

Don't expect fast action on the next coronavirus stimulus package, known on Capitol Hill as "phase 4." Senior sources in the Republican Senate conference tell me that most GOP senators want to wait a bit before passing another big aid bill.

Between the lines: The two parties are miles apart ahead of the next stage of talks. 

  • • Mitch McConnell has sounded the alarm about the deficit after $3 trillion so far in virus spending. 
  • • In a conference call last week, McConnell urged Republican senators to push back against the White House's impulse to spend trillions on infrastructure. 
  • • Democrats want significantly more money to help state and local governments. 
  • • And McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy put out a rare joint statement in which they said they won't support another coronavirus bill unless it protects businesses from lawsuits should they choose to reopen during the pandemic. 
  • • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed this idea: "Especially now, we have every reason to protect our workers and our patients in all of this. So we would not be inclined to be supporting any immunity from liability." 

Yes, but: On CNN's "State of the Union," this morning, Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Jake Tapper, "There's kind of a pause period right now." 

  • • Kudlow added: "We have put up $3 trillion of direct federal budget assistance in one way or another. The Federal Reserve has actually put in as much as $4 trillion to $6 trillion. So it's a huge, huge package. Let's see how it's doing as we gradually reopen the economy." 

Behind the scenes: One idea that's gathering momentum on the Hill and in the White House: legislation that would encourage American companies to build critical supply chains at home, reducing foreign dependency — especially on pharmaceuticals from China. 

  • • In an April 26 Medium post, McCarthy floated some such ideas to hasten the relocation of the drug supply chains: o "[T]he government needs to implement a bold deregulatory agenda that makes it faster and cheaper to build manufacturing plants. Currently, it takes 5 to 7 years to build a plant. ... Our national goal should be to bring that to less than 18 months by streamlining permitting and cutting red tape." 

THE CARES 2 TRADE-OFF?: 

After strong initial objections from McConnell, it appears there may be a path for Democrats to secure the funding they have been seeking for state and local governments in the next round of legislation (House Speaker Pelosi said Thursday she expects the need to be at least $1 trillion). It appears the trade-off will be liability protections, which, according to Politico Playbook, is now a “red line” for Republicans. The latest statement from McConnell and House Minority Leader McCarthy reads: “As the nation continues fighting this pandemic and parts of our economy begin to emerge from shutdown, Senate and House Republicans are united in our demand that healthcare workers, small businesses, and other Americans on the front lines of this fight must receive strong protections from frivolous lawsuits. We cannot let a second pandemic of opportunistic litigation enrich trial lawyers at the expense of Main Street and medical professionals. Senate and House Republicans agree these protections will be absolutely essential to future discussions surrounding recovery legislation." 

TIMING: Our warning on timing from last week stands. The CARES Act breezed through Congress by Washington standards with wide bipartisan support, but it took a complete halt to the popular Paycheck Protection Program and many days of painstaking negotiations for Congress to replenish these funds and provide additional COVID-19 relief. And, trust us, things won’t get easier from here. As conversations turn to CARES 2, we should expect Congress to have a much more difficult time reaching consensus, especially since the laundry list of items members – and the administration – are looking to address seems to be growing by the day. The further we get from the heat of the crisis, and with states beginning to re-open, it will likely take longer than expected (weeks, not days) for any additional relief to be passed by Congress. 

White House and Congress Clash Over Liability Protections For Businesses as Firms Cautiously Weigh Virus Reopening Plans - McConnell says Liability Protections For Businesses Are a Requirement; Pelosi and Democrats Say No. And There’s No Sign of Compromise. 

Congressional leaders are girding for a huge fight over the reentry of millions of Americans to the workplace, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisting that employers be shielded from liability if their workers contract the coronavirus. He appears to have the backing of top White House officials. Democratic leaders have declared they will oppose such blanket protections, putting Washington’s power brokers on opposite sides of a major issue that could have sweeping implications for health care and the economy in the coming months. The battle has unleashed a frenzy of lobbying, with major industry groups, technology firms, insurers, manufacturers, labor unions, and plaintiffs lawyers all squaring off. The clash is a sharp departure from the past six weeks, when lawmakers from both parties came together to swiftly approve nearly $3 trillion in emergency funds as Americans hunkered down during the pandemic. Now, lawmakers are warring over what the rules should be when millions of Americans return to the workplace. 

