Begins Debate

Debate begins for who’s first in line for COVID-19 vaccine – Yahoo News

Who gets to be first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine? U.S. health authorities hope by late next month to have some draft guidance on how to ration initial doses, but it’s a vexing decision.

“Not everybody’s going to like the answer,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, recently told one of the advisory groups the government asked to help decide. “There will be many people who feel that they should have been at the top of the list.”

Traditionally, first in line for a scarce vaccine are health workers and the people most vulnerable to the targeted infection.

But Collins tossed new ideas into the mix: Consider geography and give priority to people where an outbreak is hitting hardest.

And don’t forget volunteers in the final stage of vaccine testing who get dummy shots, the comparison group needed to tell if the real shots truly work.

“We owe them … some special priority,” Collins said.

Huge studies this summer aim to prove which of several experimental COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. began tests last week that eventually will include 30,000 volunteers each; in the next few months, equally large calls for volunteers will go out to test shots made by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. And some vaccines made in China are in smaller late-stage studies in other countries.

For all the promises of the U.S. stockpiling millions of doses, the hard truth: Even if a vaccine is declared safe and effective by year’s end, there won’t be enough for everyone who wants it right away — especially as most potential vaccines require two doses.

It’s a global dilemma. The World Health Organization is grappling with the same who-goes-first question as it tries to ensure vaccines are fairly distributed to poor countries — decisions made even harder as wealthy nations corner the market for the first doses.

In the U.S., the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is supposed to recommend who to vaccinate and when — advice that the government almost always follows.

But a COVID-19 vaccine decision is so tricky that this time around, ethicists and vaccine experts from the National Academy of Medicine, chartered by Congress to advise the government, are being asked to weigh in, too.

FILE - In this Monday, July 27, 2src2src file photo, a nurse prepares a shot as a study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway in Binghamton, N.Y. Who gets to be first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine? U.S. health authorities hope by late next month to have some draft guidance on how to ration initial doses, but it’s a vexing decision. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

FILE – In this Monday, July 27, 2020 file photo, a nurse prepares a shot as a study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway in Binghamton, N.Y. Who gets to be first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine? U.S. health authorities hope by late next month to have some draft guidance on how to ration initial doses, but it’s a vexing decision. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Setting priorities will require “creative, moral common sense,” said Bill Foege, who devised the vaccination strategy that led to global eradication of smallpox. Foege is co-leading the academy’s deliberations, calling it “both this opportunity and this burden.”

With vaccine misinformation abounding and fears that politics might intrude, CDC Director Robert Redfield said the public must see vaccine allocation as “equitable, fair and transparent.”

How to decide? The CDC’s opening suggestion: First vaccinate 12 million of the most critical health, national security and other essential workers. Next would be 110 million people at high risk from the coronavirus — those over 65 who live in long-term care facilities, or those of any age who are in poor health — or who also are deemed essential workers. The general population would come later.

CDC’s vaccine advisers wanted to know who’s really essential. “I wouldn’t consider myself a critical health care worker,” admitted Dr. Peter Szilagyi, a pediatrician at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Indeed, the risks for health workers today are far different than in the pandemic’s early days. Now, health workers in COVID-19 treatment units often are the best protected; others may be more at risk, committee members noted.

Beyond the health and security fields, does “essential” mean poultry plant workers or schoolteachers? And what if the vaccine doesn’t work as well among vulnerable populations as among younger, healthier people? It’s a real worry, given that older people’s immune systems don’t rev up as well to flu vaccine.

With Black, Latino and Native American populations disproportionately hit by the coronavirus, failing to address that diversity means “whatever comes out of our group will be looked at very suspiciously,” said ACIP chairman Dr. Jose Romero, Arkansas’ interim health secretary.

Consider the urban poor who live in crowded conditions, have less access to health care and can’t work from home like more privileged Americans, added Dr. Sharon Frey of St. Louis University.

And it may be worth vaccinating entire families rather than trying to single out just one high-risk person in a household, said Dr. Henry Bernstein of Northwell Health.

Whoever gets to go first, a mass vaccination campaign while people are supposed to be keeping their distance is a tall order. During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, families waited in long lines in parking lots and at health departments when their turn came up, crowding that authorities know they must avoid this time around.

Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s effort to speed vaccine manufacturing and distribution, is working out how to rapidly transport the right number of doses to wherever vaccinations are set to occur.

Drive-through vaccinations, pop-up clinics and other innovative ideas are all on the table, said CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier.

As soon as a vaccine is declared effective, “we want to be able the next day, frankly, to start these programs,” Messonnier said. “It’s a long road.”


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Debate reopening

Debate over reopening schools heats up – ABC News

Debate over reopening schools heats up – YouTube

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Debate Experts

UFC Experts debate who’s next for Dustin Poirier and Mike Perry’s coach-less strategy – ESPN

It’s safe to say that a familiar face is back in UFC title contention.

In what could be a fight of the year candidate, Dustin Poirier won a brutal battle against Dan Hooker in the UFC Fight Night main event on Saturday in Las Vegas. Both fighters traded wicked shots from the opening bell, and Poirier took control of the fight in the later rounds.

