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Thursday, August 6th, 2020


Coronavirus by Zip Code Newsfeed

What we're reading at

What’s at stake with political and pandemic challenges for 2020 census

- PBS Newshour - Wed, Jul 22, 2020

“About four out of 10 homes have not been counted yet. And it has given itself until October 31 to try to complete this count. It's trying to send out door-knockers to do in-person interviews with households, because, at this point of the census that, historically, these are households that are less likely to fill out a form on their own, and they will require convincing and person-to-person interaction.

And that is a big challenge, at a time where we're all trying to keep social distance. There are a lot of public health concerns. And there's some parts of the country that are under lockdown, and may be under lockdown when door-knocking is supposed to roll out nationwide on August 11.”
The End Of $600 Unemployment Benefits Will Hit Millions Of Households And The Economy

Scott Horsley - NPR - Mon, Jul 20, 2020

“As Congress comes back into session this week, lawmakers will debate whether to extend the supplemental benefits, which have been a lifeline for more than 30 million people across the United States.

"The extra $600 from the government has obviously helped me tremendously," said bartender Courtney Woodruff, who lost her job at a Denver brewpub. "I don't really spend a lot. My money is going towards rent and food right now."

While ordinary unemployment benefits usually cover just a fraction of a worker's lost wages, the additional $600 per week from the federal government was designed to fully replace the average worker's missing paycheck. ”
With CDC Pulled Off Data Collection, Some States Lose Access To COVID Hospital Data

- NPR - Fri, Jul 17, 2020

“ust as the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 approaches new highs in some parts of the country, hospital data in Kansas and Missouri is suddenly incomplete or missing.

The Missouri Hospital Association reports that it no longer has access to the data it uses to guide statewide coronavirus mitigation efforts, and Kansas officials say their hospital data reports may be delayed.

The Trump administration this week directed hospitals to change how they report data to the federal government and how that data will be made available.

In an email, Missouri Hospital Association spokesperson Dave Dillon called the move "a major disruption."

"All evidence suggests that Missouri's numbers are headed in the wrong direction," Dillon wrote. "And, for now, we will have very limited situational awareness. That's all very bad news."

White House Strips CDC Of Data Collection Role For COVID-19 Hospitalizations
White House Strips CDC Of Data Collection Role For COVID-19 Hospitalizations
The absence of the data will make it harder for health and public officials, as well as the general public, to understand how the virus is spreading.”
U.S. coronavirus data has already disappeared after Trump administration shifted control from CDC to HHS

- CNBC - Thu, Jul 16, 2020

“When reached for comment Thursday by CNBC, HHS spokesman Michael Caputo said in a statement that the CDC was directed to make the data available again. In the future, he said “more powerful insights” will be provided by HHS.

“Yes, HHS is committed to being transparent with the American public about the information it is collecting on the coronavirus,” he said. “Therefore, HHS has directed CDC to re-establish the coronavirus dashboards it withdrew from the public on Wednesday.”

Representatives of the CDC did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
As COVID-19 Safeguards End, Eviction Wave Begins

- Law360 - Sun, Jul 12, 2020

“Many state and local governments augmented the federal measures with their own, adding to a patchwork of policies that largely plugged the eviction pipeline in March and April.

But most of those moratoria have since lapsed, despite a new surge in national COVID-19 infections. By the end of this week, courts in at least 39 states will be accepting eviction lawsuits — sometimes submitted and heard remotely due to the pandemic — against people behind on their rent.

And in 12 days, the CARES Act moratorium that protects an estimated 1 in 3 rental units will expire. When it does, millions of Americans will become vulnerable to a legal process in which 90% of landlords typically have lawyers while only 10% of tenants do.”
Is Your State Doing Enough Coronavirus Testing?

- New York Times - Fri, Jul 10, 2020

“The number of daily coronavirus tests conducted in the United States is only 39 percent of the level considered necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus, as many states struggle to ramp up testing to outpace the record number of cases in recent weeks.

Reopening businesses and returning to normal life requires keeping those who are sick away from those who are healthy. To do that, each state must attempt to identify everyone who is sick — whether or not they have symptoms.

The Harvard researchers say that at minimum there should be enough daily capacity to test anyone who has flu-like symptoms and an additional 10 people for any symptomatic person who tests positive for the virus.

