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.

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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.

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Recent 2020

CDC Reverses Course on Testing Asymptomatic People for COVID-19, Again
NBC News  |  September 18, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday changed its guidance again after an outcry from public health officials, saying asymptomatic people who have come in contact with Covid-19 should be tested. The updated guidance aligns more closely with previous recommendations.

When to Stop Working From Home? How About Never, Workers Say
Bloomberg  |  September 18, 2020

A Wells Fargo/Gallup survey released Wednesday found 42% of 1,094 workers surveyed in August had a positive view of working remotely, versus 14% who viewed it negatively. Almost a third of the 1,200 U.S. office workers surveyed by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers in June said they’d prefer to never go back to the office, while 72% said they’d like to work away from the office at least two days a week.

Enough People Have to Take a COVID-19 Vaccine for it to be Efficient, Fauci Says
CNN  |  September 17, 2020

If too few Americans get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, it won't help reduce the spread of the deadly virus, the nation's top infectious disease official said. Dr. Anthony Fauci addressed the risks of if not enough people take the vaccine. Even a third of Americans getting vaccinated against the coronavirus won't be enough, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.

How Millennials’ Financial Futures Have Been Impacted by Pandemic Unemployment
CNBC  |  September 17, 2020

Millennials, who are currently between the ages of 24 and 38, may be the group hit hardest by the economic turmoil of the pandemic. According to Pew Research Center, 35% of Americans between ages 18 and 29, and 30% of those between ages 30 and 49 say they, or someone in their household, has lost their job. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also indicates that among those who are unemployed, millennials are facing longer stretches of joblessness. 

Can Remote Work Lead to Double Taxation?
FOX Business  |  September 17, 2020

Remote working during the coronavirus pandemic could cause some new scenarios for employees when they file their 2020 tax returns next year – including a situation where some may be taxed twice. In specific cases, a remote worker’s resident state may not provide a credit for taxes assessed in the employer’s state because the income is actually earned in the state of residence.

Federal Update: White House Abandoned Plan to Send 650 million Face Masks Across the U.S. in April, Airline CEOs Plea for More Aid, Stimulus Could Reach Americans Soon if Congress Agrees
September 17, 2020

The U.S. Postal Service had drafted a press release announcing plans to send 650 million masks out across the U.S. early in the coronavirus crisis, but the White House ultimately abandoned the plan, The Washington Post reported. The plan would have sent a pack of five reusable masks to every residential address in the country, the Post reported, citing one of thousands of internal post office documents obtained by watchdog group American Oversight.

U.S. airline CEOs met with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Thursday, making a last-minute attempt to convince officials to approve more coronavirus aid as mass job cuts are set to hit the industry next month. Airlines received $25 billion in federal aid in the March CARES Act, which prohibits them from cutting jobs through Sept. 30. With that date less than two weeks away, executives urged the White House to reach a deal on a new bailout package as more than 30,000 sector jobs are at risk starting next month.

There’s good news and bad news for Americans who are still hoping to receive a second $1,200 stimulus check. If Congress comes up with a plan in the coming days, more money could reach Americans in October. But the big obstacle will be getting Washington leadership to agree to a deal this late in the election season, according to Howard Gleckman, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

State Update: 860,000 Americans Filed for Unemployment Benefits Last Week, NYC Delays Reopening Classrooms Again, Texas Pushes Forward with Business Reopenings
September 17, 2020

Another 860,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor reported. It was another week-on-week decline for jobless claims, but the improvements have been slow and the jobs recovery is running out of steam.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday delayed the start of in-person learning again for most students in the nation’s largest public school system after the powerful teachers union raised fresh manpower and COVID-19 safety concerns. “This is a huge undertaking," de Blasio said of a school system with 1.1 million students. "It is difficult. It’s challenging. It’s not the easy way. It is in fact the hard way, but it’s the right way."

Texas is allowing more businesses, including retail stores, gyms and restaurants, to push forward with reopening plans after a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over the summer have started to decline. The three regions not allowed to move forward with their reopenings are located in the southern part of the state. Bars will remain closed for all regions as officials try to find ways to reopen them while ensuring the coronavirus transmission can be contained. 

CDC Report that Dining Out Risks COVID-19 Transmission Based on 'False Assumptions': Industry
FOX Business  |  September 17, 2020

Dining out now poses a significant risk for COVID-19 transmission, according to a new CDC report that comes as many states begin to lift restrictions on restaurant guidelines. The announcement has set off a clash with the flailing industry, and many restaurant owners and coalitions are refuting CDC claims based on "false assumptions."

Coronavirus Crisis Caused 40% of Parents to Change Their Job Situation, Survey Finds
CNBC  |  September 17, 2020

Working parents are feeling the sting of the coronavirus pandemic — and it's hitting women especially hard. School shutdowns have left many trying to juggle work, childcare and helping their kids with distant learning. Since the crisis began, 40% of working parents have had to change their employment situation. Of those polled, 25% voluntarily reduced their hours and 15% quit entirely. Of those who quit, 38% don't plan to rejoin the workforce.

26% of Americans Have Taken Advantage of Some Type of Payment Deferral Plan
CNBC  |  September 17, 2020

When the pandemic hit in early spring, it seems like everyone was offering some sort of payment deferral program. About one in four Americans say they’ve taken advantage of some sort of payment deferral program because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

COVID Means Extra Challenges for Minority-owned Businesses
M Report  |  September 17, 2020

The stats are in, and they are sobering. Over 50% of small businesses with employees face immediate risks to survival due to the impacts of COVID-19. This represents about 4 million companies, with “small business” being roughly defined as those with fewer than 250 employees. Within the small business category are minority- and women-owned businesses.

How Coronavirus Pandemic has Led to Real Estate Boom as Wider Economy Struggles
FOX Business  |  September 10, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the real estate market to skyrocket as Americans seek to change their living conditions. “The pandemic caused everyone to reevaluate where they're being quarantined,” Compass Real Estate Vice President Mike Aubrey said. “You look at the fact that a home is no longer a home, the home is now a workplace as well. It's also a school. And I think that that really has gotten a lot of people in a position where they've decided to pull the trigger and change the condition that they live in.”

DOJ Investigating 'Several Hundred' Small Business Loan Fraud Cases
Politico  |  September 10, 2020

Federal law enforcement officials have identified nearly 500 individuals suspected of committing coronavirus-related loan fraud and have opened “several hundred” investigations, the Justice Department said. It's still unclear how many people bilked the Paycheck Protection Program, but acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt said, “we do believe it’s significant."

Federal Update: CDC’s Eviction Ban Leaves Renters at Risk, U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims were Worse than Expected Last Week, FDA Chief has ‘No Intention’ of Overruling Staff on Vaccine Decision
September 10, 2020
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made it illegal for landlords across the U.S. to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent. But the measure doesn’t relieve tenants of their obligation to pay rent or offer any rental assistance, making it likely that many will rack up debt during the reprieve. If they can’t pay it once the protection lifts in January, they could lose their homes anyway. 
  • The U.S. Labor Department reported 884,000 people made first-time filings for unemployment insurance, compared to the 850,000 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The total was unchanged from the previous week. Continuing claims from those filing for at least two weeks hit 13.385 million, an increase of 93,000 from a week ago, indicating the strong jobs improvement through the summer may be tailing ahead of the fall.
  • Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said he has “no intention” of overruling career scientists at the agency on an approval of a coronavirus vaccine even though he has the authority. Hahn said vaccine data will be adequately reviewed publicly by a group of outside experts. His remarks come as infectious disease experts and scientists say they have concerns that President Donald Trump is pressuring the FDA to approve a vaccine before it’s been adequately tested.
State Update: U.S. Daily Death Toll Shoots Back Up Over 1,000, 20 States Start Paying Extra $300 Weekly Unemployment Benefit, N.Y. Commuters Face Fines if They Don't Mask Up
September 10, 2020

An additional 1,206 coronavirus-related fatalities were recorded in the United States on Wednesday, a nearly threefold increase from the previous day, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The country's latest daily death toll from COVID-19 -- the highest since Aug. 26 -- is still under its record set on April 17, when there were 2,666 new fatalities in a 24-hour reporting period.

At least 20 states have either paid or are starting to issue an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits through the federal Lost Wages Assistance program. They are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Public transit passengers in New York will face a $50 fine if they do not wear masks on subways, buses or commuter lines including the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North, according to the MTA. The measure goes into effect Monday. The fines are the agency’s latest effort to increase mask compliance among public transit riders. The MTA says it has distributed over 4 million masks.

Senate Democrats Block Republican COVID Relief Proposal
Politico  |  September 10, 2020

Senate Democrats blocked a scaled-down, $500 billion Republican coronavirus relief measure Thursday, weakening the chances that Congress will approve another package before the November election. Fifty-two out of the 53-member GOP caucus voted in favor of moving forward on the proposal. But 60 votes were needed for the bill to advance, and no Senate Democrats voted for the measure, dismissing it as a political stunt.

White House Eyeing More Executive Actions as Hopes for Coronavirus Relief Deal Fade
FOX News  |  September 10, 2020

The White House is reportedly considering issuing a new round of executive actions amid dwindling hopes for a bipartisan coronavirus relief deal. Trump administration officials have discussed efforts to unilaterally provide support for the beleaguered airline industry and bolster federal unemployment benefits, according to The Washington Post, citing two people aware of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Thursday was the Last Day for States to Apply for the Extra $300 per Week in Jobless Benefits. Here’s Where Things Stand
CNBC  |  September 10, 2020

Thursday was the last day for states to apply for the extra $300 per week in jobless benefits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Lost Wages Assistance program. Nearly every state, plus Guam and Washington D.C., have applied and been approved for the money. South Dakota is the only state that declined to apply, while Nevada has applied and is awaiting approval. 

Half a Million U.S. Children Have Been Diagnosed with COVID-19
CNN  |  September 10, 2020

Half a million US children have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association. The groups said 70,630 new child cases were reported from Aug. 20 through Sept. 3. This is a 16% increase in child cases over two weeks, bringing up the total to at least 513,415 cases, the groups said in their weekly report on pediatric coronavirus cases.

Pandemic Financially Imperils Nearly Half of American Households, Poll Finds
NPR  |  September 10, 2020

Many in the U.S. are facing a cascade of economic and health-related problems revealed in a new survey. The poll finds nearly half the households in America — 46% — report facing serious financial pain during the pandemic. It is a problem that is more acute in the four largest U.S. cities, and among Latino and Black households.

1 in 10 Americans are Struggling to Afford Enough Food Amid the Pandemic
CNBC  |  September 10, 2020

Over the last seven months, the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically affected millions of Americans’ ability to afford the basics, including food. About 10% of Americans, 22.3 million, reported they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat within the past week.

Congressional Investigation Finds Over $1 Billion in Coronavirus Aid Fraud
NBC News  |  September 3, 2020

Over $1 billion in emergency coronavirus aid relief went to companies that "double dipped" and received multiple Paycheck Protection Program loans in violation of the program's rules, according to a preliminary analysis released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. 

Renters in U.S. Cannot be Evicted Through the End of the Year Due to Coronavirus, CDC Order States
MarketWatch  |  September 3, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented a temporary eviction moratorium through the end of the year, protecting U.S. renters from losing their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration announced. The CDC’s moratorium will apply to all rental units nationwide until Dec. 31 and goes into effect immediately. 

Fauci Warns Coronavirus Cases are 'Unacceptably High' as Labor Day Weekend Approaches
FOX News  |  September 3, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned that coronavirus cases remain “unacceptably high” as the nation heads into the Labor Day weekend. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House's Coronavirus Task Force, Fauci said that if the virus spikes following this weekend, concerns would be intensified into the winter months, when the nation will need to contend with the flu on top of the virus.

Federal Update: Senate Democrats Work to Reverse Trump’s Payroll Tax Suspension, Doctors Warn Against Rushing a COVID-19 Vaccine, Fauci has ‘Confidence’ the Vaccine Approval Won’t be Political,
September 3, 2020
  • Senate Democrats are working to reverse President Donald Trump’s payroll tax deferral. Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, asked the Government Accountability Office to determine whether the payroll tax suspension is considered a “rule.” If it’s deemed a rule, Congress has the ability to overturn it under the Congressional Review Act. Undoing the regulation would require a joint resolution that is unlikely to pass, according to policy experts. 
  • Just because states have been asked to have a vaccine distribution plan doesn't mean the public should expect to get shots this fall, doctors say. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told state and local public health officials to prepare to distribute a possible COVID-19 vaccine as soon as late October. Many health experts say a safe and effective vaccine might not be publicly available until early 2021. But it's possible the Food and Drug Administration could give an emergency use authorization for a vaccine to be distributed before its Phase 3 clinical trial is over, if the data is very promising.
  • White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is confident an approval for a coronavirus vaccine won’t be motivated by politics. The Food and Drug Administration has been “very explicit” that it is going to make a decision based on data from clinical trials, Fauci said. The trial results will also be reviewed by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board, an independent group of experts who monitor patient safety and treatment data, he said. 

State Update: Model Predicts 410K U.S. Deaths by January, Coronavirus Task Force Increased Mask Recommendations Only to be Ignored by Some States, Surge Testing Shuts Down Hawaii Freeway
September 3, 2020

Coronavirus death projections released ahead of Labor Day weekend are grim. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington's School of Medicine is predicting more than 410,000 deaths by January if mask usage stays at current rates. If governments continue relaxing social distancing requirements, that number could increase. Currently, the U.S. has 6.1 million confirmed cases and over 186,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there are 26 million cases and more than 869,000 people have died. 

The White House coronavirus task force gave increasingly urgent recommendations to states about masks over the summer, only to have them mostly ignored by six states, their weekly reports show. The reports show that the task force made tailored recommendations to each state -- including recommendations about mask use. The language in the reports intensifies in recommendations for states such as Georgia, Iowa and Oklahoma as outbreaks occurred over the summer months in those states.

Despite disapproval from the Federal Highway Administration, state and county officials closed the H-3 freeway today for a second round of COVID-19 "surge testing." Hawai'i Department of Transportation deputy director Ed Sniffen mentioned that because of the decision--the FHA could withhold some funds from the $180 million yearly budget allocated to the state. "This is not a state against the feds," Sniffen said, adding that the DOT has reassured the FHA that the H-3 shutdown would not impact traffic, safety, or military travel and operations. 

Unemployment Benefits are Less Than Minimum Wage in Many States
CNBC  |  September 3, 2020

Many states pay unemployment benefits to workers at a level below the federal minimum wage. In six states — Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee — the largest benefit a worker can hope to collect is less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Economic Recovery Held Back Because People Don’t Trust Each Other Over Coronavirus
CNBC  |  September 3, 2020

The U.S. economic recovery has been held back because Americans lack trust with one another over the coronavirus, Mohamed El-Erian said. “It is very difficult for any individual to be certain whether the other person is healthy or not, and that other person is not certain whether you’re healthy or not,” El-Erian said. 

Percentage of Americans Reporting Depression Symptoms Triples During Coronavirus Pandemic, Study Shows
FOX News  |  September 3, 2020

The number of Americans reporting symptoms of depression has more than tripled during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study. The nationally representative 1,400-person survey conducted between March 31 and April 13 found that prior to the pandemic, only 9% of respondents reported depressive symptoms. However, once the pandemic took hold of the United States, that figure spiked to 28% of respondents.

There's One Lesson for Schools in the Pandemic: There are No Easy Answers
CNN  |  September 3, 2020
Two-thirds of the nation's largest school districts are starting online -- with all the stress and difficulties that brings for teachers, children and their families. But even where in-person schooling is being offered, there are no easy answers. There is a broad agreement that getting children back to school is best for everyone. But with no vaccine or effective treatment yet for the highly contagious coronavirus, teachers and parents are making hard decisions.
CFPB Report: Effects of COVID-19 on Mortgage Loans, Other Debt
DS News  |  September 1, 2020

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) this week issued a report examining the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer credit through June. The report focused on mortgage, student and auto loans, and credit card accounts since March.

Democrats and White House at a ‘Tragic Impasse’ on Coronavirus Stimulus
CNBC  |  August 28, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows failed to crack a stalemate over coronavirus relief Thursday when they spoke at length for the first time in weeks. After a 25-minute phone call between the pair, Pelosi issued a statement saying “this conversation made clear that the White House continues to disregard the needs of the American people as the coronavirus crisis devastates lives and livelihoods.” She said the sides stood at a “tragic impasse” after the Trump administration again did not meet her demand to roughly double the price of its aid proposal to $2.2 trillion. 

Improvement in Coronavirus Mortgage Bailout Stalls, as More Borrowers Struggle to Make Payments
CNBC  |  August 28, 2020

After improving markedly in July, the number of borrowers struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments has essentially flatlined and now threatens to move higher. As of Aug. 25, 3.9 million homeowners were in mortgage forbearance programs, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and analytics firm. This represents 7.4% of all active mortgages and is unchanged from the week before. The numbers have not improved in the past two weeks.

Federal Update: White House Announces Purchase of 150 Million Rapid COVID-19 Tests, Senate Democrats Press Pentagon Over Spike in Military COVID-19 Cases, FDA Eases Key At-home Coronavirus Requirement
August 28, 2020

The White House announced the purchase of 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests on Twitter Thursday afternoon. The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal with Abbott Laboratories is worth $750 million. Abbott Labs received emergency approval yesterday from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its rapid antigen test, which can detect a COVID-19 infection in 15 minutes.

Senate Democrats are pressing U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper over concerns about the Pentagon's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a Wednesday letter to Esper, nine senators called reports of a rise in cases among service members in July "concerning." The number of coronavirus infections reportedly rose by more than 21,000 that month -- an increase of more than 100%. According to the department's website, as of Wednesday, the Pentagon had reported a total of 53,033 coronavirus cases with 80 deaths. 

Dr. Scott Gottlieb said that the Food and Drug Administration appears to have softened a key stance on at-home coronavirus tests, potentially clearing the way for more to come onto the market. Gottlieb, who led the FDA under President Donald Trump until 2019, said a barrier for the tests had been an agency requirement that results get reported to public-health authorities. However, it adds cost and complexity to tests that would optimally be cheap, he said. 

States Update: U.S. Records Nearly 46,000 New COVID-19 Cases, Will Hurricane Laura Affect the Spread of COVID-19?, N.Y. Reports Lowest COVID-19 Infection Rate Since Pandemic Began,
August 28, 2020

A further 45,966 new coronavirus cases and 1,116 virus-related fatalities were recorded in the United States on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. That brings the nationwide total to at least 5,867,785 confirmed COVID-19 infections, including 180,824 deaths.

Officials on Friday were assessing the damage wrought by Hurricane Laura and its potential effects on the spread of the novel coronavirus. The pandemic had complicated evacuation and shelter plans before Laura slammed ashore in southwestern coastal Louisiana early Thursday. But authorities cautioned that any potential impact on infection rates won’t be known for days to come. “We’re basically going to be blind for this week because we’ll have to discontinue much of our community-based testing,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced that 0.65% of the nearly 98,000 coronavirus tests reported to New York state Thursday were positive – the lowest COVID-19 infection rate in the state since the pandemic began. Eight million coronavirus tests have been conducted across New York to date and the state’s infection rate has consistently been under 1% every day for three weeks, the governor’s office added.

Coronavirus Model Projects More Than 317,000 U.S. COVID-19 Deaths by December
CNN  |  August 28, 2020

A well-known coronavirus model previously cited by the White House forecasts more than 317,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 by December. As of Friday morning, the model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects that 317,312 people may die from the illness -- marking an increase of about 8,000 deaths from a previous estimate the model projected one week ago.

Nearly 35 Million Households Will Lose Their Utility Shutoff Protections Over the Next Month
CNBC  |  August 28, 2020

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans have relied on emergency orders put in place by state and local governments that bar utility companies from shutting off services such as gas, electricity and water. However, many of these orders will expire by the end of September, leaving 34.5 million households without shutoff protections.

CDC Clarifies Surprise Guidelines that People Without COVID-19 Symptoms Don't Need Testing
USA Today  |  August 28, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attempted Thursday to clarify controversial coronavirus testing guidelines published Monday that said people with no symptoms "do not necessarily need a test" even if they were exposed to an infected person. Guidance released Thursday by CDC Director Robert Redfield says those who come in contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 patient can be tested, even if they don’t show symptoms.

Zoom is now Critical Infrastructure. That’s a Concern
Brookings Institution  |  August 28, 2020

It’s a cybersecurity vulnerability that would have been unimaginable as recently as last year: A single California-based company, Zoom, is now the foundation for education access from elementary school up through graduate school. It has also become a critical tool for many businesses. When Zoom goes down, teachers can’t teach, students can’t learn, and business meetings, conferences, and webinars grind to a halt. 

More U.S. Jobs Lost to Coronavirus Pandemic are Disappearing Permanently
FOX Business  |  August 28, 2020

A growing number of jobs lost due to the coronavirus pandemic are disappearing forever. A new analysis of payroll data found that less than half of furloughed employees have returned to work since March, and often for less money than they were earning pre-crisis. The findings show that only 37% of workers furloughed in March, and 47% of those laid off in April, returned to their jobs as of July.

COVID-19 Dealt a Shock to the World's Top Economies. Here's Who has Fared the Worst
CNN  |  August 28, 2020

The world's top developed economies are all officially in a recession. What happens next is far from certain. On Friday, Canada joined France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States in reporting that its economy shrank dramatically in the first half of 2020 due to the pandemic. Now, it's increasingly clear that countries will not bounce back in tandem.

Working From Home Saved American Commuters Nearly $91 Billion
Bloomberg  |  August 27, 2020

Americans who once drove to work are saving an estimated $758 million a day since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new study by Upwork economist Adam Ozimek. That collectively adds up to an overall economic impact of almost $91 billion, the study by the freelancing platform found.

White House Chief of Staff Predicts No Stimulus Bill Until End of September
Bloomberg  |  August 26, 2020

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows predicted there will be no stimulus deal with Congress until the end of September. “If we got back in the room with some of their priorities, we could cut a deal--the president wants to do that. But I’m not optimistic,” Meadows said.

Scammers Targeting Small Businesses Receiving Federal Coronavirus Relief
ABC/WBRZ  |  August 21, 2020

Banks are warning small business owners to be on the lookout for scams aimed at stealing their coronavirus relief loans. A notice from Hancock Whitney Banks is being emailed out to help recipients watch for such schemes. The scammers are reportedly using phishing emails to steal credentials for the victims' Paycheck Protection Program login. The bank says it issued the warning after it received an alert from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. It says the SBA will not ask you to log in to SBA.gov for PPP information, and it is recommended you delete any email that does so.

Coronavirus Deaths Should Drop Next Week, but Flu may Cause 'Complicated Winter,' CDC Director Says
FOX News  |  August 21, 2020

Coronavirus-related deaths are expected to fall in certain parts of the United States by next week, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday. "Hopefully this week and next week you're going to start seeing the death rate really start to drop," CDC Director Robert Redfield said. The federal health agency director said COVID-19 cases are dropping in the red zones, but that the trend doesn't hold for the yellow zones, and warned that a third wave in America's heartland needs to be prevented.

Federal Update: Pelosi Rejects Call to Extend Unemployment Relief with Smaller Bill, Order on Student Loans Creates 'Implementation Disaster in the Making’, WHO to Issue Guidance on Masks for Kids
August 21, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shot down calls on Thursday to extend unemployment benefits through a smaller coronavirus relief package, arguing passage of a streamlined bill could derail talks on other Democratic funding priorities. Pelosi explained her position after more than 100 House Democrats called on party leaders to allow a vote on a bill this week to reinstate the expired $600 weekly unemployment benefit for workers. The speaker said she supports calls to tie benefits to the unemployment rate, but felt that it was the wrong “timing” to hold a vote.

The president’s extension of the interest-free payment pause on federally-held student loans is only punting the problem to the future, one expert said, adding that bringing borrowers back on repayment on January 1 will be an “implementation disaster in the making.” The protections for federally-held student loans were set to expire on Sept. 30, as codified by the CARES Act, and will now extend until Dec. 31, 2020. But that’s not going to be enough. "There's little chance the economy will be in strong shape by then,” said Ben Miller, vice president for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF will be issuing guidance on the use of masks in children, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO infectious disease epidemiologist, said during a Friday briefing. Van Kerkhove said the guidance will be broken up by age range. The guidance will be for decision makers and educators “about when and where masks can be used.” Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO executive director of Health Emergencies Program, said “masks are a great tool” especially in the context of schools. But he warns they should not take the place of other public health measures.  

State Update: Governors Mobilize to Fill Testing Gap, 11 States OK to Send an Extra $300/week in Unemployment, ‘We Didn't Wait for the Feds’: How New Mexico Worked to Contain COVID
August 21, 2020

Two weeks ago, while struggling to reopen schools and drive down infection rates without a national effort to improve and coordinate access to testing, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan pulled together six state leaders to take a drastic step: Try to build a testing strategy on their own. The coalition struck an immediate chord among governors, with so many states eager to join that Hogan paused enrollment at 10 out of fear that it would be unable to obtain enough tests. Now, the group is nearing an agreement to purchase 5 million rapid coronavirus tests, in a first-of-its-kind deal designed to slash testing turnaround times and fortify their states ahead of a potentially vicious COVID-19 resurgence in the fall. 

Unemployed residents of certain states may be one step closer to receiving an extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits. As of Thursday, 11 states — Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah — have received approval to send out $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is overseeing the assistance. Unfortunately, experts say, there’s a catch, so don’t factor the jobless aid benefits into your budget just yet.  

COVID-19 caught New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's eye in 2019. When the state reported three cases of COVID-19 in March, she declared a public health emergency, canceling state-run events and urging for other large gatherings to be shut down. Within a few days, the state had a drive-thru testing site setup. Now, New Mexico has kept its positive test rate down to around 3 percent — figures far lower than in neighboring Arizona and Texas, where the virus is popping up at more than 15 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Why There’s Still Hope for Second $1,200 Stimulus Checks Despite Stalled Congressional Talks
CNBC  |  August 21, 2020

When it comes to a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, there’s good news and bad news. The good news: Both political parties have said they want to send Americans more direct payments. The bad news: Congress needs to agree on the next coronavirus stimulus package in order for that money to come through.

U.S. Will Have Third Act of Coronavirus and it Will Likely be ‘More Pervasive’
CNBC  |  August 21, 2020

The U.S. has not yet had a “true second wave” of thecoronavirus and the country could see a resurgence of the virus in the fall and winter, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. ScottGottlieb said. “I do think that we’re going to have a third act of this virus in the fall and the winter and it’s likely to be more pervasive spread in a broader part of the country.”

Asymptomatic Kids may be More Contagious Than Severely Ill Adults, New Study Finds
FOX News  |  August 21, 2020

Children with little to no symptoms may spread thecoronavirus more easily than severely ill adults, according to a new study from Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at MGH and senior author of the study, said that health experts have come to the “erroneous conclusion” that adults are the vast majority of those infected because “we have mainly screened symptomatic subjects. Kids are not immune from this infection, and their symptoms don't correlate with exposure and infection. Our results show that kids are not protected against this virus. We should not discount children as potential spreaders for this virus."

Struggling Retailers Rush to File for Bankruptcy as Fears of a Second Wave of Coronavirus Linger
CNBC  |  August 21, 2020

Over a two-week span in early July, seven retailers, including The Paper Store, Brooks Brothers and Lucky Brand, filed for bankruptcy protection. J.Crew, Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney and four other retailers had already filed in May. Lord & Taylor and the off-price shop Stein Mart led another wave that hit earlier this month. Some would say it has been a flood, but what’s coming could be a tsunami. 

Want to Travel Overseas? Find Out Where You’re Allowed to go During the Pandemic
CNBC  |  August 21, 2020

Travel planning has changed and not in a good way. In addition to booking a flight and hotel, travelers are faced with questions that were unthinkable just six months ago. Where can I go? Do I need a negative COVID-19 test result to enter? Must I quarantine upon arrival? A new website answers all but one of these questions (whether you should go is on you).

American Airlines is Dropping Service to These 15 Cities. This is Likely Only the Beginning
CNN  |  August 21, 2020

American Airlines will temporarily stop flying routes to 15 small cities across the United States in October, signaling that some areas could wind up underserved as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the travel industry. American said that, for now, it plans to halt service during its "October schedule period," which runs from Oct. 7 to Nov. 3, but there are no guarantees service will return after that.

PPP Loan Forgiveness Starts This Week. Why Some Businesses Aren’t Rushing to Apply
CNBC  |  August 14, 2020

The Small Business Administration opened the forgiveness portal for its Paycheck Protection Program loans this week, but companies may want to think twice before rushing in. 

Negotiators 'Miles Apart' on COVID-19 Funding, with Little Hope for Deal Until September
Politico  |  August 13, 2020

White House officials and top Democrats concede that a coronavirus relief deal is still out of reach after six days without in-person meetings — leaving little hope that relief for millions of Americans will arrive by month’s end. As of Thursday, Washington’s top negotiators have no plans to meet in the coming days, putting an indefinite halt to sputtering talks to assemble the next economic rescue package.

Federal Update: White House Won’t Accept ‘Voting Rights’ Provisions in Virus Aid Bill, U.S. Supreme Court Distances from Coronavirus Decisions, Aiming for COVID-19 Herd Immunity Would be Catastrophic
August 13, 2020

President Donald Trump will not support a coronavirus relief deal that includes “voting rights” provisions backed by Democrats, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Thursday. “That’s not our game, and the president can’t accept that kind of deal,” he said. “So, we’ll wait and see on the negotiations. Treasury Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin is working on that, but so far it’s a stalemate.”

The U.S. Supreme Court continues to send a clear message when it comes to emergency requests to block or change state actions and regulations tied to COVID-19: not interested. Whether it's voting access, attendance limits on churches or prison crowding, the court -- steered by Chief Justice John Roberts -- is not yet stepping in to second-guess state or local officials. 

If the United States allowed coronavirus infections to run rampant to achieve possible herd immunity, the death toll would be massive, especially among vulnerable people, the nation's top infectious diseases doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said. "If everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people without symptoms ... a lot of people are going to die," Fauci said.

State Update: CDC’s Forecast Projects Nearly 189,000 U.S. Coronavirus Deaths by Sept. 5, California Tops 600,000 Cases, Teachers Face COVID-19 Fears as U.S. Schools Decide Whether to Reopen
August 13, 2020

An ensemble forecast published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects nearly 189,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by Sept. 5. The new projections forecast 188,982 deaths, with a possible range of 181,375 to 201,431 deaths. “State- and territory-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Colorado and may decrease in Arizona, the Northern Mariana Islands, Vermont, and Wyoming,” the CDC said.

California reported 6,608 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, becoming the first state in the country to top 600,000 cumulative cases since the outbreak began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The state, with a population of more than 39 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has reported a total of 602,997 cases, according to Hopkins data.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines explaining how schools can potentially return to in-person classes this fall if case counts are low enough. And the American Academy of Pediatrics has urged districts to return to in-person classes, citing potentially devastating social and emotional losses to children that could occur otherwise. Now countless teachers across the country are forced to decide between bringing home a paycheck for their family and potentially entering what feels like a microbial war zone every day, risking constant exposure to hundreds of other teachers and kids.

The CDC Issues a Dire Warning for the Fall if Coronavirus Measures are not Followed
CNN  |  August 13, 2020

A top federal health official is issuing a dire warning: Follow recommended coronavirus measures or risk having the worst fall in U.S. public health history. Without following the recommendations, this could be "the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we've ever had," said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Waiting on That Extra $400 Unemployment Benefit? Here’s What we Know so Far
CNBC  |  August 13, 2020

President Donald Trump signed a measure on Saturday to boost unemployment pay by up to $400 a week. That could help millions of jobless Americans pay their bills at a time when job prospects are slim and prior relief — an extra $600 a week from the federal government — ended last month. Here’s what we know — and don’t know — so far.

The Next Unprecedented Vaccine Hurdle: Making Hundreds of Millions of Doses
Politico  |  August 13, 2020

The U.S. government has now signed six deals with vaccine-makers to produce coronavirus shots, even before it’s clear any are effective — and with a risk the companies won’t be able to ramp up production in time to deliver hundreds of millions of doses.

Dr. Fauci on U.S. Coronavirus Outbreak: ‘I’m not Pleased with How Things are Going’
CNBC  |  August 13, 2020

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is not pleased with the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. U.S. public health officials are beginning to see a “disturbing” uptick in the rate of coronavirus tests that come back positive in some regions of the nation, Fauci said. “Bottom line is, I’m not pleased with how things are going.”

CDC: One Quarter of Young Adults Contemplated Suicide During Pandemic
Politico  |  August 13, 2020

One in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 say they've considered suicide in the past month because of the pandemic, according to new CDC data that paints a bleak picture of the nation's mental health during the crisis. The data also flags a surge of anxiety and substance abuse, with more than 40 percent of those surveyed saying they experienced a mental or behavioral health condition connected to the COVID-19 emergency.

COVID-19 has put Older Workers’ Retirement at Risk. Here’s How Stimulus Legislation Would Help
CNBC  |  August 13, 2020

A report from Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee of Congress shows that one group — workers age 55 and older — are among those most at risk for financial hardship. As millions of workers have lost their jobs, the unemployment rate for those over 55 climbed to the highest rate on record, according to the report. The answer is to push for needed reforms in key areas

As the Pandemic Empties Office Buildings, Can Those Spaces Help Solve the Housing Crisis?
Realtor.com  |  August 12, 2020

Since onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the pulse of once-thriving districts has subsided to a faint quiver. That doesn't bode well for the long-term future of office buildings and hotels in these neighborhoods. Some will likely shut down for good. But an abundance of vacant commercial real estate could be transformed into what the real estate market is most desperately clamoring for: housing.

White House, Dem Leaders Make One Last Try on Coronavirus Relief Deal
Politico  |  August 7, 2020

White House and top Democratic leaders will take one last shot at reaching a new coronavirus relief deal Friday afternoon. The final discussions come as President Donald Trump is preparing to issue a series of executive orders to unilaterally try to address the economic crisis caused by the pandemic if an agreement isn't reached. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer signaled Friday that they don’t want to see an end to the stalled talks.  

How the Coronavirus has Affected the Real Estate Market
Yahoo Finance  |  August 6, 2020

COVID-19 has affected the real estate market over the course of the year. As uncertainty over the future remains, Americans who may have been thinking of listing their homes are staying put until a more clear trajectory of the housing market is known. In an attempt to stimulate economic growth, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to record-breaking lows. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has dropped below 3%, and the long-term savings are proving significant. Using a mortgage calculator, if you were to buy a 30-year fixed mortgage for $200,000 at a 6% interest rate your monthly mortgage would be $1,199. But at the current rate, if you were to buy that same home at a 2.9% interest rate the monthly cost would be $832. This would account for a savings of $131,990 over 30 years in interest alone.

Federal Update: Trump Eyes Executive Order if Relief Talks Stall, Fauci Says Politics Won’t Have a Role in Vaccine Approval, WHO Asks the U.S. to Reconsider Withdrawing
August 6, 2020

President Trump said he would likely move forward with executive orders on coronavirus relief later this week if the White House and Congress do not make progress in their negotiations. Trump acknowledged that a legislative deal was still possible, but the two sides remain far apart on both the top-line dollar amount and specific provisions of the legislation.

U.S. regulators overseeing the approval of potential coronavirus vaccines have promised scientists that politics won’t play a role in their approval process, White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said. President Donald Trump, who faces reelection in November, has said that a vaccine may be made available to the public “far in advance of the end of the year.” “We have assurances, and I’ve discussed this with the regulatory authorities, that they promise that they are not going to let political considerations interfere with a regulatory decision,” Fauci said.

World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he hopes the U.S. will reconsider its decision to leave the United Nations’ health organization, adding that the coronavirus can’t be defeated “in a divided world.” Amid the United States’ departure, which will take until next year to finalize, officials from the country are still collaborating with the organization in its response to the pandemic, Tedros said.  

State Update: NYC Opens Checkpoints to Register Travelers from Risky States, Forecast Sees 300,000 Deaths by December Without Masks, Ohio Governor Tests Negative for COVID-19 After Testing Positive
August 6, 2020
  • New York City has set up traveler checkpoints at busy entry points to register visitors and residents returning from nearly three dozen states who are required to quarantine for 14 days. Teams began stopping travelers arriving in the city by train Thursday, requiring they complete a state Department of Health traveler form and warning they could face fines as high as $10,000 for failing to quarantine.
  • A new forecast by the University of  Washington predicts the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could hit 300,000 by December but could be reduced by 70,000 if people consistently wear a mask. The data from the university's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which has been frequently cited in the past by the White House, forecast 295,011 deaths by December. Consistent use of face coverings could cut the increases in deaths by 49%, the forecast said.
  • Ohio Gov. MikeDeWine tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday hours after testing positive before he was set to greet President Trump at the Cleveland airport, according to a statement by the governor's office. Instead of meeting with Trump, DeWine returned to Columbus and was ultimately tested for coronavirus a second time. The second test was a PCR test administered that afternoon, which his office said was "extremely sensitive, as well as specific, for the virus." His wife, Fran DeWine, and staff members also tested negative.
Payrolls Increase by Nearly 1.8 Million, Topping Expectations Despite Coronavirus Resurgence
CNBC  |  August 6, 2020

Two months of record-setting payroll growth slowed in July but was still better than Wall Street estimates even as a rise in coronavirus cases put a damper on the struggling U.S. economy. The unemployment rate fell to 10.2% from its previous 11.1%, also better than the estimates from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

Fauci Says Nation can Survive COVID-19 Without Another Shutdown
Politico  |  August 6, 2020

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, says the United States is facing a "concerted challenge" to navigate the resurgent COVID-19 outbreak — but if Americans band together, the nation can avert another extended shutdown. "There seems to be a misperception that either you shut down completely and damage a lot of things ... or let it rip and do whatever you want," Fauci said. "You don't have to lock down again, but everybody has got to be on board for doing these five or six fundamental public health measures" like masks and social distancing.

U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Total 1.186 Million, Lowest Level of the Coronavirus Pandemic
CNBC  |  August 6, 2020

Weekly jobless claims hit their lowest level of the pandemic area, totaling 1.186 million last week, well below Wall Street expectations. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for 1.42 million. The level for the week ended Aug. 1 represented a drop of 249,000 from the previous period. 

A Growing Side Effect of the Pandemic: Permanent Job Loss
Politico  |  August 6, 2020

Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs in the coronavirus recession, but for many of them the news is getting even worse: Their positions are going away forever. Permanent losses are steadily increasing — reaching 2.9 million in June — as companies start to move from temporary layoffs to permanent cuts.

Lack of School and Childcare Could Mean Losing ‘a Generation of Working Parents’
CNBC  |  August 6, 2020

Limited in-classroom schedules and daycare capacity may mean that parents will need to be home with their children for the foreseeable future. And that may have long-term effects on their careers. Nearly three-fourths, 73%, of parents say they plan to make major changes to their professional lives to accommodate the lack of child care, according to a new Care.com online survey. About 15% of those are considering leaving the workforce altogether.

 Tips to Cultivate a Successful Remote Team
July 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic forced title and settlement companies across the country to modify staffing practices and processes. Five months in, most professionals have learned that working from home can bring new challenges such as juggling work while watching (or teaching) kids, learning new software and conferencing programs, and managing files from a couch. Read on for some tips on how to develop a work-from-home action plan.  

Coronavirus Relief Deal Looks Elusive in Congress as U.S. Economy Craters
CNBC  |  July 30, 2020

A coronavirus relief agreement in Congress looked illusory Thursday as new economic data showed a U.S. economy buckling under the pandemic’s weight. Democratic leaders and Trump administration officials left a meeting Wednesday saying they had not come close to bridging a gulf in their priorities for an aid package. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was in Atlanta on Thursday for the funeral of congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, it is unclear when the sides will resume in-person discussions.

Federal Update: $600 a Week Jobless Benefit Expires, Fauci Testifies on Coronavirus Response, U.S. Agrees to Pay $2.1 Billion for 100 Million Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine
July 30, 2020

As extended unemployment benefits expire to those displaced during the coronavirus pandemic, Congress remains unable to reach a deal even as the data show an economy still under intense pressure. Democrats and Republicans appear significantly apart, with the GOP’s latest move for a temporary deal rejected. Democrats countered the plan to cut the $600 a week extra payout to $200 with a $3 trillion rescue package, but that failed as well.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers that while one can "never guarantee the safety or effectiveness" of a vaccine, he is "cautiously optimistic" that the coronavirus vaccine being developed by Moderna and his agency will be successful. "We hope that by the time we get into late fall and early winter, we will have in fact a vaccine that we can say that would be safe and effective. One can never guarantee the safety or effectiveness unless you do the trial, but we are cautiously optimistic this will be successful," Fauci said.

The U.S. government will pay drugmaker Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline up to $2.1 billion to develop and deliver 100 million doses of their potential coronavirus vaccine, the companies announced Friday. More than half of the $1.5 billion will be used to support further development of the vaccine, including clinical trials. The rest will be for manufacturing and delivery of the 100 million doses, the companies said. The U.S. will have the option to order an additional 500 million doses, they said. 

State Update: California and Florida Hit New Record High Coronavirus Deaths, Ohio Sees Peak in Hospitalizations and Bans Hydroxychloroquine, Fewer Americans Ready to Resume Daily Activities
July 30, 2020

Both California and Florida — the two states with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country — set new records for single-day coronavirus deaths on Wednesday. California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said 197 people in the state died from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the state's highest in a single day. The state also reported 8,755 new positive cases. Florida's Department of Health confirmed Wednesday that 216 people died from the virus on Tuesday, a new single-day record for the state just one day after setting its previous record of 186 new deaths.

The Ohio Department of Health reported 1,122 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, which is the highest daily number seen in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, reports say. The news comes after the Ohio Board of Pharmacy banned medical facilties from selling or dispensing malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat or prevent COVID-19. The rule went into effect Thursday.

Americans are weary of returning to daily activities as coronavirus cases spike across the country, according to a new poll. Forty-four percent of Americans said they would send their child back to school if health restrictions were lifted. Forty-eight percent said the same in June, a 4-point drop in a month. Forty-four percent of survey respondents also said they would attend a religious service, down 5 points from June. The most significant drop was among those who said they felt comfortable having dinner at a friend’s house amid the ongoing pandemic. In July, 59 percent said they would, a drop of 8 percentage points from June.

GOP HEALS Act Gives Some Businesses a Second Shot at Paycheck Protection Program Loans
CNBC  |  July 30, 2020

Cash-strapped entrepreneurs who took a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan and are running out of funding may get a second infusion of liquidity. The Senate’s HEALS Act, the Republican proposal for another round of coronavirus relief funding, includes a measure that would permit certain small-business owners to borrow from the program a second time.

Fauci Suggests Goggles, Eye Shield for Better Protection Against Coronavirus
FOX News  |  July 30, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, this week said wearing goggles or an eye shield in addition to a face mask would provide better protection against the coronavirus, according to a report. “Theoretically you should protect all of the mucosal surfaces [eyes, nose, mouth], so if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

Trump Says Second Stimulus Check Could be 'Way Higher' than $1,200
FOX Business  |  July 30, 2020

President Donald Trump suggested this week the next coronavirus relief package could include a direct cash payment for American families that's potentially higher than $1,200. "It may go higher than that actually," Trump said. "I'd like to see it be very high because I love the people. I want the people to get it." He did not say how much money he's envisioning for the second round of stimulus checks.

U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Rise for a Second Straight Week, Total 1.434 Million
CNBC  |  July 30, 2020

The number of Americans who filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week totaled 1.434 million, the Labor Department reported Thursday, roughly in line with expectations, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the U.S. economy. It was the 19th straight week in which initial claims totaled at least 1 million and the second consecutive week in which initial claims rose after declining for 15 straight weeks.

‘It’s Too Late’: Stimulus Can’t Save Schools from a Chaotic Start
Politico  |  July 30, 2020

The stimulus plan in the works on Capitol Hill will come too late for the start of the school year, adding to the chaos in an education system already thrown into disarray by the global pandemic. Education leaders are already spending money on face masks and computers kids can use to connect to classes at home. But districts have no certainty from Congress about how much cash they can expect or what rules will be attached to that money.

COVID Crimes: Espionage, Hackers And Why America Is Vulnerable
Forbes  |  July 30, 2020

With millions of lives and trillions of dollars at stake, the U.S. is in a dangerous place when it comes to vulnerabilities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic – one of which is cybersecurity.  While the world is focused on the health and economic threats posed by COVID-19, cybercriminals around the world are capitalizing on this crisis. So how are cybercriminals using the pandemic to their advantage? 

Open Schools are the Exception, not the Rule, Around the World
Politico  |  July 30, 2020

President Donald Trump often cites examples from Europe as evidence American schools can reopen in-person this fall despite COVID-19, but they are the exception, not the rule. Only a few countries have opened schools nationwide, including Norway, France and New Zealand, as well as Nicaragua, Taiwan and Vietnam. On the other hand, 143 countries have instituted country-wide closures.

Senate HEALS Act Does Not Extend Federal Eviction Moratorium—Here’s What to Know
CNBC  |  July 28, 2020

The Senate released its next coronavirus stimulus package, including provisions for $1,200 economic impact payments, reduced unemployment benefits, funding for schools and additional Paycheck Protection Program loans. What the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act doesn’t include: an extension of the federal eviction moratorium or adequate housing relief, according to advocates, just as eviction bans across the country expire.

Here’s What We Know is in the Republican COVID Relief Bill
CNBC  |  July 24, 2020

Republicans do not plan to release a coronavirus relief bill until next week, but their proposal has mostly taken shape as Senate GOP leaders and the White House say they have reached a tentative deal. Congress faces pressure to pass more legislation in the coming days to combat the damage from a raging outbreak. States will stop paying out the $600 per week enhanced federal unemployment benefit at the end of the week as the U.S. reports more than 4 million COVID-19 cases and at least 144,000 deaths from the disease. 

U.S. is the Worst-affected Country With More Than 4 Million Coronavirus Cases
ABC News  |  July 24, 2020

Over 15.5 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their nations' outbreaks. The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 4 million diagnosed cases and at least 144,305 deaths.

July Jobs Report Could Show no Progress and Even Reversal as Virus Spreads
CNBC  |  July 23, 2020

Persistently high unemployment claims show the impact of the spreading virus on the workforce, and economists are already warning that July’s employment report could show no progress or even job losses. The Labor Department said Thursday that initial jobless claims came in at 1.416 million for the week ending July 18, the 18th straight week in which initial claims totaled more than 1 million. The weekly claims also rose for the first time after 15 weeks of declines.

Federal Update: As Unemployment Grows, White House and Senate GOP Stumble on Virus Talks; New CDC Guidelines in Favor of Opening Schools, Decrease Isolation Time for Mild Cases
July 23, 2020

Senate Republicans were forced to delay the rollout of a $1 trillion coronavirus relief package after differences between the White House and GOP leadership derailed the timing for unveiling the measure — an embarrassing setback that could have serious consequences for millions of unemployed Americans. The main area of dispute was over extension of federal unemployment assistance for workers that have lost their jobs as the United States economy shut down during in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These $600-per-week payments begin to expire this week. With a federal eviction moratorium also ending, the economic impact could be severe for many families impacted by the crisis.

New U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on education and childcare come down hard in favor of opening schools, saying children don’t suffer much from coronavirus, are less likely than adults to spread it, and suffer from being out of school. But the new guidelines do recommend that local officials should consider closing schools, or keeping them closed, if there is substantial, uncontrolled transmission of the virus. The CDC said scientific studies suggest that COVID-19 "transmission among children in schools may be low."

Additionally, people who have had mild to moderate COVID-19 can come out of isolation after 10 days and don't need to be retested before going back to work, the new CDC guidelines say. Symptoms, not testing, are the guide. If patients had a fever, it needs to have been gone for at least 24 hours. The CDC document says symptoms are a better gauge of how infectious someone is so they are "not kept unnecessarily isolated and excluded from work or other responsibilities." 

State Update: Local Health Officials Not Made Aware of White House Warning, Masking Up in the Midwest With New Statewide Mandates, Experts Warn Against Reopening Schools in Florida and Texas
July 23, 2020

The Center for Public Integrity reported 11 cities were warned in a private call by Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force that they must take “aggressive” steps to mitigate their outbreaks. The cities she identified were Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. However, the Center for Public Integrity said it’s unclear who heard the warnings and was invited to the call, which was hosted by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and closed to the press.

Three Midwestern governors announced statewide face covering mandates on Wednesday, adding Minnesota, Ohio and Indiana to the growing list of states requiring people to mask up in public. Ohio's order took effect on Thursday, Minnesota's starts on Saturday and Indiana's on Monday. The governors present masks as a critical tool in protecting public health and allowing activities like school and sports to proceed in the fall.

Members of a leading group of infectious disease experts have warned against reopening schools in Florida, Texas and other states where coronavirus cases are surging, saying older children are just as likely to spread COVID-19 as adults. When you have such surges of disease in the community, you’re basically asking for trouble if you open schools because you’re bringing in individuals from all across the community that potentially may be exposed to it,” said Dr. Tina Tan, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University, during a conference call hosted by the Infectious Disease Society of America.

At-home Coronavirus Swabs Could be Just as Accurate as Those at Clinics
NBC News  |  July 23, 2020

Swabbing yourself at home for the coronavirus may be nearly as accurate as when the test is administered by health care workers, a research letter published this week suggests. Researchers found that an at-home swab picks up about 80 percent of the positive cases that are found in a clinic. For patients with a higher viral load, an at-home test picked up 95 percent of the positive cases that were found in a clinic.

Worries About COVID-19 Spreading Through Vents Send Building Owners in Search of Cleaner Air
Chicago Tribune  |  July 23, 2020

Potential transmission of the virus through air conditioning and heating systems is the latest issue employers and building owners are focusing on as they prepare for more people to head back to office towers and other non-residential buildings, whether they’re office workers or school teachers and students.

5 Ways to get Your Kids to Wear Masks
CNN  |  July 23, 2020

Consider it the Challenge of 2020: It's easier to put lipstick on a ferret than it is to get some kids to wear face coverings. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all kids over the age of 2 wear face coverings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. That means that now is the time to finally get kids on board with the new reality. Following are the Top 5 expert suggestions on how to get your little one to keep a face covering on.

Moms With COVID-19 can Safely Breastfeed Newborns, Study Suggests
USA Today  |  July 23, 2020

Mothers with COVID-19 may be able to stay in the same room with their newborns after birth and not transmit the virus if certain precautions are taken. Researchers observed 120 babies born to mothers with COVID-19 and found no cases of transmission during childbirth or after two weeks of breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, according to the study.

Cybersecurity, Wire Fraud and Scams: Oh My!
July 22, 2020

Cybersecurity and wire fraud are frightening topics, especially if you find your company has been the victim of a scam. Whether you’re wondering how to keep your business from becoming a casualty or you want to know what to do if a customer falls into a scammer’s trap, ALTA is here to help. Join us for a webinar, “Cybersecurity Trends and COVID-19,” on Aug. 12 from 1-2 p.m. ET.

State Laws Authorizing Remote E-notarization
July 22, 2020

Emergency orders and guidance issued by states on remote online notarization (RON) do not necessarily conform with the ALTA-MBA model or RULONA standards for consumer protections and anti-fraud safeguards. The powers of entities to issue such orders should to be reviewed on a state-by-state basis. Prior to relying on any emergency order or guidance, title and settlement agents are encouraged to contact their underwriter. So far, 48 states and the District of Columbia have either passed a RON law or issued an executive order pertaining to remotely notarizing documents. Some have done both. Check out ALTA’s Digital Closings resource page for a complete state-by-state list of laws that have passed or orders that have been issued and renewed.

