What is Coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus causing the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify this outbreak as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Anyone experiencing emergency signs such as difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or bluish lips or face should immediately seek medical attention.

UPDATE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that for the next eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S. Several states have issues stay-at-home orders.

For the latest updates and more information go to:

What You Should Know

Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC urges citizens to monitor your health and practice social distancing. Social distancing means staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.

County & Recording Jurisdictions - Operating Status

ALTA is tracking the operating status of recording jurisdictions around the country based on reports from ALTA members, State/Regional Land Title Associations, industry contributors, and Recorders/Clerks.

Review the Recording Jurisdictions - Operating Status report anytime to access visual charts and download data for the national picture and individual states.

If you have updates to the information you find, please let us know by emailing details to countystatus@alta.org. We can help update information for a single county or jurisdiction. We can also provide a full state grid for easy updates. We are collecting the following information:

  • Operating Status (Normal Operations, Modified Operations, Closed)
  • Planned Re-Opening Date (if available)
  • eRecording Status (for eRecording Counties) (Normal Operations, Modified Operations, Closed)
  • In-Person/Walk-In Recording Status (Normal Operations, Modified Operations, Closed)
  • Drop-Off Recording Status (Normal Operations, Modified Operations, Closed)
  • Mail-In Recording Status (Normal Operations, Modified Operations, Closed)
  • Online Search Status (Normal Operations, Modified Operations, Closed)
  • In-Person Search Status (Normal Operations, Modified Operations, Closed)
  • Recorder's Office Communication - More Detail (Text Description of Closure or Modifications to Operating Status)
  • More Local Information - Website URL

Resources

Legislation

  • SECURE Notarization Act: ALTA is working with other trade associations and industry partners to support an effort to pass the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 (SECURE Notarization Act). This legislation takes a two-prong approach to continue and expand access to remote online notary (RON).  First, it permits immediate nationwide use of RON, with minimum standards. Second, it provides certainty for the interstate recognition of RON. The SECURE Notarization Act builds on ongoing efforts of lawmakers to promote remote transaction options for consumers. Get more information about the Act at alta.org/RON
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act: This bill would create emergency paid sick leave, as well as paid family leave in the case of school closures, for working families impacted by COVID-19. Click here for FAQs.

Watch for Fraud

Cybersecurity researchers have identified a growing number of phishing scams in which fraudsters are using the coronavirus to entice victims. With more employees working remotely, make sure your company is following best practices to protect its data and money.

Financial Help for Small Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration provides several loan for small businesses to utilize when operating their business.