Aside from current testing levels, another important indicator of a state’s testing performance is its positive test rate, which is the percent of tests that come back positive. Lower rates suggest that testing is more widespread and that it is not limited to those with severe symptoms. Positive rates should be at or below 5 percent for at least 14 days before a state or country can safely reopen, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, the current positive rate is 8 percent.”
Larry Brilliant on How Well We Are Fighting Covid-19

- Wired - Wed, Jul 8, 2020

“This is a big fucking deal. If I would not be excommunicated from the world of science, I would call this an evil virus, but I can’t do that because I can’t impugn motives to it. But if I could, I would call it that. It’s certainly pernicious. This is the worst pandemic in our lifetime. And it is the first time we have had a pandemic in the United States in which we have had such a total, abysmal failure of our federal government...

OK, we know to wear a mask. But should we still be swabbing everything with Clorox?

The virus does not exist very long in fomites. I mean you’re talking about a very small percentage of cases that are caused by the pencil, the toilet seat—asterisks on toilet seats, because if you don’t have a cover on the toilet seat, and somebody who’s got Covid takes a poop, you create an aerosol so that can spread. But if you look at the things that we worried about, like the Amazon box that comes to the door, the fact that the virus can do that doesn’t mean it does do that. I don’t scrub my groceries at all. If an Amazon box comes, I open it right away. I’m mostly worried about face-to-face transmission by somebody you have had a conversation with, or you’re stuck in an elevator with, or you’re seated next to somebody at a rock show or at a bar. I don’t go do any of those things. I don’t go to lectures, I don’t go out.”
Trump Pledges To 'Pressure' Governors To Reopen Schools Despite Health Concerns

- NPR - Wed, Jul 8, 2020

“Education groups have asked for at least $200 billion in federal funding to reopen safely and plug holes in state budgets due to the recession. So far, $13.5 billion has been appropriated to K-12 education.

The Republican-controlled Senate has not taken up a bill passed by House Democrats that would allocate hundreds of billions more.

The shuttering of schools this spring has taken an economic toll. Many parents are working from home alongside their children as they receive online education.

In guidance issued last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for bringing children back to the classroom this fall wherever and whenever it can be done safely.”
US Census Bureau Statistics on Impact of COVID-19

- U.S. Census Bureau - Tue, Jul 7, 2020

“The tables below show data that were collected between July 2, 2020 to July 7, 2020.
All tables show data for the nation, each of the fifty states, plus Washington, D.C., and the fifteen largest metropolitan areas.
Sections on this page:
Education Tables
Table 1. Time Spent in Last Week on Home Based Education for Households with Children in School, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 2. COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on How Children Received Education, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 3. Computer and Internet Availability in Households with Children in Public or Private School, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 4. Provider of Computer and Internet Services for Households with Children in Public or Private School, by Select Characteristics [<1.0]
Employment Tables
Table 1. Experienced and Expected Loss of Employment Income by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 2. Employment Status and Sector of Employment, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 3. Educational Attainment for Adults Not Working at Time of Survey, by Main Reason for Not Working and Paycheck Status While Not Working [<1.0 MB]
Food Sufficiency and Food Security Tables
Table 1. Household Food Spending by Select Household Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 2a. Food Sufficiency for Households, Prior to COVID-19 Pandemic, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 2b. Food Sufficiency for Households, in the Last 7 Days, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 3a. Food Sufficiency for Households with Children, Prior to COVID-19 Pandemic, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 3b. Food Sufficiency for Households with Children, in the Last 7 Days, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 4. Recent Food Insufficiency for Households, by Prior Food Insufficiency (and Additional Food Related Household Characteristics) [<1.0 MB]
Table 5. Recent Food Insufficiency for Households with Children, by Prior Food Insufficiency (and Additional Food Related Household Characteristics) [<1.0 MB]
Health Tables
Table 1. COVID-19 Pandemic Related Problems with Access to Medical Care, in Last 4 weeks, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 2a. Symptoms of Anxiety Experienced in the Last 7 days, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 2b. Symptoms of Depression Experienced in the Last 7 Days, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 3. Current Health Insurance Status, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Housing Tables
Table 1a. Last Month's Payment Status for Owner Occupied Housing Units, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 1b. Last Month's Payment Status for Renter Occupied Housing Units, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 2a. Confidence in Ability to Make Next Month's Payment for Owner Occupied Housing Units, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Table 2b. Confidence in Ability to Make Next Month's Payment for Renter Occupied Housing Units, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Stimulus Table
Table 1. Stimulus Payment Usage, by Select Characteristics [<1.0 MB]
Note: The U.S. Census Bureau reviewed this data product for unauthorized disclosure of confidential information and approved the disclosure avoidance practices applied to this release. CBDRB-FY20-257.