With President Trump increasingly focused on pushing businesses to reopen, the Republican-led Senate is preparing to reconvene on Monday. Key GOP senators are circulating drafts of legislation to set up legal protections they say would give businesses the confidence to reopen without worrying about lawsuits. “It seems intuitive to me that if you’re a marginal small business and you’re making the decision whether to hang in there and try to survive, or whether you’re just going to give up and either declare bankruptcy or just become insolvent, that this would around the margins, this could make the difference,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). 

Cornyn is working on legislation that would shield businesses from liability over coronavirus-related claims as long as they comply with government guidelines.

Government Report Predicts COVID-19 Cases Will Reach 200,000 a Day by June 1 

A new government report projects COVID-19 cases will surge to about 200,000 per day by June 1, a staggering jump that would be accompanied by more than 3,000 deaths each day. 

The document predicts a sharp increase in both cases and deaths beginning about May 14, according to a copy shared with The Washington Post. It was not immediately clear whether the projections, which bear the logos of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, are based on ramped up testing, the attempt to reopen some states, the time lag between a rise in cases and deaths, or some combination of those factors. The forecast stops at June 1, but shows both daily cases and deaths continuing to rise after that. The predictions belie the projections made Sunday evening by President Donald Trump, who said the United States could eventually suffer as many as 100,000 deaths. At 3,000 deaths per day and rising, the national total would quickly outstrip that number. The numbers were first reported by The New York Times. The White House issued a statement Monday that “this is not a White House document, nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting. This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force, or data that the task force has analyzed. 

Faced with 20,000 Dead, Nursing Homes Seek Shield From Lawsuits 

Faced with 20,000 coronavirus deaths and counting, the nation’s nursing homes are pushing back against a potential flood of lawsuits with a sweeping lobbying effort to get states to grant them emergency protection from claims of inadequate care. At least 15 states have enacted laws or governors’ orders that explicitly or apparently provide nursing homes and long-term care facilities some protection from lawsuits arising from the crisis. And in the case of New York, which leads the nation in deaths in such facilities, a lobbying group wrote the first draft of a measure that apparently makes it the only state with specific protection from both civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution. Now the industry is forging ahead with a campaign to get other states on board with a simple argument: This was an unprecedented crisis and nursing homes should not be liable for events beyond their control, such as shortages of protective equipment and testing, shifting directives from authorities, and sicknesses that have decimated staffs. 

Gig Workers Wait for Long-Promised Relief 

As the pain continues for jobless people around the country — with many unable to claim benefits because of jammed application systems — gig workers in many states are only just now allowed to join the quest for benefits. California, Colorado, Connecticut and Oregon are among the states accepting applications from gig workers this week after finally revamping their processes. Those workers have endured six dire weeks; their livelihoods ended in mid-March. They’re joining a crush of millions of jobless still waiting for help. “There’s something wrong about this,” said Shelley Hall, a freelance art appraiser in Bend, Oregon. Hall’s been trying for weeks to apply for money she knows she’s entitled to get based on March federal legislation. “They keep saying, ‘There’s money for small business, there’s help for the little guy,’ but there really hasn’t been,” she said. Other states have seen renewed snafus in a fresh wave of applications by contract workers — Michigan’s site shut down for six hours April 13, the day gig workers were first allowed to apply. About half the new claims in Colorado last week were from gig workers. 

Senate Returns to Washington 

The Senate will reconvene this evening for the first time since the passage of the CARES Act on March 25. The Chamber will vote on the nomination of Robert Feitel to be the Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The final schedule for the week has not been finalized, but Leader McConnell may move additional nominees and could pivot to consideration of surface transportation legislation passed by the Environment and Public Works Committee last summer. 

In addition to work on the floor, several committees will conduct hearings this week. The HELP Committee will conduct a Thursday hearing on the “Shark Tank” initiative for diagnostic development. Of note, Dr. Tony Fauci is scheduled to testify. The Commerce Committee will examine the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry. The Judiciary, Intelligence, Armed Services, Banking, and Rules Committees will all conduct nominations hearings as well. 