Coronavirus Articles

Recent 2020

Coronavirus is Brewing a Mortgage Crisis
Curbed  |  March 30, 2020
The financial crisis of 2008 was caused by homeowners defaulting on their mortgages en mass thanks to risky loan products that were destined to fail. The bonds those mortgages were bundled into collapsed in value as a result, and it brought the entire financial system down with it.
National News Roundup: U.S. House Won't Meet for a Month, FDA Authorizes Use of Unproven Drugs, Feds Charge Man with Coronavirus Fraud Scheme
The Washington Post  |  March 30, 2020
* Following last week’s passage of the $2 trillion stimulus bill, the House is not expected to meet again until at least April 20, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) said. The break, which comes amid mounting concerns about lawmakers and staff being exposed to the novel coronavirus, matches that planned by the Republican-led Senate. House Democratic leaders have signaled, however, that they will continue work on the legislative response to the pandemic. * The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval to a Trump administration plan to distribute millions of doses of anti-malarial drugs to hospitals across the country, saying it is worth the risk of trying unproven treatments to slow the disease in seriously ill coronavirus patients. There have only been a few, small anecdotal studies that show a possible benefit of the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to relieve the acute respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 and clear the virus from infected patients. * Federal agents arrested a Georgia man Monday on charges he conspired to defraud a federal health program by billing for unnecessary coronavirus testing and other, more expensive medical testing. The case suggests that some traditional fraudsters may be looking for ways to adapt their techniques to profit from the pandemic crisis. “It is unfortunate that we have people in our country who will capitalize on others’ suffering to make a buck,” said Gregory W. Ehrie, head of the FBI’s Newark office. “But this case takes things to a new low. This defendant not only allegedly defrauded the government, he conspired to bilk his fellow citizens of a valuable resource that’s in high demand. His profiteering is akin to receiving blood money.” * World Health Organization officials are cautiously optimistic about initial studies showing certain drug cocktails may lessen COVID-19 symptoms but stressed large-scale research is needed while there remains no cure for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. While preliminary data indicates that some drugs might have an impact on the length or severity of the disease, there is no proven effective therapy or drug against COVID-19.
Johnson & Johnson Says Its Coronavirus Vaccine Could Be Ready Early Next Year
Barrons  |  March 30, 2020
Johnson & Johnson said it could have a COVID-19 vaccine available for emergency use early next year, and it would begin manufacturing the vaccine immediately. Though not a major vaccine maker, Johnson & Johnson was among the first companies to announce a COVID-19 vaccine development program back in January. Now, the company said its program has developed a candidate vaccine and two backup candidates. It plans to begin testing the vaccine in humans in September.
Why Is the U.S. Behind on Coronavirus Testing?
Harvard Business Review  |  March 30, 2020
“Testing is the biggest problem that we’re facing,” Peter Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital, said recently in a roundtable on COVID-19 at Harvard Medical School. While South Korea had tested about 4,000 people per million of its population at the time, the United States had just run five tests per million — despite the fact that they both reported their first cases at essentially the same time (on Jan. 21 and 20). If testing is so valuable, why wasn’t the United States prepared to deploy tests quickly, even before COVID-19 hit the country?
ALTA Discusses How COVID-19 Pandemic is Impacting the Industry
March 30, 2020
With so much uncertainty and information being shared about the impact of the health crisis, ALTA held a townhall/webinar to discuss several important issues and provide reliable information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Sponsored by SoftPro, the discussion provided information on the federal stimulus packages; remote online notarization; recording jurisdiction closures; essential vs. non-essential businesses; ALTA events; and resources.
State News Roundup: Cuomo Makes Plea for Healthcare Workers, Virginia and Maryland Issue Stay-at-Home Orders, Ventilators Heading to New Jersey
March 30, 2020  |  CBS News
* New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on healthcare workers across the country to help with his state's response to the coronavirus pandemic. "I am asking healthcare professionals across the country: if you don't have a healthcare crisis in your community, please come help us in New York now." * Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the pandemic. The order, which is effective immediately, will remain in place until June 10. All residents must stay home unless they are going to work, seeking medical attention, or obtaining groceries or prescriptions. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also issued a stay-at-home order, citing the fast-growing coronavirus outbreak in his state and the region surrounding Washington D.C. "Sadly, the number of deaths here in Maryland has tripled, from 5 to 15, over the weekend," Hogan said. "This virus is spreading rapidly and exponentially." * New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said his state is receiving 300 ventilators from the national stockpile. "Ventilators are our number one need right now. I won't stop fighting for the equipment we need to save every life we can," Murphy tweeted.
CISA: County Recorders ‘Essential’ in Updated Guidance
March 30, 2020
The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) updated its guidance to include government offices that assist title searches and recording services as essential and should remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Real Estate Trade Associations Urge Passage of SECURE Notarization Act
March 30, 2020
The American Land Title Association and 12 other trade associations on Thursday wrote an open letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) expressing their strong support for the inclusion of the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act in the legislative package from Congress intended to address the economic fallout from COVID-19. They noted that the bipartisan legislation (S. 5355, H.R. 6364) introduced by Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) and Madeleine Dean (D-PA) is needed to immediately provide real estate transaction alternatives for consumers. Twenty-three states have already recognized the benefits of remote online notarization (RON) and passed legislation, the trade associations wrote, and current requirements for a signer to physically be in the presence of a Notary are antiquated and unnecessary in a time of heightened awareness and social distancing.
Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidelines Through April 30 to Keep U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Below 100,000
CNBC  |  March 29, 2020
President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the national social distancing guidelines to April 30 in effort to keep the projected coronavirus death toll in the U.S. from reaching a catastrophic, worst-case scenario. “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory has been won,” Trump said at an evening press briefing after suggesting that the coronavirus death rate would likely peak in two weeks. The president claimed Sunday that Easter was just an “aspiration” and he hopes the country will “be well on our way to recovery” by June 1.
Mnuchin Says Small Business Loans Up and Running This Week
Bloomberg  |  March 29, 2020
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he expects to have a small business loan program up and running in the coming week while workers can expect aid from the $2 trillion stimulus package in the form of direct deposits or checks in about three weeks. The administration is focused on getting money out quickly, Mnuchin said. “That’s a combination of small business loans that will be available this week” and checks to households which he called “bridge checks.”
COVID-19 & Cybersecurity: What Companies and Employees Should Know About Remote Working
JD Supra  |  March 29, 2020
The spread of COVID-19 has prompted an enormous shift by organizations to the use and implementation of remote working solutions for a wide range and number of employees. Unfortunately – but perhaps not surprisingly – this shift has provided malicious cyber actors with additional ways to infiltrate remote use networks. The spread of COVID-19 has brought with it a huge surge in data security incidents, as hackers look to exploit new organizational vulnerabilities and distracted and overburdened IT security personnel.
State News Roundup: Swing States Suffer Most from Unemployment Numbers, N.Y. Deaths Top 500, Chicago Closes Iconic Lakefront,
March 27, 2020
* Digging into the disastrous 3.28 million unemployment number reveals a slowdown that hit some states harder than others, and reveals why President Trump might be so eager to see businesses reopen sooner rather than later. Key swing states, which Trump won by the slimmest margins in 2016, showed some of the largest percentage increases in unemployment applications for the week ending March 21. Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania each reported a jump in weekly unemployment applications that surpassed 2,300%. * The number of deaths in New York state related to the coronavirus pandemic has topped 500, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today. Cuomo revealed that the number of COVID-19-linked fatalities jumped dramatically overnight by 134, bringing the current death toll statewide to 519. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is setting up a temporary hospital at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Additionally, Cuomo extended school closures across the state by two weeks to April 15 as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. * As Illinois announced 673 new coronavirus cases Thursday — the biggest spike since daily briefings about the illness began there — Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered Chicago’s iconic lakefront and other high-profile public areas closed off.
