Washington Snapshot

Washington Snapshot: The CDC Has Issued Recommendations to Guide Schools, Businesses, and Others Into the Next Phase of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Friday, May 15, 2020 - 4:45 pm

In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...

News IconNews from the Council

On Thursday, May 14, the Council sent a letter to Congressional Leaders about priorities for the next COVID-19 response package. While not an exhaustive list, the letter asks Congress to prioritize policies that will enhance charitable giving, expand nonprofits access to relief and support, and increase aid to state and local governments.

Congress IconNews from the Hill

On Friday, May 15, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on two pieces of legislation before Members head back to their districts:  

  • House Resolution 965  would temporarily change House rules to allow for proxy voting and committees to hold remote proceedings, including hearings and markups.
  • The HEROES Act (H.R.6800),  the House Democrats latest package in response to COVID-19, includes funding for state and local governments, hospitals and testing, nutrition assistance, housing programs among other priorities. While H.R.6800 is expected to pass the House, the Senate has indicated they have no intention to pass this package and the White House has threatened to veto it. For a summary of the provisions that would impact the nonprofit community, the National Council on Nonprofits has posted a  summary of the HEROES Act.

Executive & Regulatory News IconExecutive & Regulatory Affairs

Department of Agriculture

USDA has several food distribution programs for Native American households:

  • The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR): provides USDA Foods to income-eligible households living on Indian reservations. Many households participate in FDPIR as an alternative to SNAP because they don’t have easy access to SNAP offices or authorized food stores. USDA purchases and ships USDA Foods to administering agencies to distribute the food.
  • USDA Disaster Household Distribution Program: Tribes can request this program when there is a lack of access to food, due to closure of stores, unavailability of food at stores, transportation challenges due to shelter in place restrictions, or economic conditions preventing the ability to purchase food. Approved packages include non-perishable food items and feeding is not approved for longer than 30 days, though an extension can be requested if necessary.

The Meals to You Program is a partnership program with Baylor University in Texas that converts the school summer feeding program to a COVID feeding program, with some emphasis on rural areas.  Schools request assistance for their reduced and free lunch participants, sponsors sign up to put together meals, and box them and distribute them to households. 

Department of Commerce

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA has launched a wide-ranging research effort to investigate the impact of COVID-19 response on the environment, including reduced vehicle traffic, air travel, shipping, manufacturing, and other activities on Earth’s atmosphere and oceans.

Centers for Disease Control

The CDC has issued recommendations Thursday to guide schools, businesses, day-care facilities and others into the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic. The six checklists address child care centersschools restaurants and bars, and camps, mass transit and workplaces. Guidance issued on April 27 was more detailed than the guidance issued this week, but the White House has indicated more detailed technical guidance is pending. Much of the responsibility for decision-making about reopening is being left to Governors and local officials. Find all CDC coronavirus guidance documents here.

The Federal Reserve

On Wednesday, May 13, the Federal Reserve Board released the seventh annual  Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households, Featuring Supplemental Data from April 2020. While financial circumstances were generally positive for most adults at the end of 2019, the report found that financial conditions changed dramatically for people who experienced job loss or reduced hours during March 2020 as the spread of COVID-19 intensified in the United States.

Department of Health and Human Services

Administration on Children and Families

ACF Assistant Secretary Lynn Johnson penned a recent OpEd explaining how ACF has responded to help uplift those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Other actions taken by ACF include:

  • A  letter to governors recognizing the critical importance of protecting the health of child welfare workers and service providers.
  • The Office of Head Start programs clarified how programs can support, when possible, the use of closed Head Start centers as temporary child care centers for medical personnel and essential workers.
  • A letter urging welfare legal and judicial leaders to work together to ensure that necessary court hearings continue during this pandemic. The letter seeks to answer questions around the evolving crisis where courts have had to restrict parent/child face-to-face contact.

Find ACF’s dedicated web page providing a comprehensive list of resources, information, and services in response to the pandemic.

