8-05-2020 Morning COVID-19 Brief


8-05-2020 Morning COVID-19 Brief

August 5, 2020

Foundation for a Deal Forming

The core team was back in earnest yesterday working through a number of issues that will form the foundation of agreement targeted to take place at the end of the week. The sources are thin today, but plenty of insight on terms. Here is where things are: 

  • Unemployment Assistance - An offer is on the table from Republicans for a $400/week unemployment assistance benefit bringing the amount much closer to the Democrats proposal to continue the assistance at $600/week. The benefits would be extended through to December 15, 2020.
  • State and Local (Tribal) Funding - Republicans have moved from zero to $200 billion in relief. Chief of Staff Meadows is insisting that education funding be drawn from this relief, though Democrats are resisting the idea.
  • Broadband - Republicans are entertaining the idea of greater funding for broadband initiatives.
  • Postal Service - This is a key topic for today with the negotiating gang paying a visit to the postmaster general at 3:30PM to discuss need. The White House may weigh in as this point gets worked through.
  • Other items in the Mix - Still plenty of disagreement, but healthy negotiations around election funding, eviction moratorium, food assistance, child care funding, pensions, and testing. 

Happening Today: Understanding Coronavirus Relief Fund Reporting Requirements

Additional PPP Guidance from SBA and Treasury

Chart of the Day: US Real Time Data Reverses Again (Axios)

Data: New York Fed; Chart: Axios Visuals

The index turned negative again after an upwardly revised previous week. It supports other recent real-time economic data that show U.S. growth reversing.

"The recent evolution in our coincident employment index suggests that the recent recovery in employment has halted and that the increase in Covid-19 may be the main cause for this," economists at the St. Louis Fed wrote in a blog Tuesday. "Thus, a strong economic recovery may need a healthy recovery from the pandemic."


'Hit us at our core': Vulnerable Navajo Nation fears a second COVID-19 wave (NBC News)

Now, officials and community members want to use some of the $714 million in federal aid they received to prevent a public health crisis of this scale from ever happening again, but two major obstacles stand in their way: onerous regulation that makes construction on tribal land near impossible and a looming deadline that mandates the money be spent by Dec. 30. If the money tribal governments received from the CARES Act isn’t spent by the end of the year, tribes risk having to send it back.

“Don't get me wrong, we are going to get PPEs, but if $714 million is there, we should be able to improve our economy and our communities with that money for the long term,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

Signs in Black Rock, Ariz. remind people to wear masks and socially distance. (Nina Mayer Ritchie)

Financial planning for the 'long-haul' (Indian Country Today

More than 30 million people have applied for unemployment and Congressional lawmakers chose not to reach an agreement in time to extend the $600 weekly unemployment payments, which expired last week. Many Native American families were already struggling with economic hardships pre-pandemic. Now, hoping for the best while preparing for the worst has never been so crucial. 

On today's newscast Patrice Kunesh, Standing Rock, gives tips on how to stabilize your family's budget while becoming more self-sufficient. She's done policy work in the past but recently she's been focused on creating inclusive economic systems for Native communities. She's the Founder & Director of Peȟíŋ Haha Consulting. 

As Covid Shutters Casinos, Indian Country Reels (Bloomberg)

By the end of March, the coronavirus had closed every one of the 474 Indian casinos operating in the U.S. That deprived many communities of their primary source of revenue and has endangered decades of economic progress for American Indians and their neighbors. In response, many tribes have now hit on a perhaps counterintuitive solution: more gambling.
Casinos will have reduced occupancy limits for the foreseeable future, and there's no telling when people will feel comfortable returning to rows of packed slots. Internet gaming and online sportsbooks could be a way for gamblers to play safely, and help to keep services funded across Indian Country.