Google Promises $800M in Coronavirus Aid to Small Businesses, Other Groups
FOX Business  |  March 27, 2020
Google is pledging more than $800 million to help with the worldwide response to the coronavirus pandemic, including free advertising credits for small businesses, CEO Sundar Pichai announced today. Google committed to providing $250 million in ad grants to help the World Health Organization and more than 100 world government agencies to provide information about preventing the virus’s spread on top of $25 million the company announced last month and $20 million in ad grants for nongovernment organizations and community financial institutions to run public service announcements.
National News Roundup: First Patients Enroll in Coronavirus Treatment Trial, Trump Appears to Back Off Easter Timeline, N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Talks Ventilators
CNN  |  March 27, 2020
* The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday that the first patients enrolled in its Solidarity trial, which will examine potential treatment options for COVID-19, will be based in Norway and Spain. The first patient enrolled in the trial is at the University of Oslo in Norway. "This is a historic trial which will dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work," the WHO's director-general said. "Over 45 countries are contributing to the trial and more have expressed interest. The more countries who join the trial, the faster we will have results." * After repeatedly suggesting that social distancing guidelines could be lifted – at least in some places – in time for Easter Sunday, the Trump administration appears to have backed off that timeline. Several times, President Trump has said there would be “packed churches all over our country" on Easter. The idea was widely criticized and was not supported by any prominent politician or doctor. On Wednesday, Trump’s language softened and by Thursday he did not reference the Easter timeline at all. * New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to President Trump’s tweet that there are thousands of federal government ventilators found in a storage facility in New York and that the state “must distribute now.” “That is incorrect and grossly uninformed," Cuomo said. "The point is, we have ventilators in a stockpile and we didn’t send them to the hospital yet. Of course we didn’t — that’s the whole point. The hospitals don’t need them yet. The hospitals aren’t at their apex. The hospitals have enough ventilators today, but their numbers are going up. We’re planning for an apex, a high point, in about 21 days – that’s when we need the 30,000 ventilators, not today."
House Passes $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill, Trump to Sign Quickly
The Hill  |  March 27, 2020
The House today passed a historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, overcoming 11th-hour hurdles erected by a GOP lawmaker who sent furious lawmakers across the country racing back to Washington, D.C., to move the emergency legislation to President Trump's desk. The enormous package, approved by the Senate late Wednesday night, provides hundreds of billions of dollars for the industries, small businesses, unemployed workers and health care providers hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, which has devastated economies around the world. House Democratic leaders were able to move the package by voice vote, a rarely used procedure allowing a few members to air their objections without forcing the entire chamber to reconvene.
Video: Watch the House of Representatives Vote on the $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Plan
NBC  |  March 27, 2020
Watch video coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives voting on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief plan that passed in the U.S. Senate earlier this week.
New Hot Spots Emerge as U.S. Overtakes China and Italy in Number of Coronavirus Cases
CNN  |  March 27, 2020
New coronavirus hot spots are emerging in the Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans areas -- and health officials there are pleading for medical resources to meet the surges. "We don't have enough masks; we don't have enough gowns; and we need more from the federal government and others." These pleas come as the U.S. just became the nation with the greatest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, overtaking China and Italy. The U.S. has at least 90,700 cases and 1,347 deaths, and several health officials and experts say it's still the beginning.
Several States Issue Emergency RON Orders and Guidance
March 27, 2020
Several more states have issued emergency orders and guidance allowing for the immediate use of remote online notarization as the country continues to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic. Not all of the orders conform with the ALTA-MBA model or RULONA standards for consumer protections and anti-fraud safeguards. Check out ALTA’s Digital Closings resource page for more information and a list of states that have issued emergency RON orders.
Trade Groups Plead for 'Essential Services' Consideration
March 27, 2020
On Thursday, the American Land Title Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of REALTORS and National Association of Home Builders signed an open letter to six organizations working with government leaders requesting they take steps to ensure that financial services and housing sectors can support the critical needs of homeowners and borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They asked that businesses and government agencies supporting the financial services and housing industries as well as home construction, home sales and renovation services be deemed essential services. The organizations also noted that necessary services related to housing include title searches, appraisals, permitting, inspections, housing materials and improvement retailers, moving, as well as the recording, legal, financial and other services needed to complete the sale or construction of housing. With interest rates at or near all time lows, the volume of mortgage refinancing has increased sharply, allowing families to reduce monthly payments and providing billions of dollars of additional disposable income to families in need. Many families also recently have taken advantage of low rates to purchase a home. According to the trade groups, housing and finance are critical infrastructure for these families.
Colorado Companies Offering Drive-thru Closings for Homebuyers due to COVID-19 Concerns
ABC 7 Denver  |  March 26, 2020
Title companies across Colorado are now offering drive-thru closings to homebuyers. They do most of the work over the phone. When the homebuyers show up on closing day, they simply sign the documents from inside their cars. ALTA member Tom Zimmerman with Unified Title Company said they want to keep the community, the company's agents and all their customers safe.
PRIA Issues Best Practices for Recording Queue Management
March 26, 2020
Recognizing that the title and mortgage finance industries depend heavily on the recording jurisdictions’ documentation as essential functions for their businesses and for the consumer, the Property Records Industry Association (PRIA) issued best practices to help recording jurisdictions manage the volume of documents they are receiving.
Fidelity Urges FHFA to Help Keep Recording Jurisdictions Open
March 26, 2020
Fidelity National Financial has requested assistance from the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to help keep recording jurisdictions open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fidelity also asked the FHFA to encourage financial institutions require that all electronic closings and remote online notarizations follow standards set by Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization.
National News Roundup: U.S. Death Toll Hits 1,000, Jobless Claims Shatter Record, Trump Administration Developing New Social Distancing Guidelines
The Washington Post  |  March 26, 2020
* The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has hit 1,000 and is increasing at an alarming rate. New patterns have emerged in the spread of the virus, according to analysis by The Washington Post . Most who have died are older than 70, but the virus also is hospitalizing and killing younger Americans. Most victims are men, and most also had underlying health conditions. * The Labor Department’s weekly tally of 3.3 million jobless claims shattered the old U.S. record of 695,000, set in 1982. Of the “widespread carnage,” a University of Chicago economist warned: “It’s going to get worse.” * President Trump sent a letter to the country’s governors advising them that his administration is developing “new guidelines” that can be used at the state and local level for determining the type of social-distancing measures to be put in place amid the coronavirus pandemic. The guidelines will categorize each county in the country as low-risk, medium-risk or high-risk, Trump said. * Following a video chat summit on Thursday, the Group of 20 said it will inject $5 trillion into the global economy, as the world grapples with economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
State News Roundup: Texas Eases Requirements for Title Agents, Next Epicenter Likely New Orleans, Ohio Residents Ask Governor How to Help
March 26, 2020
