Coronavirus Flash Update June 29, 2020

Coronavirus Flash Update: June 29, 2020

Alston & Bird’s Coronavirus Flash provides updates on policy and regulatory actions under consideration across many important industries being monitored by our teams. Links to key government and legal resources are provided throughout the report.

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The Latest News

  • U.S. COVID-19 cases exceed 2,539,135 and 123,997 U.S. deaths. Worldwide COVID-19 cases exceed 10 million, and deaths exceed 500,000. (Source: CDC) (Updated 6/29/20)
  • U.S. stock market: On Friday the markets dropped sharplyfor the day, with the Dow down 730 points, the S&P 500 falling 74 points, and the Nasdaq losing 259 points. Weekend trading in stock futures were pointing to further losses as of Sunday night. (New)
  • The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics weekly jobless report showed 1.5 million new state unemployment claims marking the 14th week in a row in which jobless claims topped one million. (6/25/20) (New)
  • Macy’s announced it will cut 3% of its corporate workforce or 3,900 jobs – this follows a February announcement that it was closing 125 stores and laying off 2,000 workers. (6/25/20) (New)
  • The Guttmacher Institute released a survey showing that 34% of the child-bearing age women surveyed indicated that due to the coronavirus pandemic they wanted to delay childbearing or have fewer children due to economic uncertainty and worries about the health impact of the virus. (6/26/20) (New)
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on opportunities to improve the federal response and recovery efforts from COVID-19. The GAO is an advisory arm of Congress and provides analysis and research per congressional requests. The report includes data on the disbursement of COVID-19 related funding programs, including that 170,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were in returned in May.
  • As of June 20, the SBA reports that $128 billion in PPP funds remain. Small businesses must apply with a lender to be eligible for PPP funding by June 30. (6/25/20) (New)
  • The GAO also released a report on returning the federal workforce to the workplace. (6/25/20) (New)

COVID-19 Federal & State Legislation   

  • Bill 4.0: The House is set to vote today on legislation to bolster the Affordable Care Act (ACA), H.R. 1425. The Energy and Commerce Committee has posted a one page summary, section-by-section, and the text. The ACA enhancement measure and additional drug pricing proposal have passed the House in previous measures along party line vote. (New)
  • The House Rules Committee will meet today to set the floor consideration parameters for H.R. 2, an infrastructure investment package. (New)
  • The HEROES Act was the first formal offer on a new emergency stimulus bill, 4.0: For the full details on the HEROES Act, H.R. 6800, which passed the House on May 15:
  • The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, H.R. 7010, was enacted on June 5. To learn more, see this A&B Summary of the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act. (6/5/20)
  • Bill 3.5: Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, (R. 266) was enacted on April 24. Also available are a section-by-section summary and an overview of the health care provisions.
  • A&B detailed summaries are below:
    • A&B Summary5 Small Business Provisions
    • A&B Summary5 Health Care Enhancement Provisions
  • Bill 3.0: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, (R. 748) passed on March 27. A congressional section by section summary is available here.
  • A&B detailed summaries are below:
  • Congress has passed three coronavirus emergency response bills and the first two are below:
  • Bill 1.0: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental (CPPRS) (R. 6074) passed on March 5
  • Bill 2.0: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (R. 6201) passed on March 18

Transition to “Reopening”   

Department of Health and Human Services   

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Coronavirus webpage has been updated. (Updated 6/26/20)
  • HHS has a tracking feature that allows public viewing of all COVID-19 HHS grants and cooperative agreement awards on its website. The grants were distributed through programs in the ACF, ACL, ASPR, CDC, DHHS/OS, HRSA, IHS, NIH, and SAMHSA. (Updated 6/24/20)
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) posted a discussion on Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) between NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Bruce Tromberg, Director of the National Institute of Bioimaging and Bioengineering. (6/25/20) (New)
  • The HHS Office of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has announced a partnership with Colorado State University’s Infectious Disease Research Center (IDRC) to further the development of SolaVAX, a process to inactivate SARS-CoV-2. (6/25/20) (New)
  • The HHS Health Services and Resources Administration released a reminder to health care providers submitting a COVID-19 reimbursement claim for testing or treatment for uninsured patients, they have a step by step process. (6/24/20)
  • HHS announced it was ending its funding of thirteen drive-thru testing locations (originally set up by HHS and FEMA in March) and notes information on private testing locations. (6/24/20)
  • HHS released a statement that a 14-day extension has been given to fund five drive-thru testing locations in Texas. (6/26/20) (New)
  • The HHS Administration on Children and Families (ACF) released information for parents and families of children with disabilities and for education staff on physical distancing. (6/24/20)
  • The HHS ACF released strategies for supporting families experiencing homelessness and housing instability during COVID-19. (6/24/20)

HHS/CDC/CMS/HRSA CARES Act Provider Relief Funds   

  • HHS - the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund (PRF) webpage and Portal (Updated 6/26/20)
  • And the PRF FAQs (Updated 6/25/20) have been updated and capture numerous modifications.
  • HHS announced three new Provider Relief Fund allotments completing the initial $100 billion authorized by the CARES Act. (6/9/20) The three new allotments are:
  • $10 billion for safety net hospitals. HHS has posted the state-by-state breakdown. (6/10/20)
  • $10 billion for a second round funding for hot spot hospitals.
  • $15 billion for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers that participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs and have NOT received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund General Allocation and to receive funding an application must be submitted.
  • The CDC has posted an updated dataset of provider recipient specific payment from the Provider Relief Fund general distribution high impact targeted allocation and/or rural targeted allocation. The dataset includes who has attested to receiving one or more payments and agreed to the terms and conditions as of June 24. (Updated 6/26/20)
  • HHS posted a resource on Provider Relief Fund disbursements to serve as summary of the key details. The CARES Provider Relief Fund hotline is (866) 569-3522. (6/18/20)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services  

