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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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05/21/2020

Key Updates:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published detailed guidelines for how to reopen businesses and schools.
  • Congress is preparing to introduce bipartisan legislation to grant some additional flexibilities to recipients of Paycheck Protection Program funding. The new flexibilities include giving recipients more time to spend the money and rehire workers.
  • HHS is reminding providers to attest they acknowledge the terms and conditions for funding they received from the Provider Relief Fund General Allocation by June 3rd. 
  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified at a Senate Banking Committee hearing to provide a quarterly update to Congress on the CARES Act economic assistance programs.
    • Secretary Mnuchin assured the Committee that the Department will distribute the entirety of the $500 billion in funding assistance the Department received. Some Committee Members believe the Department is not distributing the funding fast enough.
    • Chairman Mnuchin also expressed his concern about the effects a prolonged shutdown will have on the economy.
    • Chairman Powell said the Fed will maintain an interest rate at or below zero for as long as it takes for the economy to recover. He expressed his belief that Congress may need to take more action but he declined to name examples of specific actions.
    • Chairman Powell said the Main Street Lending Program will begin lending money as early as June.
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued an updated economic projection for the rest of this year and 2021.
    • According to the projection, 2020 Q2 GDP will decline by an annualized rate of 37.7 percent but will begin improving in Q3.
    • The CBO believes that the labor market will begin to stabilize after the third quarter of this year. The CBO expects GDP growth will decline by 5.6 percent in 2020 but increase by 4.2 percent in 2021.
    • The CBO estimates that the unemployment rate will average at 11.5 percent in 2020 and improve to 9.3 percent in 2021.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced how it will begin distributing $225 million to Rural Health Clinics (RHC). The funding was provided by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will conduct a study to research the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and newborns. 
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is partnering with a company called Aetion to study COVID-19.
  • The U.S. – Canadian border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least June 21st.
  • Apple and Google launched their contact tracing app.