* The Texas Land Title Association has been working with the Texas Department of Insurance to temporarily relax requirements and help title agents cope with COVID-19. Escrow modifications include a single escrow officer signature is allowed on checks and the annual escrow audit deadline has been extended 45 days and may be submitted electronically. Certain licensing requirements for insurance agents have been extended or waived, while some deadlines also have been extended for underwriter financial filings. Click here for more information. * New Orleans is likely the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Tulane Medical Center's critical care physician Dr. Joshua Denson said. To date, there are almost 70,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States with over 1,000 deaths. Louisiana lays claim to over 1,700 of those cases, with 65 deaths reported. Denson said the duration of the disease is the doctors' main concern. Watch Denson's interview on FOX News. * Although Ohio had 867 confirmed cases on Thursday with 223 hospitalizations and 15 deaths, residents are still looking for ways to help. In a tweet, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said, "So many of you have contacted us wanting to help -- we've created a way for you to contact us and take advantage of your generosity. Email us at together@governor.ohio.gov #InThisTogetherOhio" Gov. DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton provide a live update on the pandemic every day. Click here for more information.
What Every Title Agent Needs to Know About the Latest COVID-19 Stimulus Package
March 26, 2020
The House on March 27 passed the historic $2 trillion stimulus package the Senate passed earlier this week to help companies and workers affected by the shutdown of business due to COVID-19. The bill is designed to offer relief to individuals, the health-care system and businesses that saw their revenue dramatically decline since the pandemic hit the United States. Read on for five things every title professional needs to know about the stimulus and how it can help them and their employees.
Here's What's in the $2 Trillion Stimulus Package — and What's Next
Politico  |  March 26, 2020
The biggest economic stimulus in American history is hurtling toward passage, but Washington’s colossal intervention to save the economy still chooses winners and losers among businesses and American workers. The measure includes expanded worker protections Democrats demanded along with the $500 billion rescue fund Republicans pushed for to help beleaguered U.S. industries. Many Americans will get checks of $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples. The hospital industry is getting what it asked for — $100 billion in rescue funds. But the oil industry is getting nothing — and neither are the Postal Service and cruise companies.
FBI: Fraud Schemes on the Rise Amid Virus Outbreak
WWMT West Michigan  |  March 26, 2020
FBI representatives say fraud schemes are on the rise during the COVID-19 outbreak. Extra precautions should be taken before: * Clicking on links that say they provide information about the virus * Donating to a charity online or through social media * Contributing to a crowdfunding campaign * Purchasing products online * Giving personal information in exchange for money or benefits
Communicating in the Age of Coronavirus: How to Effectively Talk With Employees
AZ Big Media  |  March 26, 2020
Even when times are good, companies often pour money and energy into communicating with customers before their own employees. This is one of the best ways to erode credibility and trust among your workforce. Employees are companies’ best advocates and can help navigate storms when armed with timely and accurate information. Failing to have an internal communications plan for discussing could inflict brand damage. Ensure employees are one of your top priorities during these times by considering the following steps.
Senate Rushes to Approve $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill After Landmark Agreement with White House
The Washington Post  |  March 25, 2020
The Senate on Wednesday evening rushed to pass a $2.2 trillion emergency relief package that was designed to flood the U.S. economy with money, as households and businesses continue to reel from the coronavirus outbreak. But shortly after announcing the deal, Senate leaders struggled to fend off a number of last-minute snags, and they encountered various hurdles as they tried to write the bill’s fine print.
OLTA Scores Legislative Victory to Conduct Business
Ohio Land Title Association  |  March 25, 2020
The Ohio Senate this morning approved an amendment to House Bill 197, which would require county offices critical to conducting title searches and recording documents stay open while Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's "Stay-At-Home Order" is in effect. The Ohio House of Representatives is expected to concur with the Senate amendments today; the amendments then will proceed to Gov. DeWine for his signature. To read the full amendment, click here:
Treasury Comments on Essential Financial Services Workers
U.S Department of the Treasury  |  March 25, 2020
“I strongly support the Department of Homeland Security’s recent guidance identifying financial services sector workers as essential critical infrastructure workers during the COVID-19 response emergency," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said. “The financial services sector is identified as a Critical Infrastructure Sector by the Department of Homeland Security. The Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce for the financial services sector includes workers who are needed to process (and maintain systems for processing) financial transactions and services, such as payment, clearing, and settlement services, wholesale funding, insurance services, and capital markets activities." For Mnuchin's full statement, read on:
State News Roundup: How States are Responding to Coronavirus
Politico  |  March 25, 2020
* States have enacted a wide range of policies in an effort to "flatten the curve" and address the economic effects of the novel coronavirus. While all 50 states have declared states of emergency, giving governors emergency powers, the policy response from states has been wide-ranging. * California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin have initiated the most comprehensive policies. They've closed all bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery, banned all gatherings, ordered mandatory statewide quarantine, closed all nonessential businesses, and closed all schools. * Mississippi and Oklahoma are on the other end of the spectrum. Neither has instituted social restrictions outside closing schools. * Check out all 50 states' responses to mandatory quarantines, large gathering bans, bar and restaurant limits and whether free vaccinations will be made available:
National News Roundup: Coronavirus Cases Climbing, Global Response too Late, 10k National Guard Members Activated
CNN  |  March 25, 2020
* At least 11 states have reported over 100 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, according to updates from each state's Department of Health or state officials. At the top of the list is New York, which added more than 5,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. * The world should have responded to the coronavirus pandemic a month or two ago, the World Health Organization director-general said. He added that health officials still believe there are opportunities to fight the virus. * There are now more than 10,700 National Guard members activated around the United States as part of the coronavirus response. The National Guard is helping to deliver food to hard-hit communities, supporting local emergency management agencies with response and providing transportation and assessment support to healthcare. * The World Health Organization is warning that opening schools and businesses too early could cause a resurgence of coronavirus. Asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement is buying time and reducing the pressure on health systems. But on their own, these measures will not extinguish epidemics, the WHO director-general said.
Real Estate Billionaire: $3 Trillion Commercial Mortgage Market on Brink of Collapse
Crain's Chicago Business  |  March 25, 2020
The U.S. commercial-mortgage market is on the brink of collapse, according to real estate investor Tom Barrack. He has predicted a “domino effect” of catastrophic economic consequences if banks and government don’t take prompt action to keep borrowers from defaulting. His warning includes a chain reaction of margin calls, mass foreclosures, evictions and, potentially, bank failures because of the coronavirus pandemic and consequent shutdown of much of the U.S. economy.
Infographic Summary of COVID-19 Phase-three Stimulus
March 25, 2020
Check out this guide to the major components of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed by the Senate.
Washington Governor Orders RON to go Into Effect March 27
March 25, 2020
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington’s governor issued a proclamation allowing the state’s remote online notarization legislation to go in effect March 27. The order suspends the effective date of the legislation through April 26. The legislation had specified the legislation would go into effect Oct. 1. 2020.
New Coronavirus Addendum Will Allow Buyers, Sellers to Cancel Texas Housing Contracts
Houston Chronicle  |  March 25, 2020
The Texas Association of Realtors has created an addendum to the standard home purchase agreement to handle challenges around buying and selling homes during the coronavirus crisis, in some cases allowing buyers or sellers to walk away from a transaction. The so-called COVID-19 Addendum is meant to allow flexibility while parties involved in real estate transactions may be quarantined or their businesses shut down temporarily. Unfortunately, when a contract is cancelled, work performed to start the title process also will be cancelled, resulting in title agents not being paid for work performed.
How to Manage Your Newly Remote Workforce
Associations Now  |  March 25, 2020
Suddenly, much of the workforce is teleworking. Due to COVID-19, working from home is the new normal now. Given the urgency of the public health crisis, companies who didn’t have remote working in place had little time to institute policies for staff, ensure proper technology, or set up training. Here are three ways to manage a newly remote workforce:
Mortgage Closings at Risk as Coronavirus Shutters Recording Offices
CNBC  |  March 25, 2020
In an effort to get the whole system moving, Sens. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Mark Warner, D-Va., introduced the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020. Supported by ALTA, the bill permits immediate nationwide use of remote online notarizations.
Many Businesses Must Offer Paid Leave Under Coronavirus Relief Law
March 24, 2020
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which goes into effect no later than April 2 and will continue through Dec. 31, 2020, provides paid emergency family leave in limited circumstances, as well as paid sick leave for people affected by COVID-19. In general, the emergency paid-leave provisions in the legislation apply to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but there may be some exceptions available for small businesses. Roughly two-thirds of ALTA’s membership is considered small business.
Companion of ALTA-supported RON Bill Introduced in House
March 24, 2020
Less than a week after being introduced in the Senate, a companion of the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) and Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.).
Deal is Close on Coronavirus Stimulus Package
NBC News  |  March 24, 2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared to be nearing a deal Tuesday on a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package to help American workers and businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. New additions to the package include full salaries for four months for any worker losing their job during the pandemic and at least $100 billion in assistance for hospitals in the form of loans, grants and other mechanisms.
National News Roundup: Millions More Staying Home, UK Reports Highest Daily Deaths, Steep Fines Face Those Who Defy Lockdowns
NBC News  |  March 24, 2020
* More American states have gone under lockdown, with Louisiana, New Mexico, Washington and West Virginia issuing stay-at-home orders. The United Kingdom also has gone into a three-week national lockdown as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tries to stem the spread of coronavirus. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered a 21-day lockdown of the country, which includes some 1.3 billion people. * The number of coronavirus deaths in the United Kingdom has risen by 87 in the past 24 hours, according to the country's Department of Health. There are now 422 patients who have died from coronavirus and 8,077 confirmed cases. * As millions of people are locked down in their homes around the world, governments are hoping steep fines will also help to stop those who are breaking quarantine rules. In Saudi Arabia, violators will be fined 10,000 Saudi riyal ($2,777), which will be doubled for a second violation; Italy is considering raising the fines for violation of the nationwide lockdown to 3,000 euros ($3,246); and in Israel, police are fining those breaking the quarantine 5,000 shekels ($1,365). * After growing international pressure, Japan and the International Olympic Committee officially have agreed to postpone the 2020 Tokyo games until next year, but said they would happen no later than summer 2021. * Lady Gaga announced that she would delay the release of her sixth studio album "Chromatica." In a post on Twitter and Instagram, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning singer wrote that she didn't feel right releasing an album "with all that is going on during this global pandemic."
State News Roundup: Confirmed Cases and Deaths, Actions Mitigating Disease Spread, Health Policy Actions
Kaiser Family Foundation  |  March 24, 2020
Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, controlling the spread of the virus has required aggressive action from state and federal governments to ensure access to testing for those who need it and treatment for those who contract the disease. To date, states have taken a number of actions to mitigate the spread of the virus and reduce barriers to testing and treatment for those affected. The following evolving, up-to-date tools break down data by state, providing the number of coronavirus cases and deaths as well as actions taken to mitigate the spread of the disease, health policy actions and more.
People out of Work due to the Coronavirus are Coming up With Creative Ways to Make Money Online
BuzzFeed  |  March 24, 2020
Individuals affected by the restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic are finding new and creative ways to virtually make money these days. Fitness instructors are streaming their classes online for donations, beauticians are offering video consultations, and writers are selling personalized pieces of work. Read more about these people trying to make the most of a new, stressful, and unpredictable reality:
Fannie Mae Guidance on Acceptance of Remote Online Notarization
March 24, 2020
To address several industry questions and concerns, Fannie Mae has issued a lender letter that provides information on various topics including electronic signature requirements and title insurance. The letter refers lenders to Fannie Mae’s Seller Guide, which specifies that it accepts loans where documents have been electronically notarized, either in person or remotely using real-time, two-way audio/video communication. ALTA is working with the government sponsored entities to get more guidance about the types remote online notarization transactions that will be accepted.
Treatments for COVID-19: Drugs Being Tested Against the Coronavirus
LiveScience  |  March 24, 2020
The world is now desperate to find ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus and find effective treatments. As of March 20, 86 clinical trials of COVID-19 treatments or vaccines are either ongoing or recruiting patients. New ones are being added every day, as the case count in the U.S. (and globally) skyrockets. The drugs being tested range from repurposed flu treatments to failed ebola drugs, to malaria treatments that were first developed decades ago. Check out several of the treatments that doctors hope will help fight COVID-19:
Zillow Suspends Home Buying due to COVID-19
TechCrunch  |  March 24, 2020
Zillow said Monday it will temporarily stop buying homes in all 24 markets where it operates in response to public health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest real estate startup to shift how it operates as the disease caused by coronavirus continues to spread. Zillow follows action from other real estate startups such as Opendoor and Redfin to temporarily pause making offers on homes.
New Law Provides Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Fenwick & West  |  March 24, 2020
U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) into law. The law is set to take effect no later than April 2 and will continue to Dec. 31, 2020. The act compels employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid family leave to employees with 30 days or more of tenure, who are unable to work or telework because of childcare needs triggered by COVID-19. It also calls for paid sick leave to all employees, regardless of tenure, who are unable to work because of government shelter-in-place orders, COVID-19-related illness and several other circumstances triggered by the pandemic.
FaceTime, Skype Options Unsecure for Digital Closings
March 24, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing, several states have issued executive orders allowing for the immediate use of remote online notarization. However, some orders allow the use of public-facing options such as FaceTime and Skype to facilitate the transaction. ALTA has identified several issues--including the lack of security to protect against fraud--with using these types of platforms.
All Of The Housing Market's Emergency COVID-19 Changes
Mortgage News Daily  |  March 24, 2020
Right now, it feels like everything is changing - even our industry. Following is an evolving, up-to-date list of coronavirus-related changes to underwriting guidelines, forbearances, etc. The changes come at the direction of FHFA and, therefore, are substantially similar for both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Check out this article for a list of underwriting guidelines changes, help for homeowners and renters, temporary appraisal flexibilities and much more.
More States Order Residents to Stay Home or Shelter in Place
USA Today  |  March 23, 2020
States and counties across the nation are cracking down on residents' movements amid the continued spread of the coronavirus, to the point more than 100 million Americans have been ordered to stay home. While some officials are instituting "shelter-in-place" orders, others are calling their directives "stay-at-home" orders. The directives differ by location but generally require residents to avoid all nonessential outings and stay inside as much as possible. As of Monday, here's a look at the latest orders for people to avoid leaving home:
Coronavirus Complicates Home Buying and Mortgage Refinancing
The New York Times  |  March 23, 2020
The coronavirus has snarled many spring home-buying plans, as apartment buildings ban open houses, real estate agents shutter brokerages and quarantines make it tough to even step outside. Now, another obstacle: The closure of government recording offices, as all nonessential employees in New York and other states have been told to stay home. All told, as of Friday, about 1,000 of the country’s 3,600 recording offices had shut down or curtailed their hours, according to the American Land Title Association. a human being ultimately has to process those filings, known as e-recordings, “so if no one’s there, the pipeline is still blocked at the end,” said Steve Gottheim, senior counsel with ALTA, which is urging officials to leave at least skeleton crews in the offices. For a complete list of county office closures, visit alta.org/coronavirus.
Partisan Outrage Erupts in the Senate as Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Fails for a Second Time
NBC News  |  March 23, 2020