Mnuchin Endorses Possible Forgiveness for ‘Small’ Loans
Bloomberg  |  July 17, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s interest in forgiving PPP loans comes after ALTA and a coalition of almost 150 groups sent a letter to legislative leaders calling for all PPP loans of less than $150,000 -- about 87% of all loans approved through June 30 -- to automatically become grants, instead of requiring those owners to complete the complicated loan-forgiveness process.

COVID-19 Pandemic to Cause Commercial/Multifamily Lending Pullback in 2020
MBA NewsLink  |  July 16, 2020

Commercial and multifamily mortgage bankers are expected to close $248 billion in loans backed by income-producing properties this year, a 59 percent decline from 2019’s record volume of $601 billion, a new Mortgage Bankers Association forecast said.

Coronavirus Hospital Data Will Now be Sent to Trump Administration Instead of CDC
CNN  |  July 16, 2020

Hospital data on coronavirus patients will now be rerouted to the Trump administration instead of first being sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed. The move could make data less transparent to the public at a time when the administration is downplaying the spread of the pandemic, and threatens to undermine public confidence that medical data is being presented free of political interference.

Federal Update: Infections Rising Among Kids and Teens, U.S. Says Russian Hackers are Trying to Steal COVID-19 Vaccine Research, ‘Sole Source’ Contract for COVID-19 Database Draws Scrutiny
July 16, 2020
  • As the school year draws near and debates continuing about how--and if--schools should reopen, state data show children and teens represent an increasing percentage of cases, including more than a third of all kids tested in Florida being infected. 
  • The National Security Agency, as well as its counterparts in Britain and Canada, all said Thursday that they're seeing persistent attempts by Russian hackers to break into organizations working on a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The Western intelligence agencies say they believe the hackers are part of the Russian group informally known as Cozy Bear. The intelligence agencies refer to it as APT29. That group has been linked to Russian intelligence and was blamed for hacking Democratic Party emails in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  • A $10.2 million “sole source” contract to run a centralized COVID-19 database for the Trump administration drew sharp criticism from congressional Democrats, who demanded that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention be reinstated as the primary repository of coronavirus data. The contract drew scant public attention when it was awarded in April to TeleTracking Technologies, a Pittsburgh company whose core business is helping hospitals manage the flow of patients. But it drew scrutiny after the administration ordered hospitals to report coronavirus information to the new database, housed at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, instead of to the CDC.

State Update: Georgia Governor Bans Local Governments from Mandating Masks, States Hit Hard Bring in Refrigerated Trucks as Morgues Fill Up, LA Schools Decision Sets Off Cascade of California Closures
July 16, 2020
  • The governor of Georgia has thrown a wrench into the drive to get people to don masks against COVID-19 by banning more than a dozen local governments in his state from mandating that they be worn in public. Gov. Brian Kemp issued his executive order Wednesday, the same day the Republican governor of another state that has seen a surge in new cases, Mike DeWine of Ohio, changed course and urged residents to wear masks at all times when outside. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, have reversed their stances and now require masks in public.
  • With skyrocketing coronavirus hospitalizations in several states, hard-hit counties in Arizona and Texas are preparing for the worst by bringing in refrigerated trucks as morgues fill up. In Arizona's Maricopa County, which has the most COVID-19 cases in the state, the medical examiner's office has ordered four portable coolers with additional ones expected in the coming days, said Fields Moseley, the county spokesman. The medical examiner's office morgue had a total of 156 deceased people -- with a surge capacity of just over 200, Moseley said. 
  • The announcement by Los Angeles and San Diego school officials to extend campus closures into the new academic year has touched off a wave of similar decisions by districts across California due to coronavirus concerns. The domino effect started by the state's two largest school districts likely means that the vast majority of California’s 6 million-plus K-12 students will remain at home for weeks — and possibly months — to come.

Consumers Spent at Pre-COVID Levels, but Virus Spread and Jobless Rate Could Make Economic Boost Temporary
CNBC  |  July 16, 2020

Consumers went shopping in June, spending at pre-COVID levels, but the spreading virus and still staggering number of people filing for unemployment benefits suggests the recovery may take longer than initially expected. Economists say the risk of a further downturn makes the economy even more dependent on the next round of fiscal stimulus.

A Second Coronavirus Death Surge Is Coming
The Atlantic  |  July 16, 2020

There is no mystery in the number of Americans dying from COVID-19. Despite political leaders trivializing the pandemic, deaths are rising again: The seven-day average for deaths per day has now jumped by more than 200 since July 6, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. By our count, states reported 855 deaths on July 15, in line with the recent elevated numbers in mid-July.

Another Round of Stimulus Checks? Extended Unemployment? Here are Answers to Key Money Questions
CNBC  |  July 16, 2020

For many Americans, budgeting has become a more precarious balancing act these days. Both sides of the equation — income and expenses — are wrought with uncertainty. What will happen when your unemployment benefits run out? Will you be able to keep up with your credit card payments? Following is some information on where things stand. 

White and Higher-income Households got Coronavirus Stimulus Checks Faster than Black and Lower-income Households
CNBC  |  July 16, 2020

Almost 160 million people received one-time economic stimulus payments from the IRS this spring to help mitigate financial distress caused by the coronavirus pandemic. However, some people have still not received a payment, according to the Urban Institute’s Coronavirus Tracking Survey. And those who have not received their check yet are some of the nation’s most vulnerable.

Target, CVS and Walgreens Join Other Major Retailers in Requiring Masks in U.S. Stores
USA Today  |  July 16, 2020

Target, CVS and Walgreens are the latest retailers to announce that they, too, will require shoppers to wear masks or face coverings at stores nationwide. The announcements come a day after Walmart, Kroger and Kohl's announced they would require masks starting next week as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

50 Brands Giving Back to the Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic
USA Today  |  July 16, 2020

Over the past few months, we've all likely felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. To help those in need, many retailers have committed to giving back to their local and global communities. If you want to feel good about the products you're buying, following are 50 of the most popular retailers that are currently giving back during the pandemic.

FinCEN Releases COVID-19 Advisory on Imposter Scams and Money Mule Schemes
July 16, 2020

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) recently issued an advisory warning financial institutions of imposter scams and money mule schemes, which are two kinds of consumer fraud that U.S. authorities have observed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young Adults are More Likely to Have Moved Because of COVID-19
HousingWire  |  July 14, 2020

Nearly a quarter of Americans said they moved or know someone who moved due to COVID-19. According to a survey from Pew Research Center, 3% of respondents said they moved permanently because of the pandemic, 6% said someone moved into their household for the same reason and 14% who did not personally relocate said they know someone else who did. It was young adults, ages 18 to 29, who said they moved due to the pandemic, the highest of any other age group at 37%, Pew said.

As Remote Work Spreads, will Offices Disappear?
USA Today  |  July 13, 2020

As states lift stay-at-home orders and gradually let businesses reopen, companies are gingerly allowing white-collar workers to return to office buildings even while weighing how much they really need the space. About half of U.S. employees worked from home during the COVID-19 shutdowns, according to the Brookings Institution. However, analysts don’t predict an abandonment of American offices. In fact, more office space could well be needed in the short term to accommodate social distancing requirements until a coronavirus vaccine is widely distributed.

As Offices Reopen Amid Coronavirus, Workers Clash Over Masks, Cubicle Barriers and Lysol
The Wall Street Journal  |  July 13, 2020

As lockdowns lift, employees returning to the workplace—as well as those who never left—are clashing over different views of the pandemic. Some say their colleagues aren’t taking it seriously; others say their co-workers are going too far to stay safe. The disconnect, often freighted with election-year politics, is creating tension as the number of U.S. coronavirus cases continues to climb.

These Coronavirus Benefits are Ending Before July 31. Make Sure You're Prepared
CNet  |  July 9, 2020

Several benefits were developed in March to help ease the financial strains on Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Those are set to come to an end before July 31, which could impact 20 million Americans. The CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, provided benefits like enhanced unemployment payments to supplement lost income from layoffs. It also includes a clause to delay evictions for 120 days. But now this assistance is dissolving, the $600 unemployment benefit stopping days sooner than was commonly thought

Fauci Says U.S. is not 'Doing Great' on Coronavirus Compared to Other Countries
CBS News  |  July 9, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the nation's leading voices on the coronavirus pandemic, said that the U.S. is not "doing great" in its response to the virus compared to other countries. "As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don't think you can say we're doing great. I mean, we're just not," Fauci said. Fauci attributed COVID-19 surges in states to their decisions to reopen too quickly. 

Federal Update: Congress Created Virus Aid and then Reaped the Benefits, Pelosi Rejects White House's $1T Price Tag for Relief, WHO Warns Pandemic is ‘Getting Worse’
July 9, 2020

At least a dozen lawmakers have ties to organizations that received federal coronavirus aid, according to newly released government data, highlighting how Washington insiders were both author and beneficiary of one of the biggest government programs in U.S. history. Under pressure from Congress and outside groups, the Trump administration this week disclosed the names of some loan recipients in the $659 billion Paycheck Protection Program, launched in April to help smaller businesses keep Americans employed during the pandemic. Connections to lawmakers, and the organizations that work to influence them, were quickly apparent.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the Trump administration’s calls to limit the next coronavirus relief package to $1 trillion, arguing that Congress will need to approve at least double that amount amid a surge in cases. "A trillion dollars is OK, that’s an interesting starting point. But that doesn’t come anywhere near," Pelosi said. Congressional leaders, including Pelosi, are in the early stages of drafting a fifth mammoth aid bill to stave off a total collapse of the U.S. economy while infusing cash in health efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic. But Democratic and Republican leaders remain fiercely at odds over the size and scope of the package.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate globally as the virus reaches new communities and countries struggle to get their outbreaks under control, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “The virus can be brought under control,” Tedros said in his opening remarks to a member states mission briefing in Geneva. “But in most of the world, the virus is not under control; it’s getting worse.” Tedros also announced the formation of a new independent panel to evaluate the global coronavirus pandemic response, including the WHO’s actions. 

State Update: U.S. Reports Record Single-day Spike of 63,200 New Cases, California and Florida Hit Record for Average Daily Cases, 'Stop Getting Tested' Ohio Politician Says
July 9, 2020

The United States reported a daily record of 63,247 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It’s the second time this week the U.S. topped its record for new infections reported in a 24-hour period as outbreaks expand across a number of states, mostly across the American South and West.

California and Florida were among 12 states that hit a record-breaking, seven-day average for daily new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Across the U.S. as of Wednesday, coronavirus cases grew in 40 states, based on a seven-day moving average, according to the analysis. Nationally, cases grew by more than 20% from a week ago. 

Ohio state Rep. Nino Vitale is urging his constituents not to get tested for the coronavirus, flouting advice from health officials — and from another Republican lawmaker, Gov. Mike DeWine. "This is what happens when people go crazy and get tested," Vitale wrote on Facebook this week. "STOP GETTING TESTED!" Vitale was evidently incensed by an order from DeWine and state health officials that people in seven Ohio counties with severe outbreaks must wear face coverings when out in public.

Poll Shows Trump’s Coronavirus Approval at All-time Low
Politico  |  July 9, 2020

Support for President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has hit an all-time low, according to a new survey. An ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday reports that a record 67 percent of respondents now disapprove of “the way Donald Trump is handling the response to the coronavirus,” while only 33 percent approve — the widest gulf in public sentiment since ABC News and Ipsos began surveying on the pandemic in March.

Nearly 50 Million Americans Have Filed For Unemployment—Here’s What’s Really Happening
Forbes  |  July 9, 2020

Roughly 1.3 million Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, according to the United States Department of Labor. If you add in the 1 million pandemic claims filed by gig-economy and related workers, we’re at an alarming 2.3 million Americans who sought unemployment assistance last week. Nearly 50 million people have now filed for first-time unemployment benefits over the last 16 weeks.

CDC Director Says No Revised School Guidelines Despite Trump's Push
CNN  |  July 9, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not revise its guidelines for reopening schools despite calls from President Donald Trump and the White House to do so, agency Director Dr. Robert Redfield said. Instead, additional reference documents will be provided, he said. The President, against the advice of some of the nation's top health officials, has repeatedly called for schools to reopen as coronavirus cases surge across the country. 

Businesses, Sick of Policing Mask Use to Prevent Coronavirus, Ask Government to Step In
CNBC  |  July 9, 2020

Desperate to keep their workers safe and their lights on, retailers reached out to the National Governors Association urging policymakers for their help in sending a strong and uniform message about social distancing and wearing a mask. 

WHO Officials are Reviewing New Evidence of Airborne Coronavirus Transmission, Importance of Ventilation
CNBC  |  July 9, 2020

The World Health Organization said it is reviewing new evidence on whether the coronavirus can spread through particles in the air.  The United Nations health agency warned in March that large respiratory droplets could be kicked up into the air where they might become airborne and linger in certain environments. The WHO’s remarks come after 239 scientists from 32 different countries published an open letter to the organization calling for it to update its information on the coronavirus.

32% of U.S. Households Missed Their July Housing Payments
CNBC  |  July 8, 2020

As the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, almost one-third of U.S. households, 32%, have not made their full housing payments for July yet, according to a survey by Apartment List, an online rental platform. About 19% of Americans made no housing payment at all during the first week of the month, and 13% paid only a portion of their rent or mortgage.

 PPP Helps 5,100 Title and Settlement Companies
July 7, 2020

More than 5,100 title and settlement companies received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to data released July 6 by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Treasury Department. Read on for more details, including the average loan amount, which states had the most borrowers and how many jobs the funds saved.

Federal Update: Senate Democrats Push to Extend Enhanced Unemployment Benefits, Lawmakers Call for Transparency in Pandemic Data Collection, WHO Warns Some Countries may Have to Reinstate Lockdowns
July 1, 2020

Senate Democrats unveiled a plan to extend enhanced unemployment benefits until a drop in a state’s unemployment rate, when it would be phased out. Congress approved in March an additional $600 per week in federal unemployment insurance but it expires at the end of the month even as the U.S. unemployment rate hovers above 13%. The legislation would extend the enhanced insurance but reduce the amount beneficiaries receive as the economy recovers. Once a state’s three-month average unemployment rate dips below 11%, the benefit would get cut by $100 for every percentage point the jobless rate falls until it slides below 6%. 

A growing number of Democratic lawmakers are sounding the alarm about a program launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to track the spread of the coronavirus. The public health effort, called “HHS Protect Now,” scoops up vast amounts of data, including coronavirus test results, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local sources. It also relies on technology from secretive Silicon Valley firm Palantir, better known for working with the U.S. military, national security agencies and immigration offices. In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, a group of Democratic U.S. senators and members of Congress questioned whether any of the data gathered would be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to round up undocumented immigrants.

Some countries with rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreaks might have to reinstate lockdowns and other restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, said World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Globally, the pandemic is still accelerating, Tedros said. Over the past week, more than 160,000 coronavirus infections have been confirmed around the world every single day. The virus has now infected more than 10.5 million people globally and killed at least 512,331 people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

State Update: Daily Number of Coronavirus Cases Tops 50,000 for First Time, Internal Messages Reveal Crisis at Houston Hospitals, New York Gov. Cuomo Warns of Resurgence in Coronavirus Cases
July 1, 2020

The United States reported 52,789 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the largest single-day total since the start of the pandemic. Across the country, states are casting aside plans for a gradual return to normalcy, with California, Michigan and New York City the latest to rethink some aspects of reopening. More than 800,000 new coronavirus cases were detected in the United States in June, many of them in Sun Belt states that were quick to reopen. At least 125,602 deaths have been reported since the start of the pandemic.

At Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston on Sunday, the medical staff ran out of both space for new coronavirus patients and a key drug needed to treat them. With no open beds at the public hospital, a dozen COVID-19 patients who were in need of intensive care were stuck in the emergency room, awaiting transfers to other Houston area hospitals. A day later, the top physician executive at the Houston Methodist hospital system wrote to staff members warning that its coronavirus caseload was surging: “It has become necessary to consider delaying more surgical services to create further capacity for COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Robert Phillips said in the note, an abrupt turn from three days earlier, when the hospital system sent a note to thousands of patients, inviting them to keep their surgical appointments.

The coronavirus outbreak across the U.S. is getting worse and could threaten New York’s recovery after stringent lockdowns across the state helped suppress the fast-spreading infection, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday. “We have to be careful. We have dark clouds on the horizon and we’ve made tremendous progress,” Cuomo said at a press briefing. “We’ve been through Hell and back, but this is not over and this can still rear its ugly head anywhere in this nation and in this state.”

The Arizona Department of Health reported nearly 4,900 new coronavirus cases and 88 new deaths on Wednesday, a record single-day jump in both grim markers ahead of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the state later in the day. The coronavirus has infected a total of 84,092 people and killed 1,720 people in Arizona so far. The state’s previous single-day high in the number of additional cases was 3,593 on June 23 ahead of President Donald Trump’s scheduled event in Phoenix. 

Why Extending the PPP Application Deadline Might Not Help Small Businesses
CNBC  |  July 1, 2020

The Senate is giving entrepreneurs more time to apply for emergency funding. But it might not be enough for small-business owners. However, accountants say that this move falls short. Indeed, while the first $349 billion of Paycheck Protection Program funding was claimed in the first two weeks, the second infusion of $310 billion on April 27 still hasn’t been spent down.

You Took a PPP Loan. Now Get Ready to Talk About It
Crain's Cleveland Business  |  July 1, 2020

The ever-evolving rules around the Paycheck Protection Program loans continue to evolve. And this now seems to be the wisest advice: If your business took a loan, figure it's going to be made public. And plan for what you're going to say if asked about it.

17.6 Million Unemployed Americans Probably Won’t Return to Their Pre-pandemic Jobs
CNBC  |  July 1, 2020

Just over 1 in 10 Americans who are out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic don’t have a good chance of getting called back to their old jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute. About 11.9 million Americans who are unemployed as a result of the pandemic, or about 7.2% of the workforce, have no hope of returning to their old jobs, while 5.7 million workers, or 3.5% of people, expect to get called back to work but probably won’t.

Official U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll is ‘a Substantial Undercount’ of Actual Tally, Yale Study Finds
CNBC  |  July 1, 2020

The number of confirmed U.S. deaths due to the coronavirus is substantially lower than the true tally, according to a study conducted by researchers at Yale University.  State reporting discrepancies and a sharp increase in U.S. deaths amid a pandemic suggest the number of COVID-19 fatalities is undercounted, they said.

Americans' Coronavirus Conduct Prompts Growing Frustrations: Poll
FOX News  |  July 1, 2020

Amid new spikes in coronavirus cases afflicting most states across the country, a national poll released on Wednesday indicates people are increasingly critical of the job fellow Americans are doing dealing with the pandemic. According to a survey, just 28 percent of those questioned say the American public is doing a good job coping with the outbreak, with 59 percent saying they’re doing a bad job. 

United Airlines is Tripling Flights Despite a Spike in Coronavirus Infections
Yahoo! Finance  |  July 1, 2020

United Airlines will schedule nearly 25,000 domestic and international flights in August, tripling the total number of flights it flew in June, despite an increase in coronavirus infections nationwide. Travel demand remains depressed although the number of passengers passing through TSA checkpoints continues to increase at an anemic pace.  

Treasury Department, IRS will not Extend Tax Day a Second Time
CNBC  |  June 30, 2020

Uncle Sam has heard your requests for more time to file your taxes – and they have been denied. The Treasury Department and the IRS will stick with the July 15 deadline for 2019 income tax returns and taxes owed for that year, the agencies said.

Tips and Tricks to Hiring During COVID-19
June 29, 2020

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 | 1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT | Register
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, and your business has needed to be flexible to survive. As Americans are able to go back to work, interviewing and onboarding new employees can be tricky. A new ALTA Insights webinar, “How to Successfully Interview and Onboard Employees Remotely,” will discuss tips and tricks to conduct remote interviews and successfully onboard employees after you make that all-important hire.

Coronavirus Cases Grow in More Than 30 States as the U.S. Sets a Record for Average Daily Cases
CNBC  |  June 26, 2020

Coronavirus cases are growing in more than 30 states, based on a seven-day moving average, as governors in Florida and Arizona place a hold on their reopenings and Texas tightens restrictions once again. As of Thursday, the nation’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases increased more than 38% compared with a week ago, according to Johns Hopkins University data, reaching a record high average of more than 33,000 daily new cases.

Federal Update: Watchdog Calls for Fraud Crackdown at Small Business Lending Program, Uncle Sam is Paying 5% Interest on Your Late Tax Refund, Prominent Figures Warn Coronavirus Threatens Democracy
June 25, 2020

Congress’ watchdog arm called on the Trump administration on Thursday to step up efforts to police the government’s massive small business rescue program after finding a significant risk of fraud and resistance to oversight at the agency running the bailout. The Government Accountability Office targeted the Small Business Administration in a sweeping new report looking at how agencies have used $2.6 trillion in economic relief funds appropriated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Forget high-interest savings accounts. The IRS is crediting up to 5% interest on late tax refunds. The government agency announced it would grant interest on tax refunds that are issued after April 15 – the original due date for 2019 federal income tax returns. Bear in mind that the IRS has pushed out the new due date for returns to July 15. The interest applies to returns filed by then.

State Update: TX Imposes New Restrictions as Cases Surge, NY, NJ and CT Require Some Travelers to Quarantine for Two Weeks, NC Health Officials Report COVID-19 Clusters at Daycare Centers
June 25, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday moved to impose new mitigation measures in his state amid a spike in coronavirus cases there, issuing an executive order to close bars and place restrictions on other businesses the governor said were linked to the virus's resurgence. In a statement, Abbott said the decision came after Texas exceeded a 10 percent positivity rate for coronavirus tests. The state reported nearly 6,000 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, a new daily record.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut issued a travel advisory Wednesday that requires people arriving from states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for 14 days. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said the travel advisory applies to anyone coming from a state with a transmission rate above 10 per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average or 10 percent of the total population testing positive on a seven-day rolling average.

North Carolina has identified several clusters of cases at daycare centers as parents weigh childcare options during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. On Tuesday, the state's Department of Health and Human Services reported four separate clusters of confirmed coronavirus cases at daycare or school settings that service 10 or more children. Each establishment had a total of six staffers or kids test positive for COVID-19, with zero deaths.

CDC Says COVID-19 Cases in U.S. may be 10 Times Higher Than Reported
NBC News  |  June 25, 2020

The true number of Americans who've been infected with COVID-19 may top 20 million, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Our best estimate right now is that for every case that's reported, there actually are 10 other infections," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said.

Millions of Americans Will Fall Off an ‘Income Cliff’ when Extra $600 in Unemployment Benefits Ends
CNBC  |  June 25, 2020

Tens of millions of Americans who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic have been able to collect an extra $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits. For many households, the enhanced benefits have been a financial lifeline amidst record job loss and a burgeoning recession. But on July 31, that enhanced benefit will end — and that could have dire consequences for millions of households.

CDC Adds 3 New Coronavirus Symptoms to List
FOX News  |  June 25, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) appears to have recently added three new symptoms of the novel coronavirus to its ongoing list. Congestion or runny nose, nausea, and diarrhea were added, joining the federal agency's list that already included fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell and sore throat.

IRS Sent Stimulus Checks to More Than 1 Million Deceased
Politico  |  June 25, 2020

The IRS sent stimulus checks to more than 1 million people who had died because it initially believed it did not have the legal authority to withhold them, according to an independent watchdog. The administration later reversed itself, and began trying to block payments going to the dead while asking survivors to return those that did slip through, the Government Accountability Office said in an analysis released Thursday.

‘It’s Too Soon to go to a Movie Theater,’ Infectious Disease Experts Say
CNBC  |  June 25, 2020

Movie theater owners may be eager to reopen their screens to the public, but health experts aren’t convinced that it’s time to head back to cinemas. While movie theaters have established guidelines for social distancing and increased sanitation, only some locations are requiring patrons wear masks. Infectious disease specialists have underscored the importance of wearing face coverings as a preventative measure, especially in enclosed, air-conditioned locations. 

Get A Comfortable Chair: Permanent Work From Home Is Coming
NPR  |  June 25, 2020

Indefinite. Or even permanent. These are words companies are using about their employees working from home. It's three months into a huge, unplanned social experiment that suddenly transported the white-collar workplace from cubicles and offices to kitchens and spare bedrooms. And many employers now say the benefits of remote work outweigh the drawbacks.

Remote Online Notarizations Surge 40% During Pandemic
HousingWire  |  June 23, 2020

Since stay-at-home orders and self-quarantines began in March, more businesses have moved to digital solutions. A survey from Qualia revealed that there was a nearly 40% surge in remote online notarization from April through May. Seventy percent of those who responded to the survey said they anticipated either having the same volume or an increased volume over the next 30 days compared to the previous month.

How to Politely Sidestep a Handshake
USA Today  |  June 23, 2020

A handshake is a common interaction in real estate transactions. But the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked "shakephobia," where some people may feel skittish about resuming the tradition of shaking hands, at least for now.

The Changing Laws on Remote Online Notarization
The Washington Post  |  June 22, 2020

As of mid-June, 26 states allow remote online notarization (RON) closings, including Virginia. The District and Maryland allow RON closings on a temporary, emergency basis. According to Diane Tomb, chief executive of the American Land Title Association (ALTA), nearly 30 percent of title and settlement companies are offering some type of digital closing to meet social distancing requirements. This is up from 17 percent of companies offering digital closings in 2019. “Protecting consumers remains the title insurance industry’s top priority,” Tomb added.

State Update: Californians Must Wear Masks Outside Home Under New Order; Vermont Borders States With Major COVID-19 Outbreaks, but You Won’t Find That Here;
June 19, 2020
  • Californians must immediately begin wearing masks outside the home when they cannot safely distance from other people to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, state health officials ordered Thursday, a day after reporting the largest number of new cases in a single day.
  • Months into the pandemic, Vermont’s governor says the state is “the envy of the nation,” with little more than 1,100 confirmed covid-19 infections and 56 deaths.
State-by-State Business Reopening Guidance
June 19, 2020

To help track the differences across each state and provide the latest guidance and information to America’s employers, the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides an interactive state map and guides.

Insurers May Only Pay For Coronavirus Tests When They're 'Medically Necessary'
June 19, 2020

In the wake of the massive turnout at anti-racism demonstrations around the country, public health officials are encouraging protesters to get tested for the coronavirus. As purely precautionary testing has become more common, some insurance companies are arguing they can't just pay for everyone who's concerned about their risk to get tested.

Coronavirus Spikes Bring States and Cities Back to the Table to Discuss Protection Measures
June 19, 2020

The pressure is on for local leaders to respond to regional Covid-19 spikes and records, and some are turning to mask mandates.

Privacy During Coronavirus
June 19, 2020

During this pandemic, preserving public health has, rightly, been our nation’s top concern. But a lively debate has arisen during this time about whether that top priority necessarily means that other values – such as privacy – need to give way. If tracking people’s location will facilitate contact tracing and enforcement of shelter-in-place mandates, do we give governments and commercial partners carte blanche to track our whereabouts? Will enforcing longstanding privacy requirements impede the flow of life-saving public health information?

EEOC: Employers Can't Require COVID-19 Antibody Tests
June 18, 2020

Businesses can't make workers take tests that detect COVID-19 antibodies without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in new guidance. While employers are allowed to require viral tests, which test for active infections, an antibody test is not considered job-related and is prohibited under the ADA.

Pandemic Causes Drop in Home Sales
M Report  |  June 18, 2020

According to Freddie Mac’s Quarterly Forecast, housing markets have been affected by the pandemic with both home sales and house price growth declining.

How to Determine PPP Forgiveness Eligibility
June 16, 2020

Loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for certain business costs. At least 60 percent of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll (This includes health care, retirement, etc.). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Read on for info about eligible spending, things the money can't be used for, reductions to loan forgiveness and how to repair reductions in payroll.

#GoodDeeds: Check Out These Acts of Kindness
June 16, 2020

Find out what title companies in Wisconsin and Louisiana are doing to give back to their communities in our latest roundup of #GoodDeeds.

New Coronavirus Concern: Digital Real Estate Scams
The Mercury News  |  June 16, 2020

The rise of virtual business — especially in real estate transactions — means convenience coupled with new risks. Real estate professionals say they are ever vigilant about wire fraud and criminal hacks, but it’s a growing problem. ALTA has produced videos and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud, as well as a downloadable 10-step guide on what to do if you've been hit by wire fraud. Click here to access the resources. 

COVID Will Have Larger Impact on Commercial Than Residential Real Estate, Says New York Architect
Mansion Global  |  June 16, 2020

Mark Stumer of architecture firm Mojo Stumer predicts larger lobbies and elevators may be a result of the virus.

ALTA Insights: How COVID Impacted the Housing Market
June 15, 2020

We may not be mind readers, but we bet we can guess one of the biggest questions on your mind right now: What will the housing market look like post-COVID-19? Register for this Qualia-sponsored ALTA Insights webinar, "2020 Housing in the Time of COVID-19," as Realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu discusses how the pandemic has impacted the housing market and what new trends are on the horizon. The webinar starts today at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

Coronavirus Fraud is Everywhere
Axios  |  June 15, 2020

In perhaps the most widespread scam, criminals are filing fake unemployment claims on behalf of real people who haven't lost their jobs, hitting one state after another.

Fed Update: New CDC Coronavirus Guidelines Advise Caution with Travel, Virus Cases With Possible Links to Protests Start to Trickle in, TSA Screens 500,000+ for First Time Since Pandemic
June 12, 2020

Public transportation and travel can still be risky and people need to think twice before they leave home, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in new guidelines released Friday. “Public transit can put you in close contact with others. When using public transportation, follow CDC’s guidance on how to protect yourself when using transportation,” the agency said in the new guidelines, aimed at providing advice for people to lead their lives day to day while the coronavirus continues. 

Health officials in the United States have not yet traced major outbreaks of the virus to the protests that followed George Floyd’s killing, but across the country, officials are seeing a handful of new cases with possible links to the demonstrations, with at least 30 cases as of today, according to a New York Times analysis. That number — which includes police officers, National Guard members and demonstrators across nine states and Washington, D.C. — represents a tiny fraction of the thousands of new virus cases being identified across the country each day that have no apparent connection to the protests.

More than 500,000 people crossed through U.S. Transportation Security Administration checkpoints on Thursday, the first time the numbers have climbed above that mark since travel cratered this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 502,209 people TSA reported screening is still well below typical levels — nearly 19% of the 2.7 million the agency screened on the same Thursday last year. The passenger rates have steadily risen since bottoming out at about 3% of last year’s traffic – less than 100,000 daily travelers — in mid-April.

State Update: U.S. Insurers say They are not Liable for Virus-related Small Business Costs, Virus on the Upswing in Many States, Jacksonville Says No Safety Promises Made to Lock RNC Bid
June 12, 2020

U.S. property and casualty insurers have said they aren’t able nor required to compensate small businesses for the costs created by the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported. State and city lawmakers have proposed requiring insurers to pay for the lost income small businesses have faced as a result of the pandemic, according to Reuters. But the American Property Casualty Insurance Association estimated it could cost the industry $255 billion to $431 billion each month, a figure which the trade group warned could make insurers insolvent, the wire service reported.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in U.S. states that were among the first and most aggressive to reopen, leading some local officials to reconsider reopening plans. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown announced a 7-day statewide pause on further reopening as health officials study the data and try to contain budding outbreaks. In Arizona, however, Gov. Doug Ducey tried to reassure people that the rise in confirmed cases was expected and that the state’s hospitals have the capacity to handle a further surge. 

Jacksonville’s Republican mayor said his city made no commitments about large gatherings or mask-wearing to win the right to host events associated with this summer’s Republican National Convention. “Clearly the RNC wants a large event with a lot of people,” Mayor Lenny Curry said. “I want that too… If COVID-19 presents challenges, we will put the safety of people first.” Curry said it was too early to say what type of safety protocols would be needed during the events — scheduled to be held from Aug. 24 through Aug. 27.

CDC Warns U.S. may Reimplement Strict Coronavirus Measures if Cases go up ‘Dramatically’
CNBC  |  June 12, 2020

States may need to reimplement the strict social distancing measures that were put in place earlier this year if U.S. coronavirus cases rise “dramatically,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deputy director for infectious diseases, Jay Butler. “If cases begin to go up again, particularly if they go up dramatically, it’s important to recognize that more mitigation efforts such as what were implemented back in March may be needed again,” said Butler. The “pandemic is not over.”

Fed Sees Need for More Small Business Aid, Citing 'Acute Risks' to Survival
Politico  |  June 12, 2020

The Federal Reserve on Friday warned that struggling small businesses may need more government support even after employers received more than $500 billion in emergency loans. Surveys suggest that pessimism about business viability is prevalent, with a majority of small businesses seeing revenue losses and half not expecting to return to usual operations within the next six months, the Fed said. It noted that employment declines have been deeper among small businesses than among larger firms.

12 Million People are at Risk of Not Getting Their Stimulus Payments. Here’s How That Could be Fixed
CNBC  |  June 12, 2020

Many Americans are at risk of not receiving their $1,200 stimulus checks. Now, research estimates that as many as 12 million people could go without the payments due to them. The population of low-income individuals could be difficult to reach because many of these people typically either don’t file tax returns or do not receive federal government benefits and thus are at risk of falling through the cracks.

Majority of Americans Would Not Feel Safe if Coronavirus Restrictions Lifted Nationwide
CNBC  |  June 12, 2020

A majority of Americans say they would not feel safe if social distancing measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus were lifted nationwide, according to a new report published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. health officials conducted more than 4,000 surveys among adults in New York City, Los Angeles and broadly across the United States between May 5 and May 12. 

Dire PPE Shortages Reveal COVID-19's Racial Divide
NBC News  |  June 12, 2020

Nearly 100 days after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, health care workers across the country are still facing major shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) including crucial equipment such as masks, gowns, gloves and N95 respirators. Amid an alarming rise in coronavirus cases across the United States, the situation is especially dire at hospitals serving communities of color or patients on Medicaid, NBC News has found.

Asymptomatic Transmission of Coronavirus Appears to be Worse than SARS or Influenza — 5 Reasons you Should Care
MarketWatch  |  June 12, 2020

How worried should you be about asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19? Asymptomatic transmission “is the Achilles’ heel of COVID-19 pandemic control through the public-health strategies we have currently deployed,” according to a study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Symptom-based screening has utility, but epidemiologic evaluations of COVID-19 outbreaks ... strongly demonstrate that our current approaches are inadequate.” Following are five reasons to care about asymptomatic transmission.

ALTA's COVID-19 Update
June 12, 2020

Over the past several months, ALTA has communicated pertinent information related to the COVID-19 pandemic in our daily update. With states starting to reopen and content starting to slow, we will consolidate our update into one email on Friday afternoons beginning June 19. COVID-19 information and resources can always be found at alta.org/coronavirus. Please continue to share your #GoodDeeds by emailing stories and photos to communications@alta.org.

Federal Update: Mnuchin: 'We Can't Shut Down the Economy Again,' White House Plans Coronavirus Stimulus Talk for Late July, Senate Leader Calls for Coronavirus Task Force Briefing on Rising Cases
June 11, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned Thursday against locking down the country again even as fears grow about a potential second wave of coronavirus cases. "We can't shut down the economy again," Mnuchin said. "We've learned that if you shut down the economy, you're going to create more damage. And not just economic damage, but there are other areas, and we've talked about this — medical problems and everything else that get put on hold." Mnuchin said there is "plenty of hospital capacity" and "a lot of progress on testing." 

The White House will not discuss a fourth coronavirus stimulus package until late July, when Congress returns from recess. Both the Senate and House of Representatives are set to return to Washington on July 21, which is 10 days before programs under the CARES Act, including increased unemployment insurance payments, will expire. The Trump administration estimates that more than half of funds from the last three stimulus packages have not been spent.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, requested a briefing next week from top administration public health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, on recent coronavirus spikes in states around the country. “As the President continues to fixate on the stock market and Senate Republicans are ready to prematurely declare victory, we need to wrest the focus back to these crucial issues,” Schumer said Thursday on the Senate floor. “So today I’m requesting that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx and other members of the administration’s Coronavirus Task Force conduct a briefing for Democratic Senators on the recent spikes—next week. We need to understand why these spikes are happening and how to adapt our national response.”

State Update: Governors Reject Lockdowns as Virus Cases Spike, Texas Health Official Says COVID-19 Spike is a 'Serious Situation', Nashville Delays Next Stage of Reopening After Coronavirus Cases Rise
June 11, 2020

The coronavirus is spiking in more than a dozen states and intensive care beds are filling again, but several governors have no plans to reimpose shutdown measures or pause reopenings, a sign that the political will to take drastic measures has dissipated even as the virus is still raging. The governors’ attitudes mark a shift in the national view of the best way to respond to the virus that is still infecting more than 20,000 people in the U.S every day. State officials hesitant to pause gradually reawakening economies contend they are better equipped to identify and stamp out outbreaks than when COVID-19 emerged just a few months ago. 

As Texas continues trending upward in its average of daily new cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations, an official from the health department said "this is still a serious situation." "We’re certainly still seeing COVID-19 spread in Texas, as evidenced by the increased number of hospitalizations, down about 150 today to 2,008, and it’s an important reminder that this is still a serious situation," Chris Van Deusen, spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said Thursday. Texas averaged approximately 1,700 new cases per day over the week ending June 10, according to Johns Hopkins University data.  

Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced on Thursday that he intends to curb the city’s next reopening phase after reporting a “slightly elevated” average in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks. “As of today, the majority of our public health metrics are satisfactory. But our 14-day new case average remains slightly elevated, prompting us to stay in Phase Two of our Roadmap for Reopening Nashville,” Cooper said.

Operation Healthy Office: 10 Tips to Protect Your Employees' Health
June 11, 2020

The process of states reopening is taking place gradually and non-uniformly across the country. ALTA has developed and collected various resources to help title and settlement professionals develop a plan. Read on for 10 tips to protect your employees' health. Also, check out the resource from the Chamber of Commerce to find guidelines, timelines and other reopening information for employers, as well as this Workplace Decision Tree to assist in making re-opening decisions, especially to protect vulnerable workers.

Why Small Businesses are Slow to Claim the $130 Billion Left in the PPP Pot
CNBC  |  June 11, 2020

The economy is uncertain for small businesses, yet many of them are still taking their time securing emergency funding through the Paycheck Protection Program. Confusion around the workings of the program, especially over forgiveness, could be a reason why entrepreneurs are leery of applying for aid. “It’s like they’re building the airplane while it’s in the air,” said Albert Campo, CPA and managing partner at AJC Accounting Services in Manalapan, New Jersey.

Additional Stimulus Legislation may be Coming. Here’s What Could be in it
CNBC  |  June 11, 2020

Americans who are eager for more help from the government could be waiting awhile. Additional stimulus legislation is coming, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said this week. But those talks likely won’t get serious until late July. “I definitely think we are going to need another bipartisan legislation to put more money into the economy,” Mnuchin told the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on Wednesday.

U.S. Hits 2 Million Coronavirus Cases As Many States See A Surge Of Patients
NPR  |  June 11, 2020

The U.S. has reached another dire landmark in its fight against COVID-19, surpassing 2 million confirmed cases on Wednesday. New coronavirus infections are rising in at least 20 states, even as restrictions on daily life continue to ease across the country. As of Thursday morning, more than 112,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. — the most fatalities reported by any nation, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University. And most experts believe those numbers underestimate the true toll.

Coronavirus Deaths Could Reach 200,000 by Early Fall, Harvard Doctor Warns
Today  |  June 11, 2020

Looking ahead to the rest of the summer, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, explained that if the current number of coronavirus deaths per day in the U.S. — between 800 and 1,000 — stays the same, roughly 25,000 to 30,000 people will continue to die every month. Because the current total of U.S. coronavirus deaths is around 113,000, that means "sometime in September, we're going to cross 200,000, and we still won't be done," Jha said. "This pandemic is going to be with us until next spring or summer when we have a vaccine. This is not faded."

Will Schools be Safe This Fall?
CNN  |  June 11, 2020

Teachers, parents and, yes, even children are anxiously waiting for schools to reopen in the fall, but the biggest questions on everyone's mind are when and how that can happen safely. With so much still unknown about how coronavirus affects children and how it spreads, CNN asked health and education experts about the pros and cons of reopening schools. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he hesitated to make any broad statements about the safety of schools reopening, but said that conversation needs to happen with a particular focus on the infection level in each community.

Google and Apple’s Rules for Virus Tracking Apps Sow Division Among States
Politico  |  June 11, 2020

The global rush to halt the coronavirus led countries like Australia and South Korea to launch smartphone apps to track its spread, using the technology as a key part of their push to tamp down the pandemic and restart their economies. But U.S. efforts to do the same are running into an all-too-familiar problem that has plagued the pandemic response: a lack of national coordination. And Silicon Valley’s attempts to help aren’t resolving the confusion. Instead, with varying opinions on what data these apps should record, the federal government has so far failed to institute concrete privacy standards. 

Trying Out New Office Layouts for the Post-Pandemic Age
Bloomberg  |  June 10, 2020

Rather than committing to complete overhauls of their existing space, says Cushman & Wakefield Chief Executive Officer Brett White, some big corporations in office towers are looking at taking short-term leases in nearby buildings operated by coworking or flexible-space providers such as WeWork. Others are considering shifting workers even farther away.

 ALTA Insights Recording: How to Plan for PPP Loan Forgiveness
June 10, 2020

If you company received a loan under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, you’ll likely be applying for loan forgiveness, which was a central pillar of the federal governments’ economic response to COVID-19. This webinar recording provides the inside scoop on the SBA’s new forgiveness rules, the application process and the required documents necessary to apply for PPP loan forgiveness. Our expert panel walks through how to build an effective plan and document spending to ensure you receive the full loan forgiveness you are entitled to receive.

Federal Update: Mnuchin Loosens Restrictions on Loan Forgiveness as Borrowers Stay Secret, Federal Reserve Said Unemployment Would Remain High, Senate Hearing Paints Murky Picture of School Reopenings
June 10, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress on Wednesday that he has continued to loosen the rules of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to make sure the vast majority of borrowers will have at least some of their loans forgiven but that he does not plan on releasing the names of borrowers to the public. The Small Business Administration typically discloses names of borrowers from the loan program on which the PPP is based. But Mnuchin said he will not be doing the same with the PPP, despite a rocky rollout in which dozens of publicly held companies received millions of dollars in loans.

The economic devastation wrought by the virus in the United States and around the world is not likely to bounce back swiftly, several grim new forecasts warned Wednesday. In the United States, officials at the Federal Reserve indicated that they expected the unemployment rate to end 2020 at 9.3 percent and remain elevated for years, as the Fed left interest rates unchanged and near zero. Output is expected to be 6.5 percent lower at the end of this year than it was in the final quarter of 2019.

A Senate committee hearing on reopening schools in the fall on Wednesday underscored the level of uncertainty facing American schoolchildren, teachers and parents after most children's recent school year was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Panelists and senators on the body's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee considered a broad range of issues including masks, Internet access, literacy and liability as the picture of what the 2020-2021 school year will look like remained murky.

State Update: 19 States See Rising Coronavirus Cases, At Least 112,000 People Have Died from Coronavirus in the U.S., Rhode Island to Open All School Districts for In-person Classes on Aug. 31,
June 10, 2020

Health experts have long warned about a second peak in COVID-19, and now a rise in cases has pushed Arizona to tell its hospitals to activate emergency plans. Arizona is one of the 19 states with the trend of new coronavirus cases still increasing. While 24 are trending downward, seven states' trends are holding steady. Nationally more than 1.9 million people have been infected by the virus and more than 112,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

There are at least 1,988,491 cases of coronavirus in the U.S., and at least 112,311 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. On Wednesday, Johns Hopkins reported 2,821 new cases and 22 deaths.  

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday that all school districts in the state will reopen for school on Aug. 31. “I'm announcing this today so we can all start to think about what different might look like. It's gonna look like a lot more cleaning in the schools, it's going to look like kids desks further apart, it could look like staggered start times, it'll look like fewer kids on a bus and more buses and more transportation," Raimondo said. "It'll probably involve mask wearing of some kind, certainly for the adults in some way. It's also going to mean, we all have to understand, no one can go in the school building sick." 

Mnuchin Backs Push for More Emergency Economic Relief
Politico  |  June 10, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday strongly backed the move for new legislation to put more money into the economy but said the aid must be targeted at helping specific businesses reopen. In testimony before the Senate Small Business Committee, Mnuchin said unemployment was too high and that administration officials wanted to work on further economic incentives.

Poll: Public Split on Return to Routine Due to Coronavirus
CNN  |  June 10, 2020

People are about evenly split over whether they would be comfortable returning to their regular routines today, according to a CNN Poll conducted by SSRS nearly three months after the pandemic caused a widespread shutdown of life in America. Those who are not comfortable venturing out now largely expect that their everyday lives will be disrupted through the end of the year. Of the 50% who say they aren't currently comfortable returning to their regular routines, 17% say they think they probably or definitely will have resumed their usual routines by the end of the year, while about twice as many, 32% say they probably or definitely will not to be back to regular life until after the turn of the new year.

Many Young Adults Bypassed for Stimulus Checks are now Pushing to Change That
CNBC  |  June 10, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic prompted Congress to rush out emergency legislation to help Americans facing new financial challenges. But there’s a growing group of citizens opposed to one aspect of the federal aid effort — and some might be surprised by how young they are. Washington lawmakers passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill called the CARES Act in March. But there is a catch: Those children must be under 17 years old, in keeping with the definition for the child tax credit. Adult dependents of all ages were excluded. 

Fauci Says Asymptomatic Coronavirus Transmission is Possible Following WHO Confusion
FOX News  |  June 10, 2020

A statement from a World Health Organization (WHO) official this week about coronavirus transmission by asymptomatic individuals being “very rare” was “not correct,” said America’s leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. “We know from epidemiological studies they can transmit to someone who is uninfected even when they're without symptoms," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Wednesday. "So to make a statement to say that's a rare event was not correct."

United Airlines Now Asks Health Questions of Passengers Before Check-in
CNBC  |  June 10, 2020

United Airlines on Wednesday said passengers now face a series of health questions as they check in for their flights, the latest effort by an airline to address health concerns about flying during the coronavirus pandemic. Travelers will be presented with a checklist that prompts them to confirm that they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 21 days and that they haven’t had symptoms over the last two weeks such as a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees, a cough, chills, muscle aches or a sore throat.

These are the Schools Reporting Coronavirus Cases Within Their Athletic Programs
CNN  |  June 10, 2020

The list of athletics programs in universities across the US reporting coronavirus cases is growing. From Auburn University to the University of Central Florida, dozens of athletes have tested positive after returning to campus in recent weeks, prompting questions about the possibility of some college sports returning when the fall semester begins.

Americans’ Anxiety About Bills Dropped in May, Fed Survey Shows
HousingWire  |  June 9, 2020

Americans worried less about paying bills in May as the economy began reopening with new safety measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. About 12.6% of people worried they wouldn’t be able to make minimum debt payments in May, down from April’s seven-year high of 16.2%, according to a Federal Reserve survey of consumer expectations released on Friday.

Federal Update: Coronavirus Triggers New American Border Debate — With Canada, Democratic Senators Request Investigation of Trump’s Effort for Medical Supplies, Long-term Effects of COVID-19 Unknown
June 9, 2020

Canadian and U.S. governments must decide before June 22 whether to extend, amend or end land border restrictions — a COVID-19 response that is splitting families, disrupting tourism and upending life in border towns. Even with its provinces reopening, Canada is expected to push for maintaining restrictions on cross-border travel to all but essential travel. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that border officials will begin admitting immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents — but those travelers will be required to observe a 14-day quarantine, and thus must be able to stay in Canada for at least 15 days.

Three Democratic senators requested an independent probe of Project Airbridge, the Trump administration’s signature initiative for delivering personal protective equipment needed by health-care workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic. “Project Air Bridge — like the broader Trump Administration response to the pandemic — has been marked by delays, incompetence, confusion and secrecy involving multiple Federal agencies and actors,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote to the Pandemic Accountability Response Committee on Monday in a letter requesting the committee undertake an investigation.

There's still a lot to learn about the long-term negative effects of the COVID-19 infection on patients, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. "The thing that we don't yet fully appreciate is what happens when you get infected and you get serious disease and you recover? What are the long-term durable negative effects of that infection?"Fauci said. Fauci explained that because there still is not enough experience with the virus, scientists don't know what patients who have recovered will be like six months from now. "We don't know the extent of full recovery or partial recovery, so there's a lot we need to learn," he said.

State Update: More Than Half of States may be Undercounting Coronavirus Cases, Texas Reports Two Consecutive Days of Record Coronavirus Hospitalizations, N.J. Coronavirus Stay-at-home Order Lifted
June 9, 2020

At least 28 states are not following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on reporting new COVID-19 cases -- half of which saw the trend of new cases increasing in the last week. Those states are not reporting probable cases, according to the daily case count listed on the CDC's website. Probable cases include those that show evidence of an infection without the confirmation of a lab test and cases where coronavirus was listed as a cause or contributing cause of death but are not confirmed with a lab test. Some of the states with the largest populations -- like California, Florida, New York and Texas -- are among those listed as not reporting probable cases, despite CDC guidance that they should be included in the case count.

Texas has reported two consecutive days of record-breaking COVID-19 hospitalizations as the state continues to open businesses and resume activities that were temporarily shuttered due to the coronavirus. There are currently 2,056 patients sickened with COVID-19 in hospitals across the state as of early Tuesday afternoon, up from a record 1,935 patients Monday, according to updated data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

New Jersey is lifting the stay-at-home order put in place nearly three months ago to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the reopening plan nears Stage 2 with nonessential retail set to allow customers inside again next week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday. Murphy has cited continued progress with fewer numbers of newly infected people and deaths in recent weeks as the reason to lift unprecedented restrictions put in place.

New Coronavirus Worry: Contact Tracing Scams
The Mercury News  |  June 9, 2020

You’ve heard of phone scams and credit card scams, but now there’s a new type of fraud: coronavirus contact tracing scams. California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra this week warned residents to be aware of scam artists pretending to be contact tracers. Real contact tracers play a vital role in the effort to fight the spread of the virus, helping public health departments locate people who may have had contact with someone infected with COVID-19 so they can quarantine themselves or take other precautions. But now scam artists pretending to be contact tracers are tricking people into giving up private information such as Social Security numbers or sensitive financial data.

WHO Clarifies Comments on Asymptomatic Spread of Coronavirus: 'There's Much Unknown'
CNN  |  June 9, 2020

The World Health Organization tried on Tuesday to clear up confusing comments about how often people can spread the coronavirus when they do not have symptoms. The comments appeared to directly contradict guidance from public health organizations, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have said about a third of coronavirus infections may be asymptomatic. The CDC also estimates that 40% of coronavirus transmission is occurring before people feel sick, meaning they are presymptomatic. But it may boil down to how one defines "asymptomatic."

A Record Number of Retail Stores are Expected to Permanently Close This Year
CNN  |  June 9, 2020

As many as 25,000 retail stores in the United States are expected to permanently close this year as consumer demand for discretionary items stalls and more people shift to online shopping, according to a firm that tracks the industry. So far in 2020, more than 4,000 stores have said they will permanently close, according to a report released Tuesday by Coresight Research, a retail research and advisory firm. It anticipates closures will snowball and set a new annual record this year, breaking last year's record 9,302 closures tracked by the firm.

