COVID-19 Update | Thursday, April 2
April 2, 2020
- Further guidance for COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses has been released by the Treasury Department and can be found here.
- The Treasury Department issued a statement stating that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an Economic Impact Payment.
- The number of positive COVID-19 cases at the Department of Homeland Security continue to increase. Updated numbers show that TSA (129 confirmed, 4,084 quarantined) and Customs and Border Protection (64 confirmed, 640 quarantined) are the hardest hit.
- A number of unions have in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made their opposition to warrants attached to grants clear. The unions indicated that warrants attached to loans were acceptable, but attaching them to grants, which are being used to continue paying employees, should be exempt.
- Trade experts are split on whether to increase the domestic production of essential medical equipment or rapidly increase the import of cheaper products from China to quickly replenish the depleted Strategic National Stockpile. The CARES Act almost tripled the funding for the Strategic National Stockpile, from $6 billion to $16 billion.
- The Department of the Treasury is contracting Wall Street Banks PJT Partners Inc., Moelis & Co. and Perella Weinberg Partners to advise on the airline grant and loan portion of the CARES Act. Eric Cantor, former House Republican Leader, is a managing director at Moelis.
- The Federal Transit Authority (FTA) today released allocated funds appropriated from the CARES Act. The funds are to be used for “operating expenses to maintain transit services as well as paying for administrative leave for transit personnel due to reduced operations.”
- $22.7 billion was allocated for urbanized areas
- Large urbanized areas (population over one million) received $17.5 billion with the New York metro area ($5.4 billion), Chicago metro area ($1.5 billion), Los Angeles metro area ($1.2 billion), and Washington D.C. metro area ($1 billion) receiving the largest apportionments.
- Medium urbanized areas (population between 200,000 and 999,999) received $3.4 billion in total.
- Small urbanized areas (population between 50,000 and 199,999) received $1.8 billion.
- Rural areas received $2.2 billion.
- $22.7 billion was allocated for urbanized areas
- The State Department signaled that flights to repatriate Americans from abroad will soon stop due to restrictions from other nations.
- The pharmaceutical industry asked the Department of Transportation to require airlines to continue international flights as a condition to receiving the $58 billion in grants and loans from the CARES Act. Pharmaceutical industry advocates maintain that the cancellation of these flights would undermine the transport of some 70% of health care products that are manufactured overseas, which would disrupt access to prescription medication for individuals.
- The Air Line Pilots Association is urging the Federal Aviation Administration to strictly enforce airline compliance with CDC guidelines, including telling employees about coworker testing for COVID-19 and for disinfecting aircraft.
- Leading travel industry associations are urging the Administration to move faster to help their industries by requesting that the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve establish a dedicated program for travel-dependent businesses that provides direct loans, loan guarantees, and other financial tools that are authorized under the CARES Act.
- During tonight’s Coronavirus Task Force Briefing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced a slew of updates on relief being sent directly to Americans and small businesses.
- Secretary Mnuchin announced that interest rates on Paycheck Protection Program loans would be upped to 1%, from 0.5%, to encourage lenders to process more loans following issues raised by banks.
- Secretary Mnuchin also announced an expansion of private sector partners to any FDIC institution, meaning that private sector partners that make SBA loans has been expanded to include any bank essentially, including financial technology companies.
- Secretary Mnuchin also announced that the first economic impact payments ($1,200 per adult) would be sent within two weeks.
- Secretary Mnuchin also committed to the Paycheck Protection Program being up and running tomorrow.
- The President invoked the Defense Production Act for a second time to increase ventilator production by directing 3M to manufacture them. The President is also slated to sign another Defense Production Act order tomorrow to empower CBP to deal with those who are hoarding PPE inventory.
- The President announced during the Coronavirus Task Force briefing this evening that he has approved the Javits Convention Center in New York City to be used as a temporary hospital to treat COVID-19 patients and that government personnel will staff it. Vice President Pence announced that convention centers in New Orleans and Dallas will be used for the same purpose and will also be staffed by military medical personnel.
- The President did not comment when asked about whether or not his Administration would reopen Obamacare enrollment.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled his desire to wait and see how the third COVID-19 relief package is implemented and noted his displeasure with Democrats taking action on items that are tangentially relevant to the current crisis.
- House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) have taken steps to increase oversight related to CARES Act spending.
- Pelosi created a bipartisan committee to oversee the spending of the CARES Act, which topped $2 trillion.
- Thompson introduced a piece of legislation to create an 18-month review of the COVID-19 outbreak (similar to the 9/11 commission) which includes subpoena power for the 25 member commission.
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy held a press conference call today with Representatives Greg Walden (OR-02), Kevin Brady (TX-08), Patrick McHenry (NC-10), and French Hill (AK-02). The call largely covered what has been achieved in the last three COVID-19 relief packages, with an emphasis on Small Business Administration relief that was included in the bill. Additionally, the lawmakers discussed future relief packages and Rep. McCarthy indicated that a fourth package was not necessary at the moment. Rep. McCarthy did, however, indicate that he was supportive of addressing infrastructure in the near term.
- The certification of the Boeing 737 MAX is being impacted heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports indicate a return to flight could take up to three additional months past previous projections of a midyear return to service.
- 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment assistance last week, bringing the total to almost 10 million over the last two weeks.
- The Democratic National Committee has postponed its party’s Presidential convention in Milwaukee to August 17, the week before the Republican Party’s convention.
- The total count of COVID-19 cases across the world passed 1,000,000 today, with over 240,000 confirmed cases in the United States.
- Over 7,000 ventilators have been sent to states by the federal government, including 4,400 to New York State, 850 to New Jersey., 500 to Washington State, and 400 to Michigan.
- During this evening’s task force briefing, it was announced that 200,000 N95 masks will be delivered to New York City tomorrow.