Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – June 2020 #10

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[author: Shelley Castle]

Your guide to the latest Hill developments, news narratives, and media headlines provided by the Hogan Lovells Government Relations and Public Affairs team.

In Washington

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged organizers of large gatherings that involve shouting, chanting, or singing to “strongly encourage” attendees to use cloth face coverings to lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Friday declared that a “second wave” of the coronavirus was not descending upon the country, even as cases of COVID-19 are spiking in more than a dozen states. “There is no emergency. There is no second wave. I don’t know where that got started on Wall Street,” Kudlow told Fox & Friends. Kevin Hassett, another economic adviser to the White House, told Fox News he had spoken to Dr. Deborah Birx, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, earlier Wednesday morning, and conceded “there are some embers flaring up in a few places”, cited incoming data from Arizona and South Carolina as showing “some cause for concern,” but remained largely dismissive of the notion of a second wave of the coronavirus.
  • Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden unveiled his sweeping eight-part plan on reopening the economy on Thursday. Biden’s plan would take big steps in providing federal guidance for businesses and workers. His plan includes providing federal funding for worker testing and PPE and would require OSHA to enforce workplace safety standards and create a national workforce to beef up contact tracing. Biden would also require employees to find work arrangements for high-risk groups and “Safe for Shoppers” certifications for businesses that use best practices that are public health compliant.
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it will be sending airports, Amtrak and transit agencies almost 100 million face cloths for passengers to use during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DOT said the masks are being provided on a “supplemental” basis and warned passengers that they will be responsible for their own face coverings, and they don’t guarantee to be able to provide masks if they don’t bring their own.
  • The Trump administration is considering suspending several employment-based immigration visas, including H-1B, according to administration officials, The Wall Street Journal reports. The move would be the latest effort in a series of executive actions administration officials say are needed to prevent sick people from entering the country and ensuring Americans get jobs first. However, many lawmakers and businesses argue it would weaken economic growth.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued an emergency ruling Thursday banning colleges from granting emergency coronavirus relief funds to foreign and undocumented students, including those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. The rule finalizes the Education Department’s (DOE) interpretation of a provision in the US$2.2 trillion CARES Act that Congress passed in March which allocated US$12.6 billion to colleges to fund emergency grants for students affected by campus closures.
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) offered some details about the floor schedule for late June and July. When the House returns June 25 Democrat’s first priority will be policing overhaul, as well as what he said would be other “significant” legislation on 25 and 26 June. The week of 29 June, the House will consider legislation to stabilize the 2010 health care law and the infrastructure package. The infrastructure measure will take up to three days of floor debate, starting 30 June and ending 2 July. The last two weeks of July will be reserved for considering the annual defense authorization bill and fiscal 2021 appropriations bills.
  • During a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) raised concerns with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson about a potential wave of evictions as a federal moratorium expires and so does the federal boost to unemployment benefits that many laid-off workers have used to pay their rent. House Democrats have passed legislation that would replace the current eviction ban on federally backed properties with a 12-month expanded moratorium on evictions. Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) said this week that policymakers need to figure out “what else can be done for the renters to ensure that they’re not put in a situation of potential eviction once the grace periods might end.”
  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking that a comprehensive public database of funds distributed from the CARES Act to health care providers in the effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic be created. The letter said, “We urge you to expeditiously establish a single, comprehensive, and publicly available data source that easily shows the amount of funding received by each provider.”

In the News

  • The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise across the U.S. leading some local officials to reconsider reopening plans. Governors in Oregon and Utah are hitting pause on reopening their states while they investigate the increases. Meanwhile, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tried to reassure people that the rise in confirmed cases was expected and that the state’s hospitals have the capacity to handle a further surge. This week Texas reported the highest single-day total since the pandemic emerged, Florida experienced its highest 7-day average for new cases, per Johns Hopkins data, and California’s hospitalizations are at their highest in a month.
  • Stocks rose Friday after tumbling Thursday during Wall Street’s worst day since March as traders concluded a volatile week of trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 271 points higher or about 1.1 percent. The S&P 500 gained 0.7 percent while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.6 percent.
  • American Airlines Friday joined Delta Air Lines in forecasting a 90 percent slump in second-quarter revenue but said it expects to cut its cash burn rate to about zero by the end of 2020 as travel demand returns. Many airlines are now adding back flights in July as demand begins to increase.
  • Native American tribes and organizations are having a difficult time accessing COVID-19 data that is crucial to combating the disease on their lands, according to a report by Politico. Tribal leaders and health experts recounted cases at every level of government where they were ignored or dismissed creating roadblocks that could further widen health disparities.
  • According to his re-election campaign website, President Trump’s campaign is requiring people who register to go to his upcoming rallies to agree not to sue Mr. Trump or the venue if they contract COVID-19 at the event.
  • Survivors of COVID-19 are donating their blood plasma in hopes it helps other patients recover from the coronavirus. Scientists are testing if the donations might also prevent infection in the first place.
  • Florida is sitting on more than 980,000 unused doses of hydroxychloroquine after only a handful of hospitals in the state asked for access to the medicine.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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