In response to a ban by the Trump administration on hard-hit strip clubs to receive small business pandemic aid, 36 organizations representing dozens of strip clubs across the country sued and were awarded loans. The approved loans ranged from $11.15 million to $27.95 million. All totaled, these companies saved 2,548 jobs, according to the government data.
The funding of strip clubs is the latest in several questionable approvals of pandemic aid that have drawn much criticism. Earlier in the crisis, several multi-million companies were approved for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program while thousands of small businesses nationwide have had to close permanently.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
Confirmed coronavirus cases are inching closer to another grim milestone: Four million cases. States including Florida, California, Arizona, Texas and Georgia has seen cases swell since reopening businesses and public spaces.
In Florida over the weekend, nearly 50 hospitals across the state reported no ICU beds were available. California has now surpassed New York for confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 409,000 cases. California initially saw progress in slowing the spread of the virus, but in recent weeks, the state has had a drastic reversal.
As fighting within the Republican party over the newest coronavirus relief bill becomes public, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer chastised Republicans in a floor speech on Wednesday over their “dysfunction” and “disarray.”
“There are only three weeks left until the August work period, and Republicans are still in the opening phases of preparing their bill,” Schumer said. [READ MORE]
Several Republican senators have expressed disapproval of the relief bill price tag that could quickly swell above $1 trillion and vowed to delay the passage of any bill. But pressure is growing as the virus continues to spread and a $600 weekly unemployment boost and housing relief comes to an end Friday.
Schumer also announced that Democrats will be sending a letter to the administration “to demand answers on how data is being reported to the White House,” he said. This demand is in response to the recent announcement that hospital data on coronavirus patients will be diverted from the CDC and sent directly to the administration.
In a letter released by the Center for American Progress on Wednesday, 1,000 doctors, professors, nurses and other health professionals are calling on Congress to approve $4 billion for states to expand vote-by-mail for citizens in case of another coronavirus outbreak in the fall.
The letter stresses the need to “to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and protect the public health at the same time.” Health professionals are calling for leaders to approve the mailing of ballots to all registered voters, allowing them to vote from home and lower exposure to the pandemic.
In an interview on CNBC, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar ensured that any coronavirus vaccine sponsored by the government will be free or affordable for U.S. citizens. On Wednesday, the government announced a $1.95 billion deal with pharmaceutical company Pfizer to produce hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses.
According to new records, the first confirmed coronavirus outbreak at a Tyson meatpacking plant in Iowa in May was far more severe than previously known, with more than twice as many workers becoming infected than the state Department of Public Health told the public.
During a May 5 news conference, the state health department announced that 221 employees at the Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Columbus Junction had tested positive for COVID-19. But according to documents obtained through the open records law, 522 of the plant’s 1,300 workers had been infected.
Republican Governor Kim Reynolds worked with Tyson executives to keep production going after Trump demanded plants remain open, even as thousands of workers became infected, and some died, across the state.
United Airlines says it has banned fewer than 30 passengers for mask violations
In addition to requiring masks while boarding and during flights, United Airlines announced that passengers will also be mandated to wear masks while in airports. This includes check-in and baggage claim areas.
United and other major airlines announced policies in mid-June threatening to ban any passenger who refuses to wear a mask during flight. Passengers who want to claim an “extraordinary circumstances” exemption from the mask requirement must receive permission from United. So far, fewer than 30 passengers have been banned from United Airlines flights for refusing to wear a mask while on its planes.
Home improvement chain Lowe’s says due to safety concerns, it will not implement a mask requirement for customers in its stores nationwide.
In a statement, Lowe’s spokesperson Steve Salazar said, “we will not ask our associates to put their safety at risk by confronting customers about wearing masks, so we are consistently requesting that customers wear masks for the safety of everyone in our stores.”
Lowe’s says it will instead add signs at its stores, requesting that customers wear masks for the safety of everyone. They will also provide free masks at customer requests.