Partisan tensions erupted on Monday afternoon as the Senate failed for a second time to advance a massive stimulus package to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with lawmakers accusing the other party of holding up negotiations. Democrats and Republicans had negotiated "furiously" to make progress on the bill, but the legislation now includes a number of changes requested by Democrats.
National News Roundup: 13k American Stranded Abroad, Pentagon Deploying Field Hospitals, House Members Ask for Remote Voting
USA Today  |  March 23, 2020
* The State Department is tracking at least 13,500 Americans who are stranded abroad and need U.S. help getting back to the United States. The State Department has already brought about 5,000 Americans home from 17 countries, and officials are hoping to bring another 1,600 U.S. citizens back this week from countries across the globe. * The Pentagon plans to deploy field hospitals to New York and Seattle later this week to help those cities deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The Army’s largest field hospitals can accommodate 248 beds. More of the mobile facilities will be offered in coming weeks. * Dozens of House lawmakers are calling on House leaders to adopt a temporary rule that allows remote voting by members during national emergencies, such as the current coronavirus crisis. The request to the Rules Committee, which is examining the issue, comes a day after Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul’s announcement that he tested positive for COVID-19 rattled the Senate. Nearly three dozen congressional lawmakers have announced steps to self-quarantine, or otherwise isolate themselves as a precaution.
FHFA Directs GSEs to Grant Flexibilities for Appraisal and Employment Verifications
Federal Housing Finance Agency  |  March 23, 2020
To facilitate liquidity in the mortgage market during the coronavirus national emergency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide alternative flexibilities to satisfy appraisal requirements and employment verification requirements through May 17. To allow for homes to be bought, sold and refinanced as our nation deals with the challenges of the coronavirus, the GSEs will leverage appraisal alternatives to reduce the need for appraisers to inspect the interior of a home for eligible mortgages.
ALTA Advocacy Update
March 23, 2020
The fast-moving COVID-19 crisis is creating a lot of uncertainty for the economy, public policy and the title and settlement industry. I hope you are healthy, safe and practicing social distancing with your loved ones. Read on for the latest Advocacy Update from ALTA CEO Diane Tomb.
2020 Tokyo Olympics Will Be Postponed Due to Coronavirus
Bleacher Report  |  March 23, 2020
The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, likely until 2021, said International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound. However, the International Olympic Committee also issued a statement saying it planned to wait before making a final call: "The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive." Apparently, the final call will be a game-time decision.
FHFA Authorizes GSEs to Support Additional Liquidity in the Secondary Mortgage Market
Federal Housing Finance Agency  |  March 23, 2020
To help support immediate needs for liquidity in the secondary mortgage market, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has authorized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to enter into additional dollar roll transactions. (Dollar roll transactions provide mortgage-backed securities investors with short-term financing of their positions, providing liquidity to these investors.) Eligible collateral is limited to FHFA mortgage-backed securities and the transactions must be undertaken via an auction or similar mechanism to ensure they occur at a fair market price. Today's announcement is the latest action the FHFA has taken to ensure the GSEs fulfill their mission of providing market liquidity during the coronavirus national emergency.
U.S. Attorney's Office in Illinois Appoints Chicago Federal Prosecutor to Fight COVID-19 Fraud
ABC 7 Chicago  |  March 23, 2020
The U.S. Attorney's office in Illinois appointed a federal prosecutor Friday to focus on fraud related to COVID-19 scams. John R. Lausch, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, has appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Tyler Murray, Chief of the office's Financial Crimes Section, to serve as the COVID-19 Fraud Coordinator, the U.S. Attorney's office said. Murray will coordinate and lead investigations and prosecutions of those who attempt to take advantage of people during this time of crisis, prosecutors said. The office offered these tips to avoid scammers:
Coronavirus Keeping You From Touring Homes for Sale? Stay in the Hunt with Live Video-Chat Tours
Redfin  |  March 23, 2020
It’s difficult being a homebuyer these days. Buying a house is already tricky, but add on a global pandemic that’s closing stores and locking down countries, you probably feel like it’s impossible to move forward with buying a home – let alone touring one. Luckily, your house hunting doesn’t have to stop. With live video-chat tours, a Redfin Agent will take you on a live virtual tour of a home you want to see while giving you an in-person perspective.
How UPS is Responding to the Coronavirus
March 23, 2020
UPS is closely monitoring the impact of the Coronavirus and we want to make sure you are kept up-to-date on what they are doing to keep members and customers like you safe while continuing to deliver around the world. Read on for info on what to expect.
Title and Settlement Considered ‘Essential’ Under Shelter-in-place Orders
March 23, 2020
The stay-at-home orders several states have issued follow guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and only permit “essential businesses” to remain open. According to the guidance, businesses in the title and settlement industry are considered “essential.” United States Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin also issued a memo on March 22 that reinforces the fact that settlement and insurance services are considered "essential." ALTA and several state land title associations have requested that county recorders and register of deeds be considered "essential."
Ohio's Shelter in Place Order: What Businesses are Considered 'Essential?'
WCPO-Cincinnati  |  March 22, 2020
On Sunday afternoon, Governor Mike DeWine ordered an official "shelter in place" for the state of Ohio, effectively closing what his order said are "nonessential businesses." Title companies are considered "essential," according to the order. The order is set to go into effect at midnight Monday night and last until April 6.
N.Y. Governor Allows Immediate Use of Remote Online Notarizations Following Statewide Lockdown
March 20, 2020
As the country continues to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered a statewide lockdown in response to the national crisis. Following the announcement, the governor issued an executive order allowing the immediate use of remote online notarization. Read on for some of the industry's concerns about what New York will allow.
COVID-19 and Insurance
National Association of Insurance Commissioners  |  March 20, 2020
COVID-19, commonly known as Coronavirus, has the potential to impact various sectors of the insurance industry. The NAIC has created a new brief specifically to help people understand those potential impacts on Heath, Travel, Life, Business Interruption, Event Cancelation, Workers’ Compensation, General Business Liability, and Directors and Officers Insurance, as well as Annuities. As with all insurance policies, consumers should review their policy documents and seek guidance from their agent/broker or local department of insurance, though the NAIC hopes this list of possibly impacted common policy types assists consumers, legislators and business people in understanding the impacts of COVID-19.
National News Roundup: U.S. and Mexico Agree to Border Closure, 2,600 U.S. Troops in Self-isolation, NY is Closed for Business
March 20, 2020  |  The Washington Post
* The United States and Mexico have reached an agreement for a partial closure of the border, according to U.S and Mexican officials. Not a total closure, it will be restricted to tourism and recreation. Mexico will continue accepting asylum seekers sent back under the Migrant Protection Protocols, along with Mexican deportees. But the closure will not allow the United States to return all migrants who cross the border illegally to Mexican territory. * About 2,600 U.S. troops stationed in Europe are under self-isolation to due to potential exposure to coronavirus, with 35 service members testing positive for the virus. Meanwhile, the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq suspended training for Iraqi security forces — the linchpin of the strategy to defeat remnants of the Islamic State — and sped withdrawal of forces from smaller bases due to coronavirus concerns. * All New York workers are prohibited from reporting to their workplace in person, with the exception of people who perform essential services, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said. The policy, to be formalized via executive order, will take effect Sunday evening and will be backed by the force of law.
State News Roundup: States Expand Unemployment Eligibility, Target Hikes Pay, International Paper CEO Talks TP
CNBC  |  March 20, 2020
