Friday Facts: April 10, 2020

It’s Friday!

The “Pink Moon” was visible through the clouds in northeast Georgia Tuesday night. We could get away with calling it pink in this photograph, but the full moon in April is actually named after a pink wildflower that blooms in the early spring in North America. (Photo by Benita Dodd)

We’re sending out this week’s Friday Facts one day early, in acknowledgment of the Easter Holiday Weekend beginning tomorrow with Good Friday.

This is the fourth Friday Facts edition to focus on the coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation and Georgia. (View previous editions here: March 20 here, March 27 here and April 3 here.) View the Foundation’s near-term proposals here. Share your ideas: Email us at info@georgiapolicy.org.

Quotes of Note

“The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” – Thomas Jefferson (1816)

“This pandemic is going to underscore the importance of advanced care planning. Healthcare is really feeling the effects of people not doing advanced care planning; it’s getting put on physicians’ shoulders to make these decisions. One thing I can’t stress enough is having these discussions before patients get really sick.” – Sunita Puri, M.D.

“Hence it is that, though in every age everybody knows that up to his own time progressive improvement has been taking place, nobody seems to reckon on any improvement during the next generation. We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason. … On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?” – Thomas Babington Macaulay

Foundation news

Events update: The COVID-19 outbreak changed the Foundation’s plans for three events. The event that had been scheduled for March 18, “Brexit: The Good, The Bad and The Messy,” will be rescheduled. Two events that had been scheduled for April will be streamed live online. Details will follow on how to view these live events online: Tony Lowden on Second Chance Month on April 22, and Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review Institute on socialism on April 30.

On a personal note: State Sen. Jack Hill (R-Reidsville), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, passed away this week at age 75. He was a friend of the Foundation and a statesman who served three decades in the Legislature as a champion of all Georgians. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Government

Extended: The public health emergency declared by Gov. Brian Kemp, which had been slated to end April 13, was extended Wednesday to May 13 and his shelter-in-place order has been extended to April 30. K-12 public schools already are closed through the rest of the school year.

Transparency: The Foundation is among dozens of signatories to a Government Accountability Project letter to Congress urging transparency, oversight and accountability in the coronavirus federal assistance package.

Revenue: The Georgia Department of Revenue has extended the 2019 income tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, 2020. Vehicle registrations that expire between March 16 and May 14 are being extended through May 15.

Healthcare

Status report: For the state’s daily COVID-19 report, visit the Department of Public Health website link here. The report is updated daily at noon and 7 p.m.

Shortfall: The federal government required hospitals to delay elective procedures in order to care for COVID-19 patients. Now facilities are experiencing massive revenue reductions and dozens have furloughed staff. On Tuesday, the government announced it has provided nearly $34 billion in accelerated and advance payments to hospitals and other healthcare providers. Moodys Investors Service reported this month that the $100 billion in the congressional aid package will not suffice for the nation’s nonprofit hospitals. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

Medicaid for All? The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) passed by Congress in March “worsens many of the problems it purports to solve,” the Foundation for Government Accountability notes in Townhall.com. The law offers states increased federal Medicaid dollars that come with “very, very long strings attached. States must agree to not remove ineligible enrollees from Medicaid. … including people who go back to work and increase their incomes beyond the program’s income limit.”

Opportunity

Sense and sanitizer: Distilleries around the nation – including at least five in Georgia – are stepping up to manufacture hand sanitizer, which has been in short supply. But the Food and Drug Administration is requiring distilleries to add a denaturant – an additive making the sanitizer unpalatable. That would make the distilleries’ lines useless for future alcohol production barring extreme cleaning measures, “because we cannot have any remnant of the denaturant in our lines, and then sell a consumable product,” said a spokesman for the distillers. Source: Reason.com

Pulling together: With Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other medical equipment in short supply, engineers from Georgia Tech are among those doing their part. One recent Materials Science Engineering graduate converted his company’s warehouse into a rapid response center and is using his 3D printers to create respirator parts. A Tech aerospace engineer spearheads the AtlantaBeatsCOVID.com consortium, a group of manufacturers who believe they can help solve the challenges of COVID-19. Source: Georgia Tech

Economy

No new business: New and young businesses have been shown to be a primary source of job creation in the nation, according to the Census Bureau. After three years of new businesses increasing, the numbers for the last week of March 2020 show a 36% decline in new-business applications over the same period last year.

Some hurt more than others: Prolonging the COVID-19 containment process will hit hardest in the nation’s counties that have lower median household incomes, fewer college-educated workers, and are without a significant “digital workforce,” according to a policy brief by the Mercatus Center.

‘Unintended’ consequences? The federal stimulus package includes $1,000 weekly payments to the average person receiving unemployment insurance benefits. “Congress provided a $600 increase for a four-month period to the nearly $400 average weekly amount that the unemployed receive,” Casey B. Mulligan and Brian Blase write in The Wall Street Journal. “A thousand dollars a week is more than what the majority of full-time workers were getting paid before the virus arrived. The $600 bonus is 24 times the $25 bonus Congress paid during the last recession, when government policies that discouraged work severely harmed the economic recovery.”

Rent-an-alibi: With nearly a third of American renters failing to pay rent during the first week of April, landlords are scrambling to determine which tenants were excused because of lost jobs and which ones are using the coronavirus as a cover for not paying. Source: Wall Street Journal

Media                                         

Social media: Follow the Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In April 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “The Policy and Politics of Pork.” It noted, “[L]egislators should return the responsibility for most local projects to local communities and adopt much more stringent criteria for funding future projects based on the impact of the project and the financial situation of the local community.” Never has this counsel been more necessary.

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s recent commentaries.

Have a great weekend and a Happy Easter!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our website at georgiapolicy.org.

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