Additional Guidance on PPP 

Sunday evening, the Treasury Department released additional guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Treasury released a loan report on the second round of PPP funding, an updated FAQ, and a joint statement from Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Carranza on the success of PPP. The new FAQs include clarification on laid-off workers who decline a request to return to work, seasonal employees, and non-profit hospital eligibility. 

Gilead CEO says Remdesivir to be Available to Patients This Week 

Gilead’s Remdesivir, an antiviral drug that has shown reduced recovery time for coronavirus patients, will be available to patients this week. Speaking Sunday, Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said the company expects to get Remdesivir to patients early this week, noting Gilead has begun working with the federal government to determine which cities are most vulnerable and in need. The company’s entire supply of Remdesivir has been donated to the federal government. 

U.K. Death Toll Set to Surpass Italy’s 

The United Kingdom’s death toll from the coronavirus is set to surpass Italy’s as early as today, with no clear lockdown exit strategy in place. The U.K. government has not produced guidance on critical societal functions, such as how and when schools and businesses will reopen. The U.K. is facing increased pressure as other hard-hit countries such as Italy and Spain are set to begin easing lockdown restrictions. Members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s staff said the U.K. will produce a comprehensive plan later this week. 

Italy, Spain Set to Ease Lockdown Restrictions 

Two of the hardest-hit countries are set to ease lockdown restrictions today. Italy will relax certain restrictions on some travel, increase access to parks and gardens, and allow funerals to be held with up to 15 people. The country’s manufacturing and construction industries are set to reopen entirely, while bars and restaurants will be allowed to offer takeout services. Spain will reopen hotels at 50 percent capacity, and retail and commercial businesses will reopen at 30 percent capacity, offering priority service to those over 65 years of age. In both countries, businesses are responsible for providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees. 

Northeast Governors Work in Tandem to Buy Medical Supplies 

Governors from 7 northeastern states are working together to purchase medical supplies as a group to ensure they are adequately prepared in the case of a possible second wave of the coronavirus this fall. The group includes the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said he expects the group to collectively purchase around $5 billion in medical supplies, $2 billion of which will be for New York. The states are also developing a plan to determine how much PPE is needed to supply hospitals with at least 90 days of equipment. The group will avoid vendors who started businesses during the pandemic “as a business opportunity.” 

STATE 

SBA Approves $2B in PPP Loans for Hoosier Businesses 

The U.S. Small Business Administration says the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program has approved approximately $2 billion in forgivable loans for Indiana applicants. 

The SBA says that amount accounts for nearly 32,000 loans for small businesses and nonprofits in the Hoosier State since the second round opened on April 27. The SBA Great Lakes Region has processed nearly 308,000 loans, totaling nearly $23 billion, in the six states that make up the region. Of the six states, Indiana has the overall fewest number of loan applicants. “In the Great Lakes Region, in one week, we have already surpassed our total first-round PPP loan numbers by nearly 10,000 and loans continue to be processed. Overall, more than $88 billion in emergency capital via the PPP already has been approved to help small businesses and non-profits affected by COVID-19 in the six states,” said SBA’s Great Lakes Regional Administrator Rob Scott. 

During the first round, approximately 36,000 entities applied for $7.5 billion in PPP loans.

HUD Releases COVID-19 Funding 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has released $685 million in COVID-19 relief funding for low-income residents in public housing across the country. The funding is from the CARES Act and includes $6.3 million for Indiana. HUD says the funding can be used by public housing authorities to prepare for, prevent, or respond to a coronavirus outbreak. “Public Housing Authorities have a vital role to play in our COVID-19 recovery efforts,” Joseph Galvan, HUD Midwest regional administrator, said in a news release. “We will continue working diligently to overcome this as expeditiously as possible.” 