Job Openings Tumble to Lowest Level in More Than 5 Years
CNBC  |  June 9, 2020

Job openings through the first full month of the coronavirus pandemic reached their lowest level in more than five years, according to Labor Department figures released Tuesday. As companies shed record-breaking numbers of employees, the total vacancies plunged to 5.05 million in April, the lowest total since December 2014, the government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed. 

Coronavirus Made 40% of Major Retailers Skip May Rent Payments
FOX Business  |  June 9, 2020

Around 40 percent of major retailers avoided paying rent in full last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Monday report from The Real Deal, which cited data from the Los Angeles-based real estate business intelligence company Datex Property Solutions. Brick-and-mortar stores such as Pier One, Bed Bath & Beyond, Famous Footwear and Gap have reportedly skipped paying rent in the month of May in addition to the gym 24 Hour Fitness and movie theaters AMC and Regal. 

Defaults Will Rise for Student Loan Borrowers if Pause on Payments Isn’t Extended
CNBC  |  June 9, 2020

Unless Congress passes more relief measures for student loan borrowers, they will be required to resume their monthly payments on Oct. 1. And new graduates, entering one of the most troubled labor markets in history, wouldn’t see any help with their loans. That could result in financial disaster for millions of borrowers, experts say. 

#GoodDeeds: Proper Giving
June 9, 2020

In March, Illinois-based Proper Title donated $25,000 to Ann & Robert H. Lurie’s Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Meanwhile, Title Houston provided 235 pounds of food and $2,000 to benefit the East Spring Branch Food Pantry. Read on for more about these #GoodDeeds. Have a #GoodDeed example to share? Send your story and photo to communications@alta.org.

PPP Changes: New Timelines and Forgiveness Measures
June 9, 2020

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA) was signed into law on June 5 extending the time allowed for businesses to spend Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan proceeds and providing new forgiveness measures. Read on to learn about the key changes.

These Sanitizing Wipes for Your Home Are a Breeze to Make
realtor.com  |  June 9, 2020

Sanitizing wipes have become vital during theCOVID-19 pandemic but are often very difficult to find on store shelves. With just three ingredients, you can make wet towelettes that you can use to sanitize your home. 

Federal Update: Strong June Jobs Report Would Affect a Phase 4 Coronavirus Deal, Pentagon Removes Travel Restrictions on 44 Locations, World Reports Highest Number of COVID-19 Cases in One Day
June 8, 2020

President Donald Trump’s senior advisor Kevin Hassett said the contents of another coronavirus relief bill depend on whether the U.S. economy sees another blowout jobs report next month. Hassett, the former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, said that “the odds of there being a Phase 4 deal are really close to 100%,” even after the jobs data far exceeded expectations last month. A repeat performance in June would “absolutely affect the things that we pursue” in additional legislation, he said.

The Pentagon announced Monday that it had lifted travel restrictions on 44 destinations which had been placed to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The 44 locations include 39 U.S. states and five countries: Bahrain, Belgium, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. The Pentagon said in a statement that these locations “meet the conditions to lift travel restrictions, subject to the assessment of conditions at individual military installations within these areas.

Sunday marked the most COVID-19 cases reported to the World Health Organization in a single day so far during the coronavirus pandemic, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday. "Yesterday, more than 136,000 cases were reported — the most in a single day so far," Tedros said. "Almost 75% of yesterday’s cases come from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia."

State Update: NYC Reopens Exactly 100 Days After its First-Known COVID-19 Case, Texas Reports a Record Number of Coronavirus Patients After Reopening Early, Florida Sees Surge in Coronavirus Cases
June 8, 2020

Exactly 100 days since its first reported case of COVID-19, New York City ends its months-long virus shutdown Monday and looks to turn the page on one of the bleakest chapters in the five boroughs' -- and in America's -- history. Between 200,000 and 400,000 people are expected to return to work as New York City enters Phase I, reopening tens of thousands of jobs in manufacturing and construction -- the same industries it has had to tap to survive amid a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on its supplies and its spirit.

Texas reported a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations Monday — weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott took the lead among governors in easing social distancing measures across to help bring back jobs. There are currently 1,935 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the state, topping the previous hospitalization record of 1,888 patients on May 5, according to new data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas was among the first states to relax its statewide stay-at-home order, allowing it to expire April 30 and some businesses to resume operations May 1. 

First, the bad news: The number of new coronavirus cases reported in Florida each day has increased an average of roughly 46% over the past week, according to a national tracking website. But the percentage of coronavirus test results that turn out to be positive is only 4%, according to Covid19-projections.com, a modeling and tracking website cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization has recommended governments stay at a "testing positivity" rate of 5% or lower for at least 14 days before reopening. So while Florida's spike in new case numbers may be alarming, it's also had increased testing.

Study: Shutdowns Through Early April Prevented About 60 Million U.S. Coronavirus Infections
CNN  |  June 8, 2020

If large-scale shutdown policies -- such as ordering people to stay home and closing schools -- were not implemented after the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States, there would be roughly 60 million more coronavirus infections across the nation, a new modeling study suggests. The study, published Monday in the scientific journal Nature, involved a modeling technique typically used for estimating economic growth to measure the effect of shutdown policies across six countries: China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States.

The U.S. Officially Entered a Recession in February
CNBC  |  June 8, 2020

The worst U.S. downturn since the Great Depression is now officially a recession, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Though it seemed a foregone conclusion, the NBER, the official arbiter of recessions, made the declaration Monday. “The committee recognizes that the pandemic and the public health response have resulted in a downturn with different characteristics and dynamics than prior recessions,” the NBER’s Business Cycle Dating Committee said in a statement. “Nonetheless, it concluded that the unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warrants the designation of this episode as a recession, even if it turns out to be briefer than earlier contractions.”

WHO Warns Most People Still at Risk of Coronavirus as Mass Gatherings Resume
CNBC  |  June 8, 2020

The World Health Organization said on Monday that most people across the globe are still at risk of coronavirus infection and that the biggest threat to further spread is complacency, as mass gatherings resume in countries worldwide. The coronavirus pandemic is worsening across the globe as the number of new COVID-19 cases on Sunday reached an all-time high, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. He said that almost 75% of the cases come from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia. 

Google Maps Updated With COVID-19 Info and Transit Alerts
TechCrunch  |  June 8, 2020

Google Maps is today introducing a series of new features to better inform travelers and commuters about how their trip may be impacted by COVID-19 — including travel restrictions, COVID-19 checkpoints or even just the crowdedness of public transport. It’s also adding features that will help those traveling to COVID-19 testing centers better understand the eligibility and facility guidelines.

Quarantine Fatigue: Why Some of us Have Stopped Being Vigilant and How to Overcome It
CNN  |  June 8, 2020

If you've found you're no longer disinfecting your hands as often or becoming more lenient toward unnecessary trips outside, you're not alone. This unintentional phenomenon is "caution fatigue" — and you have your brain to blame. You were likely vigilant at the pandemic's outset, consistently keeping up with ways to ensure you didn't get infected with the coronavirus or infect others. The threat was new and urgent to your brain. And driven by the human instinct for self-preservation, fresh fear motivated you to eagerly adhere to recommended safety precautions. Fast-forward three months, and that sense of immediacy may have faded.

WHO: Data Suggests it's 'Very Rare' for Coronavirus to Spread Through Asymptomatics
Axios  |  June 8, 2020

Contact tracing data from around the globe suggests that while there are instances of asymptomatic coronavirus patients transmitting the virus to others, they are not "a main driver" of new infections, World Health Organization officials said Monday. “We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing. They’re following asymptomatic cases. They’re following contacts. And they’re not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare," Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said.

Here's Where we Stand on Getting a Coronavirus Vaccine
CNN  |  June 8, 2020

While coronavirus keeps spreading and killing with impunity, the world waits for a vaccine that could quash the pandemic. But details and timelines keep shifting. Here's the latest on where we stand in the race for a vaccine: The target for a COVID-19 vaccine to be available to the public is sometime in early 2021. Vaccines in development around the world are in various stages of testing. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he's confident one of the vaccine candidates will be proven safe and effective by the first quarter of 2021. But it's not clear which candidate shows the greatest promise yet. 

Report: COVID-19 Could Further Delay Millennial Homeownership for Years
June 8, 2020

With unemployment at record highs, many people are being forced to dip into their savings to cover everyday expenses and stay afloat. For the average millennial, it will take nine months of saving to recoup a single month’s worth of expenses, which could delay their goals of homeownership until long after coronavirus is under control, according to a new analysis released today by realtor.com.

Trump Signs New Law Relaxing PPP Rules: What You Need To Know
Forbes  |  June 5, 2020

In a display of bipartisanship President Trump today signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA) in an attempt to address many concerns expressed by the small business community around the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aimed at providing COVID-19 relief. On May 27, the House passed the PPPFA by 417-1 and the Senate approved it by unanimous consent on June 3. The new law addresses the following flaws in the original PPP program created under the CARES Act.

Federal Update: Jobs Report Further Divides Republicans and Democrats on Coronavirus Relief, WHO Updates Guidance on Face Masks, COVID-19 Shined a 'Bright Light' on U.S. Health Care Disparities
June 5, 2020

A surprisingly strong May jobs report has widened the gulf between Republicans and Democrats on how to proceed with the economic recovery from the coronavirus. After the U.S. gained 2.5 million jobs for the month, President Donald Trump outlined a fairly short list of priorities such as a payroll tax cut and more stimulus checks for Americans. Vice President Mike Pence said that the White House would be “open” to more relief for state and local governments to cover budget crunches created by the pandemic. Despite the gains, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3%, a level still higher than at any point after the 2008 financial crisis. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said not injecting more money into the economy now would jeopardize the progress made in May.

The World Health Organization said it recommends that governments ask everyone to wear fabric face masks in public in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19, updated guidance released by the organization states, according to Reuters. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO technical lead expert on COVID-19, said the organization is specifically recommending a fabric face mask because it is a non-medical mask. The WHO has previously said there was not enough evidence in support or against the use of face masks, though the organization has always recommended them for someone who is sick or who is caring for that person.

COVID-19 is shining a "bright light" on the U.S. disparities in the health and health care among people of color, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday. Black communities need the resources to have "the best possible chance with identification, isolation, and contact tracing to prevent the spread" of coronavirus, Fauci said. Fauci also called for a "long-term commitment to address these disparities of health that have been with us well before we had the challenge of coronavirus. We have an immediate and a long-term goal and responsibility," he said.

State Update: 13 States Report Significant Increase in Coronavirus Cases, De Blasio Calls on New Yorkers to get Tested Amid Protests, Outbreak In Pacific Northwest Seafood Industry As Season Ramps Up
June 5, 2020

The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus has increased in many of the states that were among the first to reopen their economies. California and 12 other states reported big increases in COVID-19 cases in a number of urban areas. In Los Angeles County, where there have been nearly 60,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, there was an average of 14 new cases per 100,000 people reported over a two-week time span, which is up from the previous average of 9.6 per 100,000 reported cases. After reopening, North Carolina also noted a spike in new coronavirus cases. As of June 5, state health officials report a total of 33,255 confirmed cases, up from 31,966 cases in its June 4 report. Read on for the rest of the list.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he wants every New Yorker to get a free test for the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 — a recommendation he stressed for the tens of thousands of protesters marching shoulder to shoulder, or mask to mask, throughout the city this past week. De Blasio announced on Wednesday that he was also making the coronavirus test free for all of New York City. He added Friday that there will be two new mobile COVID-19 clinics offering testing in the neighborhoods of Soundview and Kew Gardens starting next week.

As America's meat producers confronted thousands of COVID-19 cases, Pacific Northwest seafood companies drafted rigorous plans to ward off similar spread of the disease in an industry where processors also work in close quarters. But just a few weeks into the summer season, the industry has been shaken by its first major outbreak aboard a huge vessel with an onboard fish processing factory. This week, Seattle-based American Seafoods confirmed that 92 crew from its American Dynasty ship had tested positive for COVID-19, nearly three-fourths of the 126 people onboard.

May Sees Biggest Jobs Increase Ever of 2.5 Million as Economy Starts to Recover from Coronavirus
CNBC  |  June 5, 2020

Employment stunningly rose by 2.5 million in May and the jobless rate declined to 13.3%, according to data Friday from the Labor Department that was far better than economists had been expecting and indicated that an economic turnaround could be close at hand. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting payrolls to drop by 8.33 million and the unemployment rate to rise to 19.5% from April’s 14.7%. If Wall Street expectations had been accurate, it would have been the worst figure since the Great Depression. As it turned out, May’s numbers showed the U.S. may well be on the road to recovery after its fastest plunge in history.

Fauci: Americans Who Don’t Wear Masks May ‘Propagate the Further Spread of Infection’
CNBC  |  June 5, 2020

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said he has “no doubt” that Americans who aren’t wearing face masks, especially in large crowds, are increasing the risk of spreading the coronavirus. “When you have crowds of people together and you have the lack of wearing a mask that increases the risk of there being transmissibility. I have no doubt about that,” he said. “When we see that not happening, there is a concern that that may actually propagate the further spread of infection.”

Confirmed Coronavirus Cases are Rising Faster Than Ever
CNN  |  June 5, 2020

New cases of the novel coronavirus are rising faster than ever worldwide, at a rate of more than 100,000 a day over a seven-day average. In April, new cases never topped 100,000 in one day, but since May 21, there have only been less than 100,000 on five days, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Newly reported cases reached a high of 130,400 on June 3. The increase in case rates may be partially explained by increases in testing capacity, but there's still not enough testing to capture an accurate picture in many countries.

Trump Says U.S. has 2 Million Coronavirus Vaccine Doses ‘Ready to Go’
CNBC  |  June 5, 2020

President Donald Trump said Friday that the U.S. has already produced 2 million coronavirus vaccine doses that are “ready to go” once scientists figure out whether it is safe and effective. “Tremendous progress is being made on vaccines,” Trump said during a Friday morning news conference from the White House. “In fact, we’re ready to go in terms of transportation and logistics. We have over 2 million ready to go if it checks out for safety.” White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is involved in U.S. effort to produce a vaccine, declined to comment on Trump’s comments later Friday, saying, “I didn’t hear him say that.”

How to Become a Contact Tracer, One of the Fastest-growing Jobs in America
CNBC  |  June 5, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed more than 30 million Americans out of the workforce since mid-March. At the same time, it has turned contact tracing, a little-known public health technique, into a big job opportunity in parts of the country. As cities and states reopen their economies, many are quickly ramping up their contact-tracing capacity in an effort to keep a lid on COVID-19 infection rates. Simply put, contract tracing entails calling close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients, providing them with information about the disease and encouraging them to self-quarantine for 14 days to potentially avoid infecting others. Testing is also discussed.

Two Huge COVID-19 Studies are Retracted After Scientists Sound Alarms
The New York Times  |  June 5, 2020

Two scientific reports, published in two leading journals, were retracted after authors could not verify an enormous database of medical records. The studies, published in renowned scientific journals, produced astounding results and altered the course of research into the coronavirus pandemic. One undercut President Trump’s claim that certain antimalarial drugs cure COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, concluding that the medications in fact were dangerous to patients. The other found that some blood pressure drugs did not increase the risk of COVID-19 and might even be protective. Both studies were led by a professor at Harvard, and both depended on a huge international database of patient medical records that few experts had ever heard of.

Selling Your Home in the Age of Coronavirus? Here Are Your Top Questions, Answered
Realtor.com  |  June 4, 2020

With every day of this pandemic feeling like it brings a fresh batch of news, you’d be forgiven for feeling confused about the actual state of things now. While many cities start to reopen—and some continue to experience a high volume of new COVID-19 cases—it’s hard to know how any sector of the economy is doing, especially the real estate market. We’ve gathered advice from real estate experts to answer your most pressing questions about selling a home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Good News for Small Businesses as Senate Passes PPP Reform Bill
CNBC  |  June 4, 2020

Business owners who received a forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program are likely getting more leeway on how to spend those funds. The Senate passed legislation Wednesday night that restructures how entrepreneurs can use loans issued through a new federal relief program for small businesses ailing from the economic contagion unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic. Many business owners have called on Congress to update the Paycheck Protection Program as they struggle to meet its terms and fear they may be forced to take on debt even as their businesses haven’t fully recovered.

Federal Update: Nearly 43 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment During Pandemic, CDC Director Continues to Work With WHO, Poll Finds Majority of Americans Expect a Second Wave
June 4, 2020

More than a quarter of the labor force - 42.6 million people - has now claimed benefits since the pandemic began ravaging the U.S. labor market. Another 1.9 million workers filed for initial unemployment aid last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Claims again fell from the previous week, a trend that has held for the past 10 weeks, ever since first-time claims peaked at 6.9 million in the last week of March. Continuing claims, which count people who have filed benefits for at least two weeks in a row, stood at 21.5 million. This number unexpectedly increased slightly from the week prior.

The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the agency continues “to have a close collaboration” with the World Health Organization (WHO), despite a recent announcement from President Trump that he was terminating the U.S. relationship. Dr. Robert Redfield said during a House Appropriations hearing on the COVID-19 response that the CDC has been working with WHO as recently as the last few days. “I feel confident that the public health partnership that we have — although it may be modified in some way at a political level — I don't think it's going to be modified in terms of our public health efforts,” Redfield added.

More than two-thirds, or 69%, of surveyed Americans believe there will be a second wave of the coronavirus, according to a new poll from Monmouth University. As multiple states prepare to reopen businesses and loosen shelter-in-place guidelines, 57% of people surveyed said they believe the federal government is not doing enough to help hard-hit states deal with the outbreak. The survey also indicates that respondents believe reopening decisions should be based more on health concerns rather than economic needs. More than half, or 54%, of respondents said it’s important to make sure that fewer people contract the virus, while 36% said it’s more important to prevent an economic downturn.

State Update: Privacy Fears Threaten NYC's Coronavirus Tracing Efforts, Las Vegas Casinos Reopen With New Safety Measures, Total Number of Cases in North Carolina Jump by 1,189 in 24 Hours
June 4, 2020

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers will be asked to disclose personal information this month as part of the city’s herculean COVID-19 tracing effort — but suspicions over how the government will use that information are threatening the city’s best chance to crawl out of its coronavirus lockdown. Contact tracing requires handing over intimate personal data — including home addresses, names of friends and relations — to strangers, many of whom were only recently trained and hired to collect the information. The city expects to have 3,700 contact tracers mobilized this month, and as many as 10,000 when the effort reaches its capacity.

Las Vegas casinos reopened with The D and Golden Gate welcoming gamblers just after midnight. Dealers are wearing masks; hand sanitizer is widely available; guests and workers are having their temperature checked. Steve Hill, president and COO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said demand is surprisingly strong with the city’s overall occupancy at 20% in spite of a number of resorts remaining closed. MGM Resorts capped its hotel occupancy at 30%, but reservations came in so fast that it decided to open the MGM Grand, in addition to Bellagio and New York, New York.

As of June 4, North Carolina health officials say there have been a total of 31,966 lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state, that's up from 30,777 cases from the report made June 3. Additionally, the state reports 960 virus-related deaths. Currently, the state is reporting 659 individuals remain hospitalized.

CDC is Worried Americans Aren’t Following its Advice as the Number of U.S. Coronavirus Cases Continues to Rise
CNBC  |  June 4, 2020

CDC Director Robert Redfield said Thursday that he’s “very concerned” the agency’s public health message on the coronavirus isn’t “resonating” with the public as the number of cases continues to rise across the U.S. Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee, Redfield said he sees “a lot of people” not wearing masks in Washington, D.C., where he works, while many people do wear masks in his hometown of Baltimore. Crowds of people have been seen in recent weeks at protests, over the Memorial Day holiday and, Redfield noted, at the SpaceX launch Saturday. “We will continue to message as well we can,” he said. “We’re going to encourage people that have the ability to require to wear masks when they are in their environment to continue to do that.”

Fauci: It's Time to Think About Reopening Schools
CNN  |  June 4, 2020

The idea of keeping schools closed in the fall because of safety concerns for children might be "a bit of a reach," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci noted that children tend to have milder symptoms or even no symptoms when they are infected with COVID-19. What's not yet clear is whether children get infected as frequently as adults, and whether they often pass the infection on to others. Ultimately, he said, the decision to reopen schools needs to be predicated on the level of infection in each community.

New Unemployment Claims Rose by 1.9 Million Last Week
Politico  |  June 4, 2020

U.S. workers filed another 1.9 million new claims for unemployment benefits last week, the Department of Labor reported. The coronavirus pandemic has forced roughly 42.6 million workers onto jobless rolls in just 11 weeks. Another 623,000 people applied for benefits under the new temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program created for people who are ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits, suggesting the number of claims filed last week could be higher than 2 million. But there is likely some overlap between the claims reported for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and normal state programs.

College Officials Won’t Bring Students Back to Campus This Fall Without Expanded Testing and Tracing
CNBC  |  June 4, 2020

Top college officials told lawmakers Thursday that universities will remain closed until officials can ensure it’s safe to bring students back to campus, which will require extensive COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. College campuses across the country will see new coronavirus cases whenever they do reopen, regardless of whatever they do to prevent an outbreak, Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said. Without adequate testing, universities “can’t function at all,” he said. 

CDC Wants People to Drive Solo to Avoid Coronavirus
CNBC  |  June 4, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released major guidelines on how U.S. offices should function as people return to work during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of taking public transportation or carpooling, the CDC suggests people drive to work by themselves if feasible and advises corporations to provide incentives for employees to drive by themselves. The new guidelines raised concerns over what could be unbearable traffic congestion and a surge in carbon emissions if people turn to cars in order to avoid exposure to the virus. 

#GoodDeeds: Indescribable Smiles
June 4, 2020

Regina DiNapoli, an agency advisor for CATIC in Massachusetts, says she provides cooked meals for three elderly men because of the indescribable smiles when making the delivery. Her desire to provide nutritious meals has proved to be even more important during the health crisis. Have your own #GoodDeeds example to share? Send us an email along with a photo at communications@alta.org.

Federal Update: Trump Bans Flights from China to U.S., Private Payrolls Shed Another 2.76 Million Jobs in May, Coronavirus Could Have a Lasting Impact on the Gender Wage Gap
June 3, 2020

The Trump administration ordered a suspension of flights on Wednesday from China to the United States as tensions escalate between the two countries over the coronavirus and Hong Kong. The order, which takes effect June 16, stems from  Beijing's refusal to allow U.S. carriers to resume flying to China. Four Chinese airlines currently fly to China from the U.S.: Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Xiamen. Two major American carriers, Delta and United, have been pressing Chinese officials to allow them to resume service, to no avail. The carriers had intended to restart China service in early June.

Companies shed 2.76 million jobs from April to May, according to ADP’s private payroll report, a figure that came in well below analyst estimates but still exposed the devastation of the coronavirus recession. Large businesses, which employ 500 people or more, bore the brunt of those losses at 1.6 million. Manufacturing and trade sectors were hit especially hard. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected a drop of 8.75 million. It’s unclear why there’s such a large gap.

Even with millions of Americans now working from home, the wage disparity among parents persists, and could likely worsen due to COVID-19. Already, mothers are paid only 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers, which translates to a loss of $18,000 a year, according to a new analysis of Census data by the National Women’s Law Center. Going forward, the gender wage gap could grow as women disproportionately cut back on work to take care of their children as childcare options remain limited.

State Update: Where U.S. Coronavirus Cases are on the Rise, Coronavirus Cases Rise in U.S. South and West, Coronavirus Cases in Austin, Texas have Significantly Increased Since Reopening
June 3, 2020

Several southern U.S. states reported sharp increases in COVID-19 infections, with Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia all seeing new cases rise 35% or more in the week ended May 31 compared with the prior week, according to a Reuters analysis. South Carolina health officials said they expected more increases in the future due to a lack of social distancing and mask wearing at protests triggered by the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota. 

Coronavirus cases continued to spread in parts of the American south and west in the past week as experts warn that packed protests could exacerbate the pandemic. The early parts of the American coronavirus outbreak struck hardest in the dense metropolitan areas on the coasts. But the last few weeks have seen wider spread in inland states, including Arkansas, Texas and Arizona. In Arkansas on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said there were 375 new positive coronavirus tests, the highest single-day number of new community cases. There are currently more people hospitalized with COVID-19 there than at any prior point.

Health officials in one Texas city are concerned by a surge in newly confirmed coronavirus cases since beginning to reopen additional businesses. Coronavirus cases in Austin have trended “steadily upward” since the city began reopening retail stores, restaurants, malls, and movie theaters at the beginning of May, the Austin American-Statesman reported. What’s more, the true number of coronavirus cases in the state's capital could be seven to eight times higher than current statistics represent, according to the newspaper.

U.S. Should Have 100 Million Doses of Vaccine by End of Year, Fauci Says
ABC News  |  June 3, 2020

The United States should have 100 million doses of one potential vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the year, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top medical expert on the coronavirus pandemic. "We're going to start manufacturing doses of the vaccines way before we even know that the vaccine works, so that by the end of the year the prediction of the statistical analysis and the projection of cases indicate that we may know whether its effective, efficacious or not by maybe November, December, which means that by that time we hopefully would have close to a 100 million doses," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said.

Is the COVID-19 Recession Over?
CNBC  |  June 3, 2020

Finding good news in the loss of another 3 million jobs isn’t easy, but the steep drop in private payrolls for May could be a sign that the worst over. ADP reported Wednesday that companies shed another 2.76 million positions last month. Under normal circumstances, such a report would be considered catastrophic. But these aren’t normal times. Instead, a count that was well below the 8.75 million estimate provided hope that the most severe jobs crisis in U.S. history is about to turn around as an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic takes its first steps to reopening.

WHO Says Coronavirus has not Meaningfully Mutated to a More Lethal or Contagious Form
CNBC  |  June 3, 2020

The coronavirus has not mutated in any way that would meaningfully change how quickly it spreads or how severely it can harm humans, World Health Organization officials said Wednesday. “All viruses evolve,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, said. “They can evolve in one direction. They can evolve in the other direction. To date, to my knowledge, we haven’t seen any particular signal in the virus’ behavior or in its sequence that would lead us to believe the virus is changing in its nature, has changed in its transmission dynamics, or changed in its lethality,” he added.

Poll: Black Voters More Worried Than Others About Health and Economic Damage from Coronavirus
CNBC  |  June 3, 2020

Black voters in swing states worry more than other groups about the health and economic crises created by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll. Black respondents in the key 2020 states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are more likely than white voters to have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or know someone who has, the survey found. At the same time, 42% of black voters said they or a member of their household lost their job or have been furloughed because of the pandemic — higher than the 37% of Hispanic and 29% of white respondents, respectively. 

Hydroxychloroquine No Better Than Placebo in Preventing COVID-19 Infections
MarketWatch  |  June 3, 2020

A clinical study evaluating whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19 infections in people at risk of contracting the virus found that it isn't more effective than the placebo, according to media reports. The results from the double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled trial of hydroxychloroquine are expected to be published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. It was conducted by University of Minnesota researchers specifically examining post-exposure prevention.

WHO Resumes Coronavirus Trial on Malaria Drug After Examining Safety Concerns
CNBC  |  June 3, 2020

The World Health Organization is resuming its trial of hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug backed by President Donald Trump to combat the deadly coronavirus, after temporarily halting research over safety concerns. The Data Safety Monitoring Board decided there was no reason to discontinue the international trial after reviewing available data on the drug, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “The executive group received this recommendation and endorsed the continuation of all arms of solidarity trial including hydroxychloroquine,” he said. 

When Eating Out, Cash is No Longer King
CNN  |  June 3, 2020

Major restaurant chains are trying to make it easier for customers to get their food without touching anything but their own phones. It's a trend that started before the pandemic hit and has only accelerated as consumers and restaurants adjust to a new normal, where contact with others is discouraged. Now, restaurants are betting people will want to peruse digital menus instead of physical ones and opt for mobile ordering rather than paying at the register with cash or credit card.

A Welcome Title Wave
June 2, 2020

Mo Choumil, CEO of ATG Title in Fairfax, Va., says his company is surviving because of a big boost in refinancings. But the ALTA member knows his staff may never be the same.

U.S. Small Business Program Handed Out Virus Aid to Many Borrowers Twice
CNBC  |  June 2, 2020

A technical snafu in a U.S. government system caused many small businesses to receive loans twice or more under a federal aid program to help businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly a dozen people with knowledge of the matter said. The money mistakenly handed out could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars that the government and lenders — which made the loans — have been trying to identify and recover in recent weeks, one of the people briefed on the matter said.

Federal Update: Next Coronavirus Recovery Package Will Likely Wait Until July, More Than 1.8 Million Coronavirus Cases Reported in the U.S., Stimulus Proposals that Could get Americans More Money,
June 2, 2020

Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Senate GOP leadership, said the Senate is not likely to move ahead with another recovery package in June and will likely wait until July to act to see what the economy needs. "My personal belief is we will do something before the August break — that's about the right the timing," he said. As Blunt detailed the June schedule today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn't mention plans to take up another recovery package this month.

There are at least 1,820,523 cases of coronavirus in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University's tally. At least 105,644 people have died in the U.S. from coronavirus. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases. So far on Tuesday, Johns Hopkins has reported at least 9,163 new cases and at least 479 deaths. 

Surveys show that Americans want more financial help from the federal government. The big question is exactly which initiatives will get the green light from Congress with the next stimulus package. Multiple proposals are on the table. That includes giving Americans $2,000 per month or another round of one-time $1,200 stimulus checks. Others seek to extend the extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits into next year. Yet another proposal calls for giving people who return to work a $450 weekly bonus.

State Update: New Coronavirus Cases at an 'All Time Low' in New York, Coronavirus Cases at Lowest Ohio has Seen in a Month, Michigan Coronavirus Cases Close to 58,000
June 2, 2020

New COVID-19 cases are "at an all time low" in New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The state reported 58 deaths yesterday, up just slightly from Sunday's total of 54, Cuomo said, saying the number is "just about as low as we have seen it."

New coronavirus cases in Ohio were the lowest they have been in more than a month. The state reported 366 new cases, which is the lowest since April 27. It was also more than a hundred less than the 21-day average. The state's total number of cases is 36,350. Although the number of new cases declined, the death rate was above the 21-day average. The state reported 52 deaths from the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to 2,258.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Michigan has risen to 57,731 as of Tuesday, including 5,553 deaths, state officials report. Tuesday’s update represents 199 new cases and 37 additional deaths, including 11 as a result of the state’s ongoing review of “vital records” and testing data. Monday’s total was 57,532 confirmed cases and 5,516 deaths.

Don't Expect the Coronavirus to Wane Over the Summer
Politico  |  June 2, 2020

The United States should not expect the coronavirus outbreak to wane over the summer, White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx said. "None of us can be lulled into this false sense of security that the cases may go down this summer," Birx said. She added that American leaders are preparing actively for the possibility of finding and containing future outbreaks through contact tracing and proactive surveillance. Much of that will come from state and city efforts to trace contacts and implement surveillance, she acknowledged. Several states have struggled to stand up their own contact tracing programs; others such as New York expect to hire thousands of people to track cases.

Mass Protests Could Undo Hard-won Progress in Pandemic
Politico  |  June 2, 2020

Mass protests over police brutality have shuttered coronavirus testing sites, complicated efforts to track people who have been exposed and set off fears among local officials that the unrest could spark fresh waves of virus infection. Testing sites in Pennsylvania, Florida, California and Illinois closed after violence broke out over the weekend, limiting cities’ ability to track the virus just as thousands of people participate in crowded demonstrations across the country.

Plans to Increase COVID-19 Stimulus Payments Won't Benefit Most Social Security Retirees
The Motley Fool  |  June 2, 2020

The CARES Act provided coronavirus stimulus checks, and plans for a second round of direct payments are underway. The HEROES Act, already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, would increase the amount of the second check for millions of families. But while Social Security beneficiaries aren't left out of the second round of checks, most retirees won't benefit from the proposed increase to the second COVID-19 payment. The HEROES Act increases payments for dependents and expands who qualifies as a dependent; however, those payments will not help many Social Security beneficiaries, who do not have dependents.

Work-sharing is a Lucrative — but Little-used — Unemployment Benefit
CNBC  |  June 2, 2020

The federal expansion of jobless benefits has made one part of the unemployment system especially lucrative for both workers and business. But many aren’t taking advantage. The niche in question — work-sharing programs, also known as shared-work or short-time compensation programs — offers a way for financially stressed businesses to avoid laying off workers. These workers stand to get a financial benefit. Find out how it works in this article.

Poll: 27% Unlikely to be Vaccinated Against the Coronavirus
ABC News  |  June 2, 2020

Unpersuaded by more than 100,000 pandemic deaths in the United States, 45% of strong conservatives, four in 10 Republicans and nearly as many evangelical Christians say they’d be unlikely to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, even for free. Overall, 27% of adults in an ABC News/Washington Post poll say they definitely (15%) or probably (12%) would not get the vaccine. Among them, half say they don’t trust vaccines in general, while nearly a quarter don’t think it’s needed in this case.

Can This Airplane Seat Keep you Safe From COVID-19?
CNN  |  June 2, 2020
As conversations continue about if, when and how it's safe to be flying, airplane seat designers continue to sketch out concepts for what the future of aviation might look like. The latest off the drawing board is Interspace Lite, presented by Luke Miles, founder of transportation technology company Universal Movement. Like other recent pandemic-inspired airplane seat designs, this version involves adding kit to the airplane middle seat. It leans on the idea that airlines will temporarily block out middle seats to better enable distancing, but won't want to permanently change the cabin interior. Read on to see what airplane seats could look like.
#GoodDeeds: Stocking the Shelves
June 2, 2020

Check out this #GoodDeeds story as Missouri-based Security Title Insurance Agency hosted a Virtual Food Drive throughout May for the St. Louis Area Foodbank. Have your own #GoodDeeds example to share? Send us an email along with a photo at communications@alta.org.

ALTA Insights: How to Plan for PPP Loan Forgiveness
June 2, 2020

Wednesday, June 10, 2020 | 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET | Register Today
If your company received a loan under the Small Business Administration's (SBA’s) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), you’ll likely be applying for loan forgiveness, a central pillar of the federal government's economic response to COVID-19. This webinar will provide the inside scoop on the SBA’s new forgiveness rules, the application process and the required documents necessary to apply for PPP loan forgiveness. Our expert panel will walk you through how to build an effective plan to ensure you receive the full loan forgiveness to which you are entitled.

House Bill Gives Small Businesses More Time to Use PPP Loans and Lets Them Spend Less on Payroll
CNBC  |  June 1, 2020

A bill that passed yesterday in the House of Representatives has some sought-after changes to a forgivable loan program for small-business owners. The new legislation, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, addresses entrepreneurs’ concerns around loan forgiveness, one of the main attractions of the Paycheck Protection Program. It passed the House on Thursday in a 417-1 vote. The bill extends the length of time businesses have to use the loans, to 24 weeks from eight weeks, and pushes back a June 30 deadline to rehire workers. It also reduces the share of funding that must be directed toward payroll costs, to 60% from 75%.

Homebuyers and Sellers are Ready to Return to Open Houses
HousingWire  |  June 1, 2020

Despite open houses pausing over the spread of COVID-19, a new survey from the National Association of Realtors said that 65% of people who attended an open house within the last year would do so now without hesitation, while another 15% said they would feel comfortable resuming this activity if there was an approved COVID-19 vaccine and/or proven medical protocol to mitigate and remedy the effects of the virus.

Next Coronavirus Aid Package to Pass Congress by Late July
MarketWatch  |  June 1, 2020

As the Senate returns to Washington, D.C., on Monday after a weeklong break, analysts are predicting that another big coronavirus aid package is likely to come by late July. After calling for a pause on spending packages in April, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week said there’s likely to be another bill, and lawmakers will be talking about the possible measure “in the next month or so.” The Kentucky Republican also said it will be Washington’s final coronavirus relief measure, echoing analysts who have predicted it will be the last such bill to move this year. 

Federal Update: More Than 104,000 People Have Died From Coronavirus in the U.S., U.K. at Risk of Second Wave After Reopening Too Quickly, Why Activists are Pushing for Rent Forgiveness During Pandemic
June 1, 2020

At least 1,797,457 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S. and at least 104,584 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally. Johns Hopkins reported 7,285 new cases and 203 deaths on Monday. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

A top scientist has warned that the U.K. is moving too quickly in lifting coronavirus restrictions. David King, who previously served as the U.K. government’s chief scientific advisor, said policymakers were putting the country at risk of suffering a second wave of the virus. Additional limitations were lifted and people in England can now meet outside in groups of six while social distancing and primary schools can reopen.

With over 40 million Americans out of work due to coronavirus pandemic, calls to #CancelRent have proliferated on social media and at demonstrations across the country. Some politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), are joining progressive activists and calling for rent cancellation for those unable to pay during the pandemic. “There should be rent forgiveness and there should be mortgage forgiveness now in the middle of this crisis,” Biden said earlier in the month. “Not paid later — forgiveness. It’s critically important to people who are in the lower-income strata.”

State Update: States Brace for Disasters as Pandemic Collides With Hurricane Season, NY Gov. Cuomo Says Protests Could Exacerbate Coronavirus Outbreak, Michigan Lifts Stay-at-Home Order
June 1, 2020

Though President Donald Trump sees the summer as a time of economic revival, emergency management officials fear a terrible combination of natural disasters could lead to a fresh spread of the coronavirus — and that the pandemic could, in turn, set back their work. States and cities have never had to respond to a large-scale natural disaster during a global pandemic. The usual support network from neighboring states is frayed because nearly everyone is trying to contain COVID-19. And with FEMA and the National Guard already consumed with supporting the public health response, strapped local officials are improvising as fast as they can.

Just one week before New York City, the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, is set to ease restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the George Floyd protests that rocked the city over the weekend threaten to spread infection. “We’re talking about reopening in one week in New York City and now we’re seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could in fact exacerbate the COVID-19 spread,” Cuomo said Monday. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted the state’s stay-at-home order and will allow restaurants to reopen on-site dining. Capacity limits will be immediately lifted on outdoor gatherings and retailers can open to customers without an appointment on Thursday. Retailers can resume dine-in service on June 8 and day camps and pools can open on that day as well under social-distancing guidelines. Gyms, hair salons, theaters and amusement parks remain closed. Michigan had been under a stay-at-home order for almost 10 weeks and has had 57,537 confirmed cases of the virus and 5,516 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The Coronavirus Will Cost the Economy Nearly $8 Trillion, Congressional Budget Office Says
CNBC  |  June 1, 2020

The coronavirus likely will sap about $7.9 trillion of economic activity over the next decade-plus even with all of the rescue funding being poured in to offset the pandemic’s impact, according to a government estimate Monday. Through fiscal 2030, the virus will reduce real economic output — nominal GDP adjusted for inflation — by 3% from initial economic estimates in January before the pandemic hit, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Should You Fly Yet? Here's What an Epidemiologist and an Exposure Scientist Say
CNN  |  June 1, 2020
We don't know about you, but we're ready to travel. And that typically means flying. The primary concern with flying -- or traveling by bus or train -- is sitting within 6 feet of an infected person. Remember: Even asymptomatic people can transmit. As an exposure scientist and infectious disease epidemiologist, we've decided personally that we're not going to fly right now, we will walk you through our thought process on what to consider and how to minimize your risks.
WHO Says Coronavirus Isn’t Losing Potency: ‘This is Still a Killer Virus’
CNBC  |  June 1, 2020

The World Health Organization cautioned world leaders Monday about reports that the coronavirus is “losing potency,” saying “this is still a killer virus” and thousands of people are still dying daily. “We need to be exceptionally careful that we are not creating a sense that all of a sudden the virus has decided to be less pathogenic. That is not the case at all,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, said.

First Human Trial of Potential Antibody Treatment for COVID-19 Begins
CNN  |  June 1, 2020

Eli Lilly and Company said Monday it has started the first human trial of an antibody therapy designed to treat COVID-19. The first phase of the trial will test whether the therapy is safe and well-tolerated; those results are expected in late June. The first COVID-19 patients being treated with the therapy are hospitalized at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine in New York, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles and Emory University in Atlanta, the company said.

Coronavirus may be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything
Elemental  |  June 1, 2020

In April, blood clots emerged as one of the many mysterious symptoms attributed to COVID-19, a disease that had initially been thought to largely affect the lungs in the form of pneumonia. Quickly after came reports of young people dying due to coronavirus-related strokes. Next it was COVID toes — painful red or purple digits. What do all of these symptoms have in common? An impairment in blood circulation. Add in the fact that 40% of deaths from COVID-19 are related to cardiovascular complications, and the disease starts to look like a vascular infection instead of a purely respiratory one.

How Families are Facing Death During the Pandemic
CNN  |  June 1, 2020
In Illinois, three peopledied and 16 were infected after attending a funeral and another event, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. In Georgia, about 20 cases had been traced back to a double memorial. And in Mississippi, a single funeral had sparked "many, many cases," with the state's health officer saying, "We don't want a funeral to lead to more funerals." However necessary, funeral restrictions have forced loved ones to make trade-offs in their darkest hours, often forgoing comforting traditions and limiting circles of support. The added discipline, though, also has managed to open new avenues for grieving and celebrating lives that ended during this historic time.
Federal Update: Trump Announces U.S. ‘Terminating’ Relationship with WHO, McConnell: Next Coronavirus Aid Bill Will Be The Last, CDC Quietly Revises Coronavirus Warnings on Reopening Religious Sites
May 29, 2020

President Trump on Friday announced that the U.S. is "terminating" its relationship with the embattled World Health Organization (WHO) over its failure to enact reforms in the face of U.S. concerns over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its pro-China bias. "Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today be terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs," Trump said at a press conference.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects Senate Republicans will begin considering proposals for a "fourth and final" coronavirus response bill to address the needs of the country "in about a month." McConnell said the bill will be narrowly crafted and will focus in particular on jobs and schools. He said there could be funding for small businesses and health care but he will not support extending the additional $600 in federal unemployment benefits that run out at the end of July.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has quietly removed some of its warnings about the coronavirus pandemic and added new language about the First Amendment to its guidance on reopening houses of worship. The agency published guidance last Friday to help religious communities safely reopen for public services with modifications meant to minimize the risk of an outbreak. The new guidance now says that it’s “not intended to infringe on rights protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

State Update: NYC on Track to Begin ‘Phase One’ Reopening on June 8, California to Have 10,000 Contact Tracers by July 1, New Jersey to Spend $100 Million to Keep Families in Their Homes
May 29, 2020

New York City, closed down due to the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to begin a “phase one” reopening on June 8, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday. Cuomo cautioned against too much excitement about reopening, saying, “this is not ‘happy days again, this is over.’ We have to be smart. Remember that reopening does not mean we’re going back to the way things were,” he said.

California plans to have 10,000 workers trained by July 1 to contact trace coronavirus cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in a news conference on Friday. The first phase commitment of 10,000 workers will be able to track 3,600 new cases per day, Newsom said. Newsom noted the importance of contact tracing as the state reopens because it will meet the substantial needs of the counties that are reopening.

New Jersey is creating a short-term rental assistance program for low- and moderate-income families, Gov. Murphy announced on Friday. The state will be applying at least $100 million to the program, which is aimed at helping families financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic keep their homes. The latest numbers: The state reported at least 1,117 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the statewide total to approximately 158,844 cases. The daily positivity rate continued at 6%.  The state reported an additional 131 coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to at least 11,531. 

Fed Days Away from Emergency Lending to Midsize Companies
Politico  |  May 29, 2020

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday said the central bank will open the doors of its emergency lending program for midsize businesses in a matter of days. Under the “Main Street” lending program, the Fed will buy the majority of a bank loan to a company with up to 15,000 employees or up to $5 billion in annual revenue. Powell also held open the possibility that the program would be further broadened; currently the minimum is $500,000 for new loans, and the maximum is $200 million for expansions of existing loans. 

Zillow CEO: ‘We’re not really seeing’ people bolt from cities to suburbs yet
CNBC  |  May 29, 2020

Zillow CEO Richard Barton said Friday that the online real estate company has not observed a dramatic spike in people moving out of dense, urban areas due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We’re all searching for our data to confirm our bias, or our theory, that people are moving out of the city into the suburbs,” Barton said. “We get 100 million clicks a day in our apps and sites, so we can see all this shopping data, and we’re not really seeing that yet.” To be sure, Barton said Zillow is seeing significant increases in people looking for homes on its platforms. Shopping traffic to for-sale homes is up 50% year over year, Barton said. 

Enter at Your Own Risk: How Businesses are Trying to Protect Against Coronavirus Lawsuits
CNBC  |  May 29, 2020

As businesses seek to reopen their doors to customers, safety measures, like masks, temperature checks and social distancing, have been put in place, but these rules don’t mean the risk of contracting COVID-19 is zero. That’s why businesses big and small are issuing statements and putting up signage to tell patrons that there is an inherent risk of exposure to coronavirus in a public place.

Poll: What's Safe to do During a Pandemic?
Politico  |  May 29, 2020

What is safe to do during the pandemic? As states begin to reopen, it might feel hard to tell. It’s not yet clear where Americans stand on these questions as they begin to venture out of quarantine. So over Memorial Day weekend, Politico asked nearly 2,000 Americans to rate the relative risk of a dozen common activities from 1 to 10. Then, a panel of 18 public health experts gave their professional opinion. The survey provides a snapshot of where Americans see the most danger — and where they’re most out of sync with experts.  

Women are Disproportionately Impacted by Coronavirus Job Losses
CNBC  |  May 29, 2020

The historic job losses suffered around the world are disproportionately affecting women, Citi said in a new research report. On top of being an inequality issue, there are real economic consequences. The firm said that 44 million people globally, excluding China, could wind up losing their job in the six sectors most impacted by the coronavirus-induced slowdown. Citi believes that around 31 million of those people will be women, compared with 13 million men.

Expanded Unemployment Benefits Could Bump People from Welfare, Other Assistance
CNBC  |  May 29, 2020

Expanded unemployment benefits have been a lifeline for millions of Americans who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. That lifeline, however, may reduce or eliminate the financial aid some get through other safety net programs such as Medicaid, food stamps and welfare. That’s because unemployment benefits generally count as income for individuals in such programs.

Amid the COVID-19 Crisis, Single-Family Homes may be the Smart Investment
Realtor.com  |  May 29, 2020

Polling data suggests that nearly one-third of Americans are considering a move to less populous areas, and in some regions, they are already relocating. Between March 15 and April 28, moves from New York City to Connecticut, for instance, jumped 74% compared to the previous year, and the Hamptons have already been flooded with New Yorkers fleeing the city. The desire for space and privacy—and for control over who comes and goes from one’s home—is stronger than ever, making single-family homes an especially smart investment now.

Federal Update: As U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Cross 100,000, Black Americans Bear Disproportionate Share of Fatalities, 2.1 Million File Jobless Claims but Total Unemployed Shrinks
May 28, 2020

Black Americans continue to make up a disproportionate share of COVID-19 fatalities as the number of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic exceeds 100,000 in the United States, according to an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 23% of reported Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. are African American as of May 20, even though black people make up roughly 13% of the U.S. population, according to racial demographic information on COVID-19 cases and deaths from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Another 2.1 million Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, the lowest total since the coronavirus crisis began. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for 2.05 million. Continuing claims, or those who have been collecting for at least two weeks, numbered 21.05 million. That number dropped by 3.86 million from the previous week. The insured unemployment rate, which is a basic calculation of those collecting benefits vs. the total labor force, fell sharply to 14.5% from 17.1% the previous week.

State Update: New York City Could see 400,000 Workers Return Next Month, Las Vegas Strip Returns from Coronavirus with Less Excess, Boston Marathon Canceled
May 28, 2020

As many as 400,000 workers could head back to work when New York City begins the first phase of its reopening in June, as the national epicenter of the crisis looks to begin a long recovery from the coronavirus shutdown. Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday laid out guidelines for businesses that will be allowed to open their doors in the coming weeks, and estimated that 200,000 to 400,000 more people will be reporting to work in person when the restart begins.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, what happened in Las Vegas stayed in Las Vegas. Now, much of it won't even happen. Casino buffets? Forget about them. Slot machines? Won’t be nearly as prevalent. Cash? Maybe a thing of the past. And then there's the once-notorious nightlife. Las Vegas Strip operators collectively have lost about $4 billion of revenue since the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to close their doors for the first time since former President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963. And when they reopen on June 4, they're unlikely to bring in the revenue they did before, at least not right away. With a fight to contain the pandemic in the U.S. still underway, the venues will be operating under new, more restrictive rules. They'll have smaller capacities and additional expenses from enhanced health-safety measures. 

The Boston Marathon has been canceled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an announcement from race organizers at the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). The event had originally been postponed until September. Considered to be one of the world’s most prestigious marathons, the race typically draws more than 30,000 runners from around the globe, according to Reuters. This is the first time the event has been canceled in its 124-year history. However, the BAA is offering a “virtual alternative,” in which participants can run the 26.2 mile distance on their own between Sept. 7 and Sept. 14, and provide proof of timing.

House Votes to Ease Restrictions on Coronavirus Small Business Loans
CNBC  |  May 28, 2020

The House passed a bill Thursday designed to give small businesses owners more flexibility in how they spend money from a key coronavirus aid program. The chamber approved the legislation in a nearly unanimous 417-1 vote. The Senate has put forward a plan similar to the House bill, but has not yet passed it. Senators will not convene again until next week. The Paycheck Protection Program, one of the core parts of the $2 trillion pandemic rescue package passed in March, includes standards for how companies have to use their loans in order to get them forgiven. The measure passed Thursday would ease those rules. 

A Second Round of Stimulus Checks Could be on the Way. Here’s What You can do to Prepare
CNBC  |  May 28, 2020

Legislators are poised to consider a second round of stimulus payments after House Democrats passed a bill that calls for another set of checks. The new proposal also calls for checks of $1,200 per individual who earns up to $75,000 or $2,400 for couples making up to $150,000. Those payments are reduced for income above those levels and ultimately phase out completely at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for married couples.

6 Feet Likely Not Far Enough to Stop COVID-19 Transmission
FOX News  |  May 28, 2020

When inside, it might be a good idea to take a few more steps back. Experts on Tuesday said they believe the six-feet of distance recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) may not be enough to limit the transmission of COVID-19. In a perspective article published in the journal Science, three experts wrote that aerosol particles can accumulate and remain infectious in indoor air for hours, while being easily inhaled deep into the lungs.

The Extra $600 in Weekly Unemployment Benefits Runs Out at the End of July
CNBC  |  May 28, 2020

Over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March, according to the U.S. Labor Department, when large swaths of the country began shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Right now, many are able to take advantage of an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits provided by the federal government on top of each state’s standard jobless benefit. But that benefit is set to expire at the end of July if Congress does not pass another stimulus bill to extend benefits.

How Americans can Help Prevent Another 100,000 Coronavirus Deaths
CNN  |  May 28, 2020

No one wants to see another horrific milestone like the one reached this week. The U.S. death toll from coronavirus topped 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That means an average of almost 900 Americans died each day since the first known coronavirus-related death almost four months ago. While the number of new cases each day is slowly declining in parts of the U.S., the death toll keeps rising.

