Good morning. Coronavirus has us all on high alert for signs of public coughing and sneezing, so a little less pollen floating around is probably a good thing. For a mesmerizing minute of allergy relieving satisfaction, click here.
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
– Mark Twain
Bills To Pay The… Bills
House Democrats on Tuesday released their newest COVID-19 relief bill requesting more than $3 trillion to continue the fight against the virus.
A deeper dive… The 1,815-page bill, dubbed the “HEROES Act,” includes (among other things):
$915 billion in aid to state and local governments.
~$300 billion towards a second round of direct stimulus payments of up to $1,200 for qualified taxpayers.
$175 billion in assistance towards housing costs, including rent, mortgage, and utilities.
Other elements of the bill include ~$200 billion towards hazard pay for essential workers facing heightened risks, $75 billion for expanded COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and an extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment benefits until January.
Blast From The Past Congress has passed four major COVID-19 relief bills to date:
Phase 1 (March 6): Congress enacted a bipartisan $8.3 billion bill almost entirely focused on funding federal agencies dealing with the virus.
Phase 2 (March 18): Congress enacted the ~$192 billion Families First Act, which established paid leave, guaranteed free COVID-19 testing, and enhanced unemployment insurance.
Phase 3 (March 27): President Trump signed the ~$2 trillion CARES Act into law, which provided (in chart form) guaranteed loans to businesses, a one-time payment of up to $1,200 to qualified taxpayers, and an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits for four months.
Phase 3.5 (April 24): Congress approved a $484 billion relief package that included an immediate $321 billion infusion into the PPP program, which ran out of funds less than two weeks after it opened.
What’s Next? The House will vote on the HEROES Act this Friday. However, leaders in the Republican-controlled Senate have indicated they feel no sense of urgency to pass a fifth major COVID-19 relief bill.
So… what are people saying?
Congress needs to get the next coronavirus relief package right
Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed to Russian media on Tuesday that he is currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
Lebanonannounced another nationwide lockdown starting Thursday in response to a recent spike in cases after gradually reopening.
India’s Prime Minister on Tuesday announced an economic stimulus package worth $266 billion – roughly 10% of the country’s GDP.
The largest public university system in the nation, California State University, announced that classes this fall will be primarily taught online due to coronavirus concerns.
Deadly Attacks In Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, ordered the military to switch to ‘offensive mode,’ meaning they will now undertake offensive missions against the Taliban and other terrorist groups. His comments follow an attack at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kabul, where gunmen killed at least 16 people. The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack.
More: Separately, a suicide bomber on Tuesday killed at least 24 people at a police funeral in eastern Afghanistan – ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.
China on Tuesday announced it will suspend tariffs on 79 additional U.S. goods for one year as part of a truce in the trade war between the two countries. This is the third Chinese tariff cut since the two sides agreed to a phase one trade deal in January.
More: The U.S. and China signed a phase one trade deal agreement in January, under which China agreed to purchase $200 billion in American goods in exchange for reduced tariffs.
The Labor Department on Tuesday reported the largest one-month increase in grocery prices since Feb. 1974.
Twitternotified its employees who are in a role and situation to work from home that they can do so forever if they choose – if not, the company’s offices will reopen when it is deemed safe.
Gilead Sciences reached a licensing deal with five generic drugmakers to produce its antiviral drug remdesivir in 127 countries, not including the U.S.
Under Armoursaid it is working with its athlete representatives to negotiate a deferred payment schedule after the company reported a 23% drop in Q1 sales.
Disney+moved up its release of the filmed version of Hamilton from Oct. 2021 to July 3, 2020 due to Broadway closures from COVID-19.
What Happens In Vegas…
On Monday, the U.S. Interior Department gave final approval to construct the largest solar energy project in the U.S. about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. The $1 billion Gemini project is expected to produce 690 megawatts of electricity each year – enough to power 260,000 households.
More: As we previously covered, U.S. renewable energy sources generated more electricity than coal each day during the entire month of April.
(Way)Mo’ Money, (Way)Mo’ Problems
Autonomous driving company Waymo on Tuesday said it has secured $750 million in funding, adding to the $2.25 billion the Alphabet-owned company raised in March. CEO John Krafic said the extra funding was not tied to COVID-19 concerns.
More: In other news, Uber has reportedly made a takeover offer to acquire Grubhub for an undisclosed amount.
Feels On Wheels
As a Massachusetts State Police trooper, Jim Burke’s job is to investigate reports of local crimes. When he was called to an apartment complex to take a report on a little girl’s missing bicycle, Jim realized this was the perfect opportunity to go above and beyond the call of duty.
After speaking with the girl’s family, Jim drove home and returned bearing a gift for the crestfallen little girl – a new bicycle! Jim’s daughter had outgrown her bike and graciously allowed her father to give it away.
Top Of The Food Chain
Food supply chains across America have been disrupted by lockdowns due to the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving thousands of pounds of produce wasted and rotting in their fields.
Enter FarmLink; a grassroots movement started by two students at Brown University. To date, FarmLink has raised enough funds to transport over 239,000 pounds of food from farmers to food banks in need.
Nacho Average Guy
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri has provided more than 40,000 restaurant workers across the U.S. with $500 grants through his Restaurant Employee Relief Fund – and he’s just getting started.
Guy, along with his son, will team up this Friday with comedian Bill Murray and his son to host the “Nacho Average Showdown,” a 4-way nacho making competition judged by Shaquille O’Neal. All proceeds from the show will go towards Guy’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.
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