Indiana organizations receiving funding including: 

  • • Vincennes Housing Authority - $141,875.00 
  • • Fort Wayne Housing Authority - $399,771.00 
  • • Delaware County Housing Authority - $64,950.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Muncie - $212,011.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Anderson - $103,410.00 
  • • Kokomo Housing Authority - $347,778.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Richmond - $184,842.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Hammond - $138,021.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Gary - $979,714.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of New Albany - $515,180.00 
  • • Housing Authority of South Bend - $352,895.00 
  • • Indianapolis Housing Agency - $297,561.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Tell City - $44,555.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Michigan City - $76,001.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Mishawaka - $139,261.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Terre Haute - $523,812.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Bloomington - $197,368.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Jeffersonville - $189,553.00 
  • • Rockport Housing Authority - $30,774.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Charlestown - $67,791.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Elkhart - $289,179.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Huntingburg - $11,119.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of East Chicago - $301,008.00 
  • • Washington Housing Authority - $66,294.00 
  • • Housing Authority City of Bedford - $43,070.00 
  • • Bloomfield Housing Authority - $23,284.00 
  • • Sullivan Housing Authority - $77,687.00 
  • • Brazil Housing Authority - $93,322.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Kendallville - $19,282.00 
  • • Mount Vernon Housing Authority - $13,721.00
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Angola - $81,407.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Marion - $101,737.00 
  • • New Castle Housing Authority - $41,971.00 
  • • Linton Housing Authority - $14,746.00 
  • • Columbus Housing Authority - $48,150.00 
  • • Knox County Housing Authority - $20,343.00 
  • • Fremont Housing Authority Fremont - $5,968.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Rome City - $21,254.00 
  • • Greendale Housing Authority - $7,468.00 
  • • Housing Authority of the City of Peru - $25,054.00 

PPE Marketplace to Support Hoosier Small Businesses 

The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace is expected to launch this week to provide access to Personal Protective Equipment for small businesses and nonprofits lacking the resources needed to comply with safe workplace guidance. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb says the new marketplace will serve as a resource for Indiana small businesses returning to work in the coming weeks. The marketplace was developed by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. in partnership with the Indiana Small Business Development Center and the Indiana Office of Technology. Holcomb says the marketplace will leverage PPE manufactured and sourced by Indiana businesses. Holcomb said, “As we look toward a safe and responsible reopening across the state, we’re working to remove barriers for entrepreneurs and small business owners that could limit or delay progress. The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace is another tool that will help support small businesses during this unprecedented time, ensuring they are able to continue operating while providing needed safety measures to protect workers and customers alike.” The state says to utilize the marketplace, an organization must be a business or nonprofit organization registered to do business in Indiana with the Indiana Secretary of State, employ fewer than 150 150 associates, and be an entity that must use PPE as a condition of operating in order to comply with safe workplace requirements. Holcomb says the marketplace should serve as a backup for employers, and businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to first source and procure PPE on their own. To date, the state says it has secured commitments for more than 7.84 million pieces of PPE with more than 2 million items already delivered to the Indiana State Department of Health for distribution. 

Indiana Banks Sock Away Extra Money for COVID-19-Related Loan Losses 

Indiana-based banks are socking away extra money in anticipation of COVID-19-related loan losses, but no one yet knows how big those losses might be. Amid the widespread economic disruption caused by the pandemic, banks have already granted payment deferrals of up to six months to a significant number of commercial and individual borrowers. The big question now is how many will continue to struggle after that. “Every bank in the world’s trying to figure that out. Nobody knows,” said Daryl Moore, the chief credit officer at the largest Indiana-based bank, Evansville-based Old National Bank. “It is just so hard to figure that out. It has a lot to do with the timing of when the economy’s going to reopen.” In recent weeks, publicly held banks’ first-quarter earnings reports have provided some insight into what the banks anticipate. 

During the first quarter, the country’s largest banks, including JP Morgan & Chase, Fifth Third Bank and Bank of America, all beefed up their provisions for loan losses. Indiana banks did the same. In the banking world, a provision for loan losses is money that’s set aside to cover potential bad loans. Banks can vary the amount they set aside from quarter to quarter, and the amount they set aside is based on factors including the size of their loan portfolio and how much they already have in reserve. So when a bank starts setting aside a much bigger provision, it can mean the bank anticipates trouble ahead. 

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.

Recent Classified Ads

Job

Stay Inside!  Work from Home. For Info. For Success. Leav…

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Arts

BeerBuzz

Education

Entertainment

Environment

Food

Music

Opinion

Society & Individual