Social Security Trust Funds Could Run Out Even Faster due to the Coronavirus Pandemic
CNBC  |  May 28, 2020

There’s more bad news for retirement security following the coronavirus pandemic. Social Security’s trust funds could run out four years earlier — in 2032 rather than 2036 — based on how well the economy recovers, according to a new report from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. How quickly those funds could be depleted depends on whether there is a so-called U-shaped or V-shaped recovery. A V-shaped downturn would come with a quicker recovery and would mean the trust funds may last until 2034.

Coronavirus Sparks Greater Need for Food Banks Across U.S.
FOX News  |  May 28, 2020

The demand for food assistance has surged since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. America’s food banks have reported a 50-percent increase in the number of people they have served compared with the same time last year, according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization. Since early March, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank (GCFB), a partner of Feeding America, has had 15,500 new families register for their services. One of the greatest challenges the GCFB has faced during the coronavirus pandemic: While the demand for food has been “skyrocketing,” food donations have been falling.

#GoodDeeds: Food It Forward
May 28, 2020

Chicago-based Near North Title Group recently sponsored a “Food it Forward” initiative through its charitable foundation to infuse much needed revenue into it local small business communities while honoring healthcare workers and first responders. Read on to learn about this #GoodDeed and how you can share your company's giving campaign.

Is the Housing Market Already Rebounding from COVID-19?
HousingWire  |  May 28, 2020

Cabin fever is a real thing. And you don’t have to live in a cabin to get it. With everyone chomping at the bit to get back to “normal,” it is useful to check in on the five metrics identified as signals for the beginning of the economic recovery stage. Following is an update on the five indicators that will show when the market is back on track from the pandemic.

Federal Update: U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 99,000, Don’t Mistake Your Stimulus Debit Card For Junk Mail, Fauci: Hydroxychloroquine Not Effective Against Coronavirus
May 27, 2020

There are at least 1,684,173 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and at least 99,123 people have died in the country from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally. On Tuesday, Johns Hopkins reported 3,260 new cases and 210 deaths. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases.

Don’t toss out that mail just yet! The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reminding taxpayers that some Economic Impact Payments, sometimes called stimulus checks, are being sent by prepaid debit card. The debit cards arrive in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” Nearly 4 million people are being sent their Economic Impact Payment by prepaid debit card, instead of a paper check.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci on Wednesday became the first Trump administration official to say definitively that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for the coronavirus, based on the available data. "The scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy," Fauci — the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert — said.

State Update: Virginia Mandates Face Masks as State Sees Biggest Daily Spike, De Blasio Warns of NYC's Multibillion-dollar Deficit Amid Coronavirus, Where Early U.S. Coronavirus Hotspots Stand Now
May 27, 2020

Virginians will soon be required to wear face masks in public to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday, the same day the state saw its biggest daily spike in new virus cases. The executive order, which takes effect on Friday, mandates that all residents wear a facial covering while in “public indoor settings.” The news comes after the state on Tuesday reported its biggest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases – 1,615 – a jump from the 1,483 new cases reported on Monday.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday warned that the city faces a multibillion-dollar deficit amid the coronavirus pandemic, while pleading for federal and state assistance. New York City previously estimated $7.4 billion in lost revenue due to the coronavirus crisis, but on Wednesday, deBlasio warned that the city is projecting a shortfall of nearly $9billion— possibly more—over the next two fiscal years. “We are now $9 billion in the hole between the current fiscal year and the one that begins July 1,” de Blasio said. “We have lost billions upon billions of dollars of revenue that we use to serve our people,” de Blasio explained. “It’s gone. It’s not coming back.”

In this video, CNN's John King looks at coronavirus trends across the United States and shows how early hotspots of the virus are faring now.

When Can You be Around Others? CDC Updates Coronavirus Guidance
CNN  |  May 27, 2020

People who have been sick with coronavirus infections should stay away from other people until they've gone at least three days with no fever, have seen symptoms improve, and until it's been 10 days since they first noticed symptoms, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidance. The CDC updated guidance on when it's safe to leave quarantine, as well as some consumer-friendly guidance on using public transit and ride shares as states loosen restrictions on opening schools, businesses and leaving home. People who have been infected need to be sure they won't spread the virus, even if they feel better, the CDC advised.

Masks Working to Fight the Virus, Even as Some Refuse Them and U.S. Deaths Near 100,000
CNN  |  May 27, 2020

Americans are at odds over whether it's necessary to keep taking coronavirus protective measures, but a leading researcher says the data is clear: The path ahead in the COVID-19 pandemic is being shaped by masks. "We now have really clear evidence that wearing masks works -- it's probably a 50% protection against transmission," Dr. Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said. "And so, what happens in the next month or two is very much in the hands of how people respond."

New Challenge for the Economy: Workers who Don’t Want to Come Back to Their Jobs
CNBC  |  May 27, 2020

Mass unemployment that has accompanied the coronavirus pandemic has been compounded by people who don’t want to come back to work, the Federal Reserve said in its periodic summary of the national economy. With the unemployment rate through April at a post-World War II record 14.7% and 20.5 million layoffs during the month, workers are reluctant to head back to their jobs for a number of reasons, the central bank noted in its report. The report also cited a generally downbeat outlook from business contacts regarding hopes for a recovery. Business leaders “cited challenges in bringing employees back to work, including workers’ health concerns, limited access to childcare, and generous unemployment insurance benefits,” the report said.

Antibody Tests for COVID-19 Wrong up to Half the Time, CDC Says
CNN  |  May 27, 2020

Antibody tests used to determine if people have been infected in the past with COVID-19 might be wrong up to half the time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in new guidance posted on its website. Antibody tests, often called serologic tests, look for evidence of an immune response to infection. "Antibodies in some persons can be detected within the first week of illness onset," the CDC says. They are not accurate enough to use to make important policy decisions, the CDC said.

WHO Says ‘Jury is Still Out’ on Whether Coronavirus Antibodies Provide Immunity
CNBC  |  May 27, 2020

It remains unclear whether people who have been infected with the coronavirus are at risk of becoming infected again, the World Health Organization said. “The jury is still very much out on that,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, said. Scientists are still learning about key aspects of the virus, including how immune systems respond once a person is exposed. 

House and Senate Close on PPP Loan Extension
May 27, 2020

The House is poised to pass a bill on Thursday that would extend the current eight-week period during which businesses must use funds to have loans forgiven to 24 weeks or Dec. 31, whichever comes sooner. It would let businesses repay loans over five years instead of two, and scrap a rule that no more than 25% of proceeds can be spent on expenses. A similar measure with bipartisan support in the Senate would extend the deadline to apply for a loan to the end of the year from June 30 and double the current eight-week period during which businesses must use funds to have loans forgiven.

 

Watch the Webinar: What's Next for Federal Aid to Help Small Businesses?
May 27, 2020

As Congress discusses next steps in reopening the economy and helping small businesses, hear from someone in the middle of those key discussions. Watch this one-on-one conversation, powered by Old Republic Title, between Congressman Brad Schneider of Illinois' 10th District and ALTA SVP of Public Affairs Chris Morton.

Federal Update: House Returns, but Business is Far From Normal, Congress to Decide on Another Coronavirus Bill Soon, RNC Sues California to Halt Vote-by-mail for November General Election
May 26, 2020

The House returns this week to vote on bills not related to the coronavirus pandemic for the first time since March. But signs of the chamber returning to normal are still weeks — if not months — away. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Tuesday he couldn’t predict when or even if the chamber would resume its regular roster of legislative activities this summer, saying that would be dictated by when committees finish drafting a slew of must-pass bills to fund the government and reauthorize highway, water and defense programs.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress will likely decide whether to pass another coronavirus relief bill in the “next few weeks.” Lawmakers will “probably” have to approve another stimulus package, the Kentucky Republican said. GOP support for additional relief has grown in recent weeks, though Republicans have stressed that they want more targeted spending than the $3 trillion measure Democrats passed earlier this month.

The Republican National Committee and other Republican groups have filed a lawsuit against California to stop the state from mailing absentee ballots to all voters ahead of the 2020 general election, a move that was made in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The suit comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced this month that the state would move to encourage all voters to cast their ballots by mail in November -- the most widespread expansion of vote-by-mail that has been announced as a result of the pandemic and in the nation's most populous state. The RNC's lawsuit challenges that step, marking a significant escalation in the legal battles between Republicans and Democrats that are currently being waged in more than a dozen states.

State Update: Could a Second Wave of Coronavirus Trigger New Stay-at-home Orders? States Can't Agree, Holiday Revelers Crammed Together as COVID-19 Cases Rise in 17 States
Politico  |  May 26, 2020

Public health officials have been vocal about the risks of a second wave of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as states reopen businesses and more people leave their homes. But unlike overseas, where a number of countries have moved quickly to reinstate lockdowns at the first sign of a case spike, few state or local governments have even established guidelines for when and how they would restrict activities to contain additional outbreaks. In many cases, it may prove politically impossible to return to the restrictions of the past few months.

Packing pool parties and other Memorial Day events, many Americans marked the unofficial start of summer just like they did before coronavirus. But while the revelers shunned face masks and ignored social distancing guidelines, the virus keeps spreading unabated, killing both the elderly and the young. By Tuesday morning, more than 1,660,000 Americans have been infected with the coronavirus, and more than 98,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. In 17 states, the numbers of new cases are trending upward. Those states include Georgia, Arkansas, California and Alabama.

Local officials in major Missouri metro areas are imploring residents to self-quarantine for two weeks if they took part in Memorial Day weekend festivities that were anything but 6 feet apart. As reports emerged nationwide of Americans ignoring public health guidelines to live it up over the holiday weekend, footage of major crowds at Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri triggered fears in other parts of the state. St. Louis County’s public health department issued a travel advisory: “Any person who has traveled and engaged in this behavior should self-quarantine for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result for COVID-19.” County Executive Sam Page called the behavior “reckless” and dangerous for others.

The 10 Best U.S. Cities for Jobs, Even Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
CNBC  |  May 26, 2020

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 38 million Americans have filed unemployment claims and the immediate future of the U.S. economy is largely uncertain. However, some cities, both international and across the U.S., are expected to provide better stability and assistance to workers than others, according to new research from online learning site FutureLearn, which recently released its list of the best cities for jobs for 2020. Following is a look at the top 10 U.S. cities on FutureLearn’s list.

How Summer Could Determine the Pandemic’s Future
Politico  |  May 26, 2020

Swelling crowds at parks, beaches and home improvement stores during the traditional start of summer already are showing that many Americans want to venture out and declare the pandemic is over. But how will we really know when it’s safe to do all the normal things again? The coming few months will say a lot about the state of the country, the public’s psyche and how much death and illness it’s willing to accept. There is a road map to follow this summer to know if the fall will be a time of true recovery or deepening despair. Following are five story lines this summer that will reveal whether the U.S. has turned the corner.

3 Reasons Why Millennials are Being Hit Especially Hard Economically by the Coronavirus
CNBC  |  May 26, 2020

Millennials face particularly harsh economic damage from the coronavirus due to a compound hit from massive job losses and poor personal finances, according to a Federal Reserve analysis. While the pandemic has cut a huge swath through what had been thriving U.S. activity, the hit to those born between 1981 and 1996 has been especially brutal. They’ve suffered a bigger share of the job losses as social distancing rules have shut down the many service-related industries on which millennials rely.

Front-line Coronavirus Workers Could be Vaccinated as Soon as This Year
CNBC  |  May 26, 2020

Workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic will be first to receive a vaccine and that could come as soon as later this year, Stanley Erck, CEO of vaccine development company Novavax, said. Novavax announced Monday that it has launched phase one clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate and it expects preliminary results in July. “I think everybody agrees that the first broad distribution will be to the front-line workers, the health-care workers,” he said. “If our phase two data support the safety and immunogenicity that we hope it will and we’re able to see a signal for efficacy, it’s possible that that first line would be vaccinated some time in the fourth quarter of this year.”

Plastic Forks Rule as Restaurants Reopen
Politico  |  May 26, 2020

First, reusable grocery bags were lost to the coronavirus. Silverware and ceramic plates may be the next to go. As restaurants around California — and the country — reopen for full-service dining, the state says reusable tableware is fine with proper precautions. That’s at odds with the CDC, which says disposable dishes, utensils, napkins and tablecloths should be the default.

Man Fakes Positive Coronavirus Diagnosis to Skip Work, Ends up Charged With Wire Fraud
Pop Culture  |  May 22, 2020

The state of Georgia may be dolling out drivers licenses without tests, but they're still enforcing the law, as evidenced by an Atlanta who was charged with wire fraud after faking a coronavirus diagnosis to get out of work. Back in March, Santwon Antonio Davis apparently left work claiming that his mother had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Later he claimed that he'd also contracted the potentially fatal disease.

Workplace Temperature Screening: How To Develop and Implement A Screening Protocol
JD Supra  |  May 21, 2020

This article address the question of how to implement such a daily temperature screening protocol, i.e. what procedures for temperature screening in the workplace should employers implement? Read on for a number of issues employers should consider.

Federal Update: CDC Chief Issues Stark Warning on Possible Second Wave, Another 2.4M File Jobless Claims, Busy Hurricane Season Expected but Coronavirus Could Impact Response
May 21, 2020

As the world reached 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases Thursday, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said he can't guarantee whether a second round of lockdowns is coming as a possible second wave of the virus looms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield said he "can't guarantee" whether or not a second round of stay-at-home orders is coming for the United States in the winter as the new coronavirus may see a second wave that coincides with cold weather and a flu season. "I can't guarantee; that's kind of getting into the opinion mode, we have to be data driven. What I can say is that we are committed to using the time that we have now to get this nation as overprepared as possible," Redfield told the newspaper in an interview.

About 2.4 million Americans filed initial unemployment benefit claims last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as the health and economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus ruptures a growing number of industries. In just nine weeks, more than 38 million have sought jobless benefits that represent the nation’s most reliable gauge of layoffs. The latest claims tally was down from the 3 million who filed claims the week before, and the record 6.9 million who sought assistance in late March. Initial applications for unemployment insurance have now steadily declined seven weeks in a row.

The federal government expects a busy hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin with six to 10 hurricanes forming, forecasters said Thursday. The announcement comes against the backdrop of the coronavirus, which will almost certainly impact evacuations and shelter from approaching storms. Speaking about the coronavirus, Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA, said “social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more. With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now.” 

State Update: Reopening Reality Check: Jobs Aren’t Flooding Back, NYC Sets Timeline to Expand Reopening, Four States Possibly Provided a Misleading Picture of Coronavirus Spread
May 21, 2020

Georgia’s early move to start easing stay-at-home restrictions nearly a month ago has done little to stem the state’s flood of unemployment claims — illustrating how hard it is to bring jobs back while consumers are still afraid to go outside. Weekly applications for jobless benefits have remained so elevated that Georgia now leads the country in terms of the proportion of its workforce applying for unemployment assistance. A staggering 40.3% of the state's workers — two out of every five — has filed for unemployment insurance payments since the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread shutdowns in mid-March.

New York City is on track to begin its phased reopening in the first half of June as the number of people admitted to the city’s hospitals and those currently in intensive-care units for COVID-19 continues to decline, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The percentage of people citywide testing positive for COVID-19 has remained below 15% for 10 days now, he said. For more than a week, the city has been around or below the annual average for people administered to the hospitals for the category of diseases related to the coronavirus, which is “very powerful,” De Blasio said. “I want to signal as clear as a bell, all roads are leading to the first half of June. The city indicators, the state indicators, we’re seeing very clear progress,” de Blasio said.

At least four states combined data from two different test results, potentially providing a misleading picture of when and where coronavirus spread as the nation eases restrictions. Virginia, Texas, Georgia, and Vermont have said they've been adding two numbers to their totals: viral test results and antibody test results. Viral tests are taken by nose swab or saliva sample, and look for direct evidence someone currently has COVID-19. By contrast, antibody tests use blood samples to look for biological signals that a person has been exposed to the virus in the past. Combining the two tests' results into one total could provide an inaccurate picture of where and when the virus spread.

Real Estate Making 'Stunning' Coronavirus Comeback
FOX Business  |  May 21, 2020

Real estate is making a “stunning” recovery as demand for housing rises at rapid rates and the coronavirus curve flattens, according to a leading real estate broker. “It’s amazing,” Dolly Lenz Real Estate CEO Dolly Lenz said. “Purchase volume was down just 1% over a year ago. Imagine that. Last month it was down 35% annually. This month it's only down 1.5%.” High demand has caused a bidding war to break out amid tight inventory, according to her daughter Jenny Lenz, who is the managing director of Dolly Lenz Real Estate. Housing starts are down 32%, she said, and new listings are down 29% annually.

About Half Of U.S. Homes Lost Wages During Pandemic, Census Bureau Finds
NPR  |  May 21, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a hit in the paychecks of close to half of U.S. households, the Census Bureau says. Since March 13, 47% of adults say they — or another adult in their home — have lost employment income, while 39% say they're expecting their households to earn less from work over the next four weeks. With the first of the month coming in less than two weeks, more than a fifth of adults report they have just slight or no confidence in their ability to make their next rent or mortgage payment on time.

Second Wave of Coronavirus Infections Could Cause a Worse Economic Disaster, Experts Warn
CNBC  |  May 21, 2020

The U.S. economy has faced a substantial loss due to the nationwide shutdown. There is no guarantee that an early reopening can guarantee a successful economic recovery. Even if businesses open, consumers may not feel confident to venture out. A recent study revealed that more than two-thirds of Americans surveyed will actively avoid public places until lockdowns end. Experts also fear the possibility of a second wave of infections that can shut down the economy once again. None of the states has had a two-week decline in case numbers, as recommended by the federal guideline before reopening. The U.S. reported its deadliest day for coronavirus patients on May 1, the same day 14 states began to reopen. 

Coronavirus Stats Underscore how Disease Takes Disproportionate Toll on Elderly
FOX News  |  May 21, 2020

As the debate builds over when and how to reverse the economic shutdowns and stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, government statistics show the disease poses a significant danger to older generations yet largely spares those in their middle age or younger. While this disparity was previously known, statistics released as the pandemic goes on starkly illustrate its real-life effects. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show more than 80 percent of those dying of the virus are over 65 years old.

What to Know About Your Leave Options if You’re Not Ready to Return to Work
CNBC  |  May 21, 2020

Following weeks of partial shutdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, government officials and business leaders across the country are rolling out plans to bring their labor force back to the workplace. For the 18 million workers who lost their jobs temporarily in April, including those on furlough, reopening announcements are resulting in calls from their employer that it’s time to get back to work. But with the pandemic impacting areas of the country and communities unevenly, not everyone is eager to get back to business as usual. Depending on your situation and how COVID-19 has affected you, you may have options to remain on leave and not return to work in-person, at least temporarily. Here’s what to know.

The Mall of America Hasn’t Paid its Mortgage in Two Months
CNBC  |  May 21, 2020

The biggest shopping center in the country, The Mall of America, has missed two months of payments on its $1.4 billion mortgage. It’s a sign of just how much retail real estate owners are reeling during the coronavirus pandemic.

#GoodDeeds: Acts of Kindness from Pennsylvania and New York
May 21, 2020

ALTA continues to highlight how members are serving and helping their customers and communities during this uncertain and unprecedented time. Read on to find out what an employee for Trident Land Transfer is doing in Pennsylvania and how employees of Westcor Land Title Insurance Co. are contributing in New York and the New England area. 

Operation Healthy Office: Maintain a Healthy Work Environment
May 21, 2020

While the COVID-19 crisis persists, the country is shifting to think about what’s next and how people will return safely to offices. This process, however, is taking place gradually and non-uniformly across the country. ALTA has developed and collected various resources to help title and settlement professionals develop a plan. Use this infographic to maintain a healthy work environment.

Webinar Recording: Resuming Work Back in the Office
May 21, 2020
As governors release new executive orders and plans for reopening businesses, employers are confronted with a lack of uniformity and inconsistent guidance. The landscape can be confusing enough for an employer with a single location, but for those operating across states, or even across county lines, keeping track of what is required will be quite the endeavor. Curious what to do or if you have liability if an employee or customer gets sick? What about risks if you’re screening and testing employees and others entering the office? This webinar recording addresses employment, health policy and operation issues title and settlement companies will face as staff return to the office.
State Update: Reopening Tension Pits State, Local Officials Against Each Other, More than Half of California is Moving Further into Reopening, Three States will use Apple-Google Contact Tracing Tech
May 20, 2020

Tension that began with governors vs. the federal government has now trickled down, pitting officials within their own states against each other in ways that have direct implications for the fight against the virus and have already landed in the courts. Future disputes could complicate plans to respond to a resurgence, tie up urgent policy issues in legal wrangling and even risk lives. With cases increasing in some places and falling in others — and with a second wave predicted in the fall — the new pandemic battlegrounds will be increasingly localized.

More than half the counties in California are moving further into phase two of the state’s four-phased approach to reopening. Thirty of California’s 58 counties have been approved to move forward by the Department of Public Health. California’s previously outlined its four phases include the following:

  • Phase one: Strict stay-at-home order, only essential businesses open
  • Phase two: Retail businesses open for curbside pickup. Manufacturing and child care centers reopen. The expanded phase includes the reopening of shopping malls with indoor dining allowed.
  • Phase three: Personal care businesses like salons and gyms reopen.
  • Phase four: Events with large crowds like sports and concerts resume

Alabama, North Dakota and South Carolina are the first states to commit publicly to using Apple and Google’s contact tracing technology in statewide apps meant to slow the spread of coronavirus. The technology is designed to slow the spread of coronavirus by tracking who a person has been in close contact with. The technology uses a Bluetooth-based system that stores data on people’s phones, not a central database. When someone officially tests positive for Covid-19, the system can send a notification to anyone who was recently near that person, telling them to contact their local health authority and get medical advice and a coronavirus test.

Federal Update: New Coronavirus Cases Across the World Jump by the Most Ever in One Day, Taxpayers Face Delays as Backlogged IRS Struggles, CDC Sources: White House Putting Politics Ahead of Science
May 20, 2020

The number of newly reported coronavirus cases worldwide hit a daily record this week with more than 100,000 new cases over the last 24 hours, according to the World Health Organization. Almost two-thirds of the cases were reported in just four countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “We still have a long way to go in this pandemic.” The majority of new confirmed cases are coming from the Americas, followed by Europe, according to WHO’s daily report. The U.S. reported 45,251 new cases on Tuesday, according to the agency. Russia had the second-most reported cases Tuesday at 9,263, according to WHO.

The tax behemoth that touches virtually every American has made the government’s most aggressive effort so far to recall its workforce. But like other federal agencies following President Trump’s push to reopen the country, the IRS is struggling to ensure the safety of its employees as it tries to chip away at a crushing backlog and reconnect with tens of millions of taxpayers it has struggled to serve since late March. No federal leaders could fully prepare for a disruption on this scale. Yet the IRS, awash in sensitive taxpayer information, finds itself in a morass brought on by years of crippling budget cuts, cumbersome paper-based systems and resistance to telework. The challenges seem insurmountable. Even before the recent coronavirus infections, few employees felt secure enough to go back. As of Monday, about 3,000 customer-service and clerical workers had volunteered to return to the office, an absentee rate of almost 75 percent.

CDC officials say their agency's efforts to mount a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic have been hamstrung by a White House whose decisions are driven by politics rather than science. The result has worsened the effects of the crisis, sources inside the CDC say, relegating the 73-year-old agency that has traditionally led the nation's response to infectious disease to a supporting role. Rising tensions between CDC leadership and the White House over the perception that the agency has been sidelined has been a developing story in the media for weeks. But now, mid- and higher-ranking staff members within the agency are starting to voice their discontent.

Bidding Wars in a Pandemic? Housing is Heating up Fast
CNBC  |  May 20, 2020

After the housing market nearly shut down in April, competition is back with a fury. States are loosening social distancing restrictions and homebuyers are rushing to open houses again. The trouble is, they’re not finding much to buy. The coronavirus pandemic caused a historic drop in the supply of homes for sale that was already pretty meager. New listings had dropped by half during the second weak of April, compared with a year ago, according to real estate brokerage Redfin. Weak supply and growing demand is now causing a surge in bidding wars, especially for homes priced below $1 million.

CDC Releases Detailed Guidelines for Reopening
Politico  |  May 20, 2020

The CDC this week quietly published detailed guidelines for reopening schools and businesses that have been shut down in the coronavirus pandemic. The 60-page document is the most extensive guidance yet offered by the health agency, which has spent weeks embroiled in controversy over how far it should go in influencing institutions' decisions about how to open safely. Yet it comes well after many states charged ahead with plans to lift stay-at-home orders. The document includes specific guidance for reopening child care centers, schools, businesses, restaurants and public transit. It also lays out an extensive blueprint for containing the disease at federal and state levels through contact tracing and monitoring for outbreaks — capabilities that large parts of the country still lack.

CDC Now Says Coronavirus 'Does not Spread Easily' via Contaminated Surfaces
FOX News  |  May 20, 2020

For those of you still wiping down groceries and other packages amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, breathe a sigh of relief: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now say that the novel virus “does not spread easily” from touching contaminated surfaces or objects — but experts warn that doesn’t mean it’s no longer necessary to take precautions in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Though it’s not clear exactly when, the federal health agency appears to have recently changed its guidelines from early March that initially said it “may be possible” to spread the virus from contaminated surfaces, now including surfaces and objects under a section that details ways in which the coronavirus does not readily transmit.

The U.S. Already had a Housing Crisis. COVID-19 has Only Made it Worse
CNN  |  May 20, 2020

The cost of housing in the U.S. has risen faster than wages for decades. Many housing activists are pushing landlords and governments to offer relief to renters and to do it fast in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. There are 500,000 people who are homeless in America, but millions more are housing insecure — meaning they spend a large portion of their income on their rent or mortgage or they are living in overcrowded spaces or poor conditions. Even before the pandemic, one in four U.S. renters spent more than half their income on rent in 2018, according to a Harvard study.

6 Outside-Of-The Box Ideas to Find a Job or Stay Relevant Post COVID-19
Forbes  |  May 20, 2020

There will be great damage wrought on the job market in the wake of COVID-19. We have already witnessed 26 million jobs lost with an anticipated millions more to come. Many industries will suffer badly for years to come. You’d be doing yourself a disservice to presume that your job is safe and sound. If you’ve lost your job or are concerned about the safety and long-term viability of your career, you need to plan ahead of time and not wait for the axe to fall. Here are six out-of-the-box things you can do to stay in the game and keep the momentum of your career going.

Coping During Coronavirus: 5 Ways Stress Can Be A Good Thing
Forbes  |  May 20, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has caused stress, anxiety and mental health challenges that are far-reaching—with up to 75% of people reporting issues, according to some studies. But stress may not be all bad. It may contain the seeds of positive outcomes you can leverage for great benefits. Research by Richard Dienstbier found “mental toughness” is enhanced when people had multiple experiences of stress over time.

OSHA Now Requires Most Employers to Find if Virus Work-Related
May 20, 2020

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has changed its policy for when employers need to record coronavirus cases as being work-related, the agency announced. Under the new policy, employers who are required to keep OSHA injury and illness logs must determine if workers’ Covid-19 cases are job-related. Previously, OSHA said only health-care employers, corrections facilities, and emergency-response providers were required to make that determination.

Treasury's Mnuchin, Fed's Powell Defend Coronavirus Relief Measures
NPR  |  May 19, 2020

The Senate Banking Committee took its first look at spending under the massive CARES Act, which Congress approved in March to provide assistance to individuals, businesses and local governments affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were pressed by senators about their stewardship of specific aspects of the approximately $2 trillion relief package at Tuesday's remote hearing.

Global Emissions Plunged an Unprecedented 17 Percent During the Coronavirus Pandemic
May 19, 2020

As COVID-19 infections surged in March and April, nations around the globe experienced an abrupt reduction in driving, flying and industrial output, leading to a startling decline of more than a billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That includes a peak decline in daily emissions of 17 percent in early April, according to the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The group of scientists also said the decline is unlikely to last.

Federal Update: Mnuchin Says Treasury Ready to Provide More Money, Take More Risk in Fed Lending Programs; Trump Awards Contract to Company to Make Coronavirus Drugs in U.S.
May 19, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told senators Tuesday that his department and the Fed are “fully prepared to take losses in certain scenarios” on the capital remaining to be distributed from the CARES Act. Mnuchin did not describe the “certain scenarios” in which he is prepared to take losses, but he emphasized that the Treasury is ready to distribute the entire $500 billion initially appropriated to help struggling businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

President Trump has awarded a $354 million four-year contract to Virginia-based Phlow Corp. by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development to manufacture generic medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients that are needed to treat COVID-19. The company says it is manufacturing ingredients and finished dosage forms for more than a dozen medicines to treat the virus, many of which are in short supply and were previously made in India and China and imported. The contract could potentially be extended to $812 million over 10 years.

Cities that have spent years trying to lure people out of their cars and convincing them to ride buses and trains are now begging them to do the opposite. Transit agencies are watching their revenues shrivel while trying to redesign their systems for the remaining few still riding them. For now, being starved of their ridership is a mercy: There’s no way they can handle pre-pandemic levels of use while keeping people at least six feet apart.

State Update: All States Will be Partially Reopened by Memorial Day Weekend; Oregon Supreme Court Temporarily Reinstates Governor's COVID-19 Restrictions
May 19, 2020
  • By Memorial Day weekend, every U.S. state will have begun lifting measures enacted weeks ago to curb the spread of coronavirus. Many governors have already pushed into a second phase of restarting their economies, with some states now allowing restaurants, retailers and personal service shops to reopen their doors. By now, all states but Connecticut have in some way begun loosening their restrictions. Use this state-by-state business guidance resource from the Chamber of Commerce to find guidelines, timelines and other reopening information for employers.
  • The Oregon Supreme Court has halted a lower court's order that had invalidated the statewide restrictions imposed by Gov. Kate Brown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. A Baker County circuit judge ruled on Monday that the governor's coronavirus-related restrictions were "null and void," in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by 10 churches across Oregon that argued the state's social-distancing rules were unconstitutional. Within hours, Brown filed an emergency motion seeking a hold on the judge's preliminary injunction pending a review by the Oregon Supreme Court.
Vaccine Experts Say Moderna Didn’t Produce Data Critical to Assessing Covid-19 Vaccine
CNBC  |  May 19, 2020

Heavy hearts soared Monday with news that Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate -- the frontrunner in the American market -- seemed to be generating an immune response in Phase 1 trial subjects. The company’s stock valuation also surged, hitting $29 billion, an astonishing feat for a company that currently sells zero products.

PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Available
May 19, 2020

The Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury Department have released an application for business owners to have their Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiven. Title and settlement professional who received a PPP loan should complete and submit the application to their PPP lender.

CDC Plans Sweeping COVID-19 Antibody Study in 25 Metropolitan Areas
NBC News  |  May 19, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans a nationwide study of up to 325,000 people to track how the new coronavirus is spreading across the country into next year and beyond, a CDC spokeswoman and researchers conducting the effort told Reuters. The CDC study, expected to launch in June or July, will test samples from blood donors in 25 metropolitan areas for antibodies created when the immune system fights the coronavirus, said Dr. Michael Busch, director of the nonprofit Vitalant Research Institute.

ALTA Survey: Nearly 30 Percent of Title Agencies Offering Versions of Digital Closings During COVID-19 Pandemic
May 19, 2020

Title and settlement companies across the country have implemented new processes including digital closings to help consumers complete their real estate and mortgage transactions, according to a survey conducted by the American Land Title Association (ALTA).

 The Future of Mortgage Lending: A Conversation With FHFA Director Mark Calabria
May 19, 2020

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has taken a lead in the economic response to the COVID-19 crisis. With oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the FHFA has rolled out forbearance plans to provide assistance to homeowners and modified guidance to help closings and refinances continue despite stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Listen to this recording as FHFA Director Mark Calabria provides remarks and is interviewed by ALTA CEO Diane Tomb. The conversation addressed topics such as demand for digital closings, 2020 mortgage market outlook, GSE conservatorship and the importance of protecting property rights.

Federal Update: $500 billion Treasury Fund Meant for Coronavirus Relief has Lent Barely any Money; U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 1.5 million; Business Recovery from COVID-19
May 18, 2020
  • A $500 billion Treasury Department fund created by the Cares Act in March to help stabilize the economy has lent barely any money, according to an initial report issued by a new Congressional Oversight Commission. The money was supposed to be used to help prop up large segments of the U.S. economy at a time when millions of Americans had lost their jobs or were ordered to work remotely.
  • The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States exceeded 1.5 million on Monday, as total deaths caused by the new coronavirus approached 90,000, according to a Reuters tally of state and county figures. Most U.S. states reported a drop in new cases of the respiratory illness for the week ended May 17, with only 13 states seeing a rise in infections compared to the previous week, a separate Reuters analysis found.
  • As we progress into the recovery phase of the crisis, resilient leaders recognize and reinforce critical shifts from a “today” to a “tomorrow” mindset for their teams. They perceive how major COVID-19-related market and societal shifts have caused substantial uncertainties that need to be navigated—and seized as an opportunity to grow and change.
State Update: Texas Reports Largest Single-day Increase in Coronavirus Cases; Colorado Governor Says Everyone Who Needs Testing Can Now Get Tested; Coronavirus May Have Spread at a Church Service. Now
May 18, 2020
  • The Texas Department of Health reported that there are more than 47,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state, with over 1,800 new cases reported Saturday, as the state ramps up testing in areas that it has declared high risk. It's the largest single-day increase in confirmed cases in Texas since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, the state is moving forward with plans to reopen.
  • Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) said at a news conference Monday that the state now has enough tests for everyone who needs to get tested to do so. People who are symptomatic can get tested at one of the state's 32 community testing sites or by contacting their health-care provider.
  • In a Facebook post on Friday, pastor Mike Jacobsen of Palermo Bible Family Church said that an asymptomatic congregant who attended the May 11 service woke up the next morning “needing medical attention” and was tested for the coronavirus that day. The congregant received positive test results for COVID-19 two days later. About 180 congregants were potentially exposed to the coronavirus.
China Announces $2 Billion in Virus Help at WHO Assembly
Poltico  |  May 18, 2020

China will provide $2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic, President Xi Jinping said Monday, rallying around the World Health Organization and its efforts even as the Trump administration has slashed funding for the U.N. health agency. The European Union's 27-member bloc and other countries, meanwhile, called for an independent evaluation of WHO's initial response to the coronavirus pandemic "to review experience gained and lessons learned."

ALTA Donates to D.C. Nonprofit Supply Love
May 18, 2020

In recognition of D.C.-based Supply Love’s critical work, ALTA supported the organization’s #GivingTuesdayNow campaign as a corporate donor. Supply Love provides masks and other necessary supplies to hospitals, first responders and community organizations on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.

VA Reported more than 1,000 Coronavirus Deaths. But the Actual Veteran Toll is Much Higher
The Washington Post  |  May 18, 2020

More than 1,000 people have died of coronavirus infections at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, the agency reported Monday, a grim milestone that took 65 days to officially reach -- but leaves out hundreds of others who died in state-run homes. VA reported 1,012 deaths on its tracking site, with more than 700 logged as veterans who died during inpatient care at VA's sprawling network of veteran hospitals. The remaining deaths were recorded elsewhere but reported to VA, agency spokeswoman Christina Noel said last week.

Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Shows Promising Early Results
The New York Times  |  May 18, 2020

The first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appears to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response against the virus, its manufacturer, Moderna, announced on Monday. The findings are based on results from the first eight people who each received two doses of the experimental vaccine, starting in March.

'Something We've Never Seen Before': Scientists still Trying to Understand Baffling, Unpredictable Coronavirus
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  |  May 18, 2020

The new coronavirus has spread like wildfire, killed -- and spared -- people of all ages and all health conditions, baffled doctors, defied guidance and conventional wisdom, and produced an unprecedented array of symptoms. There's never been a virus like it.

#GoodDeeds: Post-closing Family Reunion and Birthday Party
May 15, 2020

Our latest #GoodDeeds story highlights a recent closing in Mobile, Ala., that brought together three siblings who were selling a property. While all three live close to each other, the 70 year olds had not interacted much due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on to learn how the closing at Surety Land Title turned into a small reunion and birthday party.

Title Insurance Industry Supports Communities During COVID-19 Pandemic
RIS Media  |  May 15, 2020

Driven by their passion for protecting homebuyers, members of the American Land Title Association (ALTA), the national trade association of the land title insurance industry, are innovating and adapting quickly to ensure safe real estate transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal Update: CDC Releases Scaled-back Guidance on Reopening, Here's a Breakdown on the $3 Trillion Congress has Approved for Coronavirus Relief so Far, Trump Pushes Schools to Reopen
May 15, 2020

The CDC released previously withheld guidance documents on reopening schools, restaurants and other institutions locked down during the pandemic, one week after the White House ordered the agency to revise an earlier draft it deemed "too prescriptive." The new CDC guidelines, which appear to be watered down from previously leaked versions, provide brief checklists meant to help key businesses and others operating in public reopen safely. In separate one-page documents, the CDC offers decision-making tools for schools, workplaces, camps, child care programs, mass transit systems, and bars and restaurants.

Congress has authorized roughly $3 trillion in coronavirus relief in four separate measures over the last two months. These bills attempt to protect the American economy from long-term harm caused by stay-at-home orders and respond to the overall impact of the virus. In several cases, Congress voted on the relief spending with little time to review the proposals and without an official cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. But now CBO has released estimates showing that the costs of some programs are expected to outpace early projections — driving up the total cost of the bills. These long-term expenses will be added on top of recent projections from the CBO that the U.S. deficit would be more than $3.7 trillion in 2020.

President Donald Trump expects a full reopening of schools come fall. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos isn’t so sure.“ I don’t consider our country coming back if the schools are closed,” Trump said this week. And “there’s no question” American education should be “fully operational” by the fall, aDeVos spokesperson said. But DeVos adds a caveat — a lot of school systems will have to stick with virtual schooling if they aren’t ready for a full reopening. “Students may very well be returning to a learning environment that’s a mix of in-person, online and experiential,” DeVos spokesperson Angela Morabito added.

State Update: What’s Opening in the U.S. This Weekend, Some State Beaches Reopening for Memorial Day Weekend, NYC Police to Focus on Large Gatherings
The Washington Post  |  May 15, 2020

In Louisiana, restaurants, bars, malls, gyms, movie theaters and museums can all reopen starting Friday with occupancy caps and distancing limitations in place. Iowa restaurants, gyms and malls can reopen, but with restrictions. Wyoming will let restaurants reopen with limitations, allow gatherings of up to 25 people and let movie theaters reopen, also with limits on the number of viewers. Arizona’s stay-at-home order is ending Friday, two days after pools, gyms and spas were able to reopen. In Oregon, most of the state’s counties are cleared Friday to reopen restaurants, bars, gyms and hair salons with some restrictions. Some businesses and beaches in Hawaii can reopen Friday, as can ice cream stores and trucks in Delaware.

Beaches will reopen in four states — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware — for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, allowing people to come back under restricted circumstances, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday. Cuomo described his area as “one multi-state region” where each state’s actions affect its neighbors’, something he described as significant when it came to beaches. Cuomo said authorities had come to an agreement to let state beaches reopen May 22 for the holiday weekend. Each state will have its own specific rules within the same general framework, he said.

Police in New York City will focus their coronavirus-related enforcement efforts on large gatherings rather than people without face coverings, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday. In a news briefing that came amid increasing criticism of how police had been enforcing the restrictions, de Blasio called for a “reset in our approach,” saying the New York Police Department would zero in on gatherings while hoping to avoid issuing summonses. “The bigger the gathering, the more that needs to be done by the NYPD,” he said. The goal, de Blasio continued, is to make sure large gatherings do not happen. Summonses will still be given if people do not disperse as directed, he added.

Social Distancing in U.S. Drops Significantly from Height of COVID-19 Pandemic, Poll Finds
USA Today  |  May 15, 2020

More Americans are leaving their homes than at any point in weeks. The number of Americans who say they are social distancing amid the nation's coronavirus pandemic – although still a majority – has dropped by 17 percentage points since late March as several states have ended stay-at-home orders, according to a new Gallup poll released Friday. But the drop isn't just from individuals who live in states where they can now dine in restaurants, get haircuts at barbershops or visit parks. More people in states that still have stay-at-home restrictions are also no longer social distancing. 

Terrible Retail Sales Report Shows Acceleration in Fates of Struggling and Thriving Retailers
CNBC  |  May 15, 2020

A shocking 16.4% plunge in April retail sales signals an even bleaker outlook for some brick-and-mortar retailers and shows a widening divide between the industry’s winners and losers. Consumers curtailed spending on nonessentials in April, after states shut down their economies to prevent spread of the coronavirus, the Census Bureau reported Friday. Economists had expected a 12.3% decline. Retail sales fell a revised 8.3% in March, but state shutdowns did not start until the second half of the month, and losses were offset by signs that consumers hoarded food and other goods.

CDC Warns Doctors About Childhood Illness Linked to COVID-19
CNN  |  May 15, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory to thousands of doctors across the country Thursday, advising them to be on the lookout for a troubling new syndrome that may be associated with Covid-19 infection. The syndrome, called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), has been seen in children across Europe and in at least 18 states, plus Washington, D.C. Doctors in the UK first alerted other doctors to the syndrome in April. Since then physicians in other countries, including Italy and France, have reported clusters of similar cases.

Affordable Child Care is Increasingly Difficult to Find in the U.S.—Coronavirus Could Make it Harder
CNBC  |  May 15, 2020

About 17% of child-care centers around the country are closed to all but the children of essential workers, according to a recent survey of 5,000 providers nationwide conducted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. About half of child-care providers opted to close temporarily when the pandemic hit their businesses. And many of these providers say that’s a big problem. Only about 11% say they could survive a closure of an indeterminate amount of time without government support, another survey by NAEYC finds. 

FHA Borrowers Offered New Option for Catching Up on Loans
Mortgage News Daily  |  May 14, 2020

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and both GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) have announced a new option for homeowners in COVID-19 forbearance plans, to eventually return their mortgages to performing status. As part of the CARES Act, a borrower in financial stress because of the pandemic can request forbearance, a pause or reduction in their monthly mortgage payment. The missed payments will have to be paid back by the borrower after the forbearance ends and FHFA and the GSEs have offered several options, including repayment plans, loan modifications or reinstatement, although they have repeatedly stressed that no borrower will be required to make such a lump sum payment of the arrearage. The new option is payment deferral. This will allow borrowers, once they are able to return to making their normal monthly repayment, to repay the missed payments when the home is sold, refinanced or at the end of the mortgage term.

Federal Update: Trump Administration to Expand Strategic Stockpile for Pandemic Needs, Schumer ‘Optimistic’ Congress Will Strike a Deal on Coronavirus Relief, Vaccine Won’t be Ready in 18 Months
May 14, 2020

The White House is laying out new plans to expand the Strategic National Stockpile after it ran out of critical medical supplies in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. Plans unveiled Thursday by President Donald Trump at a visit to a medical supply distribution center in Allentown, Pa., include ensuring there's a 90-day supply of testing supplies and essential drugs, to serve as a backup while the U.S. boosts manufacturing capacity. The stockpile was designed for bioterror threats in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and not for a pandemic like the coronavirus. Retooling it toward pandemic needs could be an important step if a second wave of infections emerges this fall, as many public health experts predict.

Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he hopes Congress will be able to push out another coronavirus relief bill to help Americans dealing with financial difficulties because of the pandemic. House Democrats plan to pass a $3 trillion relief package Friday, with proposals in it for more federal money toward state and local governments, testing, and direct payments to Americans, among other things. But Republicans have criticized the plan, referring to it as an expensive wish list. “Despite my worry and concern that our Republicans are sitting on the sidelines, I am optimistic we can get something done,” Schumer said.

Unforeseen obstacles to developing a coronavirus vaccine are likely, and that means one won’t be ready for distribution in 18 months, federal whistleblower Rick Bright testified. “A lot of optimism is swirling around a 12-to-18 month time frame if everything goes perfectly. We’ve never seen everything go perfectly,” Bright told members of the House health subcommittee. “I still think 12 to 18 months is an aggressive schedule and I think it’s going to take longer than that to do so.”

States Update: New Cases Going Down in Almost Half of the U.S., N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Expands Reopening to Five Regions, Restaurants and Bars Reopen in Wisconsin After Court Ruling
May 14, 2020

First, the good news: In 24 states, the number of newcoronavirus cases reported each day is generally going down. In 17 states, the numbers are holding steady, according to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. And in 9 states, the numbers of new cases are still rising. But that doesn't mean it's time to celebrate and take off face masks in public. As states remove more stay-at-home restrictions, it will take weeks to learn the health effects. A poll shows most Americans aren't yet ready to return to their regular routines.

Five regions in New York will be allowed to begin a phased reopening of their economies starting Friday, allowing construction work to resume and retailers to reopen with curbside or in-store pickup, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Five regions in upstate and central New York have met the seven measures outlined by health officials to begin a phased reopening of local businesses. 

Restaurants and bars in Wisconsin are reopening after the state’s supreme court ruled on Wednesday that Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order was invalid. Evers, a Democrat, will now have to work with the state’s legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, to implement a new statewide plan, the Associated Press reports. President Donald Trump praised the court ruling as a “win.”

Firms That Took a PPP Loan Under $2 Million are About to Get a Break
CNBC  |  May 14, 2020

Business owners who borrowed less than $2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program can breathe a little easier: They likely won’t face an audit from federal authorities. Businesses applying for the lifeline needed to certify in good faith that “current economic uncertainty” made the request necessary. Businesses of all sizes were concerned they would be facing an audit from the SBA, along with penalties, if they couldn’t adequately prove they needed the loan. Now, business owners with loans under $2 million can breathe a sigh of relief. Treasury and the SBA announced on Wednesday in an updated FAQ that these entrepreneurs will be given what’s known as “safe harbor” and won’t face additional scrutiny.

Americans got $48 Billion in Unemployment Benefits Last Month. It Could Have Been Double
CNBC  |  May 14, 2020

States paid a record $48 billion in unemployment benefits last month as the coronavirus pandemic caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs. But the payout could have been much larger — about double — were it not for administrative delays among states, according to an analysis from researchers at the Brookings Institution. “A lot of money is going out,” said Jay Shambaugh, director of the Hamilton Project, an economic initiative within the left-leaning think tank, and one of the authors of the report. “But it’s nowhere near how much could be going out.”

Job Losses Have Now Hit 40% of Low-income Homes
Politico  |  May 14, 2020

One in five American workers lost their jobs in March, including almost 40 percent of those in lower-income households, according to a Federal Reserve survey, underscoring the staggering impact of the coronavirus crisis. The data — released hours after the Labor Department reported that workers filed almost 3 million new unemployment claims last week — is further evidence that the economic crunch is pounding poorer Americans the hardest.

As Remote Work Sweeps the U.S., 55% Say it Can Succeed in Their Industry
LinkedIn  |  May 14, 2020

The latest edition of the LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index shows that 55% of respondents now think their industry can be effective when people are working remotely. Optimism is strongest in intensely digital fields, such as software, finance and media. In those industries, more than 75% of people endorse the idea that remote work and effective operations go hand in hand. In other sectors, remote work is a polarizing topic, especially if in-person interaction is crucial. These include health care (with optimists at just 48%) and manufacturing (41%). Resistance is most intense in retail, with only 29% of insiders thinking their industry could thrive with remote work. 

 Video Shows How Quickly Coronavirus Can Spread
CNN  |  May 14, 2020
An experiment in Japan conducted by broadcaster NHK and a team of medical experts shows how quickly and easily COVID-19 can spread.

'COVID-19 Surcharge': What it Means and Why Restaurants are Adopting it
FOX News  |  May 14, 2020

Though businesses around the country are getting the green light to partially return to service, the coronavirus pandemic has crippled the restaurant industry in many ways. The forced closures of dining rooms resulted in incredible financial losses for restaurants, which had to rely on delivery and takeout to pay bills. However, forcing businesses to reduce service has not been the only negative impact facing the restaurant industry. Meat shortages and food supply issues have caused distributors to raise prices. This, in turn, as forced restaurants to adopt new practices. Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge, a restaurant in West Plains, Mo., was one of several in the area to respond to the increase in supplier costs by implementing a COVID-19 surcharge of 5 percent.

#GoodDeeds: Investors Title Feeds the Need, While Futura Title Gives Back
May 14, 2020

North Carolina-based Investors Title Insurance Co. raised more than $26,000 through its FEED the NEED food drive to support food banks in North Carolina and South Carolina, while Idaho-based Futura Title and Escrow donated $67,400 to various local charities. Read on for the latest ALTA member  #GoodDeeds.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac: Borrowers in Forbearance can Defer all Missed Payments Until the End of Their Loan
HousingWire  |  May 13, 2020

As it turns out, borrowers in forbearance may not have to repay their missed payments at all until the end of their loan thanks to a new repayment option from the GSEs. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced Wednesday that they are rolling out a new payment deferral option for borrowers in forbearance. Under the new program, borrowers who took forbearance due to a coronavirus-related issue will not have to repay their missed payments until the borrower sells their house, refinances their current mortgage, or their mortgage matures.

Federal Update: Millions More Jobless Claims Expected, New Stimulus Proposal Includes Payments of up to $6,000 for Families, Extension of Unemployment Benefits Would Help These Industries Most
May 13, 2020

Economists polled by Refinitiv expect Thursday's initial jobless claims release to show 2.5 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. This would bring the total number of first-time claims filed since mid-March to 36 million — and it would mark the eighth consecutive week of claims in the millions. Though the figures have been falling every week since they peaked at 6.9 million initial claims in the last week of March, these high levels mean that the economy and its people are still hurting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly jobs report, America lost more than 20 million jobs in April alone, pushing the unemployment rate to 14.7%.

House Democrats want to send Americans a second round of stimulus checks worth up to $6,000 per family as part of the $3 trillion coronavirus relief package they rolled out Tuesday -- the largest in history. Like the first round of payments approved by Congress in March, new proposal calls for giving $1,200 to those earning up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 to couples without dependents making double that before phasing out. But it would be far more generous to many families with children, providing $1,200 per dependent up to a maximum of three dependents. The earlier stimulus package, which is still in the process of being distributed, gave $500 for each qualifying child under age 17. Americans may not see these new, more generous payments, however. Senate Republican leaders have already said the new bill is dead on arrival, arguing that another round of emergency funding is not yet needed as states begin to reopen.

Democrats want to give Americans larger unemployment checks until next year. Certain workers — particularly those in lower-paying industries like accommodation and food services — stand to benefit from the policy more than others, such as those in finance and insurance. The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package enacted in March enhanced unemployment benefits. More than 33 million Americans have filed for jobless pay since mid-March. One of the law’s main policy tools was to add $600 a week to the benefits Americans already get from states, which paid an average $378 a week pre-pandemic. The enhancement is set to expire on July 31. Democrats in the House of Representatives proposed extending the increased pay by six months until early 2021 to help manage the economic fallout of COVID-19.

State Update: What's Your State's Reopening Plan, National Pandemic Curves Appear to be Flattening – for Now, States Struggle with Sharp Drop in Tax Collections
May 13, 2020

The novel coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on many areas in the United States, prompting nearly all states to issue stay-at-home orders and close businesses in an effort to stem the tide of the virus. There is no unified approach among states and only non-binding national guidelines. Complicating matters is that the virus is impacting different states in a dramatic way. And within states, there is dramatic variation as well. Following is a look at when stay-at-home orders will be lifted, what each state's reopening plan looks like, and what phase each state is in in terms of reopening.

