Government responses to COVID-19 on 5/7/20

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Government responses to COVID-19 on 5/7/20

BY THE NUMBERS 

Number of Statewide Cases: 22,503 (+633) 

Marion County Cases: 6,914 (+184) 

Hamilton County Cases: 894 (+12) 

Johnson County Cases: 754 

US Cases: 1.23M 

Global Cases: 3.8M 

Number of Statewide Deaths: 1,295 (+31) 

Number of Marion County Deaths: 398 (+8) 

US Deaths: 73,573 (+2,494) 

Global Deaths: 264,679 (+6,519) 

Number of new Hoosiers Filing for Unemployment: 43,777 as of 5/7/20 

FEDERAL 

Updated PPP Guidance 

Yesterday, Treasury updated its FAQ on PPP. The updated FAQ is attached. 

Unemployment Claims Continue to Increase 

This morning, the Department of Labor reported 3.2 million new unemployment claims were filed last week. The total number of unemployment claims filed in the past seven weeks is over 33.5 million. Unemployment claims have continued to rise by the millions each week, though the number of claims has decreased since the highest week-to-week figure of 6.9 million claims was recorded in late March. The United States began recording unemployment claims in 1948, which had been at a 50 year low before the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown orders. 

Senators Send Letter to Trump on Employment-Based Immigration 

Four U.S. Senators have sent a letter to President Trump urging that his Administration suspend all new guest worker visas for 60 days. Sens. Cotton (R-AR), Cruz (R-TX), Grassley (R-IA), and Perdue (R-GA) argue the suspensions of such visas would be the right thing to do in protecting Americans workers until unemployment returns to more normal levels. The Senators cite 33 million unemployment claims since mid-March, which accounts for approximately one-fifth of Americans currently out of work. In February, unemployment was just 3.5 percent. The Senators note the United States admits over one million nonimmigrant guest workers each year, arguing there is no good reason to do this at a time when unemployment continues to skyrocket. The Senators compliment the Presidential Proclamation signed by Trump on April 22, which suspended most immigrant visas for 60 days, but say more needs to be done. Suggestions include suspending H-2B visas, H-1B visas, the Optional Practical Training Program, and the EB-5 immigrant visa program. 

House GOP to Establish China Task Force 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will announce today the formation of the House GOP’s “China Task Force,” a committee of 15 Republicans representing 14 different committees of jurisdiction, to coordinate legislative strategy on all aspects of the China challenge. Republicans will use the body as a clearinghouse for ideas concerning China policy – to set priorities, pool information, coordinate approaches and devise tactics for getting bills passed. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) will serve as Chairman. Members will include several young Republicans who have been active on the China issue, including Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Jim Banks (R-IN), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY). House Democrats were initially set to take part in forming the task force, but have opted out, citing the Trump Administration’s efforts to “scapegoat” China for what they observe as a failed U.S. response to the pandemic. 

CEO of World’s Largest Asset Manager Predicts Grim Future for Corporate America 

Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock Inc., is predicting life in corporate America will get much worse. On a call with clients Wednesday, Fink said he expects several bankruptcies are ahead for large American companies, which prompted him to suggest the possibility of raising the corporate tax rate. Fink believes the corporate tax rate could increase from 21 percent to as high as 29 percent next year. Fink also said he could see individuals’ rates going up as an additional way to pay for the economic shock in the wake of the coronavirus. 

White House Coronavirus Task Force to Remain In Place, Will Shift Focus to Safety and Reopening Economy 

The White House Coronavirus Task Force will remain in operation, despite comments by Vice President Pence on Tuesday suggesting the task force would be phased out among various federal agencies by early June. President Trump corrected the record on Wednesday, stating the task force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on safety and reopening the country again. Trump also mentioned he plans to add 2 or 3 more people to the task force next week, and may remove some current members of the task force. 

