Congress Passes New Funding to Help Businesses and Boost Testing
President Donald Trump earlier today signed into law a second round of federal aid to help beleaguered business owners as an additional 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment assistance this week. The $484 billion relief package includes more than $300 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, which was depleted in less than two weeks by small businesses seeking forgivable loans to retain or rehire workers during the pandemic. The federal aid will also provide $25 billion to ramp up nationwide testing for the coronavirus and $75 billion for beleaguered hospitals on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic. Democrats failed, however, to secure funding to help state governments facing massive shortfalls in tax revenues because of the pandemic.
- U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove
UCSF Scientists Hunt for Coronavirus Antibodies and Infection in Two Communities
This week, a team of researchers from UCSF began testing two very different Bay Area communities to look for clues on how the coronavirus is spreading and past exposure to it, which may offer some degree of immunity from it. On Thursday, they wrapped up testing the entire population of Bolinas, the small coastal town in western Marin county. Not only did they look to see who is actively infected, they also took blood samples to screen for antibodies to the coronavirus. Antibody testing helps scientists understand how widely an illness has spread through a community, even if some who’ve been infected don’t show any symptoms. This weekend, they’ll kick off the next phase of the study to sample more than 5,000 residents in San Francisco’s Mission district.
- Dr. Bryan Greenhouse, associate professor of medicine, UCSF
San Luis Obispo’s Push to Reopen Its Economy
This week, a bipartisan group of officials from San Luis Obispo County wrote to Gov. Gavin Newsom to ask for permission to pursue “a phased reopening” of the local economy over the next three weeks. The officials pointed to declining infections and hospitalizations from COVID-19 and a recovery rate of more than 80%, according to county officials. The county is expected to release by the end of the week a road map indicating, for example, which businesses could be allowed to open with social distancing and other safeguards in place. Meanwhile, governors across the nation are experiencing pressure to reopen shuttered businesses and relax stay-at-home directives, with crowds of people amassing at state capitols in recent days in defiance of state orders limiting public gatherings. The governors of Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee announced their decisions this week to gradually reopen their economies, including businesses such as gyms, nail salons and barbershops.