The Johns Hopkins and Worldometer data dashboards show the rise of confirmed cases and daily deaths in the U.S. may be slowing. And the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, a leading model, released projections this week that show a steady decline for daily deaths – falling to 100 or less by early August. Is the worst over? What happens as states slowly reopen will tell the tale, experts say.

States are starting to report their tax collections for the coronavirus months of March and April, and pretty much all of them are feeling blue. Georgia is showing a decline of more than $100 million compared with the same period a year ago. Tennessee's revenue is down more than $120 million. Texas, also hammered by the downturn in oil prices, has seen tax collections plummet by nearly $1 billion.

Hundreds of Public Companies Hold on to Small Business Loans as Deadline to Return Money Nears
CNBC  |  May 13, 2020

The largest public companies that tapped the government’s emergency relief fund for small businesses nearly all had ready access to other forms of capital, according to a CNBC analysis of filings. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has warned of “severe consequences” for companies that shouldn’t have participated in the Paycheck Protection Program. But just hours before a May 14 deadline to return PPP loans with amnesty, most public companies made no mention of giving back the funds, which become grants if used for approved expenses like payroll. Of the $1.32 billion tapped by public companies across 407 loans, only 61 loans making up a combined $411 million are being returned, according to data analytics firm FactSquared.

Coronavirus and PPP Fraud: Who the Government is Watching
FOX Business  |  May 13, 2020

Small business owners who applied for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program are worried about whether they still meet the program’s evolving eligibility criteria, but the government has given some clues as to which type of businesses and loans it intends to focus its enforcement efforts on. The Small Business Administration updated guidance for the program Wednesday, as the safe harbor deadline – by which business owners can return their cash without repercussion if they believe they are no longer eligible – looms. But the SBA has offered more details on planned enforcement – which will likely bring some relief to anxious applicants. Read on for details.

How Coronavirus Could Make People Move
Politico  |  May 13, 2020

The coronavirus is upending our jobs, canceling our pastimes and messing with our social lives. Some of these effects might linger for months, even years, becoming the new normal. But the pandemic isn’t simply likely to change how we live—it could also alter where we live. As we contemplate all the ways that COVID-19 could change the world, big and small, we should consider that the pandemic’s combined effect on public health, the economy and social behavior may cause fundamental shifts in our human geography. Why choose to stay in a crowded city where body bags piled high during the worst parts of the pandemic? Why especially, when COVID-19 has shown many employers that remote work is a serious possibility?

What Negative Interest Rates Would Mean for Your Wallet
CNBC  |  May 13, 2020

It’s hard to imagine being paid to borrow money or penalized for saving. But the economic shock from Covid-19 may call for drastic measures. Up until this point, the Federal Reserve has never brought its benchmark rate into negative territory and, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, the Fed is not considering going to negative interest rates now. Yet, “on some level, negative interest rates are inevitable in the U.S.,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “It’s just a matter of when.”

COVID-19 Isn't Just a Respiratory Disease. It Hits the Whole Body
CNN  |  May 13, 2020
Doctors treating coronavirus patients are seeing a range of odd and frightening syndromes, including blood clots of all sizes throughout the body, kidney failure, heart inflammation and immune complications. "One thing that is both curious and evolving and frustrating is that this disease is manifesting itself in so many different ways," said Dr. Scott Brakenridge, an assistant professor on the acute care surgery team at the University of Florida College of Medicine. "In some cases it's having severe effects on the patient's ability to breathe, and in others it seems to be associated with development of multi-system organ failure -- when all your organs shut down. And now it's associated with immune effects in children."
Grocery Prices are Soaring. Here's What's Getting More Expensive
CNN  |  May 13, 2020

American grocery store price tags are soaring. Overall, the price of groceries grew 2.6%, including seasonal adjustments, in April. That was the biggest increase from one month to the next since 1974, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Prices at the supermarket are rising sharply because coronavirus has disrupted the food supply chain: When restaurants shut down, Americans started cooking at home, and demand for groceries shot up. But food producers and farmers didn't have the ability to quickly shift their food deliveries to grocery stores. 

Incomplete Rent Payments Rise 93% During Pandemic
HousingWire  |  May 12, 2020

As more rent payments are made incomplete or not at all, Avail said that the total number of incomplete rent payments rose 93% between March and May. Avail said that nationwide, about 22% of landlords said they did not receive rent in full in March, while 33% did not receive rent in full in April and 42% did not receive rent in full in May. This is the case for about 60% of landlords, who said they didn’t receive a full rent payment in May because their tenants could not pay or did not pay. As there is no help for renters offered by the government, 10% of landlords said they offered tenants a discount on rent and 12% said they offered a rent deferment.

CFPB, FHFA & HUD Launch Mortgage and Housing Assistance Website for Americans Impacted by COVID-19
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  |  May 12, 2020

To ensure homeowners and renters have the most up to date and accurate housing assistance information during the COVID-19 national emergency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have launched a new mortgage and housing assistance website. CFPB, FHFA and HUD are offering extensive CARES Act assistance and protection for Americans having trouble paying their mortgage or rent during the COVID-19 national health emergency. This joint website consolidates the CARES Act mortgage relief, protections for renters, resources for additional help, and information on how to avoid COVID-19 related scams. 

Federal Update: House Democrats Roll Out $3 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill, U.S. Posts Record $738 Billion Budget Deficit in April, U.S. Could Conduct up to 50M Coronavirus Tests per Month by Fall
May 12, 2020

House Democrats unveiled their opening bid Tuesday in the next debate on Capitol Hill over how to fight the coronavirus and revive the economy, a sweeping bill set to be voted on at the end of the week. The 1,815-page bill, dubbed the “HEROES Act” by Democrats, was projected to cost a little over $3 trillion as of Tuesday morning, according to a House Democratic aide. It includes bolstering the direct payments program put in place in the $1.8 trillion coronavirus bill passed in late March, additional monies for state and local governments, and extending the expiration date for some unemployment benefits related to the pandemic. The bill is expected to meet with a chilly reception in the Senate, where Republicans have said they’re in no hurry to move on another bill soon and are focused on protecting business owners from litigation by workers or customers when establishments reopen.

The United States posted a record $738 billion budget deficit in April, according to a Treasury Department report released Tuesday, as federal spending soared to address the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the nation. Federal spending climbed to nearly $980 billion last month as the federal government began doling out funds from the $2 trillion relief package Congress passed at the end of March. Lawmakers then added to it last month with roughly $480 billion in new funding for small businesses, hospitals and other priorities.

HHS testing czar Brett Giroir predicted Tuesday that the U.S. will be able to test up to 50 million people per month for the coronavirus by September. That would be roughly four times the 12.9-million test goal the administration set for May and announced Monday. "We project that our nation will be capable of performing at least 40 to 50 million tests per month if needed at that time," Giroir said Tuesday. A significant portion of that capacity — 25 million to 30 million tests — would come from "point of care" tests that can be analyzed in hospitals and doctors' offices, he added.

State Update: 81,000 People Have Died from Coronavirus in the U.S., Fauci has Warning for States Opening too Early, California has Conducted 1 Million Coronavirus Tests
CNN  |  May 12, 2020

There are at least 1,356,037 cases of coronavirus in the U.S., according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. At least 81,571 Americans have died. Johns Hopkins has reported 8,649 new cases and 889 reported deaths on Tuesday. The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Tuesday that the United States could face even more “suffering and death” from the coronavirus if some states rush to reopen businesses too early. It could also hinder states “on the road to try to get back to an economic recovery,” he testified at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “It would almost turn the clock back rather than going forward. That is my major concern.” The White House has laid out a plan that allows states to gradually reopen local businesses as cases and hospitalizations decline and testing increases, among other “checkpoints,” Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. He added he’s worried that some states are loosening social distancing restrictions even as their COVID-19 cases continue to rise. 

California has conducted more than 1 million coronavirus tests, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a tweet on Tuesday. "This is an important milestone but we will have work to do," the tweet said. "We must continue to ensure everyone has access to COVID-19 testing -- regardless of their zip code." In an effort to continue to expand testing, the Office of the Governor of California account tweeted that the California Department of Consumer Affairs and the California Board of Pharmacy will issue waivers that allow pharmacists to order FDA-approved coronavirus tests.

Fed Outlines Terms for Lending Program and Promises Full Disclosure on PPP Recipients
CNBC  |  May 12, 2020

The Federal Reserve outlined how it will make loans through another of its loan programs and said it will provide detailed monthly information for who is getting the funds. As part of its Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility, a financial crisis-era program aimed at the asset-backed securities market, the Fed said it will issue up to $100 billion in three-year loans. The disclosures will include the name of participants, amounts borrowed, interest rates charged and value of pledged collateral. The information also will include costs, revenues and fees for the programs.

Some Homeowners are Getting Mortgage Bailouts by Mistake, and it’s Keeping Them from Refinancing
CNBC  |  May 12, 2020

More than 4 million homeowners are now delaying their monthly mortgage payments as part of both government and private lender relief programs – but some have been put into forbearance by mistake and are having a hard time getting out. While the programs cannot, by law, hurt their credit scores, they can keep borrowers from refinancing their loans or procuring new mortgages.

Americans Create New Economic Threat with Their Own Savings
CNN  |  May 12, 2020

Americans are slashing their spending, hoarding cash and shrinking their credit card debt as they fear their jobs could disappear during the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. credit card debt suddenly reversed course in March and fell by the largest percentage in more than 30 years. At the same time, savings rates climbed. The dramatic shifts in consumer behavior reflect the unprecedented turmoil in the U.S. economy caused by the pandemic. Although caution is a logical response to that uncertainty, hunkering down also poses a risk to the recovery in an economy dominated by consumer spending. A so-called V-shaped recovery can't happen if consumers are sitting on the sidelines.

Is Your Stimulus Check Less Than Expected? This May be Why
CNBC  |  May 12, 2020

Millions of Americans have eagerly awaited their $1,200 stimulus checks only to find that the amount they received was less than they expected. That has left them asking one question: Why me? If that’s you, brace yourself for disappointment. The IRS is now providing answers with new guidance. Following is a look at some of the reasons you might have gotten less.

Food Supply Threatened: Farmworkers are 'Essential' but Safety Rules for Them Aren't
Politico  |  May 12, 2020

The lack of federal action has left state and industry leaders scrambling to shield their farmworkers from the coronavirus. As harvest season ramps up, farmers across several major produce states have installed more hand-washing stations, instructed workers to keep their distance and provided face masks — but those efforts have been inconsistent and largely voluntary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued recommended guidelines that cover a range of critical employment sectors, including farm labor. But the Trump administration has not made the guidelines mandatory.

#GoodDeeds: ‘A Box of Sunshine’
May 12, 2020

ALTA members continue to share wonderful stories of the good deeds they are doing in their communities. Read on for the latest collection, which include "A Box of Sunshine" care packages and nearly $75,000 donated to support food banks in various communities.

Register for Webinar on Operation Healthy Office
May 12, 2020

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 | 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET | Register Today
As governors release new executive orders and plans for reopening businesses, employers are confronted with a lack of uniformity and inconsistent guidance. The landscape can be confusing enough for an employer with a single location, but for those operating across states, or even across county lines, keeping track of what is required will be quite the endeavor. Curious what to do or if you have liability if an employee or customer gets sick? What about risks if you’re screening and testing employees and others entering the office? Register for our upcoming webinar as we address employment, health policy and operation issues title and settlement companies will face as staff return to the office. In addition, title industry veterans will share how they are approaching new workforce protocols brought on by COVID-19.

As States Reopen, Homebuyers Rush Back Out, but Sellers are Staying on the Sidelines
CNBC  |  May 11, 2020

The number of for-sale listings plummeted in April, as both buyers and sellers dropped out of the market as a result of the pandemic. For the week ended May 2, total listings were down 19% annually, and new listings were down 39%, according to Realtor.com. “We’ve had buyers ready, willing and able, and the sellers have been the ones who have pulled their homes, changed their minds,” said Ben Hirsh, real estate agent for the Atlanta home. “It’s probably a bigger hurdle to get over, to put your home on the market and invite people in than it is to go look at homes as a buyer.”

Federal Update: Mask Mandate Takes Effect at the White House, White House Pushes States to Test 2% of Populations, House to Vote on Next Relief Bill Friday at the Earliest
May 11, 2020

Trump administration officials spent the weekend scrambling after two staffers tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the pandemic closer to President Donald Trump even as he works to reopen parts of the country. On Saturday and Sunday, aides attempted to conduct contact tracing for Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary who tested positive for coronavirus last week. But they had not identified who Miller contracted the virus from as of Sunday, raising concerns inside the White House about how to contain the outbreak. On Monday, staffers were advised in a memo they would be required to wear a face covering when entering the West Wing. The memo said face coverings would be available in the White House medical office and told staffers to follow social distancing guidelines.

The White House will announce a push for states to test at least 2% of their populations for the coronavirus in May, a senior administration official told reporters Monday. To help states meet that goal, the federal government is providing them with 12.9 million swabs and nearly 10 million tubes of chemicals used to transport samples. The White House will also reveal how it plans to distribute $11 billion from the CARES Act to support state coronavirus testing plans. The money will be distributed to states based on a formula that considers the prevalence of the coronavirus in states and their overall population. 

The House will not vote on its next coronavirus rescue bill until Friday at the earliest because it is still working on the package. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told representatives that they will get 72 hours notice before returning to Washington for votes. On Thursday, he told lawmakers he hoped the House would vote on its next aid plan this week. Democrats have pushed for an additional emergency package to provide relief to state and local governments and build up U.S. COVID-19 testing capacity, among other measures. Republicans have shown little appetite for quickly passing another rescue plan as the federal tab for the coronavirus response approaches $3 trillion.

State Update: Parts of New York can Reopen, Antibody Testing Shows COVID-19 has been in Ohio Since January, Floridians Stopped Traveling Before Official Shutdowns
May 11, 2020
  • Coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates in New York are down to where they were nearly two months ago, and parts of the state will be able to reopen on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. In the past day, 488 coronavirus patients were admitted to hospitals, similar to the state total from March 19, "before we went into the abyss of the COVID virus." As such, parts of rural upstate New York will be able to reopen on Friday when the state's shutdown order expires. Cuomo has said that regions can reopen if they hit seven specific criteria, including 14-day declines in hospitalizations and deaths, hospital bed availability, testing capacity and contact tracing. New York City has hit just four of the seven metrics to reopen.
  • Dr. Amy Acton says antibody research is providing new details on the prevalence of the coronavirus across Ohio. The director for the Ohio Department of Health said Monday that at least five of the 24,477 total reported COVID-19 cases in the state date back to January. Antibody testing, says Dr. Acton, helped determine that the onset of symptoms for those five cases were first reported in January. Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows the previous earliest illness onset date was in the beginning of February. According to Dr. Acton, Ohio Department of Health researchers are working to confirm if the infections are associated with travel.
  • The question has vexed epidemiologists for weeks now: How has Florida kept the coronavirus in check, given that official shutdown orders came so much later there than in other states? One answer, according to data analysis from the Tampa Bay Times, is that many Floridians stopped traveling long before their county or state stepped in. The Times looked at data from Google, Descartes Labs and Unacast, three companies that use location data from apps on cell phones to determine whether people are socially isolating. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order that went into effect April 3. By comparison, California's stay-at-home order began March 19, Illinois' started March 21, New York's on March 22 and Ohio's on March 23. Despite Florida's later action, the data showed that people sharply cut their travel well before their counties and the state issued stay-at-home orders.
130 Million Stimulus Checks Have Gone Out. Here’s Which States got the Most Money
CNBC  |  May 11, 2020

Millions of Americans have received their federal stimulus checks in the past four weeks. The IRS has updated its data on just how much emergency relief has been sent. And it shows which states received the most money. More than $200 billion has been sent to roughly 130 million American so far, the IRS said. And the government is not finished. More than 150 million checks are expected to be distributed. The following chart shows how the economic impact payments have been distributed by state, according to the latest IRS data.

5 Common Flawed Arguments for Reopening the Economy
CNN  |  May 11, 2020

The economy is plummeting, and tens of millions of Americans need to get back to work. But at what cost? We know there are health consequences to keeping the economy closed, and some say thousands of Americans are at risk of "deaths of despair." But as states try to balance saving lives and saving livelihoods, experts say some arguments for reopening the economy now are short-sighted or flawed. Following are some examples.

Meatpackers Question New COVID-19 Safety Guidelines
NPR  |  May 11, 2020

Thousands of meatpacking workers across the country were recently ordered back to work in plants that have seen massive outbreaks of COVID-19. According to recent CDC data reflecting some states' outbreaks through the end of April, at least 5,000 workers have contracted the virus and 20 have died. Other nonprofit organizations have reported many more. President Trump's recent executive order hasn't stopped more plants from closing down due to COVID-19 concerns, but 14 are slated to reopen this week, spiking fears among some workers that they will inevitably catch the virus.

Working From Home is Here to Stay
CNBC  |  May 11, 2020

While President Donald Trump pushes states to allow businesses to reopen, companies in technology, financial services, insurance and other industries that can successfully function over internet lines are choosing to keep their people home. Corporate leaders are waiting for some reliable combination of mass testing, therapeutics, contact tracing and possibly even a vaccine, before they’ll consider sending employees back into the traditional workplace. Another consideration is child care, and with schools closed across much of the country and summer camps unlikely to proceed as planned, kids are likely to be at home during the day at least for the next few months. “We’re going to see this come back more slowly than you might have expected,” said Liz Fealy, who runs the global workforce advisory group at consulting firm EY. “Especially in organizations where people believe employees can be equally productive at home.”

United Airlines Said it Would Try to Keep Middle Seats Empty. Photo Shows a Full Flight
CNN  |  May 11, 2020
After weeks working in New York City hospitals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, the time had come for Dr. Ethan Weiss to head home. But the University of California, San Francisco, cardiologist was surprised when he found nearly every seat was filled on his United Airlines flight. A photo Weiss posted on Twitter appeared to show dozens of mask-wearing passengers sitting next to each other with no space in between. "This is the last time I'll be flying again for a very long time," he wrote in a Twitter thread, adding that a lot of passengers on the flight were "scared/shocked." "I have to be tested anyway but this is insane. 6 hours like this," he tweeted. A United spokesman declined to comment on how many people were on Weiss' flight, saying that it "did have a higher than average load factor but it still departed with empty seats." United Airlines recently announced that it was making some middle seats unavailable for passengers to select. But the company said it was also not reducing capacity on flights, so a passenger could be seated in a middle or adjacent seat if necessary. 
Mortgage Bailout Swells to 4.1 Million Borrowers, but Demand is Slowing
CNBC  |  May 8, 2020

In the past week, 225,000 more borrowers took advantage of government and bank mortgage forbearance programs, according to data firm Black Knight. The rise brings the total to nearly 4.1 million homeowners not making their monthly mortgage payments, representing 7.7% of all active mortgages. While the numbers are far higher already than federal regulators predicted, borrower demand for help during the coronavirus crisis is actually slowing. About half as many borrowers asked for forbearance in the past week, compared with the previous week.

FDA Grants Authorization to At-home Saliva Test for COVID-19
MarketWatch  |  May 8, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday granted an emergency use authorization to a saliva COVID-19 diagnostic test that allows patients to take the test at home. It was developed by Rutgers University in New Jersey. Rutgers' test first received emergency authorization in April to be administered by a nasal swab, which is how other molecular tests authorized to test for the novel coronavirus are performed, and through saliva collection in a health care setting. However, now Rutgers is authorized to test for an infection through a saliva sample that can be collected at home, according to a Rutgers spokesperson. To test for COVID-19 using a nasal swab has been described as sometimes uncomfortable and painful for patients; there are also concerns that the swabs can miss an infection, or a patient who sneezes after receiving a swab can put health care workers at high risk of contracting the virus.

Unemployment Surged to 14.7% in April, Highest Since Great Depression
FOX Business  |  May 8, 2020

U.S. employers cut 20.5 million jobs in April, a record-shattering number that pushed unemployment to 14.7 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression, as the coronavirus pandemic triggered an unprecedented economic catastrophe. The grim Labor Department report provides one of the most comprehensive looks at the economic damage inflicted by the virus outbreak and subsequent stay-at-home measures mandated by states to curb the spread of COVID-19. More than a decade of job gains were erased in a single month; the stunning job losses are more than double what the U.S. saw during the 2008 financial crisis.

Federal Update: House Committee Demands Large Corps Return SBA Funds, Federal Government to Begin "Phased Transition" Back to Work, Democratic Senators Propose $2,000 Monthly Payments to Americans
May 8, 2020

A new select committee in the House is asking five companies to return Paycheck Protection Program money they received or to produce documents explaining all conversations they had with the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Treasury. The committee "sent letters demanding that large, public corporations immediately return taxpayer funds that Congress intended for small businesses struggling to survive during the coronavirus crisis," according to a statement. Some of the companies returned the funds, but others refused, the statement said. “Since your company is a public entity with a substantial investor base and access to the capital markets, we ask that you return these funds immediately,” the panel wrote in the letters. The panel asked the companies to let them know by May 11 if they will return these funds. If not, the panel asked the CEOs to produce a range of documents no later than May 15.

As various states begin to reopen, the federal government has taken a small, but significant step in that direction with the agency that serves a human resources function for the rest of the agencies issuing a new notice on its website about a “phased transition.” The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has updated its operating status for federal agencies on transitioning to normal working operations for government employees. OPM replaced language about teleworking on Thursday night, now saying the federal government would “begin a phased transition to normal operations in line with the national guidelines to open up American again.” The guidance went on to say that agencies would “make operating decisions based on state or locality of duty stations and other factors” and told employees to contact their supervisors with questions. 

A trio of Democratic senators are pitching a big idea: pay most American families thousands of dollars each month until the coronavirus’s economic crisis subsides. On Friday, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will release their Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act. It would dramatically expand upon the $1,200 sent to Americans as part of March’s gargantuan coronavirus response bill. The legislation would send a monthly $2,000 check to people who make less than $120,000. It would expand to $4,000 to married couples who file taxes jointly and also provide $2,000 for each child up to three. Harris said the bill is a reflection that Congress’s efforts so far were not “nearly enough to meet the needs of this historic crisis” and Markey called the massive cash infusion “the most direct and efficient mechanism for delivering economic relief to those most vulnerable.” 

State Roundup: More than 1.2 Million Cases of Coronavirus Reported in the U.S., California Reopens Retail, Montana Reopens Schools
May 8, 2020

There have been at least 1,268,520 cases of coronavirus in the United States, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. At least 76,101 people have died. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases. Johns Hopkins has reported 11,497 new cases and 439 deaths on Friday.

California, one of the first states to implement a stay-at-home order, is set to begin loosening some restrictions Friday, though state Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly warned residents, "It does not mean a return to normal." Shops including clothing stores, florists and bookstores now are allowed to offer curbside pickup services, though they should continue to encourage social distancing, Ghaly said. Manufacturers should keep workers farther apart for social distancing, and warehouse workers should have sanitation materials and use personal protective equipment during deliveries.

While 48 states and Washington D.C. have ordered or recommended that schools close through the end of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic, schools in Montana and in Idaho opened this week, with only weeks to go until school is out for summer. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said last month that the state's schools may reopen as soon as May 7, although it's up to the local districts to do so. "We polled our parents, and 76% of our students would be returning if we could reopen our doors," Bonnie Lower, the principal and superintendent at Willow Creek School in Montana, said. During the shutdown, children were falling behind in learning, and working parents were struggling to both do their work and teach their children, she said. "It was just very very difficult," Lower said. "And I believe that the parents are confident that we are going to take good care of their kids while they are here."

Families of Deceased COVID-19 Victims may have to Give Back Stimulus Checks
CNBC  |  May 8, 2020

The IRS has a clear message for families of the deceased who receive stimulus checks: Give the money back. But what about those who recently died because of COVID-19? At least 75,852 U.S. deaths have been caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. The IRS guidance released this week was fuzzy on the timing of when a deceased person’s family or estate would have to return the funds. That’s because it bases its requirement on when the money is received. “A payment made to someone who died before receipt of the payment should be returned to the IRS by following the instructions about repayments,” the agency states on its website. 

When will Restaurants and Bars Reopen? What Experts are Saying
CNBC  |  May 8, 2020

Restaurants and bars have been among the hardest-hit businesses during coronavirus quarantines. While some establishments will reopen with limited capacity sooner rather than later, the sector is likely to face widespread decimation, according to industry and health experts. The National Restaurant Association projected the industry would take in $899 billion in sales in 2020 before coronavirus quarantines. But most depend on consistent cash flow to keep their doors open. Since widespread lockdowns began in March, more than 8 million restaurant industry employees have lost their jobs or have been furloughed, according to a survey of 6,500 establishments by the association. That equates to a loss of $80 billion through April, and up to $240 billion by the end of the year. Social distancing will need to be part of any proposal to reopen, said Dr. Ashish Jha, professor of health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Jha recommended 50% capacity cuts, while noting that “even 50% capacity feels a lot to me with bars.” The problem is opening doors at 50% capacity probably is seldom economically feasible.

People are Waiting out COVID-19 in Frozen Antarctica
CNN  |  May 8, 2020
While the rest of the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, one continent has managed to remain entirely free of the infection. Antarctica, the coldest place on Earth, is now considered the "safest place in the world," with no confirmed cases at all. The region had a close brush with COVID-19 when outbreaks hit the final cruise ships of the season, but the virus didn't reach its frozen shores. And, because it's currently descending into winter, when it's completely cut off, it should stay that way for now. Although there's no official native population here around 5,000 people, mostly scientists and researchers, currently reside in its 80 or so bases.
PPP has $126.5 Billion Left for Small Businesses
HousingWire  |  May 8, 2020

The Paycheck Protection Program created by Congress to rescue small businesses using forgivable loans still has $126.5 billion in funding left, according to the Small Business Administration. While some banks have stopped taking applications for PPP loans, it’s only because they believe the amount they have in their pipelines will use up the remaining funding, Cowen Washington Research Group said in a note to clients on Thursday. Over 5,400 lenders are taking part in the PPP, according to the SBA. So, if one lender is declining new applications, try another one.

SBA Slashes Disaster-loan Limit from $2 Million to $150,000, Shuts out Nearly all new Applicants
The Seattle Times  |  May 7, 2020

An emergency disaster lending program for small businesses has been so overwhelmed by demand that it has significantly limited the size of loans it issues, while blocking nearly all new applications from small businesses, according to people familiar with the situation. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is a longstanding Small Business Administration program that’s separate from the new Paycheck Protection Program, which has challenges of its own. Congress gave the disaster loan program more than $50 billion in new funding in recent relief bills to offer quick-turnaround loans to businesses slammed by the coronavirus pandemic. But by many accounts, it is failing spectacularly. After initially telling businesses that individual disaster loans could be as high as $2 million, SBA has now imposed a $150,000 limit without publicly announcing the change, said a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly. Additionally, the agency has faced a backlog of millions of applications for the disaster loan program for the past several weeks, several SBA officials have said.

Federal Update: Trump Administration Rejects CDC Guidance on Reopening U.S., Pentagon Spent Hundreds of Millions in Fight Against Coronavirus, NIH Hoping to Have Millions of Tests by End of Summer
May 7, 2020

The Trump administration will not implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 17-page draft recommendation for reopening America, a senior CDC official confirmed. The guidance provided more detailed suggestions beyond the reopening guidelines the administration had put forth last month, including specific suggestions for schools and churches. President Donald Trump in recent days has emphasized the need to quickly reopen the American economy despite public health officials' urgings for a more cautious approach. A senior CDC official confirmed that it was clear that the White House was not going to implement their 17-page draft recommendation for reopening America -- after it asked for it.

The Pentagon has opened a colossal war chest to finance its fight against the deadly coronavirus. The Pentagon has procured more than 4.5 million N95 respirator masks, 13.7 million non-medical and surgical masks, 94.6 million exam gloves, 2.5 million isolation and surgical gowns. The agency has also begun delivery of more than 7.3 million non-medical, cloth face covering to the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. military installations as well as other Department of Defense organization. The Pentagon’s logistics arm has also ordered 8,000 ventilators to be used by Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. The Defense Logistics Agency, which manages the Pentagon’s global supply chain, has executed 6,036 contract actions with $667.3 million in obligations for the coronavirus effort. Of the $667 million, approximately $628 million was allocated to supporting FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The National Institutes of Health has set an ambitious goal to make millions of “accurate and easy-to-use” coronavirus tests available by the end of summer. NIH Director Francis Collins cautioned this is a “stretch goal that goes beyond what most experts think will be possible.” Still, Collins told a Senate committee hearing that Americans need tests which can accurately deliver results in hours and can also integrate with mobile devices to transmit data. “Such tests sound like science fiction but are scientifically possible,” he said. The NIH has called on scientists to develop rapid testing technology that can scale quickly across the nation. Collins said promising technologies will move into Phase I, in which the NIH will award funding to the inventor and help with technical clinical experts.

State Update: Daily New U.S. Cases on the Rise, NY Governor Says he won't Sacrifice Lives to Reopen Economy, California Saddled with $54 Billion Budget Deficit
May 7, 2020

As the coronavirus outbreak slows in some parts of the country, it’s rapidly gaining speed elsewhere. Excluding New York’s data, overall cases in the country are on the rise. “It’s a transfer of the outbreaks from one area to another,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, infectious disease epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “We’re seeing many epidemics all across the country. As some are slowing, others are increasing, so if you look just at the national numbers you won’t see the full picture.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he’s not willing to trade people’s lives to reopen the state’s economy, saying it’s “absurd” to argue over how many deaths are worth reopening the state. “This is not a situation where you can go to the American people and say, ‘How many lives are you willing to lose to reopen the economy?’ We don’t want to lose any lives. You start to hear these, to me, what are absurd arguments,” Cuomo said. An additional 231 people died from COVID-19 across the state on Wednesday, he said. While the daily number of deaths has been steadily declining, it’s been a slow drop, and the number of people dying every day from the coronavirus is still “painfully high,” Cuomo said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state will have a $54 billion budget deficit as a result of the negative economic impact of the coronavirus. The state had a $21 billion surplus last year. At the beginning of 2020 the state had an unemployment rate of 3.9%, now, Newsom said, the state will have a jobless rate of 18%.

 

Here’s why Meat Shortages are Likely to Last During the Coronavirus Pandemic
CNBC  |  May 7, 2020

On trips to the grocery store and the fast food drive-thru, customers have yet another reminder of how the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted their routine: Emptier than usual meat aisles. Butcher counters without the usual variety. And hamburgers that are harder to come by. In meatpacking plants from South Dakota to Tennessee, workers have gotten sick from the coronavirus as they work side-by-side cutting, boning and trimming meat. The spread has shuttered plants, slowed production and created a ripple effect across the supply chain. Industry experts, analysts and a union that represents meatpacking plant workers say challenges with the country’s meat supply chain will likely linger as long as the pandemic does. 

U.S. Field Hospitals Stand Down, Most Without Treating any COVID-19 Patients
NPR  |  May 7, 2020

As hospitals were overrun by coronavirus patients in other parts of the world, the Army Corps of Engineers mobilized in the U.S., hiring private contractors to build emergency field hospitals around the country. The endeavor cost more than $660 million, according to an NPR analysis of federal spending records. But nearly four months into the pandemic, most of these facilities haven't treated a single patient. Public health experts said this episode exposes how ill-prepared the U.S. is for a pandemic. They praised the Army Corps for quickly providing thousands of extra beds, but experts said there wasn't enough planning to make sure these field hospitals could be put to use once they were finished. 

#GoodDeeds: Something Amazing Happened
May 7, 2020

In effort to support individuals and families suffering during the COVID-19 crisis, Washington-based Whatcom Land Title donated $1,500 to the Whatcom County Food Banks. But the giving didn’t stop there. Want to share your company's #GoodDeeds? Email us your story at communications@alta.org.

WFG Prioritizes Employee Physical, Mental Safety
May 7, 2020

The company has hired a mindset coach and expanded its PTO policy and Employee Assistance Program to help ease employee concerns during COVID-19.

COVID-19 Highlights Importance of Emergency Plans and Crisis Communication
May 7, 2020

A question coming for the title industry after COVID-19 is how this pandemic will affect future customer and employee expectations.

Small Business Loans are not Going Proportionately to the Hardest-hit Areas, Fed Study Shows
CNBC  |  May 6, 2020

States enduring the brunt of the coronavirus crisis are receiving a smaller proportion of emergency small business loans than some Mountain and Midwest states, according to analysis conducted by the Federal Reserve. “In New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States, less than 20 percent of small businesses have been approved to receive PPP loans. In contrast, more than 55% of small businesses in Nebraska are expecting PPP funding,” wrote Haoyang Liu and Desi Volker, two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The findings will likely fuel a principal complaint about the Small Business Administration’s program. Critics alleged that the PPP’s first-come, first-served basis has allowed regions of the U.S. with fewer COVID-19 cases to receive an inappropriate proportion of the funds. 

Federal Update: SECURE Notarization Act Introduced in Senate, White House Coronavirus Taskforce Will Stay, Europe is Loosening Coronavirus Restrictions
May 6, 2020
Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) recently introduced an ALTA-supported bipartisan bill called the SECURE Notarization Act that would allow remote online notarizations to take place in every state in the country. Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14) and Madeleine Dean (D-PA-04) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives. In both chambers, dozens of policymakers from both sides of the aisle have joined the effort.
President Trump said the work of the White House coronavirus task force would continue “indefinitely,” a day after Vice President Pence, who heads the panel, said it would probably wind down its work by the end of the month. “I thought we could wind it down sooner, but I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually [Tuesday] when I started talking about winding down,” Trump said.

Even as European nations begin to emerge from stay-at-home restrictions, they are nowhere close to reopening as international vacation destinations. The most optimistic countries — Greece and Portugal among them — hope there is a chance they might be able to pitch themselves as safe options by the second half of summer. Others, including Italy, are looking to regional travel to partially salvage their tourism industries and economies while they sort out when to reopen borders and whom to let in.

State Update: None of the States Reopening Have met White House Guidelines, Most new Coronavirus Hospitalizations in NY are People who had Been Staying Home, Restaurants in TX and GA Slow to Reopen
May 6, 2020

While more states lift stay-at-home restrictions, none have met all of the White House's guidelines on when they can safely start to reopen, a researcher from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said. "To my knowledge, there are no states that meet all four of those criteria," said Caitlin Rivers, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins. She described the four criteria on Wednesday: "The first is to see the number of new cases decline for at least two weeks, and some states have met that criteria. But there are three other criteria and we suggest they should all be met," Rivers said. Those include having "enough public health capacity to conduct contact tracing on all new cases, enough diagnostic testing to test everybody with COVID-like symptoms" and "enough health care system capacity to treat everyone safely." It will take weeks to learn how many new cases and deaths emerge after states start easing restrictions.

Most new COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York state are from people who were staying home and not venturing much outside, a “shocking” finding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.  The preliminary data was from 100 New York hospitals involving about 1,000 patients, Cuomo said. It shows that 66% of new admissions were from people who had largely been sheltering at home. The next highest source of admissions was from nursing homes, 18%. 

Full-service restaurants in Texas and Georgia reopened less than half of their locations on May 1 when the two states allowed dining rooms to reopen at limited capacity. On average, only 40% of Texan operators and 31% of Georgian operators chose to reopen locations that day, according to data from industry tracker Black Box Intellingence. Those who did likely saw a lift in sales, though. Black Box found that full-service restaurants in Texas, which are operating at 25% capacity, saw same-store sales declines of 36% on Saturday — nearly 30 percentage points better than the national average on the same day.

Are you Having Second Thoughts About that PPP Loan? You Have Until May 14 to Pay it Back
CNBC  |  May 6, 2020

Business owners who received loans through thePaycheck Protection Program and don’t need it have until May 14 to return the cash. Small businesses aren’t the only ones who participated in the PPP. Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Potbelly, as well as other large companies, received funding. Though Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris and Potbelly later returned the money, amid public outrage, many others said they’d keep it. This prompted Treasury and the SBA to issue a clarification in a set of “frequently asked questions,” giving businesses up until May 7 to return the funding or else face government scrutiny, potential fines and more.

If There’s Coronavirus Relief Money, Scammers Will Try and Steal it
CNBC  |  May 6, 2020

Coronavirus scams are on the rise — and thieves are targeting your financial relief from the government. Federal agencies like the IRS, Federal Trade Commission, Social Security Administration and FBI have warned consumers and business owners in recent weeks to be vigilant as fraudsters try to take advantage of them during thecoronavirus pandemic. There’s a been a surge in financial fraud related to the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief law enacted in late March. Americans lost $13.4 million to coronavirus-related fraud from the beginning of the year through mid-April, according to the FTC.  

New Study Shows Just how Badly Black Americans Have Been Hit by COVID-19
Politico  |  May 6, 2020

Counties across the country with a disproportionate number of African American residents accounted for 52 percent of diagnoses and 58 percent of coronavirus deaths nationally, according to a new study released Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary data on coronavirus cases broken down by race and ethnicity as provided by state health departments. But 78 percent of the data were missing details on race and ethnicity as of April 15, the report said. The study is one of the first to capture the impact on African American populations nationally.

WHO Says it’s in Talks to Send Mission to China to Investigate Source of Coronavirus
CNBC  |  May 6, 2020

The World Health Organization is in talks with China to send a follow-up mission to the country to investigate the source of the coronavirus pandemic, a WHO official said. WHO officials previously said the coronavirus emerged from a seafood market in Wuhan, China, and likely originated in bats, then jumped to an “intermediate host” before infecting humans. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said it’s critical for officials to determine from what species the virus emerged. Scientists continue to run tests on various animals, but have so far not found the host responsible for the outbreak.

EU Faces 'Recession of Historic Proportions,' Forecast Warns
NPR  |  May 6, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly driving the European Union into a "deep and uneven recession," with national economies contracting because of widespread disruptions in work, daily life and the movement of goods, the European Commission said Wednesday. The EU economy is predicted to shrink by 7.5% in 2020 — far worse than the 2009 contraction of around 4.5% during the so-called Great Recession.

Airlines Want Relief from Flying Near-empty Planes
CNBC  |  May 6, 2020

A lobbying group representing U.S. airlines on Wednesday said federally mandated minimum service requirements are “unsustainable” for carriers as the COVID-19 pandemic sends passenger numbers to the lowest levels since the 1950s. One of the requirements to receive portions of $25 billion in federal payroll grants and loans under the coronavirus rescue package is that airlines have to keep a certain number of flights, which varies by carrier and was based on networks before the disease spread widely. The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued some waivers but for Airlines for America, which represents Delta, American, United, Southwest, JetBlue, Alaska and Hawaiian, “the cost associated with operating nearly empty flights to communities with little to no demand significantly exacerbates air carrier liquidity.”

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Could Forever Change Homebuying and Mortgage Lending
MarketWatch  |  May 5, 2020

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Business leaders in all parts of the U.S. economy are taking bold steps to respond to the coronavirus crisis. Professionals in the mortgage industry are implementing reforms that will be long-lasting in terms of how lenders operate and how consumers obtain financing. Following are three ways in which the crisis may permanently affect the housing sector.

This Tax Break is up in the Air for Employers who Furloughed Workers
CNBC  |  May 5, 2020

Companies that cover the cost of health insurance for their furloughed workers may miss out on a key tax credit. The CARES Act established the employee retention tax credit to encourage employers to continue paying their workers as coronavirus disrupts the economy and shutters businesses. This credit is equal to 50% of up to $10,000 in qualified wages paid to each employee — or a maximum of $5,000 per employee — after March 12, 2020 and before Jan. 1, 2021. The employee retention tax credit does not apply in tandem with the Paycheck Protection Program — the forgivable loan program that’s available to small businesses. You can choose one or the other, but not both.

Federal Update: White House Considers Phasing Out Coronavirus Task Force, Don't Expect Much Foreign Travel Before 2021
May 5, 2020

The White House is considering slowly winding down its coronavirus task force in the coming weeks or months. Vice President Mike Pence, who oversees the task force, confirmed in a meeting with reporters Tuesday that the administration is having conversations about transitioning the coronavirus response to other federal agencies. The administration is looking at conducting that transition in early June, Pence reportedly said. The gradual phase-out of the group would come as states begin relaxing their strict social distancing measures – even as some regions see an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is encouraging Americans to focus on domestic travel this year as the international travel outlook for the rest of 2020 remains uncertain. In response to a question Monday about whether international travel will be opened up this year, he responded, “Too hard to tell at this point." The Treasury secretary clarified that there may be room for limited international travel: “Obviously, for businesspeople that do need to travel, there will be travel on a limited basis."

State Update: A Look at How Much of the Country is Reopening, California to Reopen Some Businesses Friday with Conditions, There’s no Timetable to Reopen from N.J. Coronavirus Lockdown
May 5, 2020

A growing number of states are beginning to reopen their economies in the first two weeks of May, a trend that’s making investors optimistic that the worst of the economic downturn may have already passed. The infographic in this article shows how many Americans will soon see COVID-19 restrictions lift. To be sure, all eyes will be on whether those states see a “second wave” resurgence of coronavirus cases as residents begin to congregate, which would reverse that trend.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said some of the state’s retail businesses could begin reopening with modifications by the end of this week if certain criteria are met. Newsom said state officials will issue further guidance Thursday on the state’s next phase of reopening, which will include specific guidelines that low-risk businesses must meet in order to reopen with modifications as soon as Friday. He said retailers of such items as clothing, books, music, toys and sporting goods, as well as florists, would be allowed to offer curbside pickup services if they institute guidelines set forth by the state. Associated manufacturers that support the retail industry would also be allowed to begin production, Newsom added.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy insisted Tuesday that more progress needs to be made in New Jersey’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic before the state lifts additional restrictions and reopens nonessential businesses, regardless of those lobbying for a faster plan as Memorial Day nears. He emphasized that hundreds of people are being admitted to hospitals daily with COVID-19 and said it’s not time to pull back on restrictions that have been in place for more than a month. New Jersey has now had 8,244 deaths attributed to the coronavirus, with 130,593 cases since the start of the outbreak in early March. Only New York has more deaths and cases among American states.

Coronavirus Death Toll in U.S. Projected to Double as Restrictions Ease, Key Model Predicts
FOX News  |  May 5, 2020

A revised mortality model predicts coronavirus deaths in the U.S. will nearly double to 135,000 through August as states continue to ease social distancing restrictions. The grim new projection, released by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) Monday, which has helped influence the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak, has jumped up considerably from its April 29 forecast of 72,433 deaths. As of Tuesday, the coronavirus has infected nearly 1.2 million people in the U.S., killing 68,934. The considerably higher projection reflects “changes in mobility and social distancing policies,” the institute said. As a growing number of states begin to roll out plans to reopen, the institute is estimating longer epidemic peaks and slower downward trajectories in the U.S.

Will Furloughed Main Street Employees Get Their Jobs Back?
CNBC  |  May 5, 2020

Small businesses didn’t see it coming, but it came quick. In the latestCNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, conducted April 21–27 among 2,200 entrepreneurs across the country, almost a third (32%) say their headcount has decreased in the past two months, six times higher than the 5% who in Q1 said they expected their staff of full-time employees to decrease over the subsequent 12 months. Here’s the good news: Though no one knows how long this crisis will last, small business owners say the jobs will be there when it is over. Nearly all of the small business owners who have had to lay off or furlough employees intend to hire again once things return to normal. Just over half (52%) expect to hire everyone back who has been let go, and 37% expect to hire some back. Fewer than one in 10 (9%) say they don’t expect to re-hire anyone who has been furloughed or laid off. 

World Leaders Pledge $8 Billion To Fight COVID-19; U.S. Skips Meeting
NPR  |  May 5, 2020

A global alliance responded to calls to fight thecoronavirus pandemic on Monday, as world leaders pledged some $8 billion to develop vaccines and treatments to fightCOVID-19. The cavalcade of donors did not include the U.S., which did not participate despite being a major contributor to global health initiatives. The funding summit came as the viral disease that was unknown just months ago is now confirmed to have infected more than 3.6 million people, including 250,000 who have died. The U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway and Saudi Arabia led the high-profile pledge drive, along with the European Commission. Trump administration officials repeatedly refused to go into detail about why the U.S. was absent from a meeting in which the world's leaders made commitments to that fight.

 Grocery Prices are on the Rise
CNBC  |  May 5, 2020

If it feels like you’re spending more on groceries, that’s because you are. It’s not your imagination: Grocery staples from milk and eggs to produce have gotten more expensive in recent weeks. Milk prices are up 10%, year to date. Produce prices are up 10%. And egg prices are up 30%. That’s all according to research by Nielsen. In an average week, about a third of products sold by a grocery store is on promotion – but that’s dropped to about 20%. Watch this video with Nielsen Managing Director Morgan Seybert for more information.

 Title Industry Responds to COVID-19: Our Title Is Protection
May 5, 2020
Title insurance professionals take pride in protecting their customers by ensuring that their home is theirs when they make one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the title insurance industry has stepped up even more to help their communities. Whether its volunteerism or innovation to get deals closed during this time of social distancing, the title industry is here to provide protection, today, tomorrow and forever. Watch this video to see how ALTA members across the country have been delivering for people and organizations in their local communities.
Federal Update: Senate Returns for First Major Session Since March, U.S. Treasury Expects to Borrow Nearly $3 Trillion in Debt This Quarter, White House will Oversee Distribution of Remdesivir
May 4, 2020

The U.S. Senate returns Monday for the first time since March 25, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling lawmakers back to Washington amid enhanced precautions due to the coronavirus. Congress has been largely out due to the pandemic, except for limited sessions with skeleton crews. The House remains out, with leaders having announced they will not be back this week, though they will have a committee hearing on COVID-19 response. Senate leaders are expected to deliver remarks on the floor late Monday afternoon. Senators are expected to pop in, vote and leave to maintain social distancing. While senators themselves will be present, much of their staff is expected to continue working remotely.

The U.S. Treasury estimates it will issue a record amount of debt in the second financial quarter as government spending soars in response to the coronavirus. The Treasury Department expects to borrow $2.999 trillion in marketable debt in April through June of this year. That is much higher than announced in February 2020, and assumes a cash balance of $800 billion by the end of the quarter. Treasury issues securities like bills and bonds to raise cash to support government spending. The large jump this quarter is "primarily driven by the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, including expenditures from new legislation to assist individuals and businesses" as well as "changes to tax receipts," including the deferral of individual and business taxes until July.

The investigational drug remdesivir will be distributed according to a plan approved by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The maker of the drug, Gilead Sciences, had previously said the federal government would decide where to send the company’s existing supply – which is enough to treat between 100,000 and 200,000 patients. In early results from a trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, remdesivir was found to shorten the duration of illness in patients with severe Covid-19, but it had no statistically significant effect on whether patients died.

State Update: Tracking COVID-19 Cases in the U.S., NYC to Give Away 7.5 Million Face Coverings, California Governor Allows Some Orange County Beaches to Reopen
May 4, 2020

Since January, health authorities have identified more than a million COVID-19 cases throughout the United States. New York has become the epicenter of the country’s outbreak with 316,415 confirmed cases and 24,708 deaths so far. When adjusted for population, that translates to roughly 1,627 known cases and 127 deaths for every 100,000 residents. The figures in this chart are based on data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The numbers are updated every 15 minutes but may differ from other sources due to differences in reporting times. 

New York City will distribute 7.5 million free cloth and non-medical face coverings immediately to further prevent the spread of Covid-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. New Yorkers have overwhelmingly complied with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order requiring all residents to wear face coverings when in public, de Blasio said at his daily press briefing. To further comply with the order and prevent the spread of the virus, the city will distribute 5 million three-ply non-medical masks and 2.5 million cloth face coverings citywide, including at grocery stores, parks, meal sites and other city locations. 

California beaches in the cities of Laguna Beach and San Clemente have been granted permission to reopen on a limited basis, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Newsom ordered a hard closure for all Orange County beaches last week, after significant crowds flocked the sand, and protesters responded quickly to express their displeasure. Laguna Beach’s city beaches will reopen tomorrow and will remain open on weekday mornings only between the hours of 6 a.m. PT and 10 a.m. PT, according to a statement from the city. Active recreation — such as running, swimming, and surfing — is allowed, but lounging on the beach and picnicking will be prohibited.

Clock Ticking for Small Businesses Squeezed out of Government Loans
CNBC  |  May 4, 2020

The 30.7 million small businesses on Main Street that generate 50% of U.S.GDP have been hard-pressed to receive the government relief they need to stay in business. According to the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey released Monday, which surveyed 2,200 small business owners across America, while the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was instituted to give them a lifeline through the coronavirus and economic shutdown, only 13% of the 45% who applied for the PPP were approved. Among all respondents, 7% already received financing and 18% are still waiting for a response from a lender. The experience small business owners have had applying for the $10,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance was worse. Only 3% of all small business owners surveyed were approved for such funding, and 16% are awaiting a response from a lender, the survey revealed.

CDC Document Projects as Many as 3,000 Coronavirus Deaths per Day by June
Politico  |  May 4, 2020

The White House on Monday acknowledged the existence of an internal administration document projecting as many as 3,000 deaths per day from coronavirus by June but asserted that the grim modeling had not gone through interagency vetting and “is not reflective” of any projections from or analyzed by the White House’s coronavirus task force. The report, labeled a situation update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), projects a steady increase in the number of new cases of the dangerous virus — as well as fatalities — throughout the month of May. By June 1, CDC projects close to 3,000 fatalities per day, far greater than the peak of more than 2,500 on one day last week.

Coronavirus Conundrum: How to Cover Millions who Lost Their Jobs and Health Insurance
NPR  |  May 4, 2020

A recent estimate suggests the pandemic has cost more than 9 million Americans both their jobs and their health insurance. "Those numbers are just going to go up," MIT economist Jon Gruber said. "We've never seen such a dramatic increase in such a short period of time." House Democrats introduced a bill in mid-April to help the millions of people who find themselves unsure of where to turn. The Worker Health Coverage Protection Act would fully fund the cost of COBRA, a program that allows workers who leave or lose a job to stay on their former employer's insurance plan. COBRA currently requires workers to pay for their entire premium, including their employer's share.

Small Business Confidence Crashes
CNBC  |  May 4, 2020

Small business owners across the U.S. are in an impossible situation: They fear that their firms may go under in a matter of months if state lockdowns caused by COVID-19 don’t end, and yet many also are worried that reopening business too soon may result in the same fate. The threat is existential. Thirteen percent of small business owners say they can survive less than a month in an extended period of lockdown; 31% say their business would last “a few months or less.” Just a little over one-third (35%) say their business could survive more than a year. 

Critics Said the Flu Kills More Than Coronavirus. Why That's not a Fair - or True - Comparison
CNN  |  May 4, 2020

It's a popular argument heard at protests denouncing state shutdowns, fueled by those who say news outlets are overreacting to coronavirus: The flu kills more people than coronavirus. Why shut down the economy for this? But the U.S. death toll from coronavirus this year has exceeded 62,000, surpassing the high-end estimate for flu deaths since October. And coronavirus has killed at a much faster rate than the flu, claiming all those lives in just three months. In this article, find out why coronavirus is more dangerous than the flu - and why extra precautions are needed.

Why Many Employees are Hoping to Work From Home After the Pandemic is Over
CNBC  |  May 4, 2020

Many employees are hoping to make their home office more of a permanent work space in the future. In fact, nearly 43% of full-time American employees say they want to work remotely more often even after the economy has reopened, according to a survey released by business publishing company getAbstract. Of the more than 1,200 employees surveyed between April 16 and April 17, nearly 20% said their employer is actively discussing how they can make remote work more of an option in the future. 

