Tackling Coronavirus: The Latest News and Updates

The U.S. government and many state governments have taken steps over the last couple of weeks to combat the spread of COVID-19. We know many of you are also taking action to slow and prevent the disease. Communities are a fragile ecosystem that are being hit hard. Local businesses are hurting and some of the most vulnerable are feeling isolated. Through it all, we’ve found a myriad of good news rising to the top that showcases our resiliency and what happens when we all come together in a crisis. 

Below you’ll find a recap of the latest news and actions to combat the spread of the virus, as well as some heartwarming stories from communities across the U.S. 

What Happened Over the Weekend  

Reported U.S. cases of the Coronavirus are now at more than 35,000, adding to fears that people aren’t abiding by guidance to stay home. How does that compare to influenza? For reference, the CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 38 million flu illnesses, 390,000 hospitalizations and 23,000 deaths from flu. Here is the latest guidance from the CDC and WHO on how to combat the spread of the virus.  

Louisiana has joined California, New York and others mandating a state-wide stay-at-home orders. 

Rand Paul became the first U.S. Senator to test positive for COVID-19 leading to Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee to self-quarantine themselves. Discussions have lead to calls for the more than 220 year old institution to begin voting remotely.

This comes as a second procedural vote on a $1.8 trillion Coronavirus stimulus package failed in the Senate over the weekend. This package is the third part of a multi-pronged legislative response to the pandemic. Earlier this month Congress passed a $8.3 billion emergency supplemental package, and last week President Trump signed into law a Coronavirus relief bill that provides free testing and paid leave for certain workers.

Negotiations will resume today after Senate Democrats blocked the stimulus bill from moving forward on Sunday as disputes raged over the legislation. It’s unclear when a final vote will happen, as the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi just announced that the House will introduce its own bill to address the matter.

Tackling Coronavirus Federally 

President Trump declared a national emergency, inviting States, territories and tribes to access more than $42 billion in funding, as well as announced that he will invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA), which would allow the administration to force American industry to manufacture medical supplies that are in short supply in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has extended telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries, helping more patients gain access to doctors immediately and avoiding possible exposure. 

The Small Business Administration announced disaster loans which provide impacted businesses with up to $2 million. 

The Department of Health and Human Services has permitted all medical care providers to practice across state lines, in order to meet the needs of patients.

The IRS issued guidance on tax payment extensions and deferments. 

USDA announced new flexibilities to allow meal service during school closures.

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From The Policy Circle family: Molly Ervin, Wilmette Circle Leader, has created a “lawn chair society” with her neighbors in order to maintain social distancing while also staying connected. 

Ervin: “There is something that I felt missing immediately when social distancing implemented — the breadth of my network.  People were out in the neighborhood. People were riding bikes and on walks but no one would stop to talk for obvious reasons.  There were waves from a distance and shouts of greetings. I found myself talking to a close friend and neighbor across the street for 20 minutes and we decided to meet daily on the corner with our lawn chairs.  Other neighbors have come out to join us seeing us outside their windows.”

“The idea was not unique. Social media shows dads having beer on block and moms having a coffee clutch in a driveway., ” Ervin said. “What we experienced though was not just the benefit of face to face conversation with a close friend. People stopped to talk to us from a safe distance. Two ER doctors on the way to the grocery store filled us in on their perspectives.  Parents shared tips on what they are doing to keep their kids occupied.”

In these unprecedented times, how are you staying connected, supporting local businesses and maintaining normalcy as much as possible? Share your tips and stories! Email communications@thepolicycircle.org or share with us on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

Connection is at the heart of The Policy Circle’s model and mission. More than 3,000 women across the country gather regularly to learn about public policy and take action in their communities. Circles provide a safe, encouraging environment that fosters friendship and purpose. We celebrate our shared love of country, community and our growing tribe of women who are changing the conversation.

Want to share your Policy Circle story? Email us at info@thepolicycircle.org to learn how to get involved.