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) latest news alert.(Updated 6/25/20)
  • For the latest COVID-19 related CMS guidance and FAQs visit the CMS Current Emergencies webpage. (Updated 6/26/20)
  • CMS released a Special Trends Report on health insurance exchange enrollment data during the COVID-19 pandemic. (6/25/20) (New)
  • CMS released a proposed rule on Medicare home health payments and the home infusion therapy benefit, and it includes language to make permanent the telecommunication technology changes for providing home health care which were temporarily provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. (6/25/20) (New)
  • CMS announced plans to end the emergency blanket waiver for nursing home staffing data submission requirement. The requirement to submit staffing data will end by August 14. (6/25/20) (New)
  • CMS has announced flexibility for clinicians participating in the Medicare Quality Payment Program (QPP) Merit-based Incentives Payment System (MIPS) due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinicians may submit an extreme circumstances exception application to reweight any or all of the MIPS performance categories. (6/24/20)

Food and Drug Administration  

Department of Homeland Security/FEMA   

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posts a weekly update of its response to COVID-19. (Updated 6/22/20)
  • The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) announced nearly $2 million in awards to fund crisis counseling services for people struggling with mental health issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. (6/25/20) (New)

Small Business Administration   

Department of Treasury/IRS/Federal Reserve   

  • The Department of Treasury website for CARES Act business assistance programs.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced rollover relief for required minimum distributions from retirement accounts that were waived under the CARES Act. (6/23/20)
  • The Federal Reserve and other federal and state regulatory agencies issued guidance for assessing safety and soundness of financial institutions considering the stress and impact from the pandemic. (6/23/20)

Other Agencies   

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new flexibilities for school related nutrition programs. (6/25/20) (New)
  • The USDA has awarded $86 million in rural broadband service grants in eight states. (6/24/20)
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration continues to award grants to eligible county and metropolitan communities this week under the CARES Act to boost economic recovery. (Updated 6/26/20)
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued its interim final rule on loss mitigation options for home owners to “transition out of financial hardship” caused by COVID-19. (6/23/20)
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a public notice that they will no longer be accepting new applications for funding from the COVID-19 Telehealth program because the demand for funding exceeds the available funds ($200 million). (6/25/20) (New)
  • The FCC approved an additional 77 telehealth funding applications totaling $29.41 million in 44 states. (6/24/20)
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and SBA sent warning letters to six companies that may be misleading small businesses seeking SBA loans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The warning letters detail the claims that could lead small businesses to believe the companies are affiliated with the SBA, or that small businesses can apply on their websites for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or other programs authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The FTC and SBA warn the letter recipients to take immediate action to remove deceptive claims, to remediate any harm to consumers, and to notify the FTC within 48 hours about the specific actions they took to address the agency’s concerns. (6/24/20)
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it was awarding $962,160 in grants to state and local fair housing organizations in nineteen states as authorized by the CARES Act. (6/24/20)
  • The Department of Justice posted a COVID-19 fraud alert regarding fraudulent cards claiming the Americans with Disabilities Act can exempt face mask ordinances. (6/26/20) (New)
  • For the latest in COVID-19 litigation read the latest issue of A&B's Class Action Roundup. (6/25/20) (New)
  • The Department of Justice released a statement that a Texas man has been charged with fraudulently seeking $13 million in PPP loans. (6/24/20)
  • The Department of Labor will host a webinar on coronavirus-related sick leave requirements for business owners, employers and other stakeholders. The webinar will be held on June 30, 9:30am to 10:30am CDT. (6/23/20)
  • The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division announced that an Opa-locka, Florida company has paid an employee back wages after it was determined the employer wrongly denied emergency paid sick leave due to testing positive for coronavirus. (6/25/20) (New)
  • The Department of Labor developed an online tool to help employees determine eligibility for paid sick leave due to coronavirus. (6/23/20)
  • Business Insurance Issues Related to COVID-19   
  • Lloyd’s of London moved to dismiss the putative class action filed by El Novillo Restaurant in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Lloyd’s argues that the case ought to be dismissed for several reasons including that the Complaint fails to sufficiently allege “direct physical loss or damage to the insured properties” or to nearby property, and that even if the complaint had alleged “direct physical loss or damage,” the policy’s microorganism exclusion and pollution exclusion operated to bar coverage. The docket entry is Dkt. 18, El Novillo Rest., et al. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, No. 1:20-cv-21525-UU (S.D. Fla.). (6/22/20) (New)
  • On June 23, a group of minor league baseball teams sued their insurers alleging that the cancellation of the minor league baseball season in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in “catastrophic financial losses for all minor league teams.” The teams assert that the unique operating model of minor league baseball teams, namely high fixed operating expenses and variable revenue tied to game attendance caused “prudent owners” to purchase business interruption insurance from Defendants. The teams further allege that the policies ought to cover the teams’ losses resulting from cancellation of the season because there has been “direct physical loss or damage” in the form of “loss of use” to the teams’ ballparks, but that the Defendants “have failed to meet their obligations” under the policies. The teams assert claims for breach of contract, anticipatory breach of contract, and a “declaratory judgment that they are entitled to the full amount of coverage for which they paid premiums.”  The case is Chattanooga Professional Baseball LLC, et al. v. Philadelphia Indem. Ins. Co., No. 2:20-cv-03032-TJS (E.D. Pa.). (6/23/20) (New)

For background and the most up-to-date information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Disease 2019 website: HERE. The additional federal agency links are provided by the White House Coronavirus Task Force:   What You Should Know:

Information for Businesses:

Information for Travel and Transportation:

Information for Healthcare Providers, First Responders, and Research Facilities:

Alston & Bird Coronavirus Links

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