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Schiff petitions Federal Reserve to help large non-profits

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Rep. Adam Schiff working from home (screen grab from Facebook)

If there is ever a time when a federal elected official needs to fulfilled their sworn duty to represent their local constituents, it’s during a global pandemic. Some are better than others, especially in communicating with the public and making decisions remotely under the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates that could extend until the end of summer.

People are afraid, especially out of work gig, contract and independent workers who do not generally qualify for regular unemployment insurance. Rep. Adan Schiff, whose congressional district ranges from Burbank to West Hollywood, has been especially concerned about helping constituents in the hospitality, food and beverage, tourism and entertainment industries. Under pressure from Schiff, the Labor Dept. made changes to comply with the CARES Act to create a new federally-funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program to provide unemployment benefits for those left jobless by the COVID-19 crisis but, for a myriad of reasons, do not have access to unemployment benefits, as he explains on his Facebook page.

But apart from being a hero to many as the Ranking member, then the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee and leader of the House impeachment hearings, Schiff is also well known as an elected official who knows, cares about and truly represents his constituents, especially those in the LGBTQ community.

On April 17, Schiff sent a letter to the chair of the Federal Reserve, which operates independent of the White House, asking for help for large non-profits with more than 500 employees that are not covered by or cannot access other emergency relief plans such as the Payroll Protection Program.

Schiff’s letter to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell urges the Fed to ensure large nonprofits, as well as small and medium businesses,  are eligible to receive loans from the Main Street Lending Program.

“Like businesses, many larger nonprofits have seen existing revenue streams severely cut at a time when the need for charitable services is growing, and are faced with difficult choices about cutting services or laying off employees,” Schiff writes.

“I am concerned that nonprofit entities, that millions of Americans rely on, will therefore be left out of the relief Congress intended in the CARES Act,” he writes. “Therefore, I strongly urge the Federal Reserve to include nonprofits institutions as eligible for the Main Street Lending Program, and to ensure that they can fully access the assistance it provides.”

Such an action directly impacts such large LGBTQ non-profits as the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

“The Congressman called me on my cell at the very start of this when there were only a few diagnosed cases in LA to see how we were doing and if there was anything he could do to help,” LA LGBT Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings tells the Los Angeles Blade. “Shortly after the Cares Act, we let him know that the 500 staff cap meant that we would not qualify for the PPP,” Cummings says. “He began working on this issue right away and became (again) our champion.  This letter is but one example of the leadership he is showing.”

Here’s Schiff’s entire letter:

The Honorable Jerome H. Powell
Chair
Board of Governors
Federal Reserve
2001 Constitution Ave NW

 

Dear Chair Powell:

As you work to finalize and implement the Main Street Lending Program, I write to request that you include nonprofits as eligible to receive loans under this lending facility. Like businesses, many larger nonprofits have seen existing revenue streams severely cut at a time when the need for charitable services is growing, and are faced with difficult choices about cutting services or laying off employees. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was passed to provide relief to entities impacted by the pandemic, and assisting large nonprofits is well within Congress’s intent.

 

Nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees may be eligible for assistance under Small Business Administration administered programs, but larger entities likely cannot access programs like the Payroll Protection Program. I am concerned that nonprofit entities, that millions of Americans rely on, will therefore be left out of the relief Congress intended in the CARES Act.

 

Therefore, I strongly urge the Federal Reserve to include nonprofits institutions as eligible for the Main Street Lending Program, and to ensure that they can fully access the assistance it provides.

 

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Adam B. Schiff

Member of Congress

 

 

 

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L.A. County on track to bring back mandatory indoor masking

If LA county stays in CDC designated High Community Level for 2 consecutive weeks officials would implement a universal indoor masking

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health indicated that if the upward trend in coronavirus numbers continues, due to the increased circulation of the more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants coupled with increased community spread, officials may order a return to indoor masks.

On Friday, Public Health said that while the county currently remains at the CDC designated COVID-19 Medium Community Level. There are increasing concerns about the impact of new Omicron sub-variants on transmission and hospitalizations that could result in the County moving into the High Community Level designation sometime later this summer.

Barbara Ferrer, Director of LA County Public Health expressed concern and cautioned Angelenos as the region prepares for the July 4th holiday weekend.

“Since July 4 is right around the corner and many of us are looking forward to celebrating Independence Day with family and friends, it is important to remember that many of our loved ones may be older adults, or have serious underlying health conditions, or not yet been vaccinated and boosted,” Ferrer said.

“Given the rising number of COVID cases and hospitalizations, and the increased circulation of the more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, it is extra important to take steps that reduce the risk of transmission especially over the long holiday weekend; this helps us protect ourselves, our families, and our community,” She continued adding, “With a little planning, you can have a great time celebrating while keeping each other safe. Please be sure to remind friends and family to stay home and skip the celebration if they feel sick or have tested positive.  It is also a great idea for everyone to test themselves before getting together, ideally on the day of the gathering. It is always best to celebrate outdoors, and if people come indoors for part of the gathering, wearing a mask is advisable, particularly if there are individuals at high risk of severe illness should they become infected.”

LA County Public Health pointed out in a statement that six of the seven Early Alert metrics Public Health are tracking continue to convey cause for Medium or High Concern. Moreover, in the past week, four Early Alert Signals moved upward in the level of concern: The case rate in the lowest income areas and the number of new outbreaks at Skilled Nursing Facilities per week, both moved up to High Concern.

The number of new outbreaks in settings for People Experiencing Homelessness is now at Medium Concern. And the number of worksite clusters increased, moving from Medium to High Concern for the first time since Public Health started tracking this metric in early March.

There was also an uptick in the percentage of Emergency Department Visits. The only measure indicating Low Concern is the number of sewer systems with a two-fold increase in viral load.

The first of two hospital metrics in the CDC Community Levels Framework is the seven-day total of new hospital admissions per 100,000, which rose this past week to 8.1 admissions per 100,000 people. This is a 56% increase compared to one month ago. The second hospital metric, the seven-day average for the proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, also increased this past week to 4.2%.

If the county moves into the CDC designated High Community Level and remains there for two consecutive weeks, the county would implement a universal indoor masking requirement for everyone age 2 and older in LA County as a safety measure aligned with the CDC framework. The safety measure would remain in effect until the county returned to the CDC Medium Community Level designation, or lower, for two consecutive weeks. 

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CDC: 85% of gay & lesbian adults in U.S. are vaccinated against COVID

Data on COVID-19 vaccination among LGBTQ persons limited because of the lack of routine SOGI data collection at the national & state levels

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Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/GSA

ATLANTA – A new study report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), found that found 85.4% of gay and lesbian Americans above age 18 had received at least one vaccine dose as of October 2021.

The study, conducted from August 29 until October 30, 2021, also found that by comparison, only 76.3% of heterosexuals reported receiving at least an initial dose by the same date.

The report noted that Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations have higher prevalence of health conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness compared with non-LGBT populations.

The potential for low vaccine confidence and coverage among LGBT populations is of concern because these persons historically experience challenges accessing, trusting, and receiving health care services

Data on COVID-19 vaccination among LGBT persons are limited, in part because of the lack of routine data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity at the national and state levels.

In March of 2021, the Blade reported the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has revealed deep-seated inequities in health care for communities of color and amplifies social and economic factors that have contributed to those communities being hit hardest, and Mega-vaccination centers set up by California health officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been addressing and tracking the issue- the LGBTQ communities are still not being tracked.

This lack of data collection has frustrated and angered California State Senator Scott Wiener who authored a bill last year that passed through the legislature and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last Fall that mandates gathering sexual orientation and gender identity data related to the COVID testing in California.

“We’re one year into the pandemic, and LGBTQ people continue to be erased in our public health response to COVID-19 — similar to our invisibility throughout history. No government is successfully tracking COVID-19 cases in the LGBTQ community, despite a law I wrote mandating that California do so,” Weiner told the Blade. “And, we now know that LGBTQ people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. We’ve also just learned that vaccination demographic data doesn’t include LGBTQ data. It simply shocking that in 2021, progressive health agencies continue to forget about our community,” he added.

The CDC also noted that gay and lesbian adults were more likely to be concerned about COVID-19 and to believe in the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

“We know that the prevalence of certain health conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness, such as cancer, smoking, and obesity, are higher in LGBT populations, and access to health care continues to be an issue for some people in the LGBT community,” Dr. A.D. McNaghten, a member of the CDC’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Team and corresponding author of the study, told ABC News. “We wanted to see if vaccination coverage among LGBT persons was the same as non-LGBT persons.”

The CDC data recorded that bisexual and transgender adults had similar vaccination rates to heterosexual adults with 72.6% of bisexual adults fully vaccinated by the end of October, as were 71.4% of transgender adults. The numbers however for Black and Hispanic lesbian women had lower rates of vaccination at 57.9% and 72.6%, respectively, compared to Black and Hispanic heterosexual women at 75.6% and 80.5%, respectively.

Higher percentages of gay or lesbian adults and bisexual adults reported that they thought COVID-19 vaccine was very or somewhat important to protect oneself (90.8% and 86.8%, respectively) compared with heterosexual adults (80.4%), and higher percentages of adults who identified as transgender or nonbinary reported they thought COVID-19 vaccine was very or somewhat important to protect oneself (83.2%) compared with those who did not identify as transgender or nonbinary (80.7%).

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White House orders distribution of 400 million free N95 masks

Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration’s Covid testing coordinator; “We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks”

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President Joe Biden (Blade file photo/screenshot)

WASHINGTON – As the latest surge of the highly contagious and easily transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to cause a rise in hospitalizations, especially among unvaccinated adults and children, the White House announced Wednesday it is making 400 million N95 masks available for free at thousands of locations across the nation.

The plan an admkistartion official said, is to start shipping the nonsurgical masks to pharmacies and community health centers to distribute this week, which will come from the Strategic National Stockpile.

In an interview with NBC News, Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration’s Covid testing coordinator, said, “We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks.”

The N95 masks will be made available to everybody, and recipients will not be prioritized based on vulnerability to Covid, income or other criteria. Inglesby said the administration was “confident that people who want to access them will be able to access them,” but it was not immediately clear how many masks a person could receive at one time.

On January 13, President Joe Biden had announced a plan to have the government distribute 1 billion rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests free to Americans, along with the N95 masks, as the administration works to fight the spiraling upward spike in coronavirus cases.

The White House website to order free at-home Covid tests went live Tuesday. The website says: “Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.”

A White House official said Wednesday that the distribution of 400 million masks would be the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history.

Inglesby told NBC News that the administration was “absolutely preparing for the possibility of additional variants in the future” and that people could expect the government to make N95 masks “more and more available.”

Biden announces free masks, tests to fight omicron:

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