States sue U.S. Department of Education over diverted virus relief funds for schools

- Associated Press - Tue, Jul 7, 2020

“It could cost California public schools $1.5 billion in funding, he said.

Becerra said it is not that private schools are ineligible for relief funds, but he said Congress called for those funds to be distributed on the basis of need.

“Some of those private schools have already been able to access hundreds of billions of dollars from the CARES ACT Paycheck Protection Program unlike California public schools that can’t,” he said.

In Michigan, officials said the rule could cost public schools at least $16 million, including $2.6 million each in Detroit, the state’s largest district, and Grand Rapids, where DeVos has roots.

“All students in this country deserve an equal chance at an education. That’s why we cannot and will not sit on the sidelines while critical funding specifically allocated based on low-income status is allowed to be re-allocated by counting students who have privileges and resources already available to them,” said Nessel, who announced the lawsuit at a news conference alongside Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state superintendent Michael Rice.”
We Need Help': People At Higher Coronavirus Risk Fear Losing Federal Unemployment

Chris Arnold - NPR - Mon, Jul 6, 2020

Under the CARES Act, people with underlying conditions are supposed to be able to stay on unemployment even if they are offered a job if it's one they can't do remotely. But in those cases, too, the $600 ends at the end of July. So public health and worker rights advocates say they worry that if that extra money stops, many people will be forced to take jobs unsafe for them.

Democrats in Congress want to extend those expanded benefits. But Republicans have expressed concern that the extra money is keeping some people from going back to work in lower paying jobs. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

"It's absolutely critical that it's figured out before this expires in July," says Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and a former senior Labor Department official. She says the need is particularly urgent "when you consider that we are in an expanding pandemic and not an ebbing one."”
Where $521 Billion in U.S. Small-Business Aid Went

- Bloomberg - Mon, Jul 6, 2020

“The Paycheck Protection Program distributed $521 billion in loans to almost 4.9 million small businesses as of June 30. These loans will be forgiven if businesses maintain jobs or rehire laid-off workers and if most of the money goes to payroll. Overseen by the Small Business Administration, it’s the centerpiece of the government’s economic response to the pandemic.

Millions of businesses applied for loans when the program began in April. But demand evaporated in recent weeks, and almost $132 billion remains unspent. The program was set to expire June 30, but both chambers of Congress voted last week to extend it to Aug. 8.”
American Medical Association, Nurses And Hospitals Plead With Americans To Wear Masks

- Forbes - Mon, Jul 6, 2020

“The American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and American Nurses Association pleaded Monday with Americans to wear a mask and practice social distancing to stop the surge of cases of the coronavirus strain Covid-19.

The pleas by some of the nation’s largest and most influential healthcare lobbies comes as celebrities and athletes also urge Americans to wear masks and face coverings, particularly given the inconsistent messages coming from the Donald Trump White House. Trump last week said he was “all for masks,” but that was considered a change in tune and he hadn’t urged the wearing of masks prior to that statement and Vice President Mike Pence has, too, sent conflicting messages on mask-wearing.”
People At Higher Coronavirus Risk Fear Losing Federal Unemployment Payments

Chris Arnold - NPR - Mon, Jul 6, 2020

“Many people with underlying medical conditions are worried about what's going to happen at the end of the month. It's not currently safe for many of them to go back to work. The COVID-19 death rate is 12 times higher for people with underlying conditions.