The Office You Left Is Not Going to Be the Office You Return To
Bloomberg  |  May 4, 2020

Like much of the response to the pandemic, it’s an evolving work in progress. But one thing is clear: It will look and feel very different than the offices many abandoned in March.

Cyber-Attacks on Mortgage Professionals on the Rise During COVID-19
Mortgage Professional America  |  May 4, 2020

As critical as remote work has been to keeping countless businesses alive during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also proven to be a boon for cyber criminals, who are taking advantage of remote workers’ naiveté and distance from their secure office environments to unleash an unrelenting wave of phishing, email and even telephone scams.

Coronavirus is Making Some People Rethink Where They Want to Live
CNN  |  May 4, 2020
It's a chilling sign of the times, and one that brings to mind a big question: After the pandemic passes, will some people choose to leave big-city life behind?
JPMorgan Chase Approved to Process $15 Billion in New PPP Loans
Reuters  |  May 3, 2020

JPMorgan Chase & Co said the U.S. Small Business Administration gave it the green light to make $15 billion in new loans to some 211,000 business customers hurt by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The largest U.S. bank said it expects to process a total of $29 billion in loans for around 239,000 customers as part of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The average of these loans is for $123,000.

#GoodDeeds, Indeed
May 1, 2020

ALTA members continue to share wonderful stories of the good deeds they are doing in their communities. Read on for the latest collection, which include supporting local businesses, helping first responders and providing for those in need.

Federal Update: SBA Unsure When Loans Will Run Out, IRS Mistakenly Sends Stimulus Checks to Foreign Workers, 4 Factors Fueled the U.S. Coronavirus Outbreak
May 1, 2020

Five days into the relaunch of the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Paycheck Protection Program, it’s unclear exactly when the money will run out. The SBA has not officially sent out numbers on how many loans have been processed and in what amount since Wednesday. Industry sources say they have no idea exactly how much money is left either and have been asking. Unlike last round, the burn rate has ebbed and flowed because of controls SBA has put in place. It’s making it hard to estimate when money will be gone based on typical day-to-day numbers. 

Thousands of foreign workers, many living overseas, are receiving stimulus checks designated for U.S. residents due to an unforeseen glitch that funneled taxpayer dollars to other countries, according to tax consultants and the recipients themselves. College-age workers who spent time in the U.S. in the last two years — some of whom returned home long before the coronavirus pandemic — have been surprised to find $1,200 checks deposited into their bank accounts. And with no clear guidance on how to return it, they’re holding onto the money or racing to spend it before the Internal Revenue Service realizes the mistake.

International travel and a lack of testing, among other factors, accelerated the spread of coronavirus in the early days of the U.S. outbreak, according to a report released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report highlighted four main factors that accelerated transmission in March:

  1. Continued importation of the virus by travelers infected elsewhere, such as on cruise ships
  2. Attendance at professional and social events, which amplified the spread
  3. Introduction of the virus into facilities prone to amplification, including nursing homes and high-density urban areas
  4. Problems detecting virus, including limited testing, the virus’ emergence during flu season, and “cryptic transmission” from people who were asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic

State Update: Armed Protesters Demonstrate at Michigan Capitol, Hospitals in 3 States Getting the Most Funding, NYC to Open City Streets to Pedestrians
May 1, 2020

Hundreds of protesters, some armed, gathered inside Michigan’s state capitol on Thursday as state lawmakers debated the governor’s request to extend her emergency powers to combat coronavirus. A tightly packed crowd of protesters, some carrying rifles, attempted to enter the floor of the legislative chamber, and were held back by a line of state police and capitol staff. "Let us in! Let us in!” the protesters chanted, as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder inside the statehouse. Few of them were wearing face masks. One state lawmaker posted a photograph of men with rifles standing in a gallery yelling down at lawmakers below. “Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them,” the state senator Dayna Polehanki wrote on Twitter.

The Trump administration is distributing $12 billion to 395 hospitals across the country that have been "hardest hit" by the pandemic, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. New Jersey, New York and Illinois receive the most funding by state, she said. New York, New York; Bronx, New York; and Cook, Illinois, receive the most funding by county, she added.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday the city plans to open 40 miles of streets in May and nearly 100 miles over the course of the city’s Covid-19 outbreak to pedestrians as the weather warms. He said the city will start opening streets to pedestrians on Monday, with 4.5 miles of streets opening inside the city’s parks and 2.7 miles of streets adjacent to parks. The plan is in coordination with the New York City Council, he said. However, de Blasio added that the city will monitor the area to ensure people are still following social distancing guidelines and are wearing face coverings. 

Covid-19 Pandemic Likely to Last Two Years, Report Says
Bloomberg  |  May 1, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to last as long as two years and won’t be controlled until about two-thirds of the world’s population is immune, a group of experts said in a report. Because of its ability to spread from people who don’t appear to be ill, the virus may be harder to control than influenza, according to the report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. People may actually be at their most infectious before symptoms appear, according to the report. After locking down billions of people around the world to minimize its spread, governments are now cautiously allowing businesses and public places to reopen. Yet the coronavirus pandemic is likely to continue in waves that could last beyond 2022, the authors said.

Landlords are Worried Increasingly Fewer Tenants Will Pay Rent as Job Losses Mount
CNBC  |  May 1, 2020

Rent is traditionally due on the first of the month, and more tenants are becoming late on their payments. The economic effects of COVID-19 continue to mount, with rising job losses and falling consumer confidence. As of April 26, 91.5% of renters in professionally managed buildings had made full or partial payments. That compares with 95.6% during the same period last year, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council.  

Essential Workers Plan May Day Strikes
NPR  |  May 1, 2020

Employees at many online retailers, grocery store chains and package-delivery services are planning labor actions Friday to protest what they describe as unsafe working conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while others, put out of work by the disease, are using May Day to demand an end to stay-at-home orders they say are ruining livelihoods and irreparably harming the economy. The May Day protests come as the country is on edge, with more than 1 million confirmed infections and some 63,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 and after weeks of stay-at-home orders that have put a fifth of the nation's workforce out of a job, while employees deemed essential risk exposure to the novel coronavirus just by showing up to work.

Social Security and Recessions: Study Shows how COVID-19 may Impact Your Benefits
Forbes  |  May 1, 2020

It was already projected that Social Security would begin to tap its trust fund to pay for benefits starting in 2020. That was before the coronavirus. How will a recession impact the funding of future Social Security benefits? The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our daily life, and the Social Security trust fund is not immune. So what does the pandemic and forced recession mean for your finances and future Social Security benefits? According to some experts, the impact might not be as significant as you’d think. The bad news? The pandemic only exacerbates the problems the program already faces in shoring up its funding.   

Passengers Must Wear Masks on Major Airlines
NPR  |  May 1, 2020

The three largest U.S. airlines will begin to require passengers to wear face coverings or masks on flights to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. American, Delta and United Airlines join JetBlue and Frontier in taking the action amid growing pressure from Congress and their own employees. Flight attendants having been calling on their airlines and the federal government to require face coverings or masks on passengers since the pandemic began. The Federal Aviation Administration has said it expects airlines to follow CDC recommendations that everyone wear face coverings when in public, but the regulatory agency has stopped short of requiring them.

The Fed is Expanding its Main Street Lending to Include Bigger Businesses
CNBC  |  April 30, 2020

The Federal Reserve said Thursday it is expanding its Main Street lending program, opening it to businesses larger and broadening the types of loans that will be available. Touted as one of the cornerstone’s the Fed’s initiatives to get money to businesses and households in need, the Main Street program now will allow companies with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in revenue to apply for financing. That’s up from the previous limit of 10,000 workers and $2.5 billion in revenue for a program targeted at medium-sized firms whose operations have been hamstrung by the social distancing efforts put into place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

How to Keep Company Values on Track While Employees Work Remotely
Fast Company  |  April 30, 2020

Core values set the tone for how your business thrives. To be effective, they must be fully embodied from the ground up, and they’re important now more than ever. While core values might seem like the least of your organization’s concerns right now, they’re absolutely essential to keeping employees unified and motivated as you navigate these uncertain times. When core values fall by the wayside, teamwork, collaboration and alignment can crumble. In a worst-case scenario, misaligned core values can even become tools to mistreat employees, resulting in a domino effect on the rest of the organization.

Federal Update: House Could Come Back in Two Weeks, U.S. Intel: Coronavirus not Manmade, 30 Million Americans Have Filed Initial Unemployment Claims Since Mid-March
April 30, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House’s current plan is to return the week after next to advance another coronavirus relief package. "We're not coming back next week. Our plan is to come back the following week, Pelosi said. But she also said the House is “at the mercy of the virus” and the schedule will depend on guidance from the Capitol attending physician and the sergeant at arms. In addition to a vote on the next coronavirus relief package, Pelosi said the House will be able to vote on a rules change to allow proxy voting and remote committee work.

U.S. intelligence agencies are debunking a conspiracy theory, saying they have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified” but say they are still examining a notion put forward by the president and aides that the pandemic may have resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab. The statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of U.S. spy agencies, comes as President Trump has touted the as-yet-unproven theory that an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak, was the source of the global pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 people worldwide. 

Millions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, as the coronavirus crisis continued to weigh on the U.S. economy. First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 3.8 million in the week ending April 25, after factoring in seasonal adjustments, the U.S. Department of Labor said. Without those adjustments — which economists use to account for seasonal hiring fluctuations — the raw number was 3.5 million. That brings the total number of first-time claims to 30.3 million over the past six weeks — representing roughly 18.6% of the U.S. labor force — as businesses have laid off and furloughed workers during stay-at-home orders across the country.

State Update: NYC to Temporarily Suspend Overnight Subway Service, California to Order Closure of Beaches and State Parks, New Jersey Governor Pleads for States Bailout
April 30, 2020

New York City's subway system will temporarily close for four hours overnight as the city and state combat the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. The shutdowns for the largely 24-hour, seven-day system will begin next Wednesday, May 6, with trains being stopped for cleaning from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. every night, Cuomo said at his coronavirus briefing. The trains, which have been cleaned every 72 hours, will now be cleaned and disinfected every 24 hours, Cuomo said. "This is unprecedented, but we must do it," the governor said. Subway ridership has plummeted 92 percent since New York's stay-at-home order went into place last month.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will order all beaches and state parks closed starting Friday after people thronged the seashore during a sweltering weekend despite his social distancing order that aims to slow the spread of thecoronavirus, according to a memo sent to police chiefs around the state. While most state parks and many local beaches, trails and parks have been closed for weeks, Newsom’s order is sure to ignite pushback from communities who argue that they can safely provide some relief to residents who are starved of fresh air. Pressure is building to ease state and local restrictions that have throttled the economy, closing most businesses and adding nearly 4 million people to the unemployment rolls.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday pleaded with President Trump for billions of dollars in federal aid for states and cities. “We need a significant amount. This is a big hit,” Murphy, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, told Trump. “We don’t see this as a bailout, we see this as a partnership — doing the right thing in what is the worst health care crisis in the history of our nation.” Across the country, states and cities are facing insurmountable budgets gaps that, some warn, will soon lead to mass layoffs and severe cuts to public services. 

Coronavirus Vaccine by January is 'Doable,' Fauci Says
TODAY  |  April 30, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci says it's not out of the question that the United States could have a viable coronavirus vaccine by January. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that the government is quickly working on getting an answer to whether a vaccine is effective before beginning to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses. "We want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it's safe and it's effective," Fauci said. "I think that is doable if things fall in the right place. Scientists at England's Oxford University said Wednesday that the vaccine they are developing could potentially be ready by September.

Americans are Hoarding Cash: Savings Rate Hits its Highest Level Since 1981
CNN  |  April 30, 2020

Americans are so nervous about the state of the economy that they are stashing cash in the bank at a rate not seen since the first year of Ronald Reagan's presidency. The United States government's Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning that the savings rate surged to 13.1% in March -- up from 8% in February. That's the highest savings rate since November 1981. Americans had $2.17 trillion in savings last month. Consumers are putting more money away at a time when bank savings, money market accounts and Treasury bonds are yielding next to nothing after the Federal Reserve slashed rates to zero last month and launched numerous lending programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of interest income isn't deterring people from saving more even though many Americans are getting smaller paychecks.

Millions of Gig Workers are Still Waiting for Unemployment Benefits
Politico  |  April 30, 2020

Most of the estimated 23 million independent contractors and gig workers made newly eligible last month for unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic are still waiting for relief. Six weeks after the pandemic set off a continuing wave of massive layoffs, only 21 states have started paying out benefits to self-employed workers and others not traditionally eligible, according to the Labor Department. That's up from 10 last week. The payments are being made under a new temporary program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Wuhan: The end of Lockdown is Just the Beginning of the COVID-19 Crisis
CNN  |  April 30, 2020

All around the world, people are waiting for the announcement that the coronavirus pandemic is contained and they can return to normal life. But the Chinese city at the center of the pandemic has shown that normal might still be a long way off. When Wuhan officials eased outgoing travel restrictions on April 8, effectively ending the city's 76-day lockdown, residents and local businesses soon learned that city's actual reopening would be painfully slow. Despite the lifting of most strict lockdown laws, many stores are still shut, restaurants are restricted to takeaway and even when citizens go outside they still wear protective equipment and try to avoid each other. Even government-controlled media has suggested that plans to get the city back to 100% production by the end of April might be "too optimistic."

Read This Before you Venture out in Public
CNN  |  April 30, 2020

If you're reentering public spaces, it's imperative to do it safely. Choose one of the nonessential places to visit, then avoid the rest to limit your exposures to other people. For instance, if you go to your polling place to vote, don't also go out to eat that night or to get your hair cut. The more public places you visit, the higher your likelihood of becoming infected or infecting others. Check out the following suggestions for visiting restaurants, beaches and parks, gyms, salons, public transportation, clinics, post offices and grocery stores.

Webinar Recording: Conducting Closings in a COVID-19 World
April 30, 2020

Title and settlement companies across the country have modified their closing processes to serve their customers and keep everyone safe in a world of social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic. Modified methods range from drive-through or curbside closings to remote online notarizations and a new method coined RIN, or remote ink notarization. Listen to a recording of this webinar, which was sponsored by Old Republic, as professionals share how they’ve handled this new way of doing business. This holistic view of how agents are getting deals done will give you a blueprint of what’s working and what’s not.

The Future of Mortgage Lending: A Conversation With FHFA Director Mark Calabria
April 29, 2020

Tuesday, May 12, 2020 | 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT | Register Today
From RON, RIN and eNotes, new guidelines from Fannie and Freddie are driving a new normal with closings. Come hear from the person at the center of these changes and how Fannie and Freddie are responding to the COVID-19 crisis as ALTA CEO Diane Tomb interviews Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria. Hosted by ALTA President Mary O’Donnell, the third presentation in our virtual ALTA Advocacy Summit series will address topics such as demand for digital closings, 2020 mortgage market outlook, GSE conservatorship and the importance of protecting property rights. Thanks to our featured sponsor, Qualia, the webinar is free for everyone. Register today!

Federal Roundup: FDA Expected to Issue Emergency Authorization for Remdesivir, Fed Pledges to Keep Rates Near Zero, Big Banks Temporarily Shut out of PPP Lending
April 29, 2020

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to announce an emergency-use authorization for remdesivir. The authorization for the investigational coronavirus treatment could come as soon as Wednesday. The FDA said it is in discussions with Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, about making the drug available to patients. The FDA’s move comes after Dr. Anthony Fauci announced encouraging results from a remdesivir trial in a White House meeting with President Trump. An emergency-use authorization would be notable because remdesivir is not currently approved to treat any disease.

The Federal Reserve painted a dour picture of current conditions and pledged to continue its historically aggressive policy stance until it is comfortable that the U.S. economy is back on its feet. Following this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the central bank said it would maintain its current interest rate target between 0% and 0.25%. “The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term,” the committee said. “The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.”

Large lenders will be prohibited from lending through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program on Wednesday evening. A joint statement read: “To ensure access to the PPP loan program for the smallest lenders and their small business customers, starting at 4 p.m. today EDT through 11:59 p.m. EDT, SBA systems will only accept loans from lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion dollars. Please note, lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion will still be able to submit PPP loans outside of this time frame. Please also note that lenders with asset sizes greater than $1 billion will be able to submit loans outside of today’s 4 p.m. -11:59 p.m. EDT reserved processing time.”

State Roundup: No State has Met 14-day Drop in Cases for Reopening, How Quickly is the Coronavirus Spreading State By State?
April 29, 2020

As a handful of states begin to ease stay-at-home restrictions, no state that has opted to reopen has come close to the federal target of 14 consecutive days of declining coronavirus cases. Even as the U.S. hit the grim milestone of more than 1 million cases Tuesday — one-third of the world's total — Georgia, Minnesota and other states are pushing to reopen businesses as infection rates are still rising.

Since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the United States on Jan. 21, over one million people in the U.S. have confirmed cases of COVID-19. On April 12, the U.S. became the nation with the most deaths globally, but there are early signs that the U.S. case and death counts may be leveling off, as the growth of new cases and deaths plateaus. The pattern isn't consistent across the country, as new hot spots emerge and others subside. A large portion of U.S. cases are centered on New York City. Since March 20, New York state, Connecticut and New Jersey have accounted for around 50% of all U.S. cases. As of April 9, nearly 60% of all deaths from COVID-19 have been in these three states. While New York state appears to be reaching a plateau it notched between 8,000 and 10,000 new cases each day between March 31 and April 12. Click here to track the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.

U.S. Could be in for a Bad Year if it’s Unprepared for a Second Wave of Coronavirus
CNN  |  April 29, 2020

A second round of the coronavirus is "inevitable," the nation's top infectious disease doctor says, but just how bad it is will depend on the progress the U.S. makes in the coming months. "If by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well," Dr. Anthony Fauci said. "If we don't do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter." If states begin lifting restrictions too early, Fauci says he predicts the country could see a rebound of the virus that would "get us right back in the same boat that we were a few weeks ago," adding that the country could see many more deaths than are currently predicted.

U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Exceed Vietnam War Toll
MarketWatch  |  April 29, 2020

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has surpassed the number of lives lost in the Vietnam War as more than 1 million Americans are confirmed to have had the deadly illness. Data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University show the U.S. has had 58,471 fatalities from the virus, more than the 58,220 Americans who died in the Vietnam War that lasted about 20 years. The data show 1.01 million cases in the U.S.

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Is Far Higher Than Reported, CDC Data Suggests
The New York Times  |  April 29, 2020

Total deaths in seven states that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic are nearly 50 percent higher than normal for the five weeks from March 8 through April 11, according to new death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The numbers are preliminary because death certificates take time to be processed and collected, and complete death tallies from the CDC can take up to eight weeks to become final. The speed of that data reporting varies considerably by state. In Connecticut, for example, where reported coronavirus deaths are high, the CDC statistics include zero reported deaths from any cause since Feb. 1, because of reporting lags. There is evidence that the official coronavirus counts are probably too low. Tests for the illness can be hard to get, and not all who die now are being tested, particularly if they die outside a hospital.

The CDC Added 6 More COVID-19 Symptoms to its List
Business Insider  |  April 29, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently added six health issues to its official list of COVID-19 symptoms. They include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell. These symptoms usually appear two days to two weeks after exposure to the virus, according to the agency. Some patients have reported additional problems, like fatigue and purple, swollen toes that appear frostbitten. Here's a rundown of how each symptom manifests among typical patients.

COVID-19 Tests that are Supposed to be Free can Ring up Surprising Charges
NPR  |  April 29, 2020

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires private insurers to pay for certain services and items related to testing at no cost to the patient. A second piece of legislation, known as the CARES Act, expanded the number of tests and services insurers must cover at no cost. However, there are gaps in these federal protections that may expose patients to unexpected medical bills. The guidelines state that insurers are required to cover an appointment without cost sharing only if the doctor orders or administers a COVID-19 test. Even if the patient shows symptoms and receives other care related to the novel virus, without a test, the patient may be on the hook for the cost of the visit, said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor and co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University. "They're getting a battery of other tests," said Corlette. "But because there's not enough [COVID-19] tests, they can't get this protection."

Mnuchin Warns U.S. Firms Could Face Criminal Liability over Coronavirus Loans
Reuters  |  April 29, 2020

The U.S. Treasury Department will audit every loan for more than $2 million given under thePaycheck Protection Program for businesses hurt by the coronavirus fallout, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “This was a program designed for small businesses. It was not a program that was designed for public companies if they had liquidity,” he said, adding that companies that made false certifications under the program could face criminal liability. Mnuchin’s comments come as more public companies and better-financed entities have decided to return funds or forego their loan allocations after the Treasury put out new guidance last week excluding well-financed publicly trade companies from the forgivable loans meant to fund payrolls and other expenses during virus-related closures.

What's Next? Guidance to Help Reopen Your Business
April 28, 2020

While the COVID-19 health crisis persists, the country is starting to shift from survival mode to thinking about what’s next. As states and cities begin to lift their stay-at-home orders, questions swirl about when and how will people return to work. The new normal may be a half-speed economy with masks, wipes, testing, temporary quarantines, significant process changes and regional variations. Read on for guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to help with planning purposes.

Federal Roundup: House Drops Plan to Return to Washington, Supreme Court Justices Plan for First-ever Phone Hearings, Trump to Order Meat Processing Plants to Stay Open
April 28, 2020

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that lawmakers won’t return to Washington next week, abruptly reversing course after widespread backlash from members in both parties who warned the move would be unsafe. The change of course comes one day after Hoyer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi had informed members that the House would come back on May 4, the same day the Senate is slated to return. The Senate is still coming back next week. Hoyer said he and Pelosi made the decision to halt plans to return after consulting with the Capitol’s attending physician, who warned that lawmakers could be at risk given the still-rising number of coronavirus cases in the Washington, D.C. area.

When the Supreme Court hears arguments next month by phone for the first time in the court's history, the justices will change their normal protocol and try to avoid their familiar interruptions. The justices will ask their questions in order of seniority, with Chief Justice John Roberts going first, the court announced today. Under normal circumstances, the court is considered a "hot bench," with justices frequently interrupting each other and the lawyers before them. Roberts has had to step in as a kind of traffic cop at certain times. Under the new system that will be in place for arguments beginning on Monday, a justice will get the chance to exhaust his or her line of questioning before the next justice begins.

President Trump is expected to sign a five-page executive order under the Defense Production Act today that compels meat processing plants to remain open. Trump is expected to sign the order after some companies, like Tyson, were considering only keeping 20% of their facilities open. The vast majority of processing plans could have shut down, which would have reduced processing capacity in the country by as much as 80%, an official familiar says. By signing the order, Trump will declare these plants as a part of critical infrastructure in the U.S. The administration is also working with the Labor Department on issuing guidance about which employees should remain home. This is to protect facilities that are required to stay open from liability issues.

U.S. Surpasses 1 Million Coronavirus Cases
NPR  |  April 28, 2020

More than one million cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in the U.S., marking a grim milestone in the country with the most reported coronavirus infections in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has far more COVID-19 cases than any other country. U.S. deaths from the respiratory virus passed 57,000 on Tuesday, equal to the upper end of estimated flu deaths for the 2019-2020 flu season, according to CDC data. The true death rate of COVID-19 is still unclear because of a lack of widespread testing, but current numbers suggest a rate much higher than the flu, which infects between 9 and 45 million people in the U.S. each year, the CDC estimates.

State Roundup: North Carolina Dog Tests Positive for COVID-19, New York Outlines Regional Restarts, Georgia Gives Retail a Glimpse of What Reopening Will Look Like
April 28, 2020

A pug in North Carolina has tested positive for the coronavirus, which may be the the first such case for a dog in the U.S. The dog, Winston, was part of a Duke University study in which a whole family in Chapel Hill was tested for the virus. The mother, father, son, and pug tested positive, while the daughter, another dog and a cat tested negative. Dr. Chris Woods, the principal investigator for the Duke study, said Winston may be the first dog in the country to have a confirmed case of the virus.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined how stay-at-home restrictions could be eased for parts of New York where the coronavirus outbreak is less severe. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that city-run health clinics will soon use a testing procedure that lets people collect samples themselves at a health care worker’s direction. The city also will close 40 miles of streets to cars next month to give pedestrians more room to move outside. Regional officials aiming to re-open their economies next month should make sure testing is up to speed and that there are enough hospital beds available to handle a combined load of coronavirus and flu patients, Cuomo said.

Retailers are closely watching the consumer reaction in Georgia, as it is among the first states to begin a phased reopening of its economy. Salons, gyms and tattoo parlors were given permission by Gov. Brian Kemp to reopen last Friday, followed by movie theaters and restaurants on Monday. While health officials and governments are closely monitoring developments in areas that are reopening, so are retailers. The country’s nonessential store retail sector has been closed a month or more for the first time in history. It is impossible to know how consumers will react to a new normal, if they come back to shop, and how habits might have changed.

County Recorder Office Closures Due to COVID-19 Increase Risk for Title Fraud
April 28, 2020

The closure of many county recorder offices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and various stay-at-home orders is leading to a backlog of recordation and delays in finalizing property records. Lisa Roessler, Black Knight’s vice president of Title Strategy and Business Development, explained that the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 have increased opportunities for those looking to commit real estate fraud. ALTA has created an online resource that tracks the operating status of recording jurisdictions across the country.

The U.S. Will Need to Spend Trillions More as Economy Takes Until 2022 to Fully Recover
CNBC  |  April 28, 2020

The economy could take one to two years to rebound to full strength and the Federal Reserve and Congress, having already committed historic sums to fight the coronavirus pandemic, will have to commit trillions more. With the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet already at an unprecedented $6.45 trillion, it is expected to rise on average to $9.8 trillion. The additional trillions will be added by the end of the current quarte. Congress, having already committed about $2.5 trillion, is seen putting in an additional $2 trillion. Despite the massive relief, the unemployment rate is expected to rise to 19%, hitting that level in August. It’s expected to decline only gradually, to 11% by December and 7% by the end of 2021. That would leave it at about double the rate before the crisis.

The Race for Coronavirus Vaccines
Nature  |  April 28, 2020

More than 90 vaccines are being developed against COVID-19 by research teams in companies and universities across the world. Researchers are trialling different technologies, some of which haven’t been used in a licensed vaccine before. At least six groups have already begun injecting formulations into volunteers in safety trials; others have started testing in animals. This graphical guide explains each possible vaccine.

Suspicious Business Emails Increase, Survey Shows
April 28, 2020

U.S. small businesses report an increase in suspicious emails over the past year, and employees are taking the bait as they fall for phishing schemes and transfer tens of thousands of dollars in company funds into fraudulent accounts, a cyber survey by HSB shows. These scams often lead to wire transfer fraud. According to the FBI, there were 11,677 victims in 2019 with $221 million in losses due to wire transfer fraud. Read on for resources ALTA has developed to educate your customers about wire transfer fraud.

Round 2 of Paycheck Protection Program Starts. Better Hurry
CBS News  |  April 27, 2020
The Paycheck Protection Program, the U.S. government's coronavirus relief fund for small businesses, resumed billions of dollars in low-interest lending on Monday, but with the nation's banks reporting some bumps along the way. Rob Nichols, president of the American Banker Association, tweeted Monday afternoon that banks were having trouble accessing the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA's) approval portal for the loan program. That, he said, would slow the ability of banks to dispense the small business aid. A spokesperson for the SBA said there was no problem with its website or its approval process. She said the SBA had informed banks Sunday night that it would limit the number of applications they can submit per hour, in order to allow all banks access to the program. 
Many Small Businesses go Back to Work as Some States Lift Stay-at-home Restrictions
CNBC  |  April 27, 2020

It’s back to work for many small businesses in states, like Georgia, that have begun to lift restrictions implemented to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Businesses like gyms, nail salons and tattoo parlors must adapt to a new normal as they reopen under new health guidelines such as masks for employees and keeping customers six feet apart. Public spaces, including beaches in Florida, are now operating with restricted hours and social-distancing requirements. Reopening is the first step for business owners to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. However, some businesses that have the green light to reopen have refused to do so because they consider it unsafe.

Federal Roundup: White House Testing and Tracing Guidance Puts Burden on States, CDC to Release Coronavirus Tests Priorities, 3 Million Coronavirus Cases Worldwide
CBS News  |  April 27, 2020

The White House's new guidance given to states on how to test and trace for thecoronavirus relies heavily on states with some assistance from the federal government. A significant amount of the text in the documents, crafted by the White House, highlight things the administration has already done in the testing sphere. And while the White House says it will support states with some resources such as tracing assistance from the Centers for Disease Control, many of the sentences in the guideline begin with the words "states should." 

The CDC will release new priorities for coronavirus testing Monday, including testing asymptomatic individuals in high-risk settings. And the White House is set to unveil what it describes as a comprehensive overview of its efforts to make testing for COVID-19 more widely available. The White House is aiming for states to have enough tests and needed supplies to test at least 2.6% of their populations per month — a figure needed to catch asymptomatic spread.

More than 3 million people have been sickened by the coronavirus across the world as of Monday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has been hit especially hard, with over 972,000 cases and 55,000 deaths. 

State Roundup: New York Cancels Presidential Primary, Reopening U.S. States are Taking Steps Toward a New Normal, Thousands Pack California Beaches Despite Coronavirus
April 27, 2020

New York became the first state to cancel its presidential primary over coronavirus fears, the co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections said. Douglas Kellner said the decision came after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign earlier this month, which "basically rendered the primary moot." "At a time when the goal is to avoid unnecessary social contact, our conclusion was that there was no purpose in holding a beauty contest primary that would marginally increase the risk to both voters and poll workers," said Kellner, one of the Democratic commissioners on the board. The Democratic commissioners voted to remove a number of candidates who had ended their presidential campaigns from the ballot, including Sanders. That resulted in the cancellation of the primary, because former vice president Joe Biden was uncontested.

A number of states have begun to loosen stay-at-home restrictions -- even as the novel coronavirus continues to infect and kill people. Across the country, more than 950,000 people have tested positive for the virus and more than 54,000 have died. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy allowed salons and restaurants to reopen in most parts of the state Friday. Oklahoma allowed some personal-care businesses to reopen for appointments Friday as well. Even in California, some beaches that had been closed reopened for public use, though with limitations.

Tens of thousands of people packed southern California beaches over the weekend, reigniting fears that large crowds in public spaces could reverse progress on containing COVID-19 in the U.S. Photos of the gatherings in Newport Beach in Orange county during a weekend heatwave sparked intense backlash and comparisons to Florida, where the images of beachgoers raised alarms about the state’s coronavirus strategy. In recent days, beach and park reopenings have also prompted debates and public health concerns in Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and other regions looking to re-emerge from lockdowns.

Coronavirus Survives Longer Airborne and Travels Further in These Public Spaces — Here’s Where to be Extra Careful
MarketWatch  |  April 27, 2020

Coronavirus appears to linger longer in certain public spaces. Some public spaces appear to be more hostile environments to the new coronavirus than others, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Research and carried out by a team of investigators, led by Ke Lan, professor and director of the State Key Laboratory of Virology at Wuhan University in the Chinese region where COVID-19 was first reported. The scientists found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was detectable in the air for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Higher temperatures, based on what scientists know about earlier coronaviruses, are likely to degrade it. But experts caution that as spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere — which usually marks the end of the traditional flu season — this novel coronavirus may not necessarily go away in warmer weather. It is from a different family of viruses than the flu, and it is highly contagious.

Getting Schools Back Open Could Take Distancing, Disinfecting and a Lot of Handwashing
CNN  |  April 27, 2020

Frazzled parents, anxious teachers and many children are already looking forward to the day when schools will reopen, but it's not an easy road. Administrators are trying to figure out how to get kids back while coronavirus is still an issue, with options including everyone wearing masks, staggering start times and canceling assemblies and sports. But teachers are skeptical that schooling with social distancing rules is even possible. 

'Food Supply Chain is Breaking,' Tyson Warns Amid Meat Plant Shutdowns
CBS News  |  April 27, 2020
Meat lines could be in the country's future as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the industry, prompting the closures or curtailing of operations at pork, beef and poultry processing plants across the country. Tyson Foods Chairman John H. Tyson spelled it out in full-page newspaper advertisements, stating: "The food supply chain is breaking." About a quarter of the country's U.S. pork production and 10% of its beef output has now been shuttered, according to the United Food & Commercial Workers, the union that represents 250,000 meatpacking and poultry plant workers. 
WHO Says U.S. Faces ‘Difficult Situation’ as the Coronavirus Epidemic Differs by State
CNBC  |  April 27, 2020

The U.S. faces a “very difficult situation” in grappling with an epidemic that varies by state and is evolving at different rates across the vast country, a top World Health Organization official said. “I think that the United States has been dealing for a while with a complex situation,” added Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies program. Ryan commended the U.S. for rolling out data-driven federal guidelines such as President Trump’s “Opening Up America Again” plan, which lays out three “phases” to guide states on how and when to reopen, based on factors such as new daily infections and hospital capacity. “The federal government and the system of governors are working together to move America and its people through this very difficult situation with public health and other scientific leaders adding and inputting their advice into the system,” Ryan said. “We believe that the overarching federal plan seems to be very much based on science.”

China Could Have 50 Times More Coronavirus Cases Than Claimed
FOX News  |  April 27, 2020

As the international community, including Chinese citizens, raise questions about the Chinese government's tally of coronavirus cases and the communist nation's mortality rate, new details are emerging about just how far off official government calculations have likely been. Last week, the People's Republic of China increased their official count of fatalities inside Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, by 50 percent in just one day, increasing the overall tally by 1,290 people. Now, a Trump administration official said they estimate the PRC has miscalculated and underreported the true tally nationwide by at least a factor of 50. “PRC numbers as reported today seem to be arithmetically impossible,” the official said.

Could COVID-19 Become a Driving Force of Millennial Homeownership?
HousingWire  |  April 27, 2020

While the housing market may only suffer as long as the pandemic slows transactions, consumers’ concept of home likely will shift dramatically for the long haul. In this article are a few of the community lifestyle trends that were prevalent at the beginning of 2020 and the contrasting direction that may close out the year. 

Federal Roundup: Trump Signs $484 Billion Coronavirus Relief Bill, U.S. Death Toll Passes 50,000, U.S. to Provide Ventilators to Other Countries
April 24, 2020
  • President Trump signed a $484 billion coronavirus relief package into law Friday as Washington plans the next steps in its unprecedented attempt to rescue an economy and health-care system bludgeoned by the pandemic. The measure puts $370 billion into aid for small businesses trying to keep employees on the payroll as they temporarily shutter to try to slow COVID-19′s spread. It grants $75 billion to hospitals struggling to cover costs during the crisis, and $25 billion for efforts to ramp up testing for the disease. The package becomes the fourth passed by Congress to respond to the outbreak, with a total cost approaching $3 trillion. 
  • The United States’ coronavirus-related death toll passed 50,000 Friday morning, after more than 3,000 people died Thursday. A tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University put the death toll at 50,031, with more than 869,000 cases across the country. The country with the next highest death toll is Italy, with more than 25,000. After the death toll dipped on 4/20, it has crept back up, with Thursday’s total the third-highest since the pandemic hit U.S. shores. The U.S. is the hardest-hit country in the world, but on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence indicated he was hopeful the pandemic would begin to recede as summer approaches, saying it could "largely" be "behind us” by Memorial Day Weekend.
  • President Trump, in a series of Friday morning tweets, said that the United States would be providing "desperately needed" ventilators for foreign countries as they work to respond to the coronavirus crisis. The president mentioned discussions with the presidents of El Salvador, Indonesia, Honduras and Ecuador, and praised the leaders of those nations for their work and cooperation with the U.S. on the coronavirus and other issues. It is unclear where the ventilators Trump says he will send to the four countries will come from or how many ventilators will be sent.
State Roundup: Where all 50 States Stand on Reopening, Georgia Businesses Wary of Governor's Invitation to Reopen, New York Antibody Study Finds Millions Infected
April 24, 2020
  • More than 97% of the US population is currently under a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order as the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend life as we know it. But worries for the economy -- and people's mental health -- are raising the question: When will things go back to normal? President Trump has indicated many states can reopen by May 1, and shared federal guidelines for restarting the economy with governors. Here's the latest on where states stand in their plans to reopen.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has announced Georgians will be able to get a tattoo, go bowling and get their nails done starting on Friday and sit at a table in a restaurant at the start of next week. Across Atlanta, businesses are balking at the thought of allowing people into their establishments as Georgia’s coronavirus cases and deaths show no sign of following a sustained downward trajectory yet. According to federal recommendations, Georgia should not be opening up businesses until sometime in June.
  • Up to 2.7 million New Yorkers may have been infected with coronavirus -- more than 10 times the number of confirmed cases, according to preliminary results from the state's first antibody study. Less than two months ago, there were zero known cases here. How did the virus spread so dramatically so fast? It was here well before New York City reported its "first" case on March 1, possibly as early as late January, researchers from Northeastern University said. "The horse had already left the barn" by the time the nation shut down, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday. He cited research on the number of flights (13,000, carrying over 2 million people) from Europe, the globe's second hot zone after China, to New York and New Jersey between January and March. New York City alone has more than 150,000 virus cases, almost a fifth of America's total. The city's health commissioner says that's likely the "tip of the iceberg;" she wouldn't be surprised if 1 million in the five boroughs have been exposed.
Mortgage Bailout Balloons by Half a Million More Loans in One Week
CNBC  |  April 24, 2020
  • As the economic shutdown drags on and job losses mount, more borrowers are opting to delay their monthly mortgage payments through mortgage forbearance plans. Just over 3.4 million borrowers, representing 6.4% of all mortgages outstanding, are now in forbearance plans. That’s an increase of 477,000 loans in just one week, or a nearly 9% jump. These forbearances represent $754 billion in unpaid principal. The tally is expected to rise, along with job losses. Borrowers have faced only one monthly payment since the full economic shutdown.
Hedge Funds, Private Equity Firms Barred from Small Business Aid
Politico  |  April 24, 2020
  • The Trump administration on Friday said hedge funds and private equity firms are ineligible for small business rescue loans, the latest crackdown on Wall Street-backed interests trying to access the money. The Small Business Administration (SBA) included the restrictions on investment companies in a new rule governing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which Congress created to keep small businesses and their employees afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBA said it did not believe that Congress intended for businesses like the investment firms to receive PPP financing. 

Expert Advice on How to Use PPP Loans
CNBC  |  April 24, 2020
  • For weeks, millions of American small businesses have been preoccupied with the application process for loans through the U.S. government’s small business relief program. However, businesses approved for loans need to have a solid plan on exactly how they’ll spend that money once they receive it. Read more for expert advice on how small businesses can best manage any money they receive from the government’s coronavirus loan program.
Why a Second Wave of COVID-19 is Already a Worry
Bloomberg  |  April 24, 2020
  • As authorities the world over consider when to lift economy-crippling movement restrictions aimed at curbing coronavirus infections, the fear on everyone’s minds can be expressed in two words: second wave. The concern is that, once quelled, the pandemic will resurface with renewed strength, causing a repeat of rising infections, swamped health systems and the necessity of lockdowns. There have been hints from China that a second wave is a risk. Some areas of the country that were shut down by the virus and then reopened had restrictions reimposed in March because of new cases. Read more to find out how to prevent a second wave.
What to do if You Think Your Coronavirus Stimulus Check Deposit is the Wrong Amount
CNBC  |  April 24, 2020
  • By now, most Americans who will receive a coronavirus stimulus check have had it deposited into their bank account. The IRS will continue to send out waves of direct deposits and paper checks to millions more over the next few months. Though tens of millions have received their checks without issue, the disbursement hasn’t been without problems. Some people believe they received the wrong payment amount. In one case, the extra $500 for a dependent child was not included. Another person received a check for a deceased spouse. If you believe the amount of your stimulus check is incorrect, here’s what to know about fixing it.

No Need to Wipe Down Groceries or Takeout, Experts Say
CNN  |  April 24, 2020
  • Has wiping down your groceries and take-out food become part of your coronavirus survival kit?  It might be time to reconsider, experts say, especially if that extra effort is adding to your daily stress. Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is re-emphasizing there's no real risk of getting the virus that causes COVID-19 that way. Jamie Lloyd-Smith is one of the scientists who worked on the only study to analyze how long SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, might remain on various surfaces. Despite the fact his research found the virus might live on cardboard for up to 24 hours and metal and plastic for two to three days, Lloyd-Smith doesn't bother to wipe down his own groceries or takeout. His advice might change, he said, if the person was at high risk from the virus, such as elderly or immunocompromised. 
Citing 'Death,' Researchers cut Chloroquine Coronavirus Study Short over Safety Concerns
CNBC  |  April 24, 2020
  • Citing a “primary outcome” of death, researchers cut short a study testing anti-malaria drug chloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 after some patients developed irregular heart beats and nearly two dozen died after taking doses daily. Scientists say the findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, should prompt some degree of skepticism from the public toward enthusiastic claims and perhaps “serve to curb the exuberant use” of the drug, which has been touted by President Trump as a potential “game changer” in the fight against the coronavirus.

Navajo Nation Sees High Rate of COVID-19
NPR  |  April 24, 2020
  • After New York and New Jersey, the place with the highest coronavirus infection rate in the U.S. is the Navajo Nation. Dr. Deborah Birx of the national coronavirus task force told the White House press corps the tribe is using strike teams to address the issue. But contact tracing — or tracking all the people that COVID-positive patients may have infected — has been a challenge on the Navajo Nation. Long-standing problems have contributed to the rapid spread of the disease on the Navajo Nation. Many households lack clean, running water, which makes frequent hand-washing difficult. Some homes do not have reliable electricity. And hospitals are few and far apart for a reservation the size of West Virginia. 
National Roundup: House to Vote on $480 Billion Relief Package, Domestic Terrorists Will Exploit Pandemic, What Trump's New Executive Order on Immigration Covers
April 23, 2020
  • The House of Representatives will vote on Thursday on a roughly $480 billion coronavirus relief package to deliver aid to small businesses and hospitals and expand COVID-19 testing in the latest attempt by lawmakers to blunt the devastating impact of the pandemic. President Trump has expressed support for the legislation and indicated that he will sign it. The bill will add to the already historic levels of spending to deal with the pandemic by authorizing an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was set up to help small businesses struggling from the economic deep freeze triggered by coronavirus. Funding for the program ran dry earlier this month, prompting an outcry from the business community. In addition, the legislation provides $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers to address coronavirus expenses and lost revenue and $25 billion to facilitate and expand COVID-19 testing.
  • Domestic terrorists "probably will continue to threaten violence" in response to the COVID-19 pandemic until the virus is contained and the normal routine of U.S. societal life resumes, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The federal government has been warning that the pandemic is likely to be exploited by violent extremists. In an intelligence note issued today, DHS warned the southwest region that recent incidents in Florida and nationwide highlight COVID-19 as a driver of violent threats. As the COVID-19 threat expands throughout the US, the violent extremist threat has the potential to increase in "frequency and severity."
  • President Trump signed his anticipated executive order barring some immigration to the United States on Wednesday evening, nearly 48 hours after announcing the move on Twitter. While the order falls short of an outright ban on legal immigration to the U.S., as Trump initially suggested, it stands to affect thousands of people overseas seeking to come to the country. Administration officials scrambled in recent days to finalize the executive order, which was still being fleshed out when Trump tweeted about it late Monday. Trump said the order is needed to protect American jobs.
State Roundup: Testing in New York Suggests Wider Spread of Coronavirus, California has Deadliest Day Yet, States with Most COVID-19 Cases per Capita,
April 23, 2020
  • A preliminary study of 3,000 New Yorkers found that 13.9% tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The revelation provides further evidence that the coronavirus spread earlier and infected more people than official tallies show. Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert, said New York's antibody testing results could be good news, as it means that the virus's fatality rate may be lower than the official fatality rate.
  • County health officials around California reported more deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday than any single day since the outbreak began. And while the surge wasn’t fueled by the Bay Area, the region wasn’t spared, either. The death toll in the state rose to 1,433, while the number of confirmed cases climbed to 37,679. The 117 new deaths makes it the deadliest 24-hour reporting period since the state began tracking deaths from COVID-19. The state has also added more new cases each of the past three days than any prior 24-hour period.

  • More than 825,000 people in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19 as of April 22, by far the most confirmed cases of any country in the world. Modeling by epidemiologists suggests that if nothing is done to combat the spread of the virus, up to 80% of Americans could contract COVID-19. The number of cases per capita appears closely related to testing rates and population density, as well as how early a state was exposed to the virus. Click here to see the states ranked by the number of COVID-19 cases per capita, ranked from lowest to highest.
Housing Demand May Have Started to Bounce Back From Coronavirus Impact
CNBC  |  April 23, 2020

Sales of both newly built and existing homes tanked in March, as potential buyers hunkered down and potential sellers pulled their homes from the market, both watching their economy in free fall from the coronavirus. Now, suddenly, buyer demand at least may be climbing back. Pending home sales — a measure of signed contracts, not closings — are about 32% lower annually now, according to research by Zillow. But the week-over-week change in pending sales turned positive in the week ending April 15. Pending sales were up 6.2% week over week as of the seven days ending April 19.

U.S. Issues New Guidance for Small Business Loans
CNBC  |  April 23, 2020

The Small Business Administration (SBA) issued new guidance on Thursday making it less likely that big publicly traded companies can access the next round of funding for the U.S. government’s small business relief program. It also stepped up pressure on public companies that have tapped funds to return the money. The update comes after a public furor that large companies tapped the facility, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, for hundreds of millions of dollars in loans while thousands of small businesses have yet to receive funding. Companies applying for the coronavirus relief funds must certify that the loans are necessary and that they cannot tap other sources of money, the SBA said.

Another 4.4 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment Benefits Last Week
CNN  |  April 23, 2020

For the fifth week in a row, millions of American workers applied for unemployment benefits, seeking financial relief as businesses remained closed during the coronavirus pandemic. First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 4.4 million in the week ending April 18, after factoring in seasonal adjustments, the U.S. Department of Labor said. Without those adjustments — which economists use to account for seasonal hiring fluctuations — the raw number was 4.3 million.

Fed Commits to Disclose Monthly Who's Getting Bailouts
Politico  |  April 23, 2020

The Federal Reserve announced it will reveal every month the names of companies that borrow under its massive emergency lending programs, as it faces intense pressure to be transparent about its use of bailout money. The central bank said it will disclose “substantial amounts of information” for its emergency facilities that are backed by billions of dollars in funds in the economic relief package passed last month by Congress. That includes the names of participants, how much they borrowed and at what rate, and the overall costs, revenue and fees for each emergency facility, it said.

Flu and Coronavirus Will Launch Dual 'Assault' on America Next Winter if we Don't Prepare Now, CDC Chief Warns
Live Science  |  April 23, 2020

A resurgence of COVID-19 next winter could hit the United States health care system even harder than the original outbreak has, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned. If the virus has a second wave that coincides with the start of flu season — which is responsible for thousands of American deaths per year — then the nation's health care system will likely be even more overwhelmed and under-supplied than it has been during the current outbreak of coronavirus in the U.S., CDC Director Robert Redfield said.

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Lead to 'Famines of Biblical Proportions,' UN Food Agency Warns
FOX News  |  April 23, 2020

The global coronavirus outbreak threatens to worsen the existing food crises around the world and create “a hunger pandemic,” the chief of the United Nations Food Program warned earlier this week. David Beasley, director of the UN World Food Program (WFP), said the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a worst-case scenario in at least three dozen countries – about 265 million people – pushed "to the brink of starvation." 

Zoom Makes Privacy and Security Fixes as Millions Flock to Service
CNN  |  April 23, 2020

Zoom will begin rolling out a long-awaited security update this weekend to deal with widespread complaints of video-conferencing interruptions and other potential meeting vulnerabilities, the company said. As more people have come to rely on Zoom for work and socializing in recent weeks, there has also been more scrutiny of the company's privacy and security shortcomings. The update, known as Zoom 5.0, will allow meeting hosts to report misbehaving users to Zoom for review. It also includes support for a more sophisticated encryption standard, which the company said will help protect sensitive data as it moves from point A to point B. All users will be switched to the new encryption standard by May 30, the company said.

Medical Workers Wear Smiling Photos to Comfort COVID-19 Patients
HuffPost  |  April 23, 2020

For COVID-19 patients, a hospital stay can be especially scary. The only people you see are your medical team, and even they’re suited up in head-to-toe protective gear that conceals most of their faces. San Diego respiratory therapist Robertino Rodriguez wanted to do something about that. “Yesterday, I felt bad for my patients in ER when I would come in the room with my face covered in PPE,” he wrote. “A reassuring smile makes a big difference to a scared patient. So today I made a giant laminated badge for my PPE so my patients can see a reassuring and comforting smile.”

How to Look Good on Camera
The New York Times  |  April 23, 2020

Put the computer up on a stack of books so the camera is slightly higher than your head. Say, about the top of your head. And then point it down into your eyes. Read on for three other tips so you can master class the lighting for your next video conference.

DOJ Thwarts Hundreds of Websites Tied to Coronavirus Scams, Security Threats
The Hill  |  April 23, 2020

The Justice Department on Wednesday said it had notified domain hosts about hundreds of websites that were attempting to exploit coronavirus concerns to scam or compromise network security. The move came after the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received about 3,600 complaints related to COVID-19 scams, according to Department of Justice (DOJ).

COVID-19 Paused the Housing Market. What Happens Next?
Curbed  |  April 23, 2020

The economic fallout from the spread of COVID-19 has put the housing market in the United States on pause. New home listings have dropped precipitously. Mortgage lending has gotten even more strict, making it harder to get a home loan.

Webinar Recording: Learn How New GSE Guidance Impacts the Title Industry
April 22, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently modified their Seller Guides and provided temporary guidance on several policy areas to support mortgage originations, including limited powers of attorney, acceptance of remote online notarization and remote ink notarization, and requirements for gap coverage. Watch this recording to hear from leadership from the Government Sponsored Entities and learn how these changes will affect closings and title insurance policies.

