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COVID-19 Update | Friday, Oct. 30

October 30, 2020

Both the Senate and House are in recess.



  • Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that he supports the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative blocking former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from being the Director General of the World Trade Organization, claiming that Okonjo-Iweala is less qualified than South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.
    • The South Korean government is considering withdrawing Yoo Myung-hee from consideration for the Director General position, as the other six candidates who were vying for the position have already done.
  • Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (R-OR) sent a letter to President Trump accusing him of failing to enforce the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the U.S. therefore not receiving the full benefits of the agreement. The letter claims that Mexico and Canada are not meeting their agriculture and customs obligations and that the Administration is not enforcing implementation requirements or labor rights in Mexico.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) released additional information on his Adversarial Platform Prevention Act (S. 4869). According to a press release on the bill, it would create data protection and censorship standards that must be met for apps to operate in the U.S. If apps do not meet these standards, they would have to display a warning label, lose Section 230 protections, and be required to store all American data in the U.S.
    • Specifically, the legislation applies to “high-risk foreign software,” such as TikTok and WeChat, and apps operating in China, Russia, Venezuela, or Cuba.


  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation Chair Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced the National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act to require the Department of Transportation (DOT), in collaboration with the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS), to create an aviation preparedness plan for future public health emergencies.
    • According to a press release, the plan would also include input from the aviation industry and labor unions and a public health assessment from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).


  • The Administration is continuing to discuss how to increase international travel, favoring pre-flight testing and contact tracing to override quarantines upon arrival. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that international passengers still must quarantine for up to a week, even if they are tested and fly through a “travel corridor.” A Wall Street Journal article on the Administration’s position can be found here.
  • The CDC issued an Order for a Framework for Conditional Sailing, which is a phased approach to restarting cruise operations in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The strategy requires testing, quarantine, social distancing, certification, and mitigation practice through simulated voyages.
    • The order will remain in effect until COVID-19 is no longer designated a public health emergency, the CDC Director rescinds the order, or November 1, 2021.
  • The Department of Defense released its Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy. The strategy claims that DoD should gain access to private wireless spectrum through commercial partners in order to combat military competition and frequency congestion.
  • Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Rohit Chopra published an article arguing that the FTC needs to use its penalty offense authority against “unfair or deceptive” business behavior. Chopra specifically said that fines should be imposed in cases of gig economy companies misleading employees about their income, companies using influencers or fake reviews without disclosing the sponsorship, and privacy breaches of firms that use data for something other than the communicated purpose.
  • DOT Secretary Elaine Chao announced that the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program successfully concluded on October 25 after three years. The participants have joined the UAS BEYOND Program to further advance and address challenges related to UAS integration.

Other News

  • The U.S. Travel Association released data that travel spending last week was 44% below 2019 levels, a decrease from the previous two weeks. Total travel spending last week was $12.5B, which reflects a $9.7B year-over-year loss for that week. Since March, the U.S. travel industry has lost a total of $434B.
  • The Information Technology Industry Council submitted comments on the USTR’s annual foreign trade barrier review encouraging the creation of a senior official for digital trade negotiations within USTR. The comments also requested ambassador-level positions for intellectual property and agriculture, solutions to digital service taxes, and regulations that are the least restrictive to trade as possible.
  • The Commercial Drone Alliance released its 2021 policy priorities related to Urban Air Mobility. Priorities include increased UAM leadership, infrastructure, workforce funding, and safety standards. Specifically, the CDA laid out that the next Administration should:
    • Create executive UAM positions at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Federal Aviation Administration.
    • Create a UAM advisory panel at the Department of Transportation.
    • Include “multi-modal advanced aerial mobility projects” in BUILD grants.
  • Hong Kong challenged the U.S. decision to label its products as “made in China” at the WTO. Hong Kong is an independent WTO member, and its exports are exempt from tariffs on Chinese goods.
    • The U.S now has 10 days to respond to Hong Kong’s request for dialogue. If a solution is not reached in 60 days, the WTO would create an evaluation panel and Hong Kong would have to temporarily abide by U.S. rules.
  • Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program Mike Ryan said that current travel is “relatively safe.” However, he also stated that the challenge is ensuring that countries and their health systems can handle the risk of incoming travelers.
    • Ryan also said that the WHO will begin to offer risk management advice to countries.

Federal Register Notices

  • The Federal Aviation Administration proposed special conditions for the Boeing 787 series airplane. This airplane has pretensioner restraint systems on passenger seats, for which safety standards are not adequately covered in airworthiness regulations. The special conditions contain additional safety standards. Comments must be submitted by December 4. The notice can be found here.
  • The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau determined that CohnReznick, Squire Patton Boggs, and Intellicom Technologies satisfied the criteria to serve as the Relocation Payment Clearinghouse for the 3.7-4.2 GHz transition process. The notice can be found here.
  • The Transportation and Related Equipment Technical Advisory Committee will hold a virtual meeting on November 18 at 11:30am ET. The notice can be found here.
  • The Department of Transportation implemented Title II of the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act), which notified all federal employees of their rights and protections under Federal Anti-discrimination and Whistleblower Protection Laws. The notice can be found here.
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