Department of Homeland Security

As of May 13, FEMA has obligated $5.8 billion in support of COVID-19 efforts:

  • Temporary Medical Facilities including medical personnel, mortuary and ambulance services: $2.4 billion
  • Personal Protective Equipment, including medical supplies and pharmaceuticals:  $1.5 billion
  • National Guard:  $1.2 billion
  • Public Assistance Emergency Protective Measures (Non-PPE):  $471 million
  • Commodities:  $24.1 million
  •  Crisis Counseling: $14.8 million

FEMA continues to expedite movement of commercially pre-sourced and commercially procured critical supplies from the global market to medical distributors in various locations across the U.S. through Project Airbridge. Through Project Airbridge, supplies delivered into private sector supply chains include more than 1.3 million N95 respirators, 921 million gloves, 93.4 million surgical masks, and 16.1 million surgical gowns, among other supplies critical for front line health care workers and first responders.

The strategy to allocate medical supplies and equipment is based on COVID-19 disease activity and its effects, as well as the need to facilitate distribution of limited supplies to areas where resources are needed most urgently. A team of federal agency experts from FEMA, HHS, and CDC works through a data analysis process every 96 hours to ensure resource prioritization recommendations are driven by the best available or most current data.

Small Business Administration

The SBA announced May 13 that it is further extending to May 18 a “safe harbor” date for returning Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds. The SBA had previously extended the safe harbor date from May 7 to May 14.  The extension was announced in the form of  an additional FAQ #47.    

The backstory:  amidst public criticism of borrowings by certain large and high-profile companies, the SBA and Treasury announced a focus on the good-faith certification PPP borrowers were required to make in the application process that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”  Treasury then announced intentions to perform a “full review” of every PPP loan in excess of $2 million “as appropriate” to address whether borrowers appropriately made the required certification.  The SBA and Treasury originally stated that borrowers who determine that they were not eligible for a PPP loan may repay the funds by May 7, 2020 and not be penalized.  That date was subsequently extended to May 14, promising additional guidance on the review process before May 14.  As noted above, new FAQ #47 further extends the safe harbor date to May 18.

State Policy IconHappening in the States

To help policymakers better understand how states manage these unpredictable and growing costs, The Pew Charitable Trusts  assessed states’ use of five budgeting tools that the Government Accountability Office and previous Pew research had identified as common natural disaster-funding mechanisms: statewide disaster accounts, rainy day funds, supplemental appropriations, transfer authority, and state agency budgets. The researchers also looked at states' use of insurance to protect themselves from losses associated with damage to their own property and assets.

Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

National Council of Nonprofits logo

Nonprofits Included in State Funding from CARES Act

State and some localities are using CARES Act funds to support nonprofits during the coronavirus crisis. The Idaho Rebound Cash for Small Businesses will provide grants up to $10,000 for small businesses and nonprofits. The state gave employers with fewer than 19 employees a head start to apply. Nonprofits in Montana made their voices heard by responding to a survey from Governor Bullock and the result was nine new programs administered by the Montana Department of Commerce providing grants for agriculture and food adaptability, housing, public health, technological connectivity, and more. After receiving emergency funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, North Dakota created the NDCA CARES Act Fund Grant to support arts and cultural groups that are “particularly dependent on revenue from admissions, ticket sales, and other sources of earned income.”

In New Hampshire, a legislative advisory committee created in response to COVID-19 recommended that the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery use $345 million in federal aid for nonprofits, including hospitals, health care providers, and nursing homes, as well as businesses, and local government. The committee, which includes the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and NH Center for Nonprofits, also proposed the establishment of a Nonprofit Relief and Recovery Fund to provide at least $125 million in addition and complement to the recommended use of the federal funds.

Both Alaska and Wyoming received $1.25 billion in state funds under the CARES Act. Through the advocacy efforts of The Foraker Group, the nonprofit state association, and other nonprofits in Alaska, nonprofits were included in several funding streams initially focused on for-profits. The state will also provide $50 million dedicated to frontline nonprofits responding to COVID-19. However, legislators in Wyoming left nonprofits out of legislation (HB 1004 / SF 1004) that allocates its federal funds. Nonprofits are fighting to be including during a special session being held virtually today, May 15.


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