State Roundup: Layoffs and Pay Cuts are Coming to State and Local Governments, 19 Wisconsin Residents in Election Day Activities have COVID-19, Cuomo Tells Protesters to Get Jobs as Essential Workers
April 22, 2020
  • State and local governments are warning of a wave of layoffs and pay cuts after getting left out of the federal coronavirus relief package expected to pass Congress this week. In many places, those painful reductions are already taking shape: Los Angeles plans to force city workers to spend 26 days on unpaid leave and Detroit has proposed laying off 200 workers and furloughing thousands more.
  • Wisconsin health officials say 19 people involved in election day activities this month have now tested positive for the coronavirus. The 19 either voted in person or worked at polling sites on April 7, but there is "no way to know with certainty" if they contracted the coronavirus there or somewhere else, a Wisconsin Department of Health Services official told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Tuesday. The election, which included a presidential primary as well as a state Supreme Court race and local offices, took place after a legal struggle between Democrats and Republicans.
  •  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that protesters calling for the state to reopen the economy so they can go back to work could “get a job as an essential worker.” Cuomo made the comment at the end of an exchange with reporter Anne McCloy, who told the governor that she spoke with demonstrators outside New York’s state Capitol in Albany before heading inside for the press conference. The protesters told her they can’t wait for widespread coronavirus testing – which Cuomo has been pushing -- and want to return to work so they can have an income and feed their families, McCloy said. “By the way -- if you want to go to work, go take the job as an essential worker. Do it tomorrow,” Cuomo said. “But the people aren’t hiring because of the pandemic,” McCloy responded. “No, there are people hiring,” Cuomo said. “You can get a job as an essential worker, so now you can go to work and you can be an essential worker and you’re not going to kill anyone.”
National Roundup: Congress' Next Steps, House Hopes to Create Panel to Investigate Coronavirus Spending, House Democrats Put Brakes on Remote Voting
April 22, 2020
  • As Congress moves to pass its latest $484 billion coronavirus relief bill this week, leaders have started to detail their goals for additional legislation as part of an unprecedented emergency response. Even as the U.S. spends nearly $3 trillion to try to curb the outbreak’s economic destruction, congressional Democrats and the White House are spelling out priorities for further rescue measures. Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, are becoming wary of adding to the mounting coronavirus bill — setting up another possible partisan clash over priorities and spending as the pandemic evolves.
  • The House now plans to vote on Thursday to set up a powerful new oversight committee with subpoena power to probe the trillions of dollars of federal spending in response to the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Democratic-led committee, which Republicans have resisted, is expected to have broad power to oversee the historic-level of U.S. spending to prop up the economy and combat the public health crisis. It is not expected to probe the initial response by President Donald Trump, who has been criticized for moving too slowly.
  • House Democratshave backed off plans to consider unprecedented rule changes to allow members to vote and hold hearings remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. The House Rules Committee released a nine-page resolution with plans to send the measure to the House floor for approval Thursday. The House was already slated to meet Thursday to consider a nearly $500 billion coronavirus response bill. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democratic House leaders Wednesday morning she was pulling the plug on the remote voting plan. Pelosi, D-Calif., said after a call with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy they would task a bipartisan group to study the idea.
Fannie and Freddie Will Buy Loans in Mortgage Bailout Program in Bid to Loosen Lending
CNBC  |  April 22, 2020
The Federal Housing Finance Agency, regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced that the two mortgage giants will now buy home loans that go into the government’s forbearance program just after they close. Fannie and Freddie had not been doing that, and as a result, lending had tightened up dramatically. “We are focused on keeping the mortgage market working for current and future homeowners during these challenging times,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said. “Purchases of these previously ineligible loans will help provide liquidity to mortgage markets and allow originators to keep lending.”
No State Should Open Before May, Data Shows
CNN  |  April 22, 2020
With a handful of states reopening parts of their economies, a coronavirus model routinely cited by the White House warns that no state should be opening before May 1. South Carolina and Georgia, which are leading the pack to get their economic engines humming again this week, should not open until June 5 and June 19, respectively, according to the model maintained by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. It was updated Tuesday. About half the states in the country should remain closed until May 25 or later, with Arizona (June 23), South Dakota (June 25), Iowa (June 26), Nebraska (June 30) and North Dakota (July 12) rounding out the bottom of the list.
Latest COVID-19 Projections from Columbia University Show mid-May Spike if Social Distancing is Relaxed
TechCrunch  |  April 22, 2020
Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health has released updated projections of when we can expect U.S. case numbers of COVID-19 infections to peak and decline, based on different levels of social distancing measures. The updated projects, which take into account the most recent information, show that with around a 30% decrease in social contact we could be nearing a national peak of new cases for now by the end of April — but that if you decrease social contact by just 20%, the picture changes drastically, with a late peak that extends into mid-May and grows the number of new daily cases to as many as 30,000.
World Health Organization: Coronavirus Remains ‘Extremely Dangerous’
CNBC  |  April 22, 2020
The World Health Organization warned world leaders Wednesday that they will need to manage around the coronavirus for the foreseeable future as cases level off or decline in some countries, while peaking in others and resurging in areas where the COVID-19 pandemic appeared to be under control. While social distancing measures put in place in numerous countries to slow the spread of the coronavirus have been successful, the virus remains “extremely dangerous,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. Current data show “most of the world’s population remains susceptible,” he said, meaning outbreaks can easily “reignite.”
Coronavirus Job Losses and Pay Cuts are Hitting These Households the Hardest
CNBC  |  April 22, 2020
U.S. households that already were less prepared to weather a financial storm are getting hit hardest from the recent rash of job losses across the country, research shows. Adults with lower income (under about $37,500 annually) and middle income ($37,500 to $112,600) comprise a greater share of those who have lost their job or taken a pay cut due to the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Pew Research Center. Those groups also report having less in emergency savings than their higher-income (above $112,600) counterparts.
First Known U.S. COVID-19 Death was Weeks Earlier than Previously Thought
NPR  |  April 22, 2020
The first U.S. death known to be from COVID-19 occurred on Feb. 6 — nearly three weeks before deaths in Washington state that had been believed to be the country's first from the coronavirus, according to officials in Santa Clara County, Calif. The person died at home and at a time when testing in the U.S. was tightly limited not only by capacity but by federal criteria. The person is one of three people posthumously identified as dying from COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, after the medical examiner-coroner carried out autopsies and sent samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The other two deaths took place on Feb. 17 and March 6.
Free Webinar Highlights Closings During the COVID-19 Pandemic
April 22, 2020
The bottom line is you need to close deals to keep your business running, no matter what is going on in the world. Whether you’ve been doing curbside closings for a couple of months or you’re unsure about what to do next, the second webinar in the virtual ALTA Advocacy Summit series can help. “Conducting Closings in a COVID-19 World,” is scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, from 1-2 p.m. ET. Thanks to our featured sponsor, Old Republic, the webinar is free for everyone. And if you can’t make it, no problem: Register now and watch the webinar on demand!
Senate Approves $480 Billion Package to Help Small Businesses and Hospitals, Expand Testing
CNN  |  April 21, 2020
The Senate passed a roughly $480 billion relief package Tuesday that includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new funding for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus outbreak along with other priorities like money for hospitals and expanded COVID-19 testing. The Senate passed the package by a voice vote, meaning most senators would not need to return to Washington, D.C., during the pandemic. The bill goes to the House, which is expected to vote on the package Thursday. The total price tag of the bill is approximately $484 billion, which amounts to the latest unprecedented effort by Washington to prop up the economy on the heels of the $2 trillion rescue package, the $192 billion relief measure and another $8.3 billion plan Congress approved last month. Democratic leaders are already planning for another massive rescue bill.
#GoodDeeds Keep Rolling In
April 21, 2020
The response to our #GoodDeeds campaign highlighting the creative processes ALTA members have developed to help get deals closed, as well as the ways members are helping their communities during the COVID-19 crisis, has been inspiring. Check out some of the latest #GoodDeeds.
Pennsylvania to Temporarily Allow RON
April 21, 2020
The authorization expires 60 days after termination or expiration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency issued by Gov. Tom Wolf. The Pennsylvania Land Title Association (PLTA) sent a letter to the governor urging for the temporary allowance of remote ink notarization (RIN) in the state. The PLTA said remote ink notarization is a more practicable, secure solution that all settlement agents can use.
National Roundup: Senate Expected to Pass New Stimulus Package, Small Business Stimulus Funds Only Expected to Last a Few Days, Trump Suspending Immigration
April 21, 2020
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats and the Trump administration have reached a deal on a new round of coronavirus aid, though staffers working on the bill cautioned negotiations were not complete. Schumer said he believed the Senate would pass legislation delivering nearly a half-trillion dollars to small businesses, hospitals and for testing on Tuesday afternoon. The Senate is scheduled to come in for a 4 p.m. session on Tuesday. Leaders are seeking to have the legislation approved unanimously.
  • The $310 billion in new funding for the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program is only projected to last few days as businesses rush in for funds, according to a banking industry source. “Two-10 days, but our guess is on the lower end of that timeline,” the source said.
  • President Donald Trump said he is suspending immigration to the United States in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the "need to protect jobs." He added that he would sign an executive order suspending immigration. Trump previously restricted travel from China and Europe to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It's not clear whether the order would bar non-U.S. citizens from traveling to the country for purposes such as business or to visit family.
As Mortgage Bailout Balloons Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Servicers Finally get Some Relief
CNBC  |  April 21, 2020
For several weeks the mortgage industry has been crying for help, as they are left on the hook to pay for much of the government’s mortgage bailout. Now they are getting some relief. More than 3 million borrowers have taken advantage of the mortgage forbearance program, which allows those with government-backed loans to delay up to a years’ worth of monthly mortgage payments if they have been hurt by the economic fallout from the coronavirus. Borrowers would have to make those payments at a later date or over time. Mortgage servicers, however, were required to advance that money to bondholders for up to a year. Now, the Federal Housing Finance Agency has reduced that requirement to 4 months.
U.S. Records Lowest Number of Coronavirus-related Deaths in 2 Weeks
FOX News  |  April 21, 2020
Monday marked the lowest number of coronavirus-related fatalities in the U.S. in two weeks, just days after the number of deaths had spiked to 4,591 in a single day. According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. lost 1,433 people to coronavirus on April 20, adding to the overall death toll of 42,364. According to the data, nearly 93 percent of all U.S. deaths from the pandemic have occurred in the past three weeks, 44 percent of which have occurred over the last seven days. But after several sharp spikes last week, the number seems to be slowing, with the data reflecting an average of 600 less deaths than previous days.
Here are the Largest Public Companies Taking Payroll Loans Meant for Small Businesses
CNBC  |  April 21, 2020
Hundreds of millions of dollars of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) emergency funding has been claimed by large, publicly traded companies, new research published by Morgan Stanley shows. In fact, the U.S. government has allocated at least $243.4 million of the total $349 billion to publicly traded companies, the firm said. The PPP was designed to help the nation’s smallest, mom-and-pop shops keep employees on payroll and prevent mass layoffs across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the research shows that several of the companies that have received aid have market values well in excess of $100 million.
These COVID-19 Scams Have Cost Americans $13.4 Million so Far
The Motley Fool  |  April 21, 2020
Many Americans may be feeling vulnerable in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people are out of work, and it can be stressful not knowing when life will return to normal. Unfortunately, scammers thrive during times of distress. These fraudsters use their victims' fear to their advantage, swindling them out of cash or tricking them into providing personal information. The Federal Trade Commission has received more than 18,000 coronavirus-related scam reports since the beginning of the year, and those scams have collectively cost Americans around $13.4 million. Scammers are getting sneakier, too, and it can be tough to detect these types of fraud. Here are some of the most common types of scams to look out for.
America Can’t Reopen Without Massive Increase in Coronavirus Tests, Experts Warn
FOX News  |  April 21, 2020
America can’t reopen without massive increase in coronavirus tests, experts warn. As of Monday, testing in the U.S. has plateaued at about 130,000 to 160,000 per day. For a country with a population of about 329 million, the U.S. should be tripling the daily testing rate. "The United States isn’t performing anywhere near enough tests. Worse still, we are testing the wrong people. To safely reopen closed businesses and revive American social life, we need to perform many more tests—and focus them on the people most likely to spread COVID-19, not sick patients," wrote oncologist Ezekiel Emanuel and Nobel Laureate economist Paul Romer.
Doctors Discover Symptom of Coronavirus Mostly Seen in Kids
USA Today  |  April 21, 2020
Doctors identified a new symptom of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, informally dubbed “COVID toes.” The presence of purple or blue lesions on a patient’s feet and toes puzzles infectious disease experts. “They’re typically painful to touch and could have a hot burning sensation,” said Dr. Ebbing Lautenbach, chief of infectious disease at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine. What doctors said is most interesting about "COVID toes" is that they appear in COVID-19 patients who don’t exhibit any other symptoms. Similarly, the loss of taste and smell was found to be associated with COVID-19 among otherwise asymptomatic patients.
State Roundup: GA, TN and SC Reopening Businesses Soon, NY State to Reopen Regionally, FL Governor Gives Committee 5 Days to Find Solutions to Reopen
April 21, 2020
  • Residents of Georgia will be allowed on Friday to return to the gym and get haircuts, pedicures, massages and tattoos. Next Monday, they can dine in restaurants and go to the movies. With that announcement, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp joined officials in other states who are moving ahead with plans to relax restrictions intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus, despite signs that the outbreak is just beginning to strike some parts of the country. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he is not extending his “safer-at-home” order that is set to expire on April 30. In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster said department stores and some other retail businesses that had previously been deemed nonessential would be allowed to reopen on Tuesday, but they must abide by social distancing guidelines.
  • New York will reopen at a different rate in different regions of the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “We’re going to make reopening decisions on a regional basis based on that region’s facts and circumstances,” he said. “Just like some states will reopen before other states because they have a different circumstance when it comes to COVID and their status with COVID, it’s also true across the state."
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is in a hurry to open the state for business and gave a specially appointed committee five days to come up with ways to do it. DeSantis on Monday announced a “Re-Open Florida Task Force” as a stay-at-home order due to the novel coronavirus is set to expire. The task force’s members include executives at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios – two of the state’s largest employers – as well as other corporate executives and elected leaders.
Coronavirus Delays New Uniform Residential Loan Application Until March 2021
HousingWire  |  April 20, 2020
It’s been nearly four years since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that they were changing the standard mortgage application form for the first time in 20 years, but it’ll be another 11 months until the mortgage industry is required to use the new Uniform Residential Loan Application.
MBA: Share of Mortgage Loans in Forbearance Rises to 5.95%
MBA Newslink  |  April 20, 2020
The Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest Forbearance and Call Volume Survey reported the total number of loans now in forbearance jumped from 3.74% of servicers’ portfolio volume in the prior week to 5.95% as of April 12.
State Roundup: New York Plans to Start Antibody Tests; California Town to Offer Every Resident COVID-19 Tests; Massachusetts Becomes Coronavirus Hotspot as Cases Surge
April 20, 2020
New York, the U.S. state suffering the most from the virus, will start tests today aimed at estimating what percentage of its population has been infected, as authorities try to figure out how to ensure a recent decline in new cases continues. * The North Bay of Bolinas, Calif., where there are nearly 2,000 residents, started testing today those who have signed up. * Deaths from COVID-19 are expected to surpass 2,000 this week in Massachusetts, where officials are scrambling to boost hospital capacity and trace new infections to curb the spread of the disease.
National Roundup: Fauci Warns Reopening U.S. Too Soon Could ‘Backfire’; Shake Shack Returning $10 Million Loan Meant for Small Businesses; American Oil Crashes Below $0 a Barrel
ABC News  |  April 20, 2020
Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s top medical experts on the coronavirus pandemic, warned Monday that reopening the U.S. economy too soon could “backfire.” * Shake Shack, one of several large restaurant chains that got federal loans through the coronavirus stimulus law meant to help small businesses, said Sunday night that it is giving all $10 million back.
Beware of These 8 Coronavirus-Related Scams
The Motley Fool  |  April 20, 2020
Here's a roundup of some top coronavirus-related scams you should be aware of. If you're informed enough to avoid falling victim to these, you'll likely be able to avoid others, as well.
National Roundup: Federal COVID-19 Testing Mandate Excepts Short-Term Health Insurance; Mnuchin Under Growing Pressure to Help Struggling Mortgage Companies; Trump Foments Anti-Restriction Protests, A
April 17, 2020
* Earlier this week, a divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to Governor Tom Wolf’s executive order closing non-life sustaining businesses. * In new FAQs about the federal COVID-19 testing benefits mandate, officials at the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Treasury Department, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say the mandate applies to major medical insurance policies, including employers' self-insured health plans, and "grandfathered" health insurance policies but not to short-term health insurance. * President Trump on Friday began openly fomenting right-wing protests of social distancing restrictions in states where groups of his conservative supporters have been violating stay-at-home orders, less than a day after announcing guidelines for how governors could decide on an orderly reopening of their communities.
State Roundup: PA Supreme Court Weighs In; Texas Announces Dates for Relaxing Some Coronavirus-related Restrictions
April 17, 2020
* Earlier this week, a divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to Governor Tom Wolf’s executive order closing non-life sustaining businesses. * Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is encouraging retailers to start operating next Friday as “retail to go,” in which customers would order ahead of time and pick up items curbside.
FTC Alert for Small Business Owners Needing PPP Loans
Federal Trade Commission  |  April 17, 2020
The FTC announced that it filed a case against a company that allegedly claimed to offer PPP loans — but, in reality, the company is not affiliated with the SBA and, the FTC says, it has been deceiving hundreds, if not thousands, of business owners.
JPMorgan Halts Home Equity Loans Due to Coronavirus
American Banker  |  April 17, 2020
JPMorgan Chase has temporarily stopped offering home equity lines of credit due to the nationwide surge in unemployment and projections that U.S. home prices could decline substantially amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This is Where All 50 States Stand on Reopening
CNN  |  April 17, 2020
Across the country, governors have been forming pacts. Those leaders are highlighting the importance of using science and advice from health officials rather than politics to choose when to reopen the economy. Expanded testing, tracking contacts of people who had the virus, improved treatment options and vaccine development are important, they say. Here's the latest on where states stand in their plan to reopen.
U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Sink Record 6.7% in March as Coronavirus Spreads
MarketWatch  |  April 17, 2020
The closely followed index, published by the U.S. Conference Board, measuring the nation’s economic health tracks 10 indicators, most of which showed sharp deterioration last month. New jobless claims posted a record surge, for instance, and stock prices plummeted.
Budget Office Puts Virus Relief Bill Cost at $1.8 Trillion
Associated Press  |  April 17, 2020
The massive coronavirus relief bill passed virtually unanimously by Congress last month is estimated at costing taxpayers $1.8 trillion — slightly less than the $2.2 trillion informally projected at the time by the White House.
How Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Works
April 16, 2020

The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorizes another $310 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Read on to learn about what expenses can be forgiven.

National News Roundup: Trump Expected to Expand Contact Tracing, House Democrats Consider Remote Voting, 22 Million Have Filed for Unemployment in 4 Weeks
The New York Times  |  April 16, 2020
* President Trump is expected to announce as soon as Thursday evening that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hire hundreds of people to perform contact tracing as part of his push to allow the country to go back to work and school. Trump also is expected to say that the federal government will help states pay for more medical personnel to help track the spread of the coronavirus by getting in touch with people who test positive to see who they have had contact with three or four days before they started showing symptoms. * Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said on Thursday that the House could soon approve a change to its rules to allow for an alternative to in-person voting, conceding for the first time that the pandemic that has forced Congress into an extended recess could prompt historic modifications to how the institution operates. Congressional leaders have been under mounting pressure to consider an alternative to returning to the Capitol, as it has become increasingly clear that their approach to doing business from afar is bumping up against its logistical and political limits. * More than 5.2 million workers were added to the unemployment tally on Thursday, another staggering increase that is sure to add fuel to the debate over how long to impose stay-at-home orders and restrictions on business activity. In the last four weeks, the number of unemployment claims has reached 22 million — roughly the net number of jobs created in a nine-and-a-half-year stretch that began after the last recession and ended with the pandemic’s arrival. The latest figure from the Labor Department, reflecting last week’s initial unemployment claims, underscores how the downdraft has spread to every corner of the economy: hotels and restaurants, mass retailers, manufacturers and white-collar strongholds like law firms.
Fannie, Freddie Issue Guidance on Temporary Flexibilities for Closings
April 16, 2020
Due to disruption related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued temporary guidelines for getting documents signed remotely to help get mortgage transactions closed. Both government sponsored entities will now allow the use of services such as Zoom, Skype or FaceTime to help facilitate what would otherwise be a traditional, in-person paper-based closing.
State News Roundup: Midwest Governors Partner to Reopen Region's Economy, N.Y. and Wisconsin Extend Shutdowns, Protesters Air Shutdown Grievances Outside Kentucky Capitol
April 16, 2020
* The governors of seven Midwestern statesannounced Thursday they plan to closely coordinate the eventual reopening of the region’s economy — a bipartisan effort that comes on the heels of similar partnerships on the nation’s East and West coasts. The governors of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky said that phasing in parts of their economies “will be most effective when we work together as a region.” They said they would prioritize the health of workers in a “fact-based, data-driven approach” aimed at restarting the economy while protecting families from the spread of the coronavirus. * New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the state’s shutdownto May 15 as he reported 606 New Yorkers died from coronavirus Thursday, the first time the daily death toll has sharply declined since the crisis started. The death rate dropped about 20% from the 752 toll reported in New York state a day earlier, a hopeful sign as the city and state seek to “bend the curve” of illness and death. The numbers of newly critically ill and intubated patients also dropped significantly for the first time. * Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has ordered the state's "Safer at Home" order to be extended until May 26.The original order was set to expire April 24. It began March 25. "Safer at Home" prohibits all nonessential travel, with some exceptions. Wisconsin residents don't need permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with the order when they do. * A group of angry demonstratorsamassed Wednesday outside the state capitol building in Kentucky to voice their disdain for the closing of non-essential businesses to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus as Gov. Andy Beshear was inside the building making an announcement on the number of new deaths related to COVID-19. Holding signs that read “Our Businesses Pay Your Bills!!! Reopen Ky” and “China has declared war/Kick butt/Open doors,” a few dozen protestors gathered outside the capitol building in Frankfurt to express their displeasure with Beshear, a Democrat, for the shuttering of businesses during the pandemic. Social media posts showed protesters chanting "We want to work."
Small-Business Shortfall Leaves Owners in the Lurch
The New York Times  |  April 16, 2020
The Small Business Administration has run out of money for its Paycheck Protection Program, officials said on Thursday, leaving millions of businesses unable to apply for emergency loans while Congress struggles to reach a deal to replenish the funds. Congress initially allocated $349 billion for the program, which was intended to provide loans to businesses with 500 or fewer employees. The money has gone quickly, with more than 1.4 million loans already approved as of Wednesday evening as small businesses struggle with virus-induced quarantines and closings.
Delays to Coronavirus Stimulus Cash Cause Angst, Confusion
NBC News  |  April 16, 2020
Americans began to receive their coronavirus relief payments in their bank accounts this week, but not everyone was relieved. As of midweek, many were angry or perplexed as the Treasury Department scrambled to push billions of dollars out the door to tens of millions of people. Some confused their stimulus cash with tax refunds because both were coded identically on bank statements as "TAX REF" from the Treasury. Those expecting a bigger refund or a bigger coronavirus payment and mistook one for the other feared they had been stiffed. Others were upset when they saw their payment was less than $1,200, wrongly interpreting that number as a flat payout rather than the maximum amount a person can get based on their income. Others said the extra $500 for their children never arrived.
Thousands of OSHA Complaints Filed for Virus Workplace Safety Concerns
The Washington Post  |  April 16, 2020
Thousands of complaints have been filed with federal officials on behalf of workers during the pandemic about exposure to coronavirus and related safety concerns. The complaints offer a snapshot of the fear experienced by working Americans compelled to work even as the majority have been urged to stay at home, and they come from an array of workplaces: hospitals, construction companies, grocery stores, pharmacies and shipping companies. Collectively, the records depict the desperation of the employees and their frustrations with employers, who in the view of workers were at best simply unprepared for a pandemic and at worst callously unconcerned with worker safety.
Did you Fall for a Coronavirus Hoax? Facebook Will let you Know
NPR  |  April 16, 2020
In a new move to stop the spread of dangerous and false information about the coronavirus, Facebook will start telling people when they've interacted with posts about bogus cures, hoaxes and other false claims. In the coming weeks, Facebook users who liked, reacted to or commented on potentially harmful debunked content will see a message in their news feeds directing them to the World Health Organization's Myth busters page. There, the WHO dispels some of the most common falsehoods about the pandemic.
U.S. Explores Possibility that Coronavirus Spread Started in Chinese Lab
CNN  |  April 16, 2020
U.S. intelligence and national security officials say the United States government is looking into the possibility that the novel coronavirus spread from a Chinese laboratory rather than a market, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter who caution it is premature to draw any conclusions. The theory is one of several being pursued by investigators as they attempt to determine the origin of the coronavirus that has resulted in a pandemic and killed hundreds of thousands. The U.S. does not believe the virus was associated with bioweapons research and the sources indicated there is currently no indication the virus was man-made. Officials noted that the intelligence community is also exploring a range of other theories regarding the origination of the virus, as would typically be the case for high-profile incidents, according to an intelligence source.
Stimulus Check-tracking Tool Not Working for Many
CNBC  |  April 16, 2020
A tool launched Wednesday by the Internal Revenue Service to track Americans' stimulus relief checks is not working for many. The Get My Payment tool is meant to give those eligible for a coronavirus stimulus check information on when they will receive their payment. Instead, many are receiving messages that their payment status is not available. The agency's website says that receiving "Payment Status Not Available" means the agency cannot determine your eligibility for a payment right now.
Drinking Alcohol may Heighten Risk of Getting Coronavirus, WHO Suggests
USA Today  |  April 16, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic leaves millions stuck at home, alcohol sales have risen drastically nationwide, with spirits and premixed cocktails in high demand. The World Health Organization, however, says alcohol may put people at increased risk for the coronavirus, weakening the body's immune system and leaving drinkers at risk for other risky behaviors that could increase the likelihood of contracting coronavirus. It does work as a disinfectant on surfaces, but too much alcohol consumption can actually make the body less capable of handling the coronavirus.
Final Call to Nominate Someone for an ALTA Our Values Award
April 16, 2020

Don’t let the extraordinary ALTA members in your life go unnoticed: Nominate someone for the ALTA Our Values Awards. Celebrate your friends and colleagues who showcase what it means to lead, deliver and protect in the best possible ways. Deadline to submit nominations is June 5.

FHA Issues New Q&A for Single Family Housing
April 16, 2020
In response to the health crisis, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) released an updated FHA Single Family Housing COVID-19 Q&A. The revised document addresses the acceptance of title policies with gap insurance, and the use of remote online notarization and powers of attorney.
IRS Agrees to ALTA Request to Extend 1031 Deadlines
April 16, 2020
On April 9, 2020, the internal Revenue Services (IRS) issued Notice 2020-23 Providing Additional Relief for Taxpayers Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which extends deadlines for 1031 like-kind exchanges. The deadline for taxpayers to identify replacement property and/or acquire replacement property is now July 15, 2020. In March, ALTA and 19 other groups requested the Treasury extend the deadlines to identify replacement property and/or complete 1031 exchanges.
Kroll Predicts Title Industry to Remain Stable Despite COVID-19 Headwinds
April 16, 2020
Despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) says in a new report the overall financial strength of the U.S. title insurance sector in 2020 remains stable.
National News Roundup: Coronavirus Cases Surpass 2 Million, WHO Reviewing Impact of U.S. Funding Suspension, Senate Dems Release Report Detailing How U.S. Lags in Testing
The Washington Post  |  April 15, 2020
* Worldwide confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 2 million, though experts caution that the virus has in all likelihood infected far more people. The virus has reached all continents except Antarctica and officially killed more than 120,000 people, including more than 26,000 in the United States. * The head of the World Health Organization said he is “reviewing the impact on our work of any withdrawal of U.S. funding” and is working with partners to fill financial gaps. The WHO regrets the U.S. cut, said Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding, “With support from the people and government of the United States, WHO works to improve the health of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.” President Trump announced the suspension of payments on Tuesday over his disagreements with the United Nations agency’s handling of the pandemic. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called President Trump’s decision to suspend funding to the World Health Organization “illegal” and vowed that it would be “swiftly challenged.” * A group of top Senate Democrats on Wednesday released a report showing how the United States “lags the world” in testing and leads the world in the number of coronavirus cases. “The fastest way to be safe at home — and safe away from home — is to know your test status,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. Schumer and Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) argued that the Trump administration needs to expand testing to give Americans the confidence to go back to work and resume their normal lives. * The novel coronavirus kills by inflaming and clogging the tiny air sacs in the lungs, choking off the body’s oxygen supply until it shuts down the organs essential for life. But clinicians around the world are seeing evidence that suggests the virus also may be causing heart inflammation, acute kidney disease, neurological malfunction, blood clots, intestinal damage and liver problems. That development has complicated treatment for the most severe cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, and makes the course of recovery less certain, they said. * SAT cancellations continued as the College Board announced it will scrap a national session of the college admission test on June 6 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now comes what the testing organization calls an “unlikely” scenario: The prospect that the high-stakes SAT could be administered online, and at home, in the fall. The public health crisis has taken an extraordinary toll on the education system, including admission testing for 11th-grade students who are thinking about college.
Small Business Loans Could Reach Program’s Limit by End of Wednesday
CNBC  |  April 15, 2020
The first-come, first-serve Payroll Protection Program of $349 billion in aid may be nearing a ceiling for loan commitments, with more than 1.3 million loans given approval at a value of more than $296 billion through Wednesday afternoon, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The program could reach its funding limit by the end of Wendnesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. The SBA and Treasury Department have yet to release any formal statistics on total loan disbursements from banks to small business owners, with one senior administration official telling CNBC the information is not yet available, despite multiple requests.
Leaked Document Shows the Government Plan to Reopen U.S. in May
Mic  |  April 15, 2020
A document obtained by The Washington Post shows that the federal government plans to begin reopening the United States in May. The decision may be rushed due to increase pressure from President Trump. The plan provides guidelines for how local and state governments can begin to reopen, saying it would need to happen in phases. The first of the three phases focuses on preparing the United States for a return to somewhat normal life through a "communication campaign and community readiness assessment until May 1." Then, the manufacturing of testing kits and protective equipment would be stepped up through May 15, along with the disbursement of additional emergency funding. Only after both of those phases are complete will "staged reopenings" begin.
How to Sell a Home Safely During the COVID-19 Crisis
Realtor.com  |  April 15, 2020
Selling a home during a pandemic adds a slew of new safety concerns to the mix. But even during the COVID-19 crisis, real estate transactions are moving forward. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently classified real estate as an essential service, although local laws might affect what's allowed and might ban certain activities like open houses. Following is some insight into how sellers and real estate agents are adapting to the COVID-19 outbreak to make selling a home as safe as possible.
COVID-19 Patients may be Contagious 2 to 3 Days Before Symptoms Show
FOX News  |  April 15, 2020
COVID-19 patients may be contagious with coronavirus two to three days before their symptoms show, according to a research study in China. The research was published Wednesday in the journal Nature Medicine. “Patients with the respiratory disease COVID-19 may begin to shed, or excrete, infectious SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus 2–3 days before the first symptoms appear,” the researchers said. Researchers warn that the results could have major implications on measures taken to control the spread of coronavirus. Separately, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned that presymptomatic coronavirus patients can spread illness for one to three days before showing signs.
WHO Sets 6 Conditions For Ending A Coronavirus Lockdown
NPR  |  April 15, 2020
For the billions of people now living under some form of stay-at-home or lockdown orders, experts from the World Health Organization have new guidance: We should be ready to "change our behaviors for the foreseeable future," they say, as the agency updates its advice on when to lift COVID-19 lockdown orders. The question of when to ease shutdowns is a hot topic, as economic output is stalled in many countries — including the U.S., now the epicenter of the global pandemic. Any government that wants to start lifting restrictions, said the WHO, must first meet six conditions.
Coronavirus Symptoms: 10 Key Indicators and What To Do
CNN  |  April 15, 2020
Scientists are learning more each day about the mysterious novel coronavirus and the symptoms of COVID-19, the disease it causes. Fever, cough and shortness of breath are found in the vast majority of all COVID-19 cases. But there are additional signals of the virus, some that are very much like cold or flu, and some that are more unusual. Any or all symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Following are 10 signs that you or a loved one may have COVID-19 -- and what to do to protect yourself and your family.
Proposed New Legislation Would Provide Americans a $2,000 Stimulus Check Each Month
FOX 8  |  April 15, 2020
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced legislation Tuesday that would provide a $2,000 monthly payment to qualifying Americans until employment returns to pre-COVID-19 levels. According to a press release, the Emergency Money for the People Act would mean $2,000 monthly payments for those over the age of 16 who make less than $130,000 annually. The release states that while the CARES Act was “an important first step” to help those impacted by the pandemic, “it does not provide nearly enough support for American families.”
State News Roundup: New Yorkers Required to Wear Face Masks, Michigan Officials Reaching Out to Residents Tested for COVID-19,
April 15, 2020
* New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said state residents will be required to wear face coveringswhen they are out and coming in close contact with other people. The new mandate will require a mask or face covering on busy streets, public transit or any situation where people cannot maintain 6 feet of social distancing. Although the executive order will be in force Friday, the governor said there will initially be no civil penalties for noncompliance, but he's urging merchants to enforce it among customers. * Michigan health officials are asking residents to pick up the phone,because it could be information related to COVID-19. During the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, local health departments and staff from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are reaching out to Michiganders who have tested positive as well as to the contacts of those individuals. These public health staff are calling to check on health status, provide information about COVID-19 and actions people should be taking, help locate needed services and track the spread of the infection in the community. * The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)announced today that the agency has fully implemented the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for eligible applications. PEUC was authorized by Congress in the CARES Act. The final component of the CARES Act to be implemented is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which will provide unemployment benefits to self-employed individuals, independent contractors, gig workers and others who would not normally be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Check Out These #GoodDeeds
April 14, 2020
ALTA members across the country are stepping up and helping deliver for people and organizations in their local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on for stories about making masks, purchasing readers for children, donating money to local restaurants and helping the homeless.
Tax Change in Coronavirus Package Overwhelmingly Benefits Millionaires, Congressional Body Finds
The Washington Post  |  April 14, 2020
More than 80 percent of the benefits of a tax change tucked into the coronavirus relief package Congress passed last month will go to those who earn more than $1 million annually, according to a report by a nonpartisan congressional body expected to be released Tuesday. The provision, inserted into the legislation by Senate Republicans, temporarily suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as “pass-through” entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability. The limitation was created as part of the 2017 Republican tax law to offset other tax cuts to firms in that legislation.
Contract Workers 'are Without Protections' Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Yahoo! Finance  |  April 14, 2020
The spread of COVID-19 and its accompanied social distancing measures have exposed all types of vulnerabilities within the United States’ economy and its labor force. Freelancers, in particular, have been left to fend for themselves against the dangers of the pandemic. That’s because gig workers are not classified as “employees,” often leaving them without benefits like sick pay, health insurance, or workers’ compensation which would otherwise provide a safety net to those at risk.
Apple Opens Access to Mobility Data, Offering COVID-19 Insights
TechCrunch  |  April 14, 2020
Apple is providing a data set derived from aggregated, anonymized information taken from users of its Maps navigational app, the company announced today. The data is collected as a set of “Mobility Trends Reports,” which are updated daily and provide a look at the change in the number of routing requests made within the Maps app, which is the default routing app on iPhones, for three modes of transportation, including driving, walking and transit. Apple is quick to note that this information isn’t tied to any individuals, as Maps does not associate any mobility data with a user’s Apple ID, nor does it maintain any history of where people have been.
New John Hopkins Dashboard for U.S. Coronavirus Cases Offers County-level Data
Johns Hopkins University  |  April 14, 2020
Johns Hopkins University has released a new version of its wildly popular COVID-19 dashboard that focuses solely on the United States and includes rich, county-level data and infographics not seen in the global version. While the initial landing page looks much like the global version, clicking through to the county-specific infographics adds extensive context to each location’s situation. Each county’s cases, deaths and fatality rate are displayed alongside state-level data on testing, cases, deaths and fatality rate. The infographic also contains critical information on county-level healthcare resources, including staffed hospital beds and ICU beds, as well as mitigation policies that have been put in place.
CDC: Coronavirus can Travel 13 Feet in Air and Live on Shoes
FOX News  |  April 14, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in public health and government officials in the U.S. recommending social distancing practices of at least 6 feet. A new study, however, suggests the SARS-CoV-2 virus was "detected in [the] air [13 feet] from patients." The research, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the "maximum transmission distance of SARS-CoV-2 aerosol" could be 4 meters or 13 feet. The virus also was found present on the floor of the ICU unit in a hospital in Wuhan, China, and on the soles of healthcare professionals, according to the study, which was conducted Feb. 19 to March 2, 2020.
Two Pharmaceutical Giants Collaborating on Coronavirus Vaccine
NPR  |  April 14, 2020
Two of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers are joining forces to develop a new vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Usually, the pharmaceutical behemoths GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi are competitors, but GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said the coronavirus pandemic represented "an unprecedented global health threat," and, therefore, required new ways of doing business. "We're joining up with Sanofi in an unprecedented collaboration," Walmsley said. "It brings together two of the world's biggest vaccine companies with proven pandemic technologies and significant scale, all with the aim of developing an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine."
National News Roundup: Full Senate Won't Return Before May, Pandemic Causing Worst Downturn Since Great Depression, Olympics Have No Backup Plan
The Washington Post  |  April 14, 2020
* The Senate will follow the lead of the House and not return for full sessions until at least early May, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “As the country continues working together to flatten the curve, following the advice of health experts, the full Senate is not expected to travel back to Washington D.C. sooner than Monday, May 4,” he said, adding that the decision was made in consultation with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). * The International Monetary Fund says the coronavirus pandemic is causing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In its annual world economic outlook, the IMF forecasts the global economy will shrink by 3 percent this year before rebounding in 2021. Over the next two years, output will be $9 trillion less than expected before the crisis, according to Gita Gopinath, the fund’s chief economist. The IMF says the U.S. economy will contract by 5.9 percent this year and grow by 4.7 percent next year. * Tokyo Olympics organizers have no backup plan in the event the 2020 Summer Games, now postponed until 2021, must be postponed once again, a spokesman for the Games said Tuesday. Organizers are still moving forward with plans to launch the Games in July next year. “We are working toward the new goal,” Tokyo Olympics spokesman Masa Takaya said Tuesday. “We don’t have a B plan.” He added that “Tokyo 2020 and all concerned parties now are doing their very best effort to deliver the games next year.”
State News Roundup: N.Y. Governor says Trump is 'Wrong on the Law,' Northeast Governors say Reopening Still Far Off, Iowa Reports Spike in Coronavirus Cases
April 14, 2020
* New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will not engage in a fight with President Donald Trump as tension escalated between the two this week over who has authority to reopen the U.S. economy. Trump said he has “total” authority over the states. “This is not time for politics and it is no time to fight. I put my hand out in total partnership and cooperation with the president,” Cuomo said, adding that Trump is “wrong on the law.” * After some governors said they'd work on regional plans to roll back stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, two of those leaders warned Tuesday any reopening still appears far away. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in particular said he'd fight in court any federal order to reopen his state's economy if he thought it was premature and endangered New Yorkers' health. The comments come a day after two groups -- leaders in seven Northeastern states, and those in the three contiguous West Coast states -- said they would regionally plan an incremental release of stay-at-home orders. * The Iowa Department of Public Healthreported six deaths and 189 new COVID-19 cases in Iowa Tuesday. That brings the total number of deaths to 49, and the total number of positive cases to 1,899. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds attributed the highest single-day spike in new positive cases to the Tyson plant in Louisa County, where an additional 86 positive cases were reported.
Register for Webinar to Learn About GSEs’ New Closing Guidance
April 14, 2020
Tuesday, April 21, 2020 | 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET | Register Today
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have modified their Seller Guides and provided temporary guidance on several policy areas to support mortgage originations, including limited powers of attorney, acceptance of remote online notarization and requirements for gap coverage. Register for this The FNF Family of Companies, sponsored webinar to hear from leadership from the government sponsored entities (GSEs) and learn how these changes will affect closings and title insurance policies.
Here is Everything the Fed has Done to Save the Economy
CNBC  |  April 13, 2020
On April 9, the market learned that the economy was even worse than most had thought, as the Labor Department reported that another 6.6 million Americans had joined the ranks of the jobless. That meant that in just a three-week period, about 16 million Americans, or 10% of the workforce, had been sent to the unemployment line. To the naked eye, it looked like the U.S. economy was in freefall and with no hope of avoiding a downturn that would rival the Great Depression. The Federal Reserve, though, had other ideas. At literally the same minute the government released the jobless claims data, the Fed had an announcement of its own — a series of programs aimed at big and smaller business alike as well as households and governments representing an unprecedented $2.3 trillion in economic stimulus.
How to Track Your Coronavirus Stimulus Check on April 17
CNET  |  April 13, 2020
As soon as April 15, the first economic stimulus checks of up to $1,200 will start to go out for eligible taxpayers, beginning with people who have direct deposit set up with the IRS. You'll be able to track your payment with the IRS, through a tool called Get My Payment that the agency will have on its website by April 17, the IRS said. Some banks will post stimulus money on April 15. But just because the checks begin to arrive this week doesn't mean that everyone will get their stimulus money on the first day. Those who've set up direct deposit with the IRS can expect to get their stimulus payment faster.
How Millions of Veterans Could Miss Out on Coronavirus Stimulus Checks
CNBC  |  April 13, 2020
As many as 2 million veterans could miss out on the federal stimulus payments that started arriving in Americans’ bank accounts this week, prompting outcries from advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The checks can total up to $1,200 per person and are being dispersed through the IRS, which requires eligible households to file a tax return in order to receive their money. But many veterans and their survivors who rely solely on government benefits, such as disability payments from Veterans Affairs, do not typically have to submit a return. This year, that means they could also fall through the cracks of the stimulus program.
Experimental COVID-19 Drug Shows Promise but Analysts Remain Cautious
MarketWatch  |  April 13, 2020
Analysts say early data showing Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir improved clinical outcomes for two-thirds of a small group of severely ill COVID-19 patients is promising, but they caution against viewing the experimental drug as a silver bullet in the fight against the novel coronavirus. The data showed that 68% of 53 hospitalized patients showed clinical improvement after taking the drug. It’s a “promising first look,” J.P. Morgan’s Cory Kasimov wrote. “The results need to be kept in context. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to make any firm conclusions from an uncontrolled data set with a small sample size.”
NYU Scientists: Obesity is the Single Biggest 'Chronic' Factor in New York City's Hospitalizations
ZDNet  |  April 13, 2020
For months, scientists have been poring over data about cases and deaths to understand why it is that COVID-19 manifests itself in different ways around the globe, with certain factors such as the age of the population repeatedly popping up as among the most significant determinants. Now, one of the largest studies conducted of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. has found that obesity of patients was the single biggest factor, after age, in whether those with COVID-19 had to be admitted to a hospital.
WHO: It’s Unclear Whether Recovered Coronavirus Patients are Immune to Second Infection
CNBC  |  April 13, 2020
World Health Organization officials said Monday not all people who recover from the coronavirus have the antibodies to fight a second infection, raising concern that patients may not develop immunity after surviving COVID-19. “With regards to recovery and then reinfection, I believe we do not have the answers to that. That is an unknown,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies program, said.
National News Roundup: White House Says Trump is Not Firing Fauci, Supreme Court to Hold Arguments by Phone, Amazon to Hire 75,000 Workers
CBS News  |  April 13, 2020
* The White House on Monday said President Trump is not firing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor. "This media chatter is ridiculous – President Trump is not firing Dr. Fauci. The President's tweet clearly exposed media attempts to maliciously push a falsehood about his China decision in an attempt to rewrite history," White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said. Over the weekend, Fauci suggested lives could have been saved if the president had acted sooner on warnings about the coronavirus pandemic. The New York Times reported that the president was warned about a pandemic at the end of January, and that top officials wanted to implement social distancing in February. * The Supreme Court will hold arguments by telephone in May for a select number of cases that were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the court announced Monday. Among the key cases that will be argued by phone are three involving subpoenas from congressional Democrats and New York prosecutors for President Trump's financial records, as well as a pair of cases involving faithless electors and the Electoral College. * Amazon on Monday announced it would be hiring an additional 75,000 workers "to help meet customer demand and assist existing employees fulfilling orders for essential products." The company also said it has hired over 100,000 workers as it responds to increased demand during the virus pandemic. "Our top concern is ensuring the health and safety of our employees. We made over 150 process updates to help protect employees—from enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures to piloting new efforts like using disinfectant fog in our New York fulfillment center."
State News Roundup: Three West Coast States Announce Reopening Pact, Northeastern States Form Coronavirus Working Group, How Coronavirus Downturn may Change your Retirement Plans
CNBC  |  April 13, 2020
* California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a regional partnership that will see the three states work together to contain Covid-19 and reopen the West Coast economy. Each state will still develop its own plan, but all three governors agreed to prioritize certain principles, including placing health first and using science to inform policy. * New York, New Jersey and four Northeastern states are forming a working group to keep a close watch on the coronavirus outbreak throughout the region and coordinate plans to reopen parts of the economy in those states. Each state will name a public health and economic official that will form a working group to decide when to start easing restrictions designed to curb the Covid-19 outbreak in their states, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. He said it would weigh public health and economic concerns. * Retiring at 65 was already becoming a fading tradition before COVID-19 sank the world’s economy. Now, that traditional retirement age could fall further by the wayside as workers pick up the pieces once the economy gets going again. A survey from Allianz Life Insurance finds that half of Americans retired earlier than they expected. A majority of respondents said they did so for reasons outside their control, with 34% citing job-loss and 25% health-care issues.
Housing Market Shifts to the Cyber Side Amid Pandemic
The Washington Post  |  April 13, 2020
A first-time homebuyer from Arlington, Va., purchased a home sight unseen with the help of Redfin during the coronavirus outbreak. “Technology allows us to do things that were unthinkable even just a few years ago,” says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com, a consumer mortgage information site. “Digital mortgage platforms can remotely verify employment and assets and the ability to communicate electronically means we can function. A decade ago, the housing market would have been completely shut down during a situation like this.”
A Recession Cost Him Everything. Now He Risks a Deadly Virus to Stay Financially Healthy.
The Washington Post  |  April 13, 2020
Even as the novel coronavirus spreads, killing thousands across the United States, Tony Taylor hasn't stopped entering the homes of strangers, sitting at their tables, breathing their air. The money is just too good. The work, considering the other things he's done since losing almost everything in the Great Recession, is just too easy. Besides, he says, he's careful -- as careful as anyone in his line of work can be.
Coronavirus Clamps Down on Real Estate Business
Trib Live  |  April 13, 2020
Zach Kocian of Southwest Greensburg might be one of the less lucky homeowners in Western Pennsylvania who is trying to sell his home this spring. Kocian, a behavior specialist at a private school, put the Stanton Street house he bought three years ago up for sale with the hopes of selling it by mid-spring. But no sooner had he placed the house on the market than Gov. Tom Wolf ordered a shutdown of real estate activities that the state has deemed “non-essential.”
Title Alliance Facilitates Closing for COVID-19 Survivor
April 13, 2020
Despite executive orders in Pennsylvania causing confusion about the types business functions that can continue during the health pandemic, Title Alliance completed its first closing for a COVID-19 survivor last week.
Revised Guidance on Accounting for and Making Loan Modifications
Mayer Brown  |  April 13, 2020
On April 7, 2020, the US federal banking regulators issued a revised interagency statement concerning agency treatment of loan modifications made in response to COVID-19.
‘Wet’ Ink Signatures Requirements May Fade After Coronavirus
Bloomberg Law  |  April 12, 2020
The wet signature requirement, that a document be signed in-person and with ink, could see its demise as social distancing practices take hold across the globe in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Apple and Google Team Up to ‘Contact Trace’ the Coronavirus
The New York Times  |  April 10, 2020
In one of the most far-ranging attempts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Apple and Google said they were building software into smartphones that would tell people if they were in recent contact with someone who was infected with the virus. The technology giants said they were teaming up to release the tool within several months, building it into the operating systems of the billions of iPhones and Android devices around the world. That would enable the smartphones to constantly log other devices they get close to, enabling “contact tracing” of the disease. With the tool, infected people would notify a public health app that they have the coronavirus, which would then alert phones that had recently come into proximity with that infected person’s device.
Small Business Loans from SBA May Not Come Fast Enough
CBS News  |  April 10, 2020
The Small Business Administration began offering forgivable loans to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic a week ago. But, some desperate companies say the promised relief is not coming fast enough. Last Friday, the federal government tried to twist open the spigot on the $349-billion Paycheck Protection Program, money to help small businesses cover payroll for eight weeks. If the businesses retain their employees, the loan is forgiven. The cash comes from the federal treasury, but Americans have to apply through their banks. "The system is not prepared and capable of processing all these millions of loans, that's the worry," said Alan Dule, whose accounting firm is guiding more than a dozen clients as they apply for stimulus loans. "The SBA has never gone through anything like this before, and I have the sense that they're overwhelmed."
National News Update: Curve is Beginning to Level in U.S., Stimulus Checks Possible for People who Don't File Taxes, U.S. Postal Service Might Run Out of Money
CBS News  |  April 10, 2020
* The U.S. is showing signs that the curve of coronavirus cases is beginning to level off, members of the Coronavirus Task Force said Friday. That doesn't mean the U.S. has necessarily reached the peak. Now, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, is not the time to let up on social distancing and other mitigation measures. * Americans who aren't required to file taxes and are concerned about getting their government stimulus check quickly can now visit a new web portal set up by the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service that lets people enter their bank direct-deposit information. The federal payments — $1,200 for most taxpayers who earn less than $75,000 annually — are expected to hit bank accounts early next week. The portal is free to use and is designed for people who haven't filed their taxes in 2018 or 2019, which means they haven't provided their bank account information to the IRS. * The U.S. Postal Service is warning it could run out of cash by October due to a "devastating" drop in business caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Postmaster General Megan Brennan said Thursday that the USPS could run out of cash this fiscal year, which ends in September. The postal agency forecasts it could see a $13 billion drop in revenue.
State News Update: New York Sees 777 More Deaths, Illinois Governor Suggests No Mass Gatherings Until Vaccine Available, Southern, Midwest States See Spike
April 10, 2020
* New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said officials are "cautiously optimistic"that the infection rate is slowing in the state. The three-day average of hospitalizations has seen a dramatic decline in numbers, Cuomo said, adding that the change in ICU admissions is a negative number for the first time since the pandemic started. He said the curve the state is seeing is lower than what was projected. There were 777 deaths in New York on Thursday, a slight dip from Wednesday's toll, Cuomo said. That brings the total death toll in the state to more than 7,800. * Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is suggesting that there be no mass gatherings in the state until a vaccine for the coronavirus is available. “I think everybody needs to think seriously about canceling large summer events,” Pritzker said. “From my perspective today, I do not see how we are going to have large gatherings of people again until we have a vaccine, which is months and months away. I would not risk having large groups of people getting together anywhere. I think that’s hard for everybody to hear, but that’s just a fact.” Pritzker also said its likely that COVID-19 has a second surge in the fall or winter. * More states in the South and Midwestare starting to report their biggest one-day increases for coronavirus cases, at a time when parts of the Northeast are beginning to show progress. For the third consecutive day, Michigan added more than 100 deaths. By Thursday afternoon, the state had surpassed 1,000 total deaths, more than other states with a similar population. As of Thursday afternoon, Michigan had 21,504 cases and 1,076 deaths. Kansas reported its first one-day increase of more than 150 cases, nearly three times the previous day's jump. The state also reported eight new deaths, marking the first time more than five people died of the virus in the state on a single day. As of Thursday afternoon, Kansas has 1,106 cases and 42 deaths. West Virginia had its worst day so far, adding 71 new cases on Thursday. As of Thursday afternoon, the state had reported 485 cases and five deaths.
The Most Important COVID-19-related Federal Tax Relief Measures
MarketWatch  |  April 10, 2020
The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) delivers good news to individuals and businesses, including meaningful tax relief. The tax relief offered by the CARES Act is over and above the tax relief offered by the earlier Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Here’s the up-to-date story on the most important COVID-19-related federal tax relief measures.
Warehouse Workers Forcing Amazon to Take COVID-19 Seriously
The Verge  |  April 10, 2020
As the largest Amazon facility in the most severe COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S., the clash at Staten Island Amazon warehouse "JFK8" serves as a preview of tensions rising throughout Amazon’s fulfillment network. JFK8 was one of the first Amazon facilities to have workers walk out in protest, calling for the warehouse to be closed and cleaned after workers tested positive for COVID-19. On one side, there’s a company that sees itself as providing a vital service to millions of homebound Americans and is determined to maintain operations amid the crisis. On the other, there are workers who feel increasingly unsafe at their jobs and, as Amazon struggles to staff its warehouses to meet unprecedented demand, newly empowered to push for changes.
Homebound Homebuyers Ask: Is a Picture Worth $1 Million?
The New York Times  |  April 10, 2020
The real estate industry, for all its newfound tech savvy, still relies on handshakes. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed that weakness: Real estate is a cheek-by-jowl business, methodical by design, lumbering until the final, crowded contract signing. And practically overnight, it has been forced to rethink the entire model. “Virtual” is likely to be the operative word for the foreseeable future. From March 15 to 30, nearly 2,000 listings for sale in New York City included a link to a video walk-through — almost twice as many as in the two-and-a-half months prior.
How to Apply for a Paycheck Protection Program Loan
April 10, 2020

Another $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program,has been approved. Just like the first round, there are limited funds, so it’s important to speak to an SBA lender as soon as possible if there are concerns about retaining staff and paying other expenses. Read on for more details on the process.