* President Donald Trump signed a $100 billion coronavirus relief package into law Wednesday, which will provide free COVID-19 testing and expand paid leave and unemployment insurance to Americans impacted by the pandemic. Meanwhile, states, which administer unemployment programs, have been granted greater flexibility in determining who qualifies for unemployment insurance benefits. * The company that owns the New York Stock Exchange and other equity marketplaces defended stock sales of millions of dollars of shares by its CEO and his U.S. senator wife after she received a private Congressional briefing about the coronavirus outbreak. * Target is temporarily increasing employees’ wages by $2 an hour and giving bonuses of up to $1,500 to thousands of employees as the retailer experiences a surge in shopping during the coronavirus outbreak. The Minneapolis-based retailer said all employees at stores and distribution centers will get a pay increase until at least May 2. * The shelves of some stores may not have toilet paper and diapers, but the products are weaving through the supply chain, International Paper CEO Mark Sutton said. He noted that while there are plenty of diapers and toilet paper to purchase, “it’s just got to get the velocity through the system, through the distribution centers and directly to the consumers.” * Over half of Americans say that the coronavirus outbreak has already negatively affected their household income, according to a new TransUnion poll. About 45% say at the very least, their work hours have been reduced. That’s leading to some financial shortfalls. Nearly three out of four Americans are concerned about paying their bills and making good on loans,
The U.S. has Reported 213 Coronavirus Deaths, and More Than 16,000 Cases Across all 50 States. Here's What We Know About the U.S. Patients.
Business Insider  |  March 20, 2020
The U.S. has reported 213 deaths from the coronavirus as of March 20. The country's case tally is at least 16,026, with patients reported in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The illness has also spread to Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Check out this graph to get a comprehensive picture of where the virus is spreading in the U.S.
Wuhan Study Offers New Insight Into Fatality Rate of Coronavirus
NBC  |  March 20, 2020
About 1.4 percent of people in Wuhan, China, who became ill with the coronavirus died, according to a study published in the journal Nature. The finding is consistent with a study from last month which also found the case fatality rate — or the number of deaths divided by the number of diagnosed cases — to be 1.4 percent, based on statistics across China. The new paper focuses specifically on the city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated. The death rate is much higher than that of the influenza, which infects millions of people each year but only kills about 0.1 percent of those who get it.
Walmart, Dollar Tree and 7-Eleven Want to Hire Nearly 200,000 Workers as the Coronavirus Pandemic Continues
CNN  |  March 20, 2020
Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, plans to hire 150,000 temporary workers by the end of May as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep through the country. The company said it is hiring the associates to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers to help meet the crush of demand. The company said it plans to expedite the application time from two weeks to 24 hours. Dollar Tree, which also owns Family Dollar, said it's hiring 25,000 full- and part-time workers for its 15,000 U.S. stores and 24 distribution centers. The company is looking to hire cashiers and stockers at its retail stores and fillers and equipment operators at its distribution centers.
In Two Weeks, the Future of College has Become Uncertain, Thanks to Coronavirus
USA Today  |  March 20, 2020
In the span of roughly two weeks, the American higher education system has transformed. Its future is increasingly uncertain. Most classes are now being held online, often for the rest of the semester. Dorms are emptying across the country. Some universities are even postponing or canceling graduation ceremonies scheduled months out. This is all the more surprising given most universities have a reputation for being reticent to change, especially in a short amount of time. The coronavirus has changed all that. Colleges have tried to react quickly to enact measures that would help to stop the virus' spread. All of those changes could threaten colleges' existence, especially as many were already in the red.
Podcast: Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction
March 20, 2020
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosts a daily free podcast, providing the latest news on COVID-19. He makes sense of the headlines, speaks with other experts and give you all the information you need to stay safe and healthy. The latest topics include life in lockdown, coping in times of uncertainty and a look at what coronavirus patients are going through. Follow here or subscribe wherever you get your favorite podcasts.
State Associations Ask County Auditors, Recorders to Remain Open
March 19, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the United State, closures and shutdowns have adversely affected the title and settlement services industry nationwide. Because many county offices have closed, title and settlement professionals cannot conduct title searches or record documents. Several state land title and other associations have submitted letters requesting offices of county recorders, registers of deeds and auditors remain open to facilitate the conveyance of property or the refinance of mortgages.
Mnuchin Confirms Plan for $1,000 Cash Payments to all Americans
The Hill  |  March 19, 2020
The White House's coronavirus stimulus plan could see every American get two $1,000 checks from the government within nine weeks, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said today. The $1 trillion package the White House and Senate Republicans plan on presenting would provide every adult American with a $1,000 check, plus another $500 for each child. A family with two parents and two children, for example, would get $3,000.
U.S. Government is Preparing for the Possibility of a Coronavirus Pandemic that Could Last up to 18 Months
CNN  |  March 19, 2020
The federal government is preparing for the possibility the coronavirus pandemic could last up to 18 months or longer and "include multiple waves of illness," a report obtained by CNN shows, as the number of the cases in the United States surpassed 10,000. While the document does not say the Trump administration believes the pandemic will last that long, it indicates officials have to assume a longer timeline to ensure preparedness. The plan also outlines the risks posed by a shortage of medical equipment -- an issue hospitals are already dealing with as the outbreak in the United States shows no signs of slowing.
National News Roundup: U.S. Jobless Claims, Federal Relief Packages, Confirmed U.S. COVID-19 Cases and Schwarzenegger's Odd PSAs
Vox  |  March 19, 2020
* The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday that jobless claims jumped to 281,000 for the week ending March 14, up 33 percent from the previous week. * The Trump administration and Congress are trying to offer some relief. The question is what form it will take. According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration has outlined a $1 trillion stimulus plan that would include up to $500 billion in cash payments to Americans. However, the package in some form should pass quickly. * The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has tipped past 9,400, with the number only expected to increase as more and more testing takes place. More than 140 people have died. The Chinese government says it has had no new cases of local coronavirus transmission. * Need some distraction? Check out former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's wild Twitter PSAs urging people to stay home. One includes a mini-horse and donkey while another features Schwarzenegger in a hot tub with a cigar.
State News Roundup: Governors Take the Lead, School's Out for Summer, Docs can Practice Across State Lines
BGR Group  |  March 19, 2020
* Since the coronavirus began spreading, governors have taken a lead role in issuing strict guidelines and warnings, asserting themselves in ways that highlighted the initial inaction from the White House. With polls showing that far more Americans have confidence in their state governments to address the virus than they do in President Trump, the contagion has elevated this class of veteran political leaders. * Schools in California, Kansas, Florida and Ohio either have closed or likely will close for the remainder of the school year, according to their respective governors. Meanwhile, other states are still confused about the CDC's guidelines in regard to necessary school closings. * According to Vice President Pence, the federal government will now allow physicians and other medical personnel to practice across state lines to battle the coronavirus outbreak.
The First U.S. Company Has Announced an Upcoming Home COVID-19 Test
TIME  |  March 19, 2020
Everlywell, a home testing company that offers dozens of lab tests to consumers, is adding a COVID-19 test beginning on March 23. Though other private companies have been involved with creating tests for COVID-19, this is the first company to offer its test directly to consumers. People can order the Everlywell COVID-19 test on the company’s website for $135, after first answering questions about and a doctor's review of their basic health, symptoms and risk factors for the coronavirus.
Two Generic Drugs Being Tested in U.S. in Race to Find Coronavirus Treatments
Reuters  |  March 19, 2020
U.S. researchers, following the lead of scientists in other countries, have launched studies to see whether widely-available, low-cost generic drugs can be used to help treat the illness caused by the new coronavirus. There are currently no vaccines or treatments for the highly-contagious COVID-19 respiratory illness, so patients can only receive supportive care for now. But a 1,500-person trial, led by the University of Minnesota, began this week to see whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of COVID-19. Two other trials are studying the blood pressure drug losartan as a possible treatment for the disease.
Senators Introduce ALTA-supported Federal RON Bill
March 19, 2020
