Weekly Review Apr4

FACE MASK DEBATE

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Face masks help prevent the spread of Covid-19.  Center for Disease Control calls for compulsory usage while the White House says it voluntary, politicizing the issue.

Event:

President Trump says he wouldn’t wear one as some White House officials say masks might cause panic. These remarks both negate the urgency and advice of the scientific community.

Impact:

“Federal health officials, including experts at the CDC, say the guidance only makes sense if practiced broadly… to contain the virus and prevent communities with low transmission from becoming areas with explosive spread,” reports the Washington Post.

Guidance from the CDC “makes clear that wearing face coverings or cloth masks is an additional public health measure to prevent the spread of the virus, not a substitute for social distancing. Social distancing of at least six feet is still recommended even when wearing a mask.”

Latest data indicates “the virus can actually be spread even when people just speak as opposed to coughing and sneezing,” reports U.S. News.

Outlook:

“The issue became more urgent after the C.D.C.’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, said that as many as a quarter of those already infected may show no symptoms but still contribute to ‘significant’ transmission,” notes the NY Times.

“Evidence arguing for the use of face masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus continues to mount. A study published… in… Nature found that flat surgical face masks significantly reduced the number of virus-carrying droplets that mask wearers released into the surrounding air.”

“For the current coronavirus pandemic… masks should be worn by anyone with symptoms like a cough or fever, and anyone caring for someone with a confirmed or suspected case.”

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BIZ LOAN RUSH

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Before the corona pandemic, American businesses were bustling.  Money was flowing until liquidity evaporated overnight an operating funds became critical.

Event:

The U.S. government passed a $3.5 billion relief program including a Paycheck Protection Program and emergency unemployment relief.  The Small Business Administration issued loan applications.

Impact:

“What is devastating about the fall in lending at regional and community banks is that these smaller banks have been a good source of business financing for a long time.

“While they are no longer approving more than they decline, business owners are reaching out to them because they are likely to provide funding through SBA loans,” notes Forbes.

“During the initial phase of the PPP lending… a sizable percentage of those loans were made to businesses with which the banks already had financial relationships.

“Unfortunately, this left a lot of the mom-and-pop type of businesses scrambling for funding.”

Outlook:

“But with job losses already setting records and certain to worsen,” the NY Times points out that “lenders fear that the $349 billion Congress allocated for the paycheck program will quickly run out. Senior officials from the Treasury and S.B.A. told reporters on Tuesday that they were prepared to ask Congress for more money if needed.

“Jim Donnelly, the chief commercial officer of Bangor Savings Bank in Maine, said his small staff was working around the clock to accommodate the pent-up demand. In a typical year, his bank handles hundreds of business loans. He expects to process thousands in the coming months.”

“There is little risk to the big banks, which already had a lot of incentive to lend to their own customers,” notes Forbes.

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FARM STAFF ESSENTIAL

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Farm workers suddenly have gone from being undocumented migrants denied any healthcare coverage to being deemed essential without any other change in status.

Event:

“The federal government, prior to this recent advisory, hasn’t actually treated farmworkers like the essential workers they are—deserving of the same rights and protections as others,” reports Fortune.

Impact:

Food is essential under any circumstances.  Those who harvest are critical to the entire chain.

“The threat posed by COVID-19 is exacerbated for farmworkers because they’re unable to take the basic steps necessary to protect themselves,” reports Fortune. “Many are shielded only by bandannas to protect their faces. And… soap is often not available in hand-washing facilities in the fields.”

“Social distancing is also not a viable option for farmworkers.”

“The ‘essential work’ letters that many now carry,” reports the NY Times, “are not a free pass from immigration authorities.”

Outlook:

“Nearly half of the 850,000 farmworkers in California are undocumented,” reports NPR, “and labor unions say sometimes they are denied sick leave. Undocumented workers are excluded from the coronavirus relief package.”

“Letters notifying undocumented workers that they are ‘essential,’ when they still officially face potential deportation, are sending the same mixed signals that have long been at the root of American agricultural labor policy, according to many who work closely with the process,” reports the NY Times.

“Some people are really confused by the message.” Reyna Lopez, executive director of P.C.U.N., a union representing agricultural workers explains. “The government is telling them it needs them to go to work, but it hasn’t halted deportations.”

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