U.K. Eases Bank Capital Buffers, Pushes Back Climate Related Stress Tests 

The Bank of England has set capital buffers at nominal levels for the remainder of 2020 as uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The Pillar 2A buffer will be set as a lump sum instead of a percentage of risk-weighted assets at each bank. The move is an effort to ease pressure on banks, which will now be required to hold less regulatory capital in their reserves. Climate related stress tests have also been pushed back to 2021 so banks and insurers can focus their efforts on fighting the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

SBA Slashes Disaster-Loan Limit From $2 Million to $150,000, Shuts Out Nearly All New Applicants 

Shortage of money and crush of applications leads the Small Business Administration to close its portal to most businesses and limit the size of loans. An emergency disaster lending program for small businesses has been so overwhelmed by demand that it has significantly limited the size of loans it issues, while blocking nearly all new applications from small businesses, according to people familiar with the situation. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is a long-standing Small Business Administration program that’s separate from the new Paycheck Protection Program, which has challenges of its own. Congress gave the disaster loan program more than $50 billion in new funding in recent relief bills to offer quick-turnaround loans to businesses slammed by the coronavirus pandemic. But by many accounts, it is failing spectacularly. After initially telling businesses that individual disaster loans could be as high as $2 million, SBA has now imposed a $150,000 limit without publicly announcing the change, said people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly. Additionally, the agency has faced a backlog of millions of applications for the disaster loan program for the past several weeks, several SBA officials have said. The SBA has been so overwhelmed by demand that it is now allowing only agricultural interests to submit applications as it works through an enormous backlog. Key Republican senators had been pushing hard for farmers and agriculture companies to be able to tap the program, and they are now being prioritized over other prospective borrowers. Agency officials have said the holdup is because of a lack of funding and an unprecedented crush of applications. 

Federal Guidance Released on Funding for State and Local Governments 

The federal government has released new guidance on the Coronavirus Relief Fund for state and local governments. The new guidance has resulted in some states being creative in using these funds to help the business community like replenishing state UI funds or giving grants to small businesses who didn’t receive PPP funds, like in Idaho. Here are the links below on the new guidance: 

US Chamber focus on liability reform in next legislative package 

The US Chamber is making liability reform a key tenet in the next COVID-19 legislative package. The goal is to make the issue a non-partisan one by keeping it parameters of reforms tied directly to COVID-19 related matters. 

Key points: 

1) this should be a non-partisan issue. They have support from Democrat Governors in North Carolina and New York. 

2) There has been short-term liability reform accepted in prior crises. 

3) They are not asking for immunity or tort reform. Neil Bradley of the Chamber noted that any changes should be short-term, tied directly to COVID-19 related matters, and should have safe-harbor protections. Recent polling shows broad support (60%) for COVID-19 liability reform. 

How Congress Can Help the States 

The key is to establish three separate categories of problems to be addressed by three distinct forms of aid. As the United States confronts the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, it has mostly been well served by its system of federalism. Many governors have stepped up to lead: because leadership has sometimes been lacking in Washington, because public-health is ultimately a state purview, and because the virus has hit different parts of the country in different ways. Their efforts have led to some disputes over just who has the power to shut down and reopen economic activity, but on the whole, we have had reason to be glad that our system of government has multiple layers. In the coming months, however, we can expect some serious trouble for American federalism. It will be caused not by competition over power, but by discord over money. And to keep it from poisoning the cooperative tenor of the national response to the pandemic, Congress will need to divide the aid it offers into several distinct categories, each with its own set of rules. 

Over 33 Million Americans Lost Their Job During the Pandemic. 77 Percent Believe They’ll Get It Back, Post-Ipsos Poll Finds. 

Optimism is high among workers that they can return to their pre-pandemic jobs, but economists warn over 40 percent of job losses could become permanent. The vast majority of laid-off or furloughed workers — 77 percent — expect to be rehired by their previous employer once the stay-at-home orders in their area are lifted, according to a nationwide Washington Post-Ipsos poll. Nearly 6 in 10 say it is “very likely” they will get their old job back, according to the poll, which was conducted April 27-May 4 among 928 workers who were laid off or furloughed since the outbreak began. But there’s concern that many of these workers are too optimistic about being rehired given how much uncertainty remains about health and business conditions in the year ahead. And the scope of the problem keeps mounting. The Labor Department on Thursday reported that 3.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, bringing the seven-week total for people seeking jobless benefits to more than 33 million Americans. The unemployment rate has jumped from around 3.5 percent earlier this year to close to 20 percent now, many economists believe. 

