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CDPHE Coronavirus website
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► Two down, one to go?
The Senate on Wednesday approved the second major piece of legislation related to the Coronavirus outbreak, allowing lawmakers to fully focus on a massive stimulus bill. From Politico:
With Senate leaders vowing to work at “warp speed” to blunt the financial fallout from the pandemic, the Treasury Department unveiled to lawmakers a plan for $250 billion in direct payments to Americans starting April 6…
…According to the Treasury Department’s proposal, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, the so-called “phase three” proposal would include $50 billion to aid the hard-hit airline industry, $150 billion for other distressed sectors of the economy, two rounds of direct payments of $250 billion each on April 6 and May 18, and the creation of a small business interruption loan program.
The document notably does not mention a payroll tax cut, which President Donald Trump has suggested he wanted to be included in the package. But the idea lost steam in recent days as lawmakers from both parties rejected the idea, citing the need to grant immediate, large-scale relief.
Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” on Wednesday; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did not cast a vote because he is currently in self-quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Bennet may have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus but has opted not to self-quarantine. Congress is not currently able to conduct tele-voting, but Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) says that he would be comfortable with such an option.
We posted this here yesterday, but it’s worth repeating for a reminder of the Coronavirus legislation being discussed:
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”
BILL TWO (Families First CoronaVirus Response Act)
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). Since the bill passed in the House on Saturday, outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to add their support. The Senate approved this measure on Wednesday and President Trump signed it into law today.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the Trump administration is working on a plan that would send most Americans $1,000 within three weeks and an additional $500 for every child as a way to flood the country with money and try to blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy…
…Mnuchin’s comments are part of the rapidly evolving fiscal stimulus plan that the White House and congressional leaders are scrambling to assemble amid growing signs that large parts of the economy are grinding to a halt. House Democrats, meanwhile, are working on their own set of proposals, and negotiations with the White House are expected to begin very soon.
For more on federal legislative efforts and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast.
► President Trump spoke today at another Coronavirus press briefing, which German Lopez of Vox.com called “a disastrous failure in leadership.” You won’t be shocked to learn that he made another big mistake:
11:47: *TRUMP SAYS FDA HAS APPROVED CHLOROQUINE FOR USE IN COVID-19
11:48: *TRUMP SAYS STILL COLLECTING EVIDENCE OF CHLOROQUINE EFFICACY
11:48: *TRUMP SAYS CHLOROQUINE RISKS LOW AND ARE WELL-KNOWN
12:12: *FDA SAYS IT HAS NOT APPROVED CHLOROQUINE FOR COVID-19 USE
— Emma Kinery (@EmmaKinery) March 19, 2020
11:49: *Trump starts playing with ball of yarn
11:51: *Trump threatens to use Marines to invade Coronavirus
11:52: *Trump pulls a piece of meatloaf from his breast pocket and takes a bite
► Two Members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah).
► Governor Jared Polis ordered all Colorado schools to close until April 17 as part of continuing efforts to contain the Coronavirus outbreak. Polis also ordered a temporary ban of any gathering of more than 10 people.
Most Colorado school districts closed their schools late last week. Polis said Wednesday that it is “increasingly unlikely” that Colorado schools will open again before the end of the school year.
The Denver Post breaks down some of the other “emergency powers” that Gov. Polis could choose to activate.
If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…
SERIOUSLY, THERE WILL BE NON-CORONAVIRUS NEWS MOMENTARILY…
► Finally, some good news relating to the Coronavirus: China, the epicenter of the outbreak, is reporting no new local infections for the first time.
► Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has been a dangerous embarrassment for Colorado on the topic of Coronavirus. Buck is now crapping on President Trump and railing against closing down businesses in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
► First son-in-law Jared Kushner is running his own confusing Coronavirus task force, or something. As The Washington Post reports:
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and a senior adviser, has created his own team of government allies and private industry representatives to work alongside the administration’s official coronavirus task force, adding another layer of confusion and conflicting signals within the White House’s disjointed response to the crisis…
…Two senior officials said some government officials have become increasingly confused as they have received emails from private industry employees on Kushner’s team and have been on conference calls with them, unsure what their exact role is in the government response. Several people involved in the response said the involvement of outside advisers — who are emailing large groups of government employees from private email addresses — also raises legitimate security concerns about whether these advisers are following proper government protocols.