But an extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits, which has been enabling them to pay their rent and other bills, will stop coming at the end of July.”
Health Justice Lawyer Argues For Nationwide Eviction Moratorium -

- NPR - Sun, Jul 5, 2020

“NPR's Sacha Pfeiffer speaks with law professor Emily Benfer about what local and federal officials need to do to avoid a housing crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"I think the United States is on the brink of mass evictions across the country. The Aspen Institute estimates that approximately 20 to 24 million people are facing eviction right now. And yet, by the end of July, the CARES Act federal moratorium, the majority of state-level moratoriums and unemployment insurance will expire. These are the only stopgap measures in place to prevent eviction. And yet, we're not seeing the level of urgency necessary to prevent them from happening from the federal government. So, to me, that is an ostrich syndrome that we need to really address to prevent this type of widespread eviction and homelessness."”
See how Canada crushed the curve while the US struggles

- CNN - Fri, Jul 3, 2020

“CNN'S Paula Newton explains what measures Canadians are taking to flatten the curve as countries continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
At this point, Canada is reporting 1/10 the number of case per capita, as the United States.

Fraudulent Jobless Claims Slow Relief to the Truly Desperate

- New York Times - Fri, Jul 3, 2020

“Having your application flagged for review doesn’t necessarily mean someone else tried to pose as you — it just means your state thought it warranted further inspection. Fraudulent claims have forced states to dial up their scrutiny and deploy systems that mark potentially suspicious claims. And those reviews take time.

Ms. Preston, 29, said she had been told that a review of her account would delay payments for at most 72 hours, but that wasn’t even close. “I had called hundreds of times every day for the following week and still didn’t get anything,” said Ms. Preston, whose daughter has to be completely isolated during the pandemic.

The Maine Labor Department said in a Facebook post that claimants should email their identification — an idea that made Ms. Preston nervous, because officials have warned against exactly that in the past. She did it anyway.
Think that extra $600 in unemployment benefits will last until the end of July? Think again.

- USAToday - Fri, Jun 26, 2020

“Many out-of-work Americans counting on receiving an extra $600 a week through the end of July may be surprised to discover that benefit will disappear nearly a week earlier than they expected. 
The additional $600 in weekly jobless benefits provided by the federal government is officially set to end July 31. But states will pay it only through the week ending July 25 or July 26, a significant blow to unemployed workers counting on that money to bolster state benefits that average just $370 a week. ”
My Dead Relative Received a Stimulus Check. Can We Keep It?

- AARP - Thu, Jun 25, 2020

““A [stimulus] payment made to someone who died before receipt of the payment should be returned to the IRS by following the instructions about repayments,” according to updated guidance posted on on May 6. “Return the entire payment unless the payment was made to joint filers and one spouse had not died before receipt of the payment, in which case, you only need to return the portion of the payment made on account of the decedent. This amount will be $1,200 unless adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000.”

The Treasury and the IRS didn’t use death records to stop payments to dead people because the IRS did not think they had the authority to deny payments to those who filed a 2019 tax return, according to the Government Accountability Office. Treasury also noted that the CARES Act required them to distribute the checks as quickly as possible. The GAO says that IRS should take additional steps to tell people how to return checks made out to dead or incarcerated people.

Since early May, AARP has been urging the Treasury department and the IRS to clarify the rules and procedures on returning stimulus checks sent to deceased people.

Whistleblower: TSA Failed To Protect Staff, Endangered Passengers During Pandemic

- NPR - Fri, Jun 19, 2020

“TSA Federal Security Director Jay Brainard is an official in charge of transportation security in the state of Kansas and has been with the agency for almost 20 years.
He told NPR that the leadership of his agency failed to protect its staff from the pandemic, and as a result, allowed TSA employees to be "a significant carrier" for the spread of the coronavirus to airport travelers.
"We did not take adequate steps to make sure that we were not becoming carriers and spreaders of the virus ourselves," Brainard says. "I believe absolutely that that contributed to the spread of the coronavirus."
His allegations include that personal protective equipment was withheld from TSA employees, that local supervisors were not permitted to mandate masks, that the TSA failed to adequately execute contact tracing, and the TSA declined to require that employees change or sanitize gloves between passengers.
The coronavirus crisis hit during one of the nation's busiest traveling times: spring break.
"You've got communities shutting down. You've got governors shutting things down. And we still hadn't mandated masks. We still hadn't mandated eyewear. We still weren't changing personal protective equipment as often as we needed to," Brainard says.”