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Focus on Regulation

Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – June 22, 2020

Your guide to the latest Hill developments, news narratives, and media headlines provided by the Hogan Lovells Government Relations and Public Affairs team.

In Washington:

  • Kayleigh McEnany, President Trump’s Press Secretary, said Friday that the coronavirus task force will no longer brief the public, now that the U.S. is pressing ahead with reopening its economy. McEnany said that she will relay any further information about the coronavirus outbreak, instead.
  • Concerns remain about the price tag of another coronavirus relief bill, but Republicans have acknowledged it is necessary.  Negotiations are set to begin in July and according to the Washington Post, conservatives want President Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows and Vice President Mike Pence to play a bigger role.  The lawmakers have complained that the spending bills Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has brokered with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have been too generous to Democrats and allowed spending and other policy changes that run counter to GOP priorities.  Lawmakers will have to decide whether or not to continue funding the successful Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and allow businesses to borrow a second loan.  Another idea is to create a more permanent and long-term solution, such as a new government-backed lending program.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci will testify on Capitol Hill this week.  Over the weekend, at his rally, President Trump said he wanted to “slow” down coronavirus testing to prevent the number of cases from going up.  Democrats were infuriated by the comments, which the White House later said were a joke.  In a statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said “the American people are owed answers about why President Trump wants less testing when experts say much more is needed.” 
  • Since April 29, the number of coronavirus cases among construction workers assigned to the Cannon House Office Building renovation project has climbed from 17 to 28, according to Ashley Phelps, spokeswoman for Illinois Republican Rodney Davis, ranking member on the House Administration Committee.  In that same time frame, coronavirus cases among the Capitol Police rose from 12 to 18.
  • Under Congressional pressure, the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA) said in a statement that they will disclose the names of companies and nonprofits that got loans larger than $150,000 under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the move represents an agreement with the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Small Business Committee, which is headed by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). 
  • According to POLITICO, President Trump is expected to extend through the end of the year foreign-worker restrictions that were initially enacted in April because of the coronavirus pandemic.  The executive order will be expanded and block most people from receiving a permanent residency visa, or green card.  It will encompass skilled workers in specialty occupations, executives, and seasonal workers who work in industries such as landscaping, housekeeping, and construction.  Agricultural workers and students will not be included.
  • Six members of President Trump’s campaign staff, including two Secret Service agents, tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of his Tulsa, OK rally.  The campaign team said in a statement that “quarantine procedures” were immediately initiated and none of the positive staff members or those they had contact with attended the event.  

In the News:

  • Early coronavirus testing data from a handful of U.S. cities and states suggest that recent protests against racial injustices haven’t yet led to a marked uptick in new cases. Public health officials warn that the data is still preliminary, however, and protest-related cases could still rise.
  • Gilead Sciences will begin human trials for an inhaled version of its antiviral drug remdesivir in August, the company said Monday.  Remdesivir, which was granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is currently administered intravenously. 
  • The U.S reported more than 30,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday and Saturday, the highest daily totals since May 1, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  New cases are rising in states across the South, West, and Midwest. Seven states hit record cases on Saturday, including Florida and South Carolina, which had their third consecutive day breaking single-day records. 
  • Officials say young people who are ignoring social distancing measures have led to spikes in COVID-19 cases in the South and West. Young people are more likely to have milder outcomes from coronavirus, but they can still infect others who are more at risk.  Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tweeted this message on Sunday “With younger age of recent infections in at least some places such as Florida, expect a lower death rate in this wave … until the 20-40-year-olds who are infected today go on to infect others.” 
  • New York City begins Phase Two of its reopening on Monday after shuttering businesses due to COVID-19. For the first time in months, people can eat outdoors at restaurants while barbershops and salons can also open at 50 percent capacity.  The city has hired 3,000 disease detectives and case monitors for its contact-tracing program but the effort so far has gotten off to a slow start.