U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced on Wednesday the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020, which permits immediate nationwide use of remote online notarization (RON) with minimum standards and provide certainty for the interstate recognition of RON. While RON won’t be available for every transaction, it does provide another closing option in some circumstances. “With the need for social distancing to help prevent the spread of the virus, we want to provide options to consumers to close their transaction remotely nationwide,” said Diane Tomb, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “The strong standards in this bill are important to prevent fraud and offer consumers a more secure alternative rather than FaceTime or Skype when buying property or refinancing a mortgage.”
Five Essential Tools for Your Remote Toolkit
Associations Now  |  March 19, 2020
If you’re new to working remotely, or even if you’re a regular teleworker, you may not know all the tools and hacks that can make virtual work a little simpler. These tools can boost your productivity, make conference calls more bearable, and even improve communication with your team. Here are a few you may want to try.
Webinar: Conducting Business in Uncertain Times
The Title Report  |  March 19, 2020
Keeping your employees and clients safe and businesses thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic can be difficult. October Research is hosting three experts in the title industry as they discuss how to operate in the current constantly changing environment. Learn how to manage recording office and courthouse closures, maintain cybersecurity standards, prepare for an uncertain future and much more at 2 p.m. ET on April 1.
ALTA COVID-19 Update
March 18, 2020
HUD, Fannie, Freddie Suspend Foreclosures, Evictions During Outbreak
Politico  |  March 18, 2020
The Department of Housing and Urban Development will be suspending foreclosures and evictions for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration until the end of April, President Donald Trump announced today. A HUD source familiar with the stop said the suspension would protect 8.1 million households.
State News Roundup: Primary Havoc, IT Supply Strain and ICE Agents' Arrests
BGR Group  |  March 18, 2020
The coronavirus attacked Tuesday's primaries as Illinois and Florida saw low voter turnout while Ohio decided to postpone altogether. Other issues included a shortage of election judges, failures to comply with sanitary guidelines and no-show poll workers. While tens of thousands of employees in multiple states have been told they can work remotely to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, the sudden surge of teleworkers is guaranteed to strain IT resources. West Virginia recently confirmed its first coronavirus case, and a recent study suggests the state may have the highest at-risk population in the nation. A study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 51 percent of West Virginia adults ages 18+ would be at a higher risk of serious illness if infected with COVID-19. Finally, with safety measures taken across California, immigrant advocates have criticized ICE for its continued enforcement operations. More than 45 organizations signed a letter calling on the Department of Homeland Security to suspend such actions. ICE said it would take precautions, given the new reality, but the arrests would go on.
National News Roundup: U.S. Coronavirus Cases, a Stimulus Plan and the Canadian Border
The Washington Post  |  March 18, 2020
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have confirmed coronavirus cases. More than 110 people infected with the virus have died in the United States, a toll that experts expect to rise quickly. The federal coronavirus plan aims to send $2,000 to many Americans and includes $300 billion for small businesses. The United States and Canada have agreed to close their 5,500-mile border to “all nonessential travel” as the deadly coronavirus outbreak continues to spread. The news comes as countries around the world adopt increasingly strict quarantine measures, and experts are warning that life worldwide will be severely disrupted for many months. According to data collected by John Hopkins University, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have topped 200,000 worldwide. Meanwhile, China — the original epicenter of the crisis — is reporting very few new cases.
Senate to Pass Coronavirus Package as Treasury Proposes Emergency Checks Starting April 6
Politico  |  March 18, 2020
The Senate is expected to pass a multi-billion dollar emergency aid package today to confront the economic impacts of the coronavirus, as the Treasury Department calls for $250 billion in direct payments to Americans starting April 6. The Senate’s approval of the House-passed coronavirus bill paves the way for negotiations on a third, even larger stimulus package to address the pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated his support for the House package and vowed to address any “imperfections” in the Senate’s subsequent bill — which McConnell promised to craft at “warp speed.”
U.S. Coronavirus Cases Soar Past 7,000 as Doctors say Hospitals Aren't Prepared for a Continuing Surge
CNN  |  March 18, 2020
The American healthcare system might not be prepared for what's next in the coronavirus pandemic if people don't heed warnings from authorities, health officials say. Every state now has coronavirus after West Virginia reported its first case. Nationwide, more than 7,000 people have been infected, and more than 110 have died. Two major factors are fueling this pandemic: the fact that people with no symptoms can easily spread the virus, and problems with testing in the U.S. That's why it's critical for everyone -- even those who don't feel sick -- to stay at least 6 ft away from others and avoid social gatherings.
Checks from the Government
Federal Trade Commission  |  March 18, 2020
As the coronavirus takes a growing toll on people’s pocketbooks, there are reports that the government will soon be sending money by check or direct deposit to each of us. The details are still being worked out, but there are a few really important things to know, no matter what this looks like. Be on the lookout for scammers! Read more to see what the federal government will and won’t do.
Amazon Tells Suppliers it Won't Accept New Shipments of Nonessential Items Until April 5
AdAge  |  March 18, 2020
Amazon is taking drastic steps to prioritize delivery of essential items while pausing shipments of non-essential products to its warehouses as it tries to manage its supply chain strained by coronavirus-related demand. Amazon will still deliver products purchased by consumers for any category that is in stock. It has just asked sellers and retailers not to ship more nonessential items to its warehouses until at least April 5.
Webinar: What Financial Institutions Need to Do Now as a Result of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Ballard Spahr LLP  |  March 18, 2020
As the coronavirus hits its peak in the U.S., financial institutions are increasingly concerned about how to prepare for its impact on customers and operations, as well as regulators’ expectations for handling the mounting crisis. Regulators have issued preliminary guidance, but the short-term and long-range impacts of the coronavirus on the financial services industry are just beginning to be understood. Join Ballard Spahr LLP for a discussion of consumer financial protection and safety and soundness topics from 12-1:30 p.m. ET on March 25.
Track Reported Cases of COVID-19
March 17, 2020
Johns Hopkins University created this interactive map to track cases of the virus around the world.
ALTA, Industry Partners Develop Draft Bill to Permit RON Nationwide
March 17, 2020
ALTA—along with the MBA, NAR, vendors and notarial experts—have developed The Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 (SECURE Notarization Act), which would permit immediate nationwide use of remote online notary (RON) with minimum standards and provide certainty for the interstate recognition of RON.
Congress Working on Paid Leave Bill for Those Affected by COVID-19
March 17, 2020
Congress is working on a bill to create emergency paid sick leave, as well as paid family leave in the case of school closures, for working families impacted by COVID-19.
Treasury Extends Tax Filing Season by 3 Months
March 17, 2020
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced today that taxpayers will get a three-month reprieve pay 2019 income taxes. As part of its coronavirus response, the federal government will give filers until July 15 to pay income taxes due on up to $1 million in tax owed, Mnuchin said. The reprieve on that amount would cover many pass-through entities and small businesses. Corporate filers would get the same length of time to pay amounts due on up to $10 million in taxes owed, Mnuchin said.
Track County Office Closures
March 17, 2020
ALTA is tracking closures of county recording offices, as well as projected reopen dates, if online access is available and if counties accepts e-recording.
NNA Develops Health Disclosures for Signers, Borrowers
March 17, 2020
Keeping everyone safe during the closing process is vital amid growing concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19). Among the developments is a new recommended best practice from the National Notary Association (NNA) that both Notaries and signers/borrowers complete a disclosure prior to each individual signing. The disclosures, which will have questions about recent travel and if there’s been contact with any people diagnosed with the coronavirus, should be completed if requested.
Trump Considers Letting Homeowners Delay Mortgage Payments
Bloomberg  |  March 17, 2020
The Trump administration is considering a plan to allow homeowners whose income was cut by the coronavirus to delay mortgage payments. Still to be decided is a mechanism for borrowers to catch up.
ALTA Response to COVID-19
March 16, 2020
ALTA is closely following the growing concerns relating to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the impact on our members, their customers and on our staff. This is a very fluid situation and ALTA continues to monitor updates from national and local public health officials regarding this pandemic. We are receiving many calls asking about county office closures, information on how to handle closings and updates on meetings, among other questions. To help provide answers, we have created a webpage to host ALTA/title industry related updates.