STATE 

Another 3.2M File Unemployment Claims, Including 43,777 in Indiana 

Nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the business shutdowns caused by the viral outbreak deepened the worst U.S. economic catastrophe in decades. In Indiana, 43,777 people filed initial unemployment claims in the week ended May 2. That’s down from 55,774 the previous week. Prior to the pandemic, the state was typically seeing fewer than 3,000 claims per week. Roughly 33.5 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the seven weeks since the coronavirus began forcing millions of companies to close their doors and slash their workforces. That is the equivalent of one in five Americans who had been employed back in February, when the unemployment rate had reached a 50-year low of just 3.5%. The Labor Department’s report Thursday suggests that layoffs, while still breathtakingly high, are steadily declining after sharp spikes in late March and early April. Initial claims for unemployment aid have now fallen for five straight weeks, from a peak of nearly 6.9 million during the week that ended March 28. Applications for jobless aid rose in just six states last week, including Maine, New Jersey, and Oklahoma, and declined in the 44 others. 

The report showed that 22.7 million people are now receiving unemployment aid—a rough measure of job losses since the shutdowns began. That figure lags a week behind the figures for first-time unemployment applications. And not everyone who applies for jobless aid are approved. The number of laid-off workers receiving aid is now equal to 15.5% of the workforce that is eligible for unemployment benefits. 

IDDC Announces the Indiana Destination Recovery Council 

Under the leadership of Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, the Indiana Destination Development Corporation (IDDC) today announced the formation of the Indiana Destination Recovery Council (IDRC). This advisory group will consider traditional as well as creative ways to assist the leisure and travel related industry in their COVID-19 recovery efforts. "The IDRC will work closely with the Indiana Economic Relief and Recovery task force appointed by Governor Eric Holcomb to administer federal relief funds from the CARES Act," said Crouch. "This collaborative approach will help our partners as they work to safely reopen and will put Indiana tourism back on track." Elaine Bedel, Secretary & CEO of the Indiana Destination Development Corporation, is leading this new council made up of a variety of industry experts. 

  • • Allison Barber, Ph.D., President & COO of the Indiana Fever 
  • • Jeffrey Brown, CEO of Schahet Hotels 
  • • Matt Eckert, President & CEO of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari 
  • • Jim Epperson, Executive Director of SoIN Tourism 
  • • Todd Hensley, CEO of Gym Rats 
  • • Leonard Hoops, President & CEO of Visit Indy 
  • • Dana Huber, Vice President, Marketing and Public Relations of Huber's Orchard, Winery & Vineyards 
  • • Jeffrey McCabe, President of Big Wood Brewing Company 
  • • Mario Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority 

"COVID-19 will have a sustained impact on the leisure and travel-related industry," said Bedel. "By forming this council, we hope to recommend programs that help the industry become economically stable again as well as strategies that focus on being even stronger in the future."

The council's first meeting will be Thursday, May 7, 2020, at 9 am. 

LOCAL 

Task Force to Focus on Reopening Indy to Visitors 

As businesses begin to reopen around the state, tourism officials are also preparing for business, post-pandemic. At a mid-year briefing Wednesday, Visit Indy said the coronavirus has prompted the cancellation of 100 conventions and meetings in the city, putting a severe strain on one of the region’s important economic sectors. Visit Indy Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Chris Gahl tells Inside INdiana Business a task force will examine ways for the city to safely welcome guests---from the airport to the convention center to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The cancellation or postponement of major sporting events, like the Indianapolis 500, have contributed to hotel occupancy rates dropping into the single digits. 

Similarly, the Indianapolis Airport Authority is reporting the number of travelers through Indianapolis International Airport has plummeted to about 5% of normal. Visit Indy estimates the city attracted 30 million visitors in 2019, who pumped $5.6 billion into the local economy. The organization says tourism employs about 80,000 Indianapolis area residents, many of whom are now out of work. 

Kite Realty Sees 25% of Tenants Ask For Rent Deferrals in First Quarter 

Indianapolis-based Kite Realty Group Trust said it was able to collect 67% of rents in April despite widespread retail disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the real estate investment trust reported a 16% year-over-year drop in revenue during the first quarter of 2020, as many tenants sought rent deferrals to weather business closures stemming from stay-at-home orders. The firm owns interests in 82 retail properties totaling about 16 million square feet in 16 states. About half of Kite’s tenants have continued to operate in some capacity throughout the shutdowns. During an earnings call Thursday, Kite Chairman John Kite said about 25% of the firm’s tenants have sought deferrals or not yet paid their rent. “Every one of our retailers … are battling and doing everything they can possibly do” to survive this period, he said. “This is a very, very unique situation and, frankly, there are some companies that have been extremely disrupted.” 

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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