Fed Unveils Details of $600B Main Street Lending Program for Businesses Hurt by Pandemic
ABC News  |  April 10, 2020
The Federal Reserve has announced a $600 billion lending initiative designed for mid-sized businesses to ensure the easy flow of credit through the newly unveiled Main Street Lending program as part of a $2.3 trillion funding effort to minimize the financial impact of the coronavirus.
Abilene Title Company Offers Curbside Closings
KTAB  |  April 10, 2020
An Abilene title company is offering curbside closings as a way to ensure social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. “I think taking the closings to the curbside has built some confidence on both sides of the table,” says Nathan Lowry, president of Big Country Title.
National News Roundup: Fed Programs Could Pump $2.3 Trillion into Economy, U.S. Jobless Claims Exceed 16 Million, Airports Suffer as Delays and Cancellations Mount
The New York Times  |  April 9, 2020
* The Federal Reserve announced an expansive effort to help companies and state and local governments gain access to funding, ramping up its already extensive efforts to protect the economy and financial markets from the impact of a severe downturn. The central bank said it could pump $2.3 trillion into the economy through the new and expanded programs. * Another 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus outbreak continued its devastating march through the American economy, the Labor Department reported. With astonishing swiftness, the pandemic has shut down both longstanding and new businesses, leaving veteran workers and recent hires in nearly every type of industry without a paycheck. In just three weeks, more than 16 million Americans have lost their jobs — more losses than the most recent recession produced over two years. * The steep drop in demand caused by the pandemic has airlines instituting last-minute cancellations while significantly reducing future schedules, making it hard for passengers to know if a purchased ticket will result in an actual flight. Major airlines including American, Alaska, Delta and United have all announced domestic flight reductions of about 70 percent. As bad as things are at major airports, for small-market cities, which may have a limited number of carriers, the effect has been amplified.
State News Roundup: New York Leads Every Country in Coronavirus Cases, Natural Coronavirus Experiment Playing Out in Kentucky and Tennessee, Fast Food Workers in California Going on Strike
April 9, 2020
* New York state is now the coronavirus capital of the world, logging more COVID-19 cases than any other country across the globe outside of the U.S. As of Thursday, the Empire State had recorded a total of 159,937 confirmed coronavirus cases — a jump of more than 10,000 new cases from the day before. There’ve been 7,067 deaths as a result of the contagion in the state so far, with a record 799 deaths overnight. * A natural experiment in stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus is playing out on the border between Kentucky and Tennessee, where an early start to social distancing is pitted against a late one. As of Tuesday, Kentucky is now reporting 1,008 cases and 59 deaths, while Tennessee is reporting 3,802 cases and 65 deaths. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency on March 6, while neighboring Tennessee’s Bill Lee waited until March 12, then took until the end of the month to suggest people stay at home. The two approaches led to two drastically different outcomes playing out on the national stage. * Hundreds of cooks and cashiers at 50 fast food restaurantsacross California plan to strike on Thursday—demanding that McDonald’s and other fast food chains provide masks, gloves, soap, $3-an-hour hazard pay, and two weeks of paid sick leave to workers exposed to COVID-19. The walkout was inspired by two strikes earlier this week at McDonald's locations in San Jose and Los Angeles, where two workers have now tested positive for coronavirus.
Stimulus Checks: Federal Deposits Expected to Start Within Days
CBS News  |  April 9, 2020
With more than 16 million Americans now jobless, many people await promised federal payments — a key part of the U.S. government's $2.2 trillion economic relief package in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Adults with income below $75,000 are due to receive $1,200 each, with the first checks expected to land within days. Some people will likely see the payments hit their accounts through direct deposit early next week, with the first round of checks starting the week of April 13. That first round is expected to include 60 million payments to Americans.
Senate at Stalemate Over More COVID-19 Aid
CNN  |  April 9, 2020
The Senate is at an impasse over approving additional COVID-19 aid after Republicans and Democrats blocked competing proposals, creating uncertainty over whether and when there will be bipartisan agreement to approve further relief measures amid the ongoing crisis. Democrats blocked an effort by Senate Republicans to approve by unanimous consent an increase in funding for a small business loan program set up to deliver relief amid the coronavirus crisis, citing demands for additional funding for hospitals and state and local governments. And Republicans blocked an alternative proposal put forward by Democrats, arguing that it is urgent to approve the increase in funding for the program immediately and that other issues can be addressed later.
If U.S. Reopens, We Must Prepare for Coronavirus Infections to 'Rear Their Heads Again,' Dr. Fauci Says
CBS News  |  April 9, 2020
Medical experts and political officials have said there are signs that social distancing is working in America and the spread of the coronavirus is slowing. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said the country can't loosen social restrictions yet and needs to be ready for a possible return of the virus. "We are doing a very good job on mitigation, on the physical separation, the adherence to the guidelines," Fauci said. A new model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington shows COVID-19 deaths could total around 60,000 by August, a drop from earlier predictions that said there could be 100,000 to 200,000 deaths. "That's good news," Fauci said about the model, but he said that doesn't mean we can pull back on mitigation.
How Much Unemployment Will I Get? That Depends on Your State
CNBC  |  April 9, 2020
Americans are filing for unemployment benefits in record numbers as the coronavirus pandemic continues to crush the U.S. economy. Those applying for jobless benefits likely have two simple questions: How much money will I get, and for how long will I get it? Unfortunately, the answers aren’t so simple. And they depend on the state where you were employed. Here are some ways benefits can differ around the country.
Second Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Begins in U.S.
FOX News  |  April 9, 2020
U.S. researchers have opened another safety test of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, this one using a skin-deep shot instead of the usual deeper jab. The pinch should feel like a simple skin test, a researcher told the volunteer lying on an exam table in Kansas City, Missouri. “It’s the most important trial that we’ve ever done,” Dr. John Ervin of the Center for Pharmaceutical Research said. “People are beating down the door to get into this trial.”
Americans Could Take Summer Vacations, but There are Caveats
CNN  |  April 9, 2020
Americans have the potential to take summer vacations this year -- provided that the country continues aggressive mitigation efforts now and gets to a place where it can modify them, the nation's top infectious disease official said. Dr. Anthony Fauci's comment comes amid a tension between desires to gradually open the economy and maintaining the social distancing measures that experts say will hold down deaths only if those policies continue. Moving toward normalcy will be gradual and could be different by region, he said. "Hopefully, by the time we get to the summer, we will have taken many steps in that direction" that would allow some normalization.
Smokers and Vapers May Be at Greater Risk for COVID-19
The New York Times  |  April 9, 2020
Anxious times — like a pandemic — can lead to unhealthy but self-soothing habits, but some stress-reducing behaviors are alarming to medical experts right now — namely vaping and smoking of tobacco or marijuana. Because the coronavirus attacks the lungs, this is exactly the moment, they say, when people should be tapering — or better yet, stopping — their use of such products, not escalating them. ”Quitting during this pandemic could not only save your life, but by preventing the need for your treatment in a hospital, you might also save someone else’s life,” said Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, director of pediatric research at the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Payroll Costs That Qualify for SBA Paycheck Protection Program
April 9, 2020

Any business that was in operation before Feb. 15, 2020 with 500 or less employees OR $12 million or less in gross revenue for title companies ($41.5 million for title underwriters) are eligible to apply for financial assistance provided through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Read on for analysis of the expenses you can and can't include in the calculation.

Pennsylvania Issues Order Affecting Title Work
April 9, 2020
A memorandum issued April 8 by the state’s Secretary of the Commonwealth could inhibit title insurance activities on residential real estate contracts signed after March 6.
National News Roundup: U.S. Planning Ways to 'Ease' Back to Normal, Report Warned of Coronavirus Last November, More Than 13,800 People Have Died in the U.S.
April 8, 2020
* U.S. health officials are planning ways for the country to return to normal activities if distancing and other steps to mitigate COVID-19 this month prove successful in curbing the outbreak, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Deborah Birx, another task force member, said isolation measures must continue for now or else the country could risk a repeated spike despite the allure of warmer spring weather. * As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing the patterns of life and business and posing a threat to the population. Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military's National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI). The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images. It paints a picture of an American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier to prepare for a crisis poised to come home. * There are at least 404,352 cases of coronavirus in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. At least 13,829 people have died in the US from coronavirus. The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases. Wyoming is the only state or territory that is not reporting a death from coronavirus.
5 Indicators That Will Show When the Housing Market is Rebounding From COVID-19
HousingWire  |  April 8, 2020
These are dark times. But even in dark times, we are preternaturally prepared to see the end of the tunnel. If we are diligent, we will be able to identify the return of hope and light coming back into the American economy. While no one could truly know when we’ll see the end of the coronavirus, we can at least know what signs to look for that the housing market is on the rebound. With that, here is a guide to the five indicators that the period of AD (After Disease) is abating, and the era of AB (America is Back) is emerging.
Fannie, Freddie Provide New Temporary Guidance for Use of RON, POA
April 8, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have provided temporary guidance on several policy areas to support mortgage originations, including power of attorney and acceptance of remote online notarization. New guidance also addresses closing protection letters. The Government Sponsored Entities will add more FAQs and encourage industry professionals to check for updates, which will include “NEW” or “UPDATED” notations after the question.
State News Roundup: NYC Death Count Expected to Soar, California Wealthy Still Find Tests, Virginia Postpones June Primaries
April 8, 2020
* New York City officials will begin to count suspected COVID-19 deaths of people who die at home following a report revealing a staggering number of such deaths were not included in the official tally. Stephanie Buhle, a spokeswoman for New York City’s Health Department, said the city would no longer report only those cases that were confirmed by a laboratory test. The announcement comes as New York City saw the largest single day of deaths so far from the COVID-19 pandemic — 727 people passed away in a 24-hour period. * At a time when there are not enough coronavirus tests to meet demand in hospitals across the United States, those who can afford it and have the right connections can still get tested. In the Los Angeles area, at least two so-called "concierge doctors" tested hundreds of people, or provided them tests to take home, for between $250 and $600 per test. * Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Wednesday that he was postponing Virginia's June primary election and recommending that local elections in May be postponed to November by the General Assembly. In last Monday's briefing, he issued a 'Stay at Home' order for all Virginians that is scheduled to run until June.
CDC Removes Guidance on Drugs Touted by Trump to Treat Coronavirus
CNN  |  April 8, 2020
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has removed from its website guidelines for doctors on how to prescribe two antimalarial drugs that President Donald Trump has touted as potential treatments for the novel coronavirus. Trump has been pressing federal health officials to make the drugs -- hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine -- more widely available, despite little reliable evidence that they are effective at treating the virus. The updated CDC guidance is shorter and no longer gives dosage information about the drugs.
Coronavirus Pandemic Threatens Low-wage Jobs
Axios  |  April 8, 2020
As many as one-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and it will disproportionately displace low-income workers that do not have the financial cushion to absorb the economic blow. The dire economic ramifications of the national shut-down stand to devastate those that can least afford it. Nearly 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment claims in recent weeks.
Stimulus Check: See if You're Eligible and How to get Your Payment Amount
CNet  |  April 8, 2020
The first coronavirus stimulus checks from the IRS should start arriving in the middle of April, and you have questions: Are you eligible to receive a $1,200 payment? When will it come, how will the money arrive and how much will you receive? Can you track your 2020 stimulus check? What should you spend it on? Here is all you need to know.
Coronavirus Kills Some People and Hardly Affects Others: How is That Possible?
Los Angeles Times  |  April 8, 2020
The new coronavirus is not an equal opportunity killer. We know COVID-19 is more deadly the older you get. It’s also more dangerous for those who have chronic lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, weakened immune systems and other underlying health issues. And yet our news feeds are full of stories about seemingly healthy young people who are quickly struck down. How can the same virus affect people so differently — killing some while leaving others blissfully unaware that they have been infected at all?
Most COVID-19 Patients put on Ventilators will not Survive
USA Today  |  April 8, 2020
While governors, mayors and hospital officials conduct much-publicized life-and-death struggles to acquire ventilators, for most COVID-19 patients the oxygen-providing apparatus will merely serve as a bridge from life to death. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently estimated that only 20% of coronavirus patients placed on ventilators "will ever come off." Dennis Carroll, who led the U.S. Agency for International Development's infectious disease unit for more than a decade, said perhaps one-third of COVID-19 patients on ventilators survive. But for many, ventilators represent their last chance.
New Zealand is Squashing the Curve
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/new-zealand-isnt-just-flattening-the-curve-its-squ  |  April 8, 2020
It has been less than two weeks since New Zealand imposed a coronavirus lockdown so strict that swimming at the beach and hunting in bushland were banned. It took only 10 days for signs that the approach in New Zealand — “elimination” rather than the “containment” goal of the United States and other Western countries — is working. The number of people who have recovered, 65, exceeds the number of daily infections.
Virginia Title Company Moves to Online Notaries, Drive-thru Closings
Virginia Business  |  April 8, 2020
ALTA member Mo Choumil, founder and CEO of Fairfax, Va.-based ATG Title Inc., discusses how title companies are adapting to COVID-19 Era real estate closings. ATG Title is utilizing remote online notarizations and drive-thru closings, doing "whatever it takes to keep transactions" moving, Choumil said.
How Your Business Can Access Financial Assistance Due to COVID-19 Pandemic
April 7, 2020
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated almost $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. Listen to a recording of this Qualia-sponsored webinar to learn how your company can access these emergency loans and take advantage of deferring this year’s Social Security payroll taxes until next year and 2022. The presentation also details additional financial assistance options, such as the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Grants, as well as the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund.
Many Americans Say the Stimulus Checks Won’t be Enough. What it Would Take to Get More Money
CNBC  |  April 7, 2020
The government is just getting started in sending out $1,200 in stimulus relief money it promised to millions of Americans. Many already say it won’t be enough. A recent survey from SimplyWise, a retirement income technology company, found that 63% of respondents said they will need another stimulus check within the next three months. The dramatic economic decline prompted by the coronavirus has made it difficult to make ends meet. About 10 million Americans filed for unemployment in the past two weeks. Meanwhile, $1,200 won’t cover monthly rents in many parts of the country.
National News Roundup: Congress Races to Deliver Billions More for Small Businesses, Trump Removes Independent Watchdog for Coronavirus Funds, U.S. Records 1,200+ Deaths in One Day
April 7, 2020
* Congress is poised to movewith lightning speed to send $250 billion more to small businesses by the end of the week. The Senate could move as early as Thursday to approve approximately a quarter trillion dollars in new relief to small businesses as Congress races to keep up with economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that he is working with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). to deliver more money to the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular $350 billion program for businesses to cover payroll and expenses during the coronavirus pandemic. * President Donald Trumphas removed the lead watchdog overseeing the $2 trillion coronavirus package, just days after the official, Glenn Fine, was appointed to the role. The move came as Trump pursued similar action in recent weeks against independent inspectors general across the federal government. Fine had been the acting Pentagon inspector general until Monday afternoon, when Trump abruptly removed him from his post. * At the start of what officials have warned could be the deadliest weekof the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. recorded more than 1,200 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to nearly 11,000 on Tuesday morning.
State News Roundup: Wisconsin's Election Clash, N.Y. Virus Deaths Hit New High, Michigan Extends Emergency Declaration
April 7, 2020
* What’s been playing out as Wisconsin moves ahead with its presidential primary and other elections this Tuesday could very well be a harbinger of what might happen in November in our new Coronavirus Era. On Thursday, a federal judge refused to postpone the state’s elections but extended the deadline to submit absentee ballots to April 13. On Friday, Gov. Tony Evers ordered a special session for the state legislature, calling on it to stop in-person voting and turn it completely into all-mail election. On Saturday, the legislature gaveled in and then gaveled out — taking no action. It all creates an unprecedented situation in Wisconsin, arguably the most important 2020 battleground state. * Five weeks into the coronavirus outbreak, officials in New York seeking a light at the end of the tunnel hoped that deaths from the virus would stay flat for a third straight day. It did not happen. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said early Tuesday that 731 people had died of the virus since Monday, the highest one-day total yet. The state’s death toll now stands at 5,489, enough people to fill a small town. * TheMichigan Senate and House have both voted to expand the state’s emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic by 23 days. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said last week she wanted the Legislature to extend the Emergency Declaration and Disaster order for 70 more days -- to June 9. Senators first decided to extend the declaration by just 23 days for now -- to April 30. The Michigan House passed the measure Tuesday afternoon.
Adjusted Coronavirus Model Predicts Fewer People in U.S. will Need Hospitals, but 82,000 will Still Die by August
CNN  |  April 7, 2020
An influential model tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States now predicts that fewer people will die and fewer hospital beds will be needed compared to its estimates from last week. As of Monday, the model predicted the virus will kill 81,766 people in the United States over the next four months, with just under 141,000 hospital beds being needed. That's about 12,000 fewer deaths -- and 121,000 fewer hospital beds -- than the model estimated on Thursday. A "massive infusion of new data" led to the adjustments, according to the model's maker, Dr. Christopher Murray, who serves as director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
CDC Director Downplays Coronavirus Models, Says Death Toll will be 'Much Lower' than Projected
ABC News  |  April 7, 2020
One of the nation’s top public health officials suggested Monday that because Americans are taking social distancing recommendations “to heart,” the death toll from the novel coronavirus will be “much, much, much lower” than models have projected. Officials on the White House task force have said they believe that even with a tough week ahead, the numbers in some places suggest that social distancing is working and could provide a reprieve eventually.
Coroners Worry COVID-19 Test Shortages Could Lead to Uncounted Deaths
CNN  |  April 7, 2020
Jill Romann, the coroner in Douglas County, Colo., was so desperate for coronavirus tests that she began calling hospitals in the middle of the night to avoid management, begging whoever was on duty for one or two test kits. Her total collection reached about 13 before the hospitals caught on and shut her down. The state health department told her it was not providing test to coroners because it was prioritizing them for the living. Other death investigators are equally frustrated and worried about coronavirus deaths being missed. A coroner in Wyoming, the only state that still hasn't reported any deaths due to the virus, said he seriously doubts its official death count and noted he hasn't been able to test a number of suspected cases. An Ohio coroner said she believes at least four deaths in her county have already been left uncounted.
China Reports its First Day with No New COVID-19 Deaths
NPR  |  April 7, 2020
China on Tuesday reported no deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since it began publishing data about the outbreak more than two months ago. The milestone comes a day before the government is set to lift outbound travel restrictions on people in Wuhan, the country's hardest-hit city. Chinese data shows that transmission has been suppressed domestically, and hot spots have shifted overseas. In recent days, most new cases in China have been imported from abroad, including 32 on Monday.
Why Black Americans are at Higher Risk for Coronavirus
CNN  |  April 7, 2020
Black Americans have more existing medical issues, less access to health care, and are more likely to work in unstable jobs -- all factors that have made the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately hurt blacks more. While everyone is susceptible to COVID-19, black Americans are at higher risk, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said. The federal government has not yet tracked coronavirus by demographic groups but the racial disparity has been evident in Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey.
Illinois Title Company Provides Drive-Up Closings During Coronavirus Pandemic
NBC Chicago  |  April 7, 2020
Real estate is a cornerstone of U.S. business. If real estate transactions screech to a halt, the fallout will be enormous, but the process also requires a lot of interpersonal contact, which is obviously risky right now. However, ALTA member Greater Illinois Title Company and its subsidiary, Greater Indiana Title Company, found a safe way to keep business moving: drive-up closings. The company has the client drive to the storefront, park in a designated parking spot and remain in the car while a staff member wearing a mask and gloves brings the necessary paperwork to the car for signature. Although the company utilizes remote online notarization (RON), Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's emergency RON order will expire at the same time as his disaster order.
Coronavirus Mortgage Bailout: ‘There is Going to be Complete Chaos,’ Says Industry CEO
CNBC  |  April 6, 2020
A broad coalition of mortgage and finance industry leaders sent a plea to federal regulators, asking for desperately needed cash to keep the mortgage system running during the coronavirus pandemic, as requests from borrowers for the federal mortgage forbearance program are pouring in at an alarming rate. The Cares Act, which seeks to limit the economic damage from COVID-19, mandates that all borrowers with government-backed mortgages — about 62% of all first lien mortgages according to Urban Institute — be allowed to delay at least 90 days of monthly payments and possibly up to a year’s worth. Those payments would then have to be made at a later time through a payment plan. Servicers are granting the payment deferrals to borrowers with no questions asked, as is required by the law, but the servicers still have to pay mortgage bond holders.
National News Roundup: U.S. Death Toll Surpasses 10,000, U.S. Army Places Temporary Hold on New Recruits, Supreme Court Cancels April Oral Arguments
CBS News  |  April 6, 2020
* The coronavirus death toll surpassed 10,000 in the United States on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There are more than 347,000 confirmed cases across the country. Around the world, more than 72,000 lives have been lost to the COVID-19 disease. While the U.S., Japan and Britain are among the many nations facing still-growing outbreaks, positive news is emerging from China and South Korea, and even the battered communities of Italy and Spain. * The U.S. Army announced Monday that it has temporarily delayed sending new recruits to basic combat training. The Army added that recruits who are already in basic combat or advanced individual training will continue under screening and monitoring guidelines. * The Supreme Court has postponed oral arguments scheduled for April it announced as states and the federal government scramble to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The justices were scheduled to hear oral arguments in 11 cases, including a closely watched dispute on faithless electors and the Electoral College, across the last two weeks of April. The court has not yet said how it will handle those cases, as well as others scheduled to be heard in March and postponed, but said it would consider rescheduling some of them before the end of its term in late June "if circumstances permit in light of public health and safety guidance at that time." * British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care as he battles coronavirus, according to a statement from his office. "The condition of the Prime Minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital," the statement said. The statement added that Johnson has asked Foreign Secretary Domenic Raab, the first secretary of state, "to deputise for him when necessary."
State News Roundup: New York Doubles Fine for Social Distancing Violations, Wisconsin Suspends In-person Voting for Primary, 20 States Have Biggest Potential Shortfalls in Hospital ICU Beds
April 6, 2020
* New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is doubling to $1,000 the maximum fine for violating the state’s strict social distancing rules during the coronavirus outbreak. The reason: Too many New Yorkers aren’t taking the rules seriously, he said. The state has 8,658 new cases, bringing the total tally to 130,689. * Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order suspending all in-person voting for Tuesday's primary and moved the date of the election to June 9 amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The order also convenes the state legislature for a special session on Tuesday to deal with the issue. * A significant number of states lack enough intensive care unit beds in their hospitals to deal with a wave of projected coronavirus cases in coming in days and weeks. The nationwide projected shortfall of 16,232 ICU beds raises chances of a cascade of coronavirus patients overwhelming ICU units and spilling over into other beds in individual hospitals. As of Monday, 20 states did not have enough ICU beds to handle the peak number of coronavirus cases they are projected to receive.
Lawmakers Push for Vote by Mail in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic
CNBC  |  April 6, 2020
States are postponing elections and lawmakers are trying to figure out ways to hold a presidential election in the middle of a pandemic. A bill being considered in Congress would require states to implement absentee voting during emergencies for any reason, including for the coronavirus pandemic. The House and Senate are considering the Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020. The bill aims to allow the race for the White House to continue without disruption using a system that has been gaining traction since the Civil War: vote by mail for any reason.
WHO Says the Coronavirus can Spread One to Three Days Before Symptoms Start
CNBC  |  April 6, 2020
The coronavirus can spread about one to three days before symptoms start, a top official of the World Health Organization said. Whether the person is symptomatic or presymptomatic, the disease is still spread in the same way — through droplets from the nose and mouth, said the official, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s team lead on the coronavirus. Some people can “shed [the] virus one to three days before having symptoms.” She added that models of the outbreak suggest there are “large numbers of unrecognized transmission."
Potential Coronavirus Vaccine Funded by Bill Gates Set to Begin Human Testing
Business Insider  |  April 6, 2020
A small Pennsylvania biotech company is planning to start injecting healthy volunteers with a potential coronavirus vaccine, after receiving regulatory clearance to start clinical testing. Researchers plan to dose the first person Monday. The experimental vaccine was developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, with the effort receiving funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. Inovio's candidate is the second potential coronavirus vaccine to start human trials in the United States. The Massachusetts biotech Moderna started dosing in mid-March for its own safety trial.
CDC Recommends Use of Cloth Face Masks
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  |  April 6, 2020
The CDC reports it now knows that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. Therefore, the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of the new evidence, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
How to Make a Non-medical Coronavirus Face Mask
The Guardian  |  April 6, 2020
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control now recommends that all Americans wear face masks in public to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Because there are widespread shortages of medical-grade face masks, and leaders and experts agree those should be reserved for healthcare providers, individuals are largely making face masks at home. A University of San Francisco researcher explains two ways to create your own, with no sewing required. Be sure to check out the following tips on how to use and take care of your mask properly.
New Poll Says 1 in 4 Small Businesses on Brink of Permanent Closure
U.S. Chamber of Commerce  |  April 6, 2020
A new poll from MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reveals that one in four small businesses (24%) say they are two months or less from closing permanently amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. One in 10 (11%) say they are less than one month away from permanently going out of business.
Bank of America is First Major Bank to Begin Small Business Relief Program
CNBC  |  April 3, 2020
Bank of America said it is now capable of accepting online applications for the government’s $350 billion small business relief program, becoming the first major bank to do so. As of mid-morning Eastern Daylight Time, none of the websites of the three other big U.S. banks — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo or Citigroup — were accepting applications for the program, which was supposed to go live shortly after midnight. In fact, Wells Fargo announced that it will be unable to accept applications on Friday. Bank of America’s portal went live at about 9 a.m. EDT Friday. Within an hour, the bank had 10,000 applications for loans. Bank of America’s portal went live at about 9 am ET Friday. Within an hour, the bank had 10,000 applications for loans, CEO Brian Moynihan said Friday on CNBC.
National News Roundup: Scammers Swooping In, Pandemic Economic Fallout Worse Than Global Financial Crisis, WHO: Rushing to Lift Quarantine Will Cause Severe Economic Damage
CNBC  |  April 3, 2020
* Government agencies, like the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration, are warning consumers to be vigilant as fraudsters try to take advantage of them during the coronavirus pandemic. “Whenever crises erupt, the scammers and fraudsters have a heyday,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, a consumer advocacy group. “We see so much fraud related to COVID-19 because people need answers, aren’t thinking straight and are somewhat confused.” There’s been an uptick in financial fraud connected to the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last week. * The coronavirus pandemic has created an economic crisis “like no other,” the top International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said. “Never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy come to a standstill,” said IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva. “This is in my lifetime humanity’s darkest hour, a big threat to the whole world, and it requires for us to stand united, be united. It is way worse than the global financial crisis” of 2008-09, she said. “This is a crisis like no other." * Countries that rush to lift quarantine restrictions risk an “even more severe and prolonged” economic downturn and a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned. “We are all aware of the profound social and economic consequences of the pandemic,” Tedros said. “Ultimately, the best way for countries to end restrictions and ease their economic effects is to attack the virus.”
State News Roundup: New York Sees Highest Single Increase in Deaths, Michigan Sets $1,000 Fine for Noncompliance, Delaware Police Ready to Pull Over Out-of-State Drivers
April 3, 2020
* New York state had its deadliest day yet stemming from the coronavirus with more than 500 fatalities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The death toll has gone up from 2,373 to 2,935 in the last 24 hours, he said. He described it as the "highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started." The governor also warned that more people were going to die if additional ventilators don't become available. He said he is signing an executive order allowing the state to commandeer ventilators and distribute to hospitals as needed. * The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order Thursday, setting fines at $1,000 for not complying with executive orders banning gatherings and non-essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the $1,000 fine, the state health department said violators could also be reviewed by any state licensing agency and that licensing agency could also apply a penalty. * Police in Delaware have been given the authority to pull over out-of-state drivers during the coronavirus pandemic. Delaware State Police say Gov. John Carney’s state of emergency declaration “authorizes any Delaware law enforcement officer to stop a vehicle driving within the state simply because it is displaying out-of-state tags.” Once pulled over, state police say the officer will ask questions about the driver’s travel, who will then be told that “they are required by law to self-quarantine for 14 days while in Delaware, or immediately return to their home state.”
Americans are Underestimating how Long Coronavirus Disruptions Will Last, Health Experts Say
STAT  |  April 3, 2020
Public health experts are increasingly worried that Americans are underestimating how long the coronavirus pandemic will disrupt everyday life in the country, warning that the Trump administration’s timelines are offering many a false sense of comfort. Coronavirus cases are expected to peak in mid-April in many parts of the country, but quickly reopening businesses or loosening shelter-in-place rules would inevitably lead to a new surge of infections, they said. Meanwhile, other parts of the country are only now implementing restrictions and others have not yet ordered the closure of non-essential businesses, creating a patchwork response that will slow progress toward the goal of driving down transmission of COVID-19.
U.S. Expected to Recommend Masks for Americans in Coronavirus Hot Spots
NBC News  |  April 3, 2020
The White House is expected to urge Americans who live in areas of high coronavirus transmission to wear cloth face coverings to prevent the spread of the virus, a senior administration official said Thursday night. Vice President Mike Pence addressed the potential for a mask advisory based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said the new guidance, based on "consultation and advice from the CDC and top health experts," would come "in the days ahead." The mayors of America's two largest cities, Los Angeles and New York, have in recent days urged their residents to wear face coverings when in public.
Queen Elizabeth to Give Rare Televised Address About The Coronavirus
BuzzFeed News  |  April 3, 2020
Queen Elizabeth will give a televised address about the coronavirus on Sunday evening at 8pm, Buckingham Palace has announced. It's understood to be just the fourth special address in her 68-year reign. The Queen has already recorded the broadcast to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, which will be carried on most television channels, as well as on radio and the royal family's social media channels. Two weeks ago the Queen issued a written message, praising scientists, medics and emergency staff, and saying the UK was “entering a period of great concern and uncertainty." The Queen's eldest son, Prince Charles tested positive for the coronavirus and is now out of self-isolation after displaying mild symptoms.
No Small-Business Relief Yet: False Start On Paycheck Protection Program Loans
Forbes  |  April 3, 2020
Since the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed last Friday, government agencies and banks have been scrambling to figure out how all of these disaster-package pieces fit together. Paycheck Protection Program Loans (PPP) were supposed to roll out today, giving small businesses one of their biggest sources of support. Turns out, we will have to wait a bit longer.
Application Form for Paycheck Protection Program
Small Business Administration  |  April 3, 2020
Download the Borrower Application Form for the Paycheck Protection Program. The four-page application includes instructions for completing the form. Submit the application to a Small Business Administration participating lender.
Small Business Emergency Loans Guide
U.S. Chamber of Commerce  |  April 3, 2020
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued this cheat sheet to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan. Small businesses and sole proprietors can begin applying now. Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply starting April 10.
Google Offers User Location Data to Health Officials Tackling Coronavirus
The Wall Street Journal  |  April 3, 2020
Google will help public health officials use its vast storage of data to track people’s movements amid the coronavirus pandemic, in what the company called an effort to assist in unprecedented times. The initiative uses a portion of the information that the search giant has collected on users, including through Google Maps, to create reports on the degree to which locales are abiding by social-distancing measures. The “mobility reports” will be posted publicly and show, for instance, whether particular localities, states or countries are seeing more or less people flow into shops, grocery stores, pharmacies and parks.
Title Industry Delivers With Curbside, Drive-through Closing Options
April 2, 2020
Title and settlement companies across the country have modified their closing processes to serve their customers and keep everyone safe in a world of social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to safe closing protocols, companies have developed drive-through or curbside closings as a signing option to keep the pipeline going and handle the near historic levels of business.
National News Roundup: Cases Have Topped 1 Million, 6.6 American Applied for Unemployment Last Week, Dems to Delay Presidential Nominating Convention
The Washington Post  |  April 2, 2020
* The global number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 50,000 and total cases have topped 1 million, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University, as the outbreak continued to hit the United States and Europe especially hard. Elsewhere, officials battled to maintain earlier successes in the fight against the novel coronavirus, weighing the desire to resume normal business operations against the risk of triggering new cases. * A record 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment last week, a stunning sign of an economic collapse triggered by the pandemic. * The Democratic Party will delay its presidential nominating convention in Milwaukee from July until mid-August to increase chances the party can hold an in-person gathering. The decision to reschedule puts the gathering one week before the Republican convention in Charlotte, which is set to start Aug. 24. * Two naval hospital ships are now treating small numbers of patients in their locations off Los Angeles and New York City as part of the Pentagon’s attempt to relieve pressure on hospitals in those areas, military officials said.
State News Roundup: These States are Seeing the Most Job Losses, Pittsburgh Researchers Unveil Potential Vaccine, New York now has an Outbreak in Every County
April 2, 2020
* Another record-breaking spike in U.S. jobless claims hit Americans across the country, but varied in impact by state as each governor takes a different tact in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Claims for state unemployment benefits were most concentrated in Hawaii, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Rhode Island with claims of 73, 63, 62, 54 and 50 per 1,000 workers, respectively. * The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is unveiling a possible candidate vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors believe it could change the way vaccines are delivered to people worldwide. It looks like a small piece of Velcro, and it is officially called a Microneedle Array. “It’s a lot like a band-aid with hundreds of small needles. In this particular case, the needles are made out of the sugar substance, and we actually incorporate the vaccine directly into the needles,” Dr. Louis Falo, of the University of Pittsburgh School, said. * New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a coronavirus outbreak in Long Island is “troubling” as the infection has now spread to every county across the state, surging to 92,381 with 2,373 deaths. Cuomo said the COVID-19 outbreak isn’t just hitting urban areas. The coronavirus has spread across the state, including in rural communities where there are “more cows than people,” Cuomo said. “It’s suburban areas. That’s Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk. ... In many ways New York state is a microcosm of the United States.”
Amazon Restricts Sale of N95 Face Masks, Surgical Gloves to the Public
CNET  |  April 2, 2020
Amazon has stopped selling some face masks, antibacterial wipes and other hard-to-find health care products to the general public, saying it'll sell these items only to governments and health providers during the coronavirus pandemic. Supplies of many of these items, especially sanitizers, gloves and masks, have been limited for weeks as health providers and millions of shoppers have stocked up. Now doctors and nurses are sounding the alarm that they're running out of basic protective equipment as they care for a surge of new coronavirus patients.
Why we Should all Start Making our own Face Masks During Coronavirus
CNBC  |  April 2, 2020
During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization made it clear that, unless you’re sick or are a medical professional, you do not need to wear a face mask. But other countries have already taken aggressive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by telling citizens to wear masks, even if the masks are homemade. Last week, George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the “big mistake in the U.S.” is that people aren’t wearing masks. “This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role,” he said. You’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth.”
3.4 Million Travelers Poured into U.S. as Coronavirus Pandemic Erupted
ABC News  |  April 2, 2020
An ABC News investigation offers sobering insight into how COVID-19 has spread and penetrated so broadly, so deeply and so quickly in the United States. It also helps explain why Americans, no matter where they live, must continue to heed the warnings of health officials to self distance and why the virus likely was here far earlier than first realized. Travel data of passengers arriving in the United States from China during the critical period in December, January and February, when the disease took hold in that country, shows a stunning 759,493 people entered the U.S.
Experts Tell White House Coronavirus can Spread Through Talking or Even Just Breathing
CNN  |  April 2, 2020
A prestigious scientific panel told the White House Wednesday night that research shows coronavirus can be spread not just by sneezes or coughs, but also just by talking, or possibly even just breathing. "While the current [coronavirus] specific research is limited, the results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing," according to the letter, written by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, chairman of a committee with the National Academy of Sciences. Fineberg said he will wear start wearing a mask when he goes to the grocery store.
A Primer on the CARES Act and How it can Help Small Businesses
Mass Mutual  |  April 2, 2020
A $2 trillion stimulus package was signed into law on March 27 to provide financial relief and help stabilize the economy. It includes a $350 billion employee retention fund for small businesses. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is designed to aid small businesses with less than 500 employees in keeping their employees on the payroll during this crisis. Here’s how the CARES Act can potentially help your small business and your employees.
National News Roundup: Global Coronavirus Cases to Hit 1 Million, U.S. Oil Industry Pumps Near Record Volumes, Mt. Sinai Health Launches App to Track NYC Outbreak,
CNBC  |  April 1, 2020
* World Health Organization officials are “deeply concerned” about the “rapid escalation and global spread” of the coronavirus outbreak, saying global infections will eclipse 1 million with 50,000 deaths in a few days. “This is a pandemic for the first time caused by a coronavirus and whose behavior is not really known and we have to stand in unison to find this very dangerous virus,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. * The U.S. continues to pump near record amounts of oil, but U.S gasoline demand continues to drop as the whole world sees less need for fuel. The latest weekly data from the Energy Information Administration showed the U.S. oil industry was still pumping 13 million barrels of crude oil per day, just under record production highs. * A team of data scientists, physicians and engineers at New York City’s Mount Sinai Health System has created an app that aims to track the spread of COVID-19 in the city, considered the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak. The hospital’s patients and city residents will be able to monitor their symptoms through a web-based app, Mount Sinai said. The data could alert health care providers about growing clusters of cases in the specific communities in the city, which would help them better allocate resources throughout the five boroughs, the hospital said.
State News Roundup: Florida, Pennsylvania Issue Stay-at-Home Orders, West Virginia Reschedules Primary for June
April 1, 2020
* Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Wednesday requiring residents to remain at home. Only certain parts of Florida had stay-at-home orders prior to the statewide order. The new policy goes into effect Thursday night at midnight. Residents will still be able to leave their homes for essential reasons. DeSantis said senior citizens should take special care to stay at home amid the outbreak. * Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday that will last until at least April 30. Previously, only select counties in Pennsylvania were under stay-at-home orders from the governor. The new order goes into effect Wednesday at 8 p.m. Residents can leave their homes for essential reasons such as getting food or medicine, or caring for a sick relative. * West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced that West Virginia’s Primary Election, originally scheduled for May 12, has been moved to Tuesday, June 9, a delay of 27 days. The governor also extended state school closures to April 30, to fall in line with guidelines issued this week by President Trump.
U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 200,000 as Virus Spreads and Testing Ramps Up
CNBC  |  April 1, 2020
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed 200,000 Wednesday, doubling since Friday as the country rolls out broader testing and outbreaks pop up in more and more cities. The coronavirus has now infected 203,608 people in the U.S., killing at least 4,476 people, according to Johns Hopkins University. President Trump has warned that the country could see an even greater surge in cases over the next few weeks. White House officials are projecting 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. deaths, with coronavirus fatalities peaking over the next two weeks.
Trump Backs Americans Covering Faces as Task Force Debates Mask Guidelines
ABC News  |  April 1, 2020
As the White House coronavirus task force continues to debate whether to officially revise the Center for Disease Control guidelines on wearing masks, President Donald Trump now has informally endorsed the idea -- backing Americans wearing face coverings when going out in public. "It's not a bad idea, at least for a period of time" to cover your face when going out in public," Trump said, suggesting Americans wear a scarf as an alternative. There is apparent confusion about whether Americans should be wearing masks as a general prophylactic measure. Right now, the message from places like the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that you need one only if you are sick or caring for the sick.
U.S. Emergency Medical Stockpile Nearly out of Protective Gear as Demand Rises
Reuters  |  April 1, 2020
An emergency stockpile of medical equipment maintained by the U.S. government has nearly run out of protective gear that could be useful to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to two officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The near-exhausted supply includes masks, respirators, gloves, gowns and face shields, the officials said. A small amount of gear has been set aside for federal first responders, according to one of the officials, both of whom requested anonymity to discuss the matter.
IRS Adds to Confusion About Whether Seniors Have to File Tax Returns to get Stimulus Checks
Forbes  |  April 1, 2020
Each year, about 64 million people collect Social Security benefits: about one family in four receives some kind of Social Security benefits. More than 20 million taxpayers over the age of 65 do not file a federal income tax return each year - likely because their only source of income is Social Security benefits. Initially, that wasn’t a barrier to getting stimulus checks. Congress provided Treasury with a mechanism in the CARES Act to issue checks. However, on Monday, the Internal Revenue Service posted a notice about the checks and everything changed. The guidance included several sentences that seem contrary to the language in the law. Specifically, the guidance advised, “Some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.” So far, the IRS isn’t commenting.
Why Coronavirus Probably Won’t Force American Grocers to Run Out of Food
CNBC  |  April 1, 2020
The World Health Organization on March 11 declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Alarmed consumers rushed to supermarkets hoarding groceries and cleaning products, leaving some stores trying to keep up with the surge in demand. Some of the measures the industry is taking to speed things up include allocations throughout the supply chain. Some grocers are restricting consumers to a limited number of items such as beef and chicken. Also, some slower-moving products are put on hold until demand subsides. The U.S. is not going to run out of food, experts say.
What We Know and Don't About Asymptomatic Transmission and Coronavirus
ABC News  |  April 1, 2020
With new stories emerging about the rapid spread of COVID-19, public health experts are now warning the public to stay inside even if they feel healthy. The reason? You may be an asymptomatic carrier. Most people who pass along the virus do so while they’re sick, usually because they’re coughing or sneezing, which sheds a lot of infectious viruses. But, there is still a significant number of people who transmit that are asymptomatic. For example, asymptomatic infection is common in children, occurring in 10-30 percent of cases. Experts don’t know what portion of adults with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.
The Mathematics of Predicting the Course of the Coronavirus
Wired  |  April 1, 2020
Policymakers trying to get ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic have a lot of questions: How many people are going to get hospitalized? How many of them will require critical care? When will they start showing up? Will we have enough ventilators when they do? There’s no way to know those answers for sure. But legislators and hospital administrators have to hazard an educated guess. Statisticians, computer scientists, and epidemiologists create models to forecast how and where the pandemic will hit. In the case of COVID-19, responding to those models may yet be the difference between global death tolls in the thousands or the millions.
Share Your #GoodDeeds
March 31, 2020

ALTA has received many heart-warming and inspirational examples of good deeds and how members continue to serve their customers and communities during this uncertain and unprecedented time. Whether it's with new creative closing processes or charitable work, let us know your #GoodDeeds!

GSEs Issue New Guidance on RON, Powers of Attorney
March 31, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac modified their single-family seller guides including temporary requirements for remote online notarizations (RON) and powers of attorney.
CFPB Warns of Scams Related to the Coronavirus
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  |  March 31, 2020
Scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to con people into giving up their money. Though the reason behind their fraud is new, their tactics are familiar. It can be even harder to prevent scams right now because people 65 and older aren’t interacting with as many friends, neighbors and senior service providers due to efforts to slow the spread of disease. Those who are ill or don’t feel comfortable potentially exposing themselves may need someone to help with errands. Be cautious when accepting offers of help and use trusted delivery services for supplies and food. During this time of uncertainty, knowing about possible scams is a good first step toward preventing them. Read about a few coronavirus-specific scams to look out for in this article.
Eight Details About SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program
March 31, 2020
One of the central pillars of the $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package known as the CARES Act is nearly $350 billion for forgivable loans to help small businesses with payroll costs and avoid layoffs. The program called the Paycheck Protection Program is run by the federal Small Business Administration. Because there is limited funds, title and settlement companies are encouraged to speak to an SBA lender as soon as possible if there are concerns about retaining staff and paying other expenses. Guidelines for the program will be released this week. Read on for details.
Comparison of Various SBA Financial Relief Programs
March 31, 2020
The Small Business Administration offers various financial relief programs. This chart compares the Paycheck Protection Program, SBA Economic Injury Disaster loans and EIDL Emergency Grants.
CDC Considering Recommending General Public Wear Face Coverings in Public
The Washington Post  |  March 31, 2020
Should we all be wearing masks? That simple question is under review by officials in the U.S. government and has sparked a grass-roots pro-mask movement. But there’s still no consensus on whether widespread use of facial coverings would make a significant difference, and some infectious disease experts worry that masks could lull people into a false sense of security and make them less disciplined about social distancing. In recent days, more people have taken to covering their faces, although it remains a scattershot strategy driven by personal choice. The government does not recommend it. That may change. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering altering the official guidance to encourage people to take measures to cover their faces amid the coronavirus pandemic.
National News Roundup: More People Have Died in U.S. than During 9/11, Americans Have Rapidly Adopted Social Distancing, Walmart to Start Checking Workers’ Temperatures
The Washington Post  |  March 31, 2020
* The coronavirus death toll in the United States has exceeded 3,000, according to state and county health agencies — more than the number of people who died in the initial Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Health officials have warned that the virus could kill as many as 200,000 people in America, even “if we do things … almost perfectly.” Meanwhile, Italy reported 837 new deaths Tuesday, raising its toll to 12,428, the highest of any nation. Spain reported 849 new deaths earlier in the day, the worst 24-hour period yet in an outbreak that has killed 8,189 people there. * Americans have sharply cut back on visiting public places and attending even small gatherings, and a growing majority are willing to abide by extended “social distancing” measures to limit the coronavirus outbreak, according to several nationwide surveys. Gallup polls illustrate the stark shift in the past two weeks. In a survey conducted Friday to Sunday, 83 percent of U.S. adults reported they had “avoided small gatherings of people, such as with family or friends.” * Walmart will begin checking workers’ temperatures and providing them with gloves and masks, the retail giant announced, stepping up its safety protocols as it hires roughly 5,000 employees a day to meet heightened demand during the coronavirus crisis. Most retailers have been pummeled by the coronavirus shutdown, but not Walmart. The nation’s largest private employer has ramped up hiring and is on track to have 150,000 jobs filled by the end of May.
State News Roundup: Deaths Climb Steeply in New York, Spirit Airlines Cancels N.Y.-area Flights, Will Florida Allow Cruise to Dock?
NBC San Diego  |  March 31, 2020
* Deaths from the coronavirus continued to climb steeply in New York, topping 1,500 today, while another 9,500 people are hospitalized with the disease. More than 75,000 people statewide have tested positive for the virus, including more than 43,000 in New York City. N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said "we underestimated" the novel virus, warning it is "more powerful" and "more dangerous" than we expected. Gov. Cuomo's brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, has tested positive for the coronavirus. Although his symptoms consist of "fever, chills and shortness of breath," he will continue to anchor his 9 p.m. program "Cuomo Prime Time" from his home. * Spirit Airlines said it will cancel all flights to and from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned against travel to the area. Spirit, which appears to be the first major U.S. carrier to cancel all flights to the tri-state region, said the changes will be going into effect over the next few days, and all customers on affected flights will be contacted directly for details on how to get a credit and rebook. The Miramar, Florida-based company said it will suspend service to New York LaGuardia, Newark, Hartford, Niagara Falls and Plattsburgh through at least May 4. * Florida officials will meet Tuesday to discuss whether to allow a virus-stricken cruise ship to dock at Port Everglades. Four people on the Zaandam have died of coronavirus, and more than 130 passengers and crew have symptoms, officials said. At least two people on the ship have tested positive for COVID-19. * Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says a State Department official has died from the coronavirus, the first American fatality among the U.S. diplomatic corps from the pandemic. He says about four to five dozen State Department employees had tested positive for the virus, including locally employed staffers at a handful of the 220 U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
How to Coronavirus-proof Your Home
CNN  |  March 31, 2020
Life with the coronavirus means staying at home as much as possible — but you’ll likely need to make a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy at some point. Staying healthy means more than washing your hands or social distancing. Read this tip sheet to make sure you don’t bring the virus home with you.
Expert Offers Tips on Caring for Mental Health During Coronavirus Pandemic
AccuWeather  |  March 31, 2020
The fears surrounding each cough, sneeze or bout of nausea during the COVID-19 outbreak has left much of the world focused on the physical worries that accompany the new coronavirus. However, experts are fearing that too many are neglecting the importance of mental health during this troubling and expanding crisis. The importance of focusing on mental health is not just to make the time spent indoors during stay-at-home restrictions easier, but also for the direct role mental health has on physical health. Dr. Erik Fisher, a licensed psychologist, said the exposure to sunlight, or lack thereof, can play a key role in how an individual’s mood is regulated.
States Scramble to Arrange Child Care for Essential Workers
Associated Press  |  March 31, 2020
With schools and many daycare centers closed, states, local governments and philanthropists are scrambling to free up parents who are medical workers, emergency responders and others needed on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. At least 3.5 million children of health care workers in the nation’s most populated areas could eventually need emergency child care as the crisis intensifies, according to an analysis of U.S. Census survey data by researchers at Colorado State University and Yale University. National Association for the Education of Young Children CEO Rhian Allvin said she’s concerned over a trend of states relaxing regulations meant to protect children. “If there’s ever a time for the health and safety of children to be considered, it is now,” she said.
Need Help? U.S. Legal Organizations Offer COVID-19 Assistance
Associations Now  |  March 31, 2020
With uncertainty over job security, evictions, insurance coverage, and the future of businesses, the legal needs of the American people have grown due to COVID-19. In response, several organizations have risen to meet the demand. On Friday, the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation (L4GG) announced the launch of its Small Business Remote Legal Clinic, offering pro bono legal consultations for small business owners to help them understand and act upon the options available under the COVID-19 stimulus package and other grant and loan programs that may be available to them. In a similar vein, the American Bar Association has created a nationwide task force of volunteer lawyers and judges to address the growing legal needs of American citizens.
Coronavirus Outbreak Won't Peak in Every State at Once
Axios  |  March 31, 2020
Although the coronavirus is expected to peak in the U.S. in two weeks, many states will see their individual peaks well after that, according to a model by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Why it matters: States like Virginia and Maryland have more time to prepare for their systems to be maximally strained — if they make good use of that time. Coronavirus outbreaks, both globally and in the U.S., have seemed manageable until it's too late. For states that so far aren't hit hard, there's no such thing as over-preparing. Check out this map to see where your state stands.
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.
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.
Phishing Prevention Webinar: Don’t Take the Bait
March 19, 2020
Wednesday, April 15, 2020 | 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET | Register Today
Scammers are using phishing emails to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic. With more people working remotely, now is the time to learn how to help avoid getting scammed by fake email. Because phishing attacks look like legitimate emails from your trusted vendors’ and customers’ domains, traditional defenses often don't work against them. These phishing schemes often lead to wire transfer fraud, which can be devastating to your business and customers. Your top defense is a strong human firewall—and that means having an educated staff. Register for this webinar and learn how to spot the latest phishing techniques and what defenses do and don't work against them so you can better protect your business and your customers.
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.
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.