COVID-19 Update | Tuesday, March 31
March 31, 2020
- The Treasury Department issued “Guidelines and Application Procedures for Payroll Support to Air Carriers and Contractors and Procedures and Minimum Requirements for Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses” with respect to the $58 billion ($25 billion in grants and $25 billion in loans for passenger air carriers and $4 billion in grants and $4 billion in loans for cargo air carriers) in relief that was provided in the CARES Act
- That guidance and the corresponding press release can be found here.
- The Treasury Department issued a statement today urging businesses impacted by COVID-19 to use the Employee Retention Credit.
- That release and more information can be found here.
- As shared earlier today, Treasury Department guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program can be found here.
- The main Treasury Department page containing all CARES Act resources can be found here.
- The Department of Transportation today issued initial guidance on continuation of certain air service under the CARES Act. That guidance can be found here.
- At a high level, the guidance states that airlines must maintain their route networks as they were as of March 1. The guidance allows airlines some flexibility on how frequently they would have to fly those routes and airlines will be able to ask for exemptions to the requirements.
- Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general of the Pentagon, has been selected to oversee the management and spending of the CARES Act. Mr. Fine will Chair the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, made up of agency inspector generals from across the administration, which was established by the CARES Act.
- Administration officials have exempted more medical items from tariffs, including plastic coverings for wounds and urology drain bags.
- During tonight’s briefing, the President stated that he was not considering signing an executive order to give a 90-day grace period on paying tariffs to companies.
- The Army Corps of Engineers is transforming 8 facilities in California to create an additional 50,000 hospital beds, in addition to deploying field hospitals and transforming additional facilities in Michigan, Louisiana, and New York, which are adding additional capacity.
- The Administration shared that their total death toll projections due to the COVID-19 pandemic are between 100,000 and 240,000 if the 30-day extension of social distancing works.
- Regional Airlines are calling on the Administration to ensure that smaller air carriers receive enough financial aid to avoid layoffs.
- The President today indicated his support to include infrastructure as a component of the next COVID-19 relief package and reiterated that support during this evening’s task force briefing. Specifically, the President raised a $2 trillion infrastructure price tag.
- There are almost 10,000 ventilators being held in the National Strategic Stockpile that are being held for distribution during the peak of the pandemic.
- In an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that the next relief package will focus on recovery after the mitigation measures are undertaken in the third relief bill.
- This could include infrastructure related to COVID-19 like broadband access or water resources, in addition to state and local government needs, and additional support for hospitals.
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) emphasized the weaknesses that the pandemic has shown in America’s infrastructure, especially electricity and broadband access.
- Speaker Pelosi also suggested that the fourth COVID-19 relief bill might be the time to remove limits to state and local tax deductions, a key component of President Trump’s 2017 tax reform bill.
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, along with other Republican leadership in both chambers, have insisted that a fourth relief bill will only come after the CARES Act has been implemented. Speaker Pelosi has indicated her intention to move quickly on a fourth relief bill.
- The House is out of session and many lawmakers are in self-isolation. These issues, coupled with the inability for members to vote remotely, are all obstacles to the passage of a potential fourth relief bill.
- The House Armed Services Committee postponed its planned April 30th markup for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2021 due to social distancing guidelines published by the federal government. A new date has not been announced
- Republican Senators are calling on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to suspend or reduce federal royalty payments for oil, gas, and coal production on federal lands due to COVID-19.
- Democratic Senators today called on domestic airline carriers to reimburse Americans for canceled flights because of COVID-19 travel restrictions and disruptions, particularly for U.S. citizens stranded abroad. In letters to at least 11 airline carriers, Senators demanded cash refunds be provided over travel vouchers. Senators that sent the letters include Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.).
- The first member of the military has died from COVID-19. The Department of Defense has reported over 1,000 cases across the military and contractors that make up the department.
- Florida state leadership expressed support for financial assistance for cruise lines, which have been hit very hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Cruise lines found it difficult to be included in the previous relief bill as they are incorporated in other nations, making regulation and relief difficult.
- Some have called for cruise lines to incorporate in the United States to receive support.
- The temporary field hospital in New York City Central Park’s East Meadow to treat the overflow patients from Mount Sinai hospital opened today.
- Ford announced today that it would join GE in helping to produce 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days, with 12,000 machines expected by the end of May. The President mentioned this in the evening task force briefing.
- Natural gas utility companies are working with regulators to ensure that are no disruptions in service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Nearly 1,300 Americans have filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission about being unable to cancel bookings/receive refunds on travel and vacation deals due to COVID-19 – these complaints total to about $2.2 million in losses.
- Yesterday, Johnson and Johnson announced a $1 billion deal with the U.S. government to create enough manufacturing capacity to make more than 1 billion doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.