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Coronavirus

NFL Levies Over $1M in Fines Against Teams, Coaches Who Didn’t Wear Masks

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Three NFL teams and their coaches were fined for not wearing face coverings during games this past Sunday.

What We Know:

  • The teams facing fines are the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Denver Broncos. Each team is being fined $250,000 and the head coaches of those teams, Seattle’s Pete Carroll, San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan, and Denver’s Vic Fangio, were also each fined $100,000 for not wearing a face-covering during their games. Carroll, Shanahan, and Fangio were all seen wearing their gaiter masks around their necks repeatedly on Sunday.

Kyle Shanahan, without a mask, on the sideline of Sunday’s game. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll celebrates a touchdown without a mask. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio walks the sideline without a mask. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

  • Last week, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, sent a memo to all league clubs cautioning all coaching personnel to wear their masks at all times. In the memo, Vincent said that any team or coach who failed to meet and follow the protocols would be fined.
  • The memo came after the first NFL Sunday in which several NFL coaches were seen not following the league’s protocols for face coverings intended to protect players and coaches alike from the spread of the coronavirus. The NFL protocol is that either a mask or a face shield that covers their nose and mouth must be worn on the sidelines and in the bench area during games at all times.
  • “We must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union, and clubs, but also by state and local governments,” Vincent said in the memo. “The NFL-NFLPA Game Day Protocol, which reflects the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staff, and local and state governmental regulations requires all individuals with bench area access (including coaches and members of the club medical staff) to wear face coverings at all times.”
  • During Monday night’s game in Las Vegas, both Saints head coach Sean Payton and Raiders head coach Jon Gruden were seen without face coverings. In March, Payton was the first person in the NFL to publicly share that he tested positive for the coronavirus. Gruden, when asked about it in his post-game interview, said he also previously had the virus and would accept the fine if the NFL ordered it. It is expected both teams will face fines later today.

The three teams have not commented on their fines.

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Coronavirus

Judge Blocks Trump Plan to Cut Food Stamps for 700,000 Adults

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Food stamps recipients doing a big once-a-month shopping trip on the day their monthly SNAP account is re-funded. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Food stamps recipients doing a big once-a-month shopping trip on the day their monthly SNAP account is re-funded. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A recent motion by the Trump administration was aimed at making it more challenging for certain demographics to receive government aid known as food stamps. In a 60 plus page document, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of D.C. shot down their effort of what seemed to be a blatant disregard of how a move like this would significantly impact so many Americans during a time of the pandemic.

What We Know:

  • The ruling follows the Trump administration’s nearly yearlong effort to change and reduce the amount of people who rely on food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The proposal was originally made during a time when the U.S was in the middle of economic prosperity and record low unemployment rates before the events of this year. The new rules in the plan would have greatly limited access to the program.
  • As the story goes, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a once-booming economy to a grinding halt and placed millions of Americans into the unemployment line. Numbers continue to look grim as roughly 25 million adults are still without jobs and are currently claiming unemployment benefits. The unemployment rate as of September is sitting at nearly 7.9%, almost double of what it was in February.
  • In Judge Howell’s ruling, she stated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the organization in charge of SNAP, had remained usually quiet on how many people would have been affected by the administration’s rule change as the pandemic continues to plague the nation. She cited that the number of people signing up for SNAP has risen 17%, about 6 million new recipients, since May.
  • The rule change has been called “a vivid illustration of this relentless ideology that’s not informed by the economic realities of people, whether they are in the pandemic or not in the pandemic,” by Stacy Dean vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “The judge called them out for trying to steamroll through policy with seemingly no effort to incorporate feedback” on concerns from states and other groups.
  • Howell also noted that the Trump administration had failed to give any reasons as to why the food stamp requirements needed to change. It targeted many “able-bodied adults without dependents,” meaning all adults ages 18 to 49 who don’t have children or family members with disabilities.
  • This demographic of adults are typically limited to three months of food stamps within a three-year period unless they acquire employment or happen to be enrolled in a worker training program, but most states are allowed to shelve those requirements.

