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COVID-19 update: FBI warns health care providers to avoid scams

John Fitzgerald  

John Fitzgerald  

State lawmakers and federal agencies continue to adjust laws and regulations to fit the needs of Americans as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens.

The FBI on March 27 told health care businesses (2020 WL 1486402) to be on the lookout for coronavirus-related scams, including offers that include unusual payment terms, last-minute price changes, excuses for shipment delays and unusual sources of bulk supplies.

Federal regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency on March 27 urged state leaders to remember when enacting shelter-in-place orders to designate as essential employees at drinking water and wastewater facilities, emphasizing the importance of clean water for drinking and hand-washing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The EPA announced on March 27 (2020 WL 1485888) that it is waiving seasonal gasoline blending requirements until May 20. The agency predicts that the steep drop in demand for gasoline will lead to storage problems and a gasoline shortage if wholesalers are required to switch from high-volatility winter-grade gasoline to low pressure summer-grade gasoline by May 1.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on March 30 said (2020 WL 1493844) it will waive its requirement for an original, handwritten signature for some correspondence and will instead accept copies of handwritten signatures due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

State, district actions

On March 27 Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill (2019 PA H.B. 1232) to use $50 million from the state’s special funds to buy medical equipment and supplies for patients and caregivers during the pandemic.

The New York Senate is considering a bill introduced March 29 (2019 N.Y. S.B. 8139) that would suspend rent payments for some tenants and create a rental assistance fund in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser (2020 DC REG TEXT 549151) has extended the district’s public health emergency through April 24 and the city administrator’s authority to “implement any measures as may be necessary or appropriate to protect persons and property in the District of Columbia from the impacts of COVID-19.”

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill proposed March 26 (2019 MA H.D. 4985) that will provide a $15,000 subsidy to business owners who have fewer than five employees and no more than $200,000 in revenue. The bill states that 75% of the subsidy must be used for employee compensation and 25% for operational losses incurred during the coronavirus outbreak.

In Kentucky, legislators on March 26 approved a bill (2020 KY S.B. 150) to require insurers to reimburse policyholders for unanticipated out-of-network care and create an independent dispute resolution program for these same reimbursement claims.

Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on March 26 issued an executive order (2019 MI EO 20-25) relaxing regulations on pharmacists so they can make emergency refills of ongoing prescriptions and dispense drugs to treat COVID-19 under federal guidelines.

The Vermont House of Representatives on March 25 adopted a resolution (2019 VT H.R. 17) allowing committee members to vote remotely during the current state of emergency.

Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey on March 27 signed a bill (2020 AZ S.B. 1694) allowing the state Department of Economic Stability to ease unemployment benefit eligibility and employer contribution requirements.

To keep up-dated on the latest news and information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic impact, and the government’s response, at Thomson Reuters’ COVID-19 Resource Center, and you can follow or the Reuters App.

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