May 7, 2020

Back in the (Sanitized) Saddle

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA)’s new reopening guidelines for racetracks across America hint at what a return to work and play could look like.

In addition to banning spectators and enforcing general CDC guidelines like essential workers wearing masks and frequently hand sanitizing, the guidelines:

  • Mandate each racetrack create a COVID-19 Safety Team made up of a wide swath of operational, health and safety officials;
  • Enforce stable curfews;
  • Mandate starting gate and tack and barn equipment be cleaned and sanitized at least daily;
  • Prohibit media and owners from entering the frontside of the racetrack; and
  • Demand daily check-ups for stable area workers and residents.

A panel of medical professionals specializing in infectious disease, public health and internal medicine helpeddraft the protocols and will advise on their implementation. Certain states have already approved restarting racing.

The new guidelines come a few days after the industry’s Thoroughbred Safety Coalition released a new accountability tracker to measure the industry’s progress against overall safety reforms.

Capital Recap

House Democrats are finalizing details for their next legislative proposal to respond to the pandemic. The Democratic proposal is likely to include:

  • $750 billion in aid to local and state governments;
  • Another round of stimulus checks for Americans;
  • Enhanced unemployment benefits;
  • Increased access to coronavirus testing;
  • Funding for vote-by-mail programs and the U.S. Postal Service;
  • Safety protections for front-line workers who are at risk of contracting and spreading the virus; and
  • Expanded access to broadband.

Democrats hope to introduce the bill soon.

At the same time, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called for a pause in coronavirus legislation this morning.

He recommends Congress first assess the impact of earlier relief packages and then take a slower path forward through committee hearings and mark-ups once states have reopened.

McCarthy’s statement echoes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has opposed passing additional relief funding.

Regardless, some Senate Republicans are pushing proposals to be included in a ‘phase four’ relief package. And a few GOP Senators have joined Democrats in calling on McConnell to increase financial assistance to state and local governments, something the Majority Leader has been hesitant to agree to.

COVID-19 By The Numbers

A Bubble Over a Ditch?

Could a new travel bubblebetween Australia and New Zealand become a model for regional economic activity during the COVID era? 

The COVID-19 case numbers in Australia and New Zealand continue to fall thanks to social distancing measures enforced early, significant testing, economic support packages to dampen unemployment and government tracing apps.

This week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined an Australian national cabinet meeting to begin discussions of a “Cross-Tasman safe travel zone”, named after the sea that separates the two island countries.

Although the proposal is in early stages, it is supported by both countries’ governments.

Both enacted strict international travel restrictions on inbound and outbound flights early in the COVID-19 crisis and further imposed 14-day quarantines on all returning citizens regardless of their health.

Air travel between the nations, affectionately known as ‘crossing the ditch’, is busy. Flights to and from Christchurch and Auckland across to the Australian east coast move over 6 million passengers annually.

Restarting it ahead of broader relaxed international travel restrictions would aid regional tourism and airline industries significantly.

Who Cares? Everyone.

By now, parents may – or may not – be getting the hang of simultaneously tending to their kids and working from home.

But as conversations about going back to work inch forward, the closure of many summer camps and daycares is adding to the gaps in affordable childcare that many families were already facing pre-quarantine.

Policymakers can lend a hand by providing additional paid family leave and financial support to daycare and eldercare facilities, but there’s also a big role for employers to play, Melinda Gates outlines in today’s Washington Post.

That could include additional remote-work options, on-site child care, or new subsidies for daycare and eldercare, Gates suggests. New gig-economy services like Winnie, which connects care providers with parents, and Papa, which offers assistance and companionship to seniors, could also be part of the solution.

Fixes like these might even help stave off a homefront spat or two over who’s doing more to homeschool the kids while the whole family is home. A new Morning Consult/New York Times poll found this week that almost half of fathers say they’ve borne the brunt of the work, but a large majority of mothers aren’t buying it.