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COVID-19 Update | Wednesday, July 8

July 8, 2020



  • Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued a statement disagreeing with President Trump’s decision to exit the World Health Organization (WHO). Sen. Alexander said that though the WHO has made mistakes in the past, now is not the time to exit the world’s unified health body. Additionally, Sen. Alexander said that exiting the WHO during a pandemic would have adverse effects on the world and America. The statement can be found here.


  • House Appropriations Subcommittees continued to markup Fiscal Year 2021 funding bills today. Below are the figures and statuses for the three subcommittees that considered legislation today:
  • The House Appropriations Committee released top-level discretionary spending limits, also known as 302(b) allocations, for each subcommittee. These allocations are used to guide spending on each subcommittee’s appropriations legislation but are determined by the full committee leadership. The allocations for Fiscal Year 2021 are:
    • Agriculture-FDA: $24B
    • Commerce-Justice-Science: $71.5B
    • Defense: $626.2B
    • Energy and Water Development: $49.6B
    • Financial Services: $24.6B
    • Homeland Security: $50.7B
    • Interior-Environment: $36.8B
    • Labor-HHS-Education: $182.9B
    • Legislative Branch: $5.3B
    • Military Construction-Veterans Affairs: $102.6B
    • State and Foreign Operations: $47.9B
    • Transportation-HUD: $75.9B
  • House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) requesting that the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law hearing that will feature the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook be moved to the full committee. Jordan argued that having it at the subcommittee level excluded more Republican members from attending the hearing. The letter can be found here.
  • The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing titled “Examining the National Response to the Worsening Coronavirus Pandemic.” The hearing discussed the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how state and local governments are handling the pandemic. Elevate has provided coverage of the hearing. The witnesses were:
    • Hon. Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker, Governor, Illinois
    • Hon. Jason Shelton, Mayor, City of Tupelo, Mississippi
    • Umair A. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., Executive Director and Local Health Authority of Harris County Public Health, Texas
    • Col. (ret.) Brian Hastings, Director, Alabama Emergency Management Agency
  • The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing yesterday titled “Paycheck Security: Economic Perspectives on Alternative Approaches to Protecting Workers’ Pay during COVID-19.”


  • President Trump threatened that schools would lose their Federal funding if they refused to reopen in the fall. President Trump also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines for opening schools were too restrictive.
    • Vice President Mike Pence, along with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, announced at a press conference that the CDC would issue updated recommendations next week regarding school re-openings.
  • According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), trade discussions will begin today between the United States and Kenya. If an agreement is reached, it would mark the first time the United States will have a trade deal with a sub-Saharan African nation. As we have indicated, a trade deal with Kenya could serve as a blueprint for future deals.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice are investigating TikTok and other Chinese social media apps over their data practices. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concerns about TikTok’s link to the Chinese government and its collection of user data.
    • President Trump publicly threatened a ban on the app’s use in the U.S. As a reminder, India banned the use of TikTok, along with 59 other Chinese apps, last week.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (FRBB) announced that the Main Street Lending Program is fully operational, and lenders are ready to begin purchasing eligible loans. Additionally, the FRBB announced that they will publish a state specific list of registered lenders who are accepting customers under the loans. A press release can be found here.
  • Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) sued Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over their new guidance targeting international students.
    • As a reminder, ICE released guidance that would require any international student enrolled at a university that is solely online in the fall to transfer or ICE would require them to leave the United States.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador visited the White House to celebrate the recently implemented U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to attend, as we noted yesterday.
  • A Federal District Court judge on Wednesday (Southern District of New York) declined to hear a lawsuit from environmental groups that would force companies to publicly disclose any failures to comply with environmental laws due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • As a reminder, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued guidance that relaxed enforcement actions on companies who were not complying with laws due to the pandemic. The EPA asked for companies to make up any missed deadlines as soon as possible.
  • Top Trump Administration officials have strongly suggested they will extend the COVID-19 public health emergency before it expires later this month. The declaration has helped state and local health departments deploy personnel funded by the federal government to focus on responding to the pandemic and has allowed flexibility for government health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
  • According to the Inspector General for the Department of the Treasury, approximately 46,000 people accidentally received two economic stimulus payments, which cost the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) $69M. The IRS now is attempting to get the money back.
  • Federal Register Notices:
    • The EPA and Department of Transportation (DOT) posted a final rule and correction on the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for model years 2021-2026 on Passenger Cars and Light Trucks. The rule can be found here.
    • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and DOT posted a notice of public meeting for the Women in Aviation Advisory Board. The notice can be found here.
    • The Maritime Administration and DOT posted a notice of a public meeting of the U.S. Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee. The notice can be found here.

Other News

  • The United States surpassed 3M COVID-19 cases. In nearly 40 states, COVID-19 cases are on the rise. On June 11, the COVID-19 case count for the country was 2M. With cases spreading quickly across states like Texas, Florida, California, and Arizona, the number of cases is expected to continue to rise.
    • Arizona is seeing the worst of COVID-19 in the U.S, as new data from the week of June 30reported 55 cases per 100,000 people per day, which is more than 30% worse than Florida and more than double that of Texas. On a national scale, those figures were more than triple the U.S average.
  • Over the July 4 weekend, air travel was up 90% in the United States compared to last month. However, air travel was still down 70% compared to the same time in 2019.
  • United Airlines announced Wednesday that up to 36,000 employees, or 45% of its U.S-based workforce, could be furloughed in the fall. This translates to 15,000 flight attendants, 11,000 customer service and gate agents, 5,500 maintenance or technical operations employees and 2,250 pilots. Employees will not actually know if they are personally impacted until mid-to-late August. These numbers could change in either direction, though, depending on U.S air travel in the coming months.
    • United received about $5B in payroll assistance from the CARES Act.
  • Yesterday, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines announced their Healthy Sail Panel, a group of leaders in public health, hospitality, and other sectors that will work to strengthen current procedures and develop new ones across the entire cruise experience.
  • The United States Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to House Appropriations leaders outlining their priorities in the legislation that funds the State Department and other foreign aid programs.
  • Kenya nominated Ms. Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s Minister of Sports, Heritage and Culture, to be the next World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General. Mohamed is the third African and eighth person to be nominated for the position. Two other people were also nominated for the WTO position today:
    • Mr. Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of Saudi Arabia, a former Minister of Economy and Planning, who now works at the Royal Court.
    • Dr. Liam Fox of the United Kingdom, a former UK Secretary of State for International trade and a pro-Brexit Conservative Member of Parliament.
      • Nominations for the Director General position closed today at 6pm Geneva time.
  • Indonesia applied a 10% value added tax (VAT) to companies like Amazon, Google, Netflix and Spotify on Tuesday. This new tax will be enforced on any online company that collects at least 600M Rupiah (around $41,000 in American dollars) or have at least 12,000 users in the country. Notably, Indonesia is seen as a potential digital economy star, with some studies estimating that their online economy will be worth around $120B by 2025.
  • The Inspector General for Amtrak released a report today that determined that the national rail company still has a lot to improve upon regarding its police department. The report stated that the role of the police department had yet to be firmly established. The report recommended that Amtrak use multiple data points in order to best determine the role and size of their police department.
  • The American Primary Aluminum Association sent a letter to President Trump asking him to reinstate a 10% tariff on aluminum imported from China. The letter said that Canadian subsidies on metal production has caused imports of Canadian aluminum to rise 80%. The letter can be found here.
  • Deutsche Telekom, one of Europe’s largest telecom providers, has come under fire from German politicians over new reports on its close relationship with Chinese 5G vendor Huawei. Both liberal and conservative politicians have expressed discomfort with these reports.
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