“We don’t know who these people are,” one senior official said. “Who is this? We’re all getting these emails.”
Kushner defended his role in an interview, saying his team’s goal was to bring “an entrepreneurial approach” to the crisis.
Great. We’re dealing with a global pandemic, and one of President Trump’s top advisers is doing the equivalent of building his own fort in the living room.
► As The New York Times reports, the U.S. State Department plans to tell American citizens abroad to either come home now or stay where they are for the foreseeable future.
► Here’s something you can do while you’re cooped up at home: Fill out your Census form online.
► Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is urging student loan servicers and other creditors to pause collection efforts during the Coronavirus outbreak.
► Colorado is still trying to determine the number of ventilators that are available in the state.
► The Denver Department of Human Services is closing its headquarters building and will be conducting business online for the time being.
► Residents of San Miguel County in Southwestern Colorado have been ordered to shelter-in-place.
► RTD ridership has dropped 60% in the wake of the outbreak, but officials say there are no plans to cut back on services.
► As Elliot Williams writes for CNN, President Trump has succeeded in one of his major priorities: Confusing Americans so that they don’t know who to trust for reliable information.
HERE IT IS: POLITICAL NEWS THAT IS NOT ABOUT CORONAVIRUS…
► And then there were two…Tulsi Gabbard has ended her campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination and is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden. Only Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders remain in the once-crowded field of candidates.
► UPDATE: The Colorado Libertarian Party pulled its collective head out of its, um, hole. Original post follows:
“You’re not the boss of me!” That pretty well sums up Colorado Libertarians at the moment, as Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:
The Colorado Libertarian Party plans to go ahead with its state convention in early April despite recommendations by public health officials to avoid large gatherings to reduce the chances of spreading the new coronavirus.
“Let’s use common sense,” Victoria Reynolds, chairman of the state party, told Colorado Politics. “Wash your hands, keep your distance, let’s not shake hands, and I think we will be able to get through this and still exercise our right to assemble and elect our candidates for the 2020 election.”
State Libertarian officials voted Sunday night to move the convention from the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs to the Sheraton Denver West in Lakewood after the local health department limited gatherings in Garfield County to 50 people in an effort to curb infections in one of Colorado’s pandemic hotspots.
Reynolds says that she expects at least 100 people to attend the convention.
Meanwhile, Colorado Democrats and Republicans are working on doing their assembly/convention voting remotely.
► Proponents of a potential ballot measure to ban abortion after 22 weeks want to have more time to collect petition signatures just in case they didn’t do enough to make the 2020 ballot already.
► Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer continues to blame SB-181 for problems in the oil and gas production market in Colorado. As Judith Kohler reports for The Denver Post, this is pretty silly:
Weld County, the state’s dominant oil-producing area, is bracing for major cutbacks in production because of tumbling prices and the coronavirus, and anticipates a roughly $50 million hit to its 2021 budget as a result.
An industry analyst said Tuesday that oil prices, hovering around $28 a barrel, could plunge to below $20 a barrel…
…The county has 20,354 of Colorado’s nearly 52,000 active oil and gas wells. Dropping demand in the face of the economic clamp-down due to coronavirus and falling oil prices spurred by Saudi Arabia’s flooding of a saturated market with cheap oil means some producers will struggle to break even.
► The Suncor oil refinery north of Denver continues to belch new pollutants into the air.
► Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder George Stern pens an Op-Ed for USA Today encouraging other states to move to mail-balloting as soon as possible.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Seven U.S. states are way behind the rest of the country in implementing emergency response efforts to deal with Coronavirus. See if you can guess which states are included on this list, then read this story for the answer.
► California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes is absolutely looney.
► A new poll suggests that Democrats could gain significant ground in battleground districts because of the support of Asian-American voters.
► Want more? Check out The Get More Smarter Podcast: