Coronavirus Government Response Update—Aid Talks on Pause

May 11, 2020 Coronavirus Government Response Update—Aid Talks on Pause

Welcome to the Coronavirus Government Response Update. This information is intended to keep ISSA members up to date on fast-moving government affairs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other public policy issues important to the cleaning industry. Today’s update touches on coronavirus aid talks being on pause, an internal watchdog reviewing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) coronavirus response, state lawmakers weighing shielding businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits, and more.

Coronavirus Aid Talks on Pause
The Trump administration and top Congressional Democrats aren’t yet negotiating to put together another bipartisan COVID-19 relief package, according to a key White House economic adviser who suggested an eventual deal may not emerge for a month. “We’ve kind of paused as far as formal negotiations go. Let’s have a look at what the latest round produces. You need a month or so to evaluate that,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said recently outside the White House. While House Democrats are not against further discussions with Republicans on Capitol Hill or in the White House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made clear her caucus won’t wait to act on further legislation.

Internal Watchdog to Review EPA’s Coronavirus Response
An internal government watchdog will begin a review of the EPA’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and how the virus has affected the agency’s operations. A memo from Deputy EPA Inspector General Charles Sheehan states that his office will look into how the coronavirus outbreak has affected the agency’s “programs and operations, regulatory and enforcement missions, and mandated activities.” He added that it would also review measures taken by the EPA to address the pandemic. 

State Lawmakers Weigh Shielding Businesses from COVID-19 Lawsuits
As COVID-19 spread across the country over the past few months, most states issued stay-at-home orders that forced numerous businesses to close. Now, with many states loosening their restrictions to restart their economies, some state lawmakers are hoping to encourage businesses to reopen by granting them immunity from lawsuits by customers and employees infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. At least five—Alabama, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, and Utah—have introduced legislation that would provide businesses immunity from claims by individuals potentially exposed to COVID-19 on their premises.

Senators to Scalia: Emergency OSHA Standard Needed as Economy Reopens
More than two dozen lawmakers are calling on OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard on infectious disease, among other steps, before reopening the economy, in a recent letter sent to Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. Among the 29 senators who signed the letter were Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), ranking member of the Joint Economic Committee. Two independents who caucus with Democrats, Sens. Angus King Jr. (ME) and Bernie Sanders (VT), also signed the letter. ISSA recently submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Labor urging OSHA to revise its General Industry Standards to require employers to establish and implement a routine cleaning, disinfection, and hand hygiene program.

Other links of interest