Under the proposed rule, states would be required to prove that certain counties had unemployment rates of at least 6% in order to waive the restriction. This change is what prompted the Urban Institute to estimate that roughly 700,000 people would have been kicked off SNAP, although that number could be much greater now since the date of that last report.

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Trump Slams Fauci In Campaign Call

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President Trump was heard on a Monday campaign call making rude and baseless claims about Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health officials.

What We Know:

  • On the call, Trump said that the country is ready to move on from the pandemic, even though 215,000 Americans are now dead and cases are spiking again. He called Fauci and health officials “idiots” and said that his large campaign rallies were no problem.
  • Trump also falsely claimed that “if I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths . . . we’d have 700-800,000 deaths right now.” There’s no way to know how America would be handling the pandemic if Trump had listened to Fauci because this administration has not listened to health officials since day one. The only fact that we do know is that 215,000 people have actually died from coronavirus based on the Trump administration’s response and guidance.
  • Trump also said that Fauci has given bad health advice concerning mask wearing and that he does not want to keep him. “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him,” he told campaign employees on the call.

“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots — these people, these people that have gotten it wrong. Fauci’s a nice guy. He’s been here for 500 years. He called every one of them wrong. And he’s like this wonderful guy, a wonderful sage telling us how.” – President Trump

  • At the same time Trump was blasting Fauci on the campaign call, Fauci was receiving the National Academy of Medicine’s Presidential Citation for Exemplary Leadership. While accepting the honor, Fauci said “We have a lot of challenges ahead of us and I can’t help thinking that we’re really going through a time that’s disturbingly anti-science in certain segments of our society.”
  • Trump held this call two weeks before the election to offer some optimism and shore up the campaign in its final days. Trump told his staff that this is the most excited he’s been and that “we’re going to win”.

He also made the baseless claim that Democrats will be “cheating like crazy because they always cheat” and that “the only way we can lose this election is if they cheat. Okay, that’s the only way.”

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Governor Murphy Extends Temporary Hold on Utility Shutoffs Until March 2021

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Credit: Edwin J. Torres/ Governor's Office

Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order on Thursday that prolongs the statewide moratorium on utility shutoffs until March 15, 2021.

What We Know:

  • This decision prevents all water, electric, and gas shutoffs for residential and business clients due to nonpayment. Cable providers must allow the same relief for internet and voice services through November 15, 2020. Additionally, if a household has school-age children, their internet connectivity cannot be cut off through at least March 15, 2021.
  • According to the NJ Board of Public Utilities, more than 440,000 New Jersey residents owe gas and electric bills that are at least 90 days overdue. Additionally, almost 43,000 commercial customers are having the same problem with bills costing around $1,300.

  • Murphy advised customers struggling to pay their bills to work with their utility company and the board of public utilities to see if they qualify for a payment assistance program.
  • Despite allowing services to remain on, the moratorium, however, does not wipe away the customer’s owed balance.
  • Board of Public Utilities President Joe Fiordaliso stated:

“Eventually, everyone has to pay their bill; everyone must reach out to the utility companies[your utility], set up a payment plan so that at the end of the moratorium you’re not faced with such a gigantic bill that it becomes overwhelming.”

  • Larry Levine, Senior Attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council, thanked Governor Murphy’s continuous leadership. Due to Governor Murphy’s decision, thousands of New Jerseyans will not have to worry about their water being cut-off or losing power as the winter months approach. He also mentioned that this is an important step that will help relieve much hardship and save lives.
  • Utility businesses like PSEG, JCP&L, and Atlantic City Electric have stated their support for the extension. At least this can give some sort of peace to New Jersey residents.

Both Murphy’s moratorium extension and utility payment plans aim to soften the financial blow for New Jersey residents and businesses.

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