The win was critical for Poirier, who was coming off a loss in September to world champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov is expected to face interim champ Justin Gaethje in a title-unification bout later this summer.

Mike Perry also had an impressive win, and apparently all he needed were his physical tools and moral support at the UFC Apex.

Perry looked sharp and in shape in defeating Mickey Gall by unanimous decision, and he won with only his girlfriend, Latory Gonzalez, in his corner.

ESPN’s expert panel of Ariel Helwani, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim weigh in on the wins for Poirier and Perry and more.

What’s your biggest takeaway from the main event?

Helwani: That fight was every bit as good as we thought it was going to be. That’s pretty much all that comes to mind. If you recall, earlier in the week, my bold prediction for this card was that the main event would go the distance. Well, early on, that prediction looked like it was going to be off because of the shots they were throwing and landing. However, I knew it would go 25 minutes because of how supremely tough both are. And 25 minutes it went. What a fight. What a show. What a display of toughness, heart and grit. These are the fights that make us love this sport so much. Hopefully Hooker doesn’t get too down after this one. He’ll be back. He can hang with the elite at 155. Also, the curse of Paul Felder, which is that everyone who beats him goes on to lose their next, is alive and well.

Okamoto: We need more consistent lightweight title fights. This can’t continue. Since Conor McGregor won the lightweight championship in November 2016, there have been four undisputed 155-pound title fights. Four. That’s not fair. This division is full of talented and deserving title challengers. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Justin Gaethje was as frustrated as anyone. It took Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson falling apart again for him to get an opportunity to fight for an interim belt and set himself up for a real title shot. I hate watching a fight such as Saturday’s, in which both guys leave a piece of themselves in there, and not knowing what’s next for the winner because this division never moves. The UFC has to do everything in its power to get this division running more consistently.

Raimondi: Dustin Poirier is still an elite lightweight. He’s still evolving. My favorite moment in the fight was when he had Hooker in a Khabib-esque leg ride in the fourth round. Not only is Poirier one of the best people in the sport — honored Friday with the UFC’s inaugural Forrest Griffin Community Award — but he’s also one of the toughest and most cerebral, a true ambassador for the game, and he isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Hooker is excellent. He did work in the first two rounds. But Poirier, hurt and tired, outlasted him as the fight went on. Let’s not forget that Poirier owns a win over current UFC interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje. Poirier is right there in the division, despite the loss to Nurmagomedov last year.

Wagenheim: If I’m a UFC matchmaker, I’m looking to book someone from American Top Team against a fighter from across the Pacific. That was proven once again to be a magical combination. Back in March, the promotion’s lone champion from China, strawweight Zhang Weili, was put through the fight of the year by ATT’s Joanna Jedrzejczyk. That bout got a run for its money from Poirier, who also trains in the South Florida gym, and Hooker. If Saturday’s main event had been for only a belt, it might have surpassed the glorious 115-pound tussle in my eyes. What a show of skill. What a show of will.

Who’s next for the winner of the main event?

Helwani: I need to see Dustin Poirier vs. Tony Ferguson next. It makes all the sense in the world. Poirier lost to Nurmagomedov recently, and Ferguson just lost to Gaethje. Plus, on paper, it would be phenomenal, with high stakes attached to it. Let’s go. As for what’s next for Hooker, that one is a little trickier. He’ll obviously need some time off. Maybe Kevin Lee, who is currently rehabbing an injured knee? Charles Oliveira would be fun, but he last fought (and won) in March, so the timing doesn’t work. A Drew Dober-type would be fun, but I’m not sure Hooker would take that. And you know what? I wouldn’t hate seeing Paul Felder vs. Dan Hooker 2, considering that I thought Felder narrowly won their first meeting in February.

Damn!! Let me rest bruh!!!

— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) June 28, 2020

Okamoto: For Dustin Poirier, why not Conor McGregor? Why the heck not? When I spoke to Poirier this week, he said he has a habit of living and dying with every result in his fight career, and it has put a lot of pressure on him over the years. Having said that, he also believes that way of thinking affected him negatively before the McGregor fight in 2014, when he lost via first-round knockout. McGregor has apparently been frustrated with the UFC because he wants to fight. Well, here it is. Poirier is ranked above him. This is the one. McGregor wants to prove he’s still elite? Fight Poirier.

Raimondi: Poirier is still on the outside looking in as far as the upper echelon at lightweight goes. Nurmagomedov will defend the title against interim champ Gaethje next. McGregor is still out there lurking, with the UFC wanting him to fight Nurmagomedov as soon as it’s feasible. Perhaps McGregor would be interested in a Poirier rematch. That could be a lot of fun. If not, Poirier is probably stuck with another rising contender next, someone like Hooker. Charles Oliveira comes to mind as a possibility.

Wagenheim: If life were fair, Poirier would be in position to wait for the winner of Nurmagomedov’s title defense against Gaethje. Short of that, he would get the opportunity to avenge his 2014 loss to McGregor and make a huge bank deposit afterward. But all is not fair in love and war and money-fight promotion. Considering that Poirier lost to the champ less than 10 months ago, I’m thinking he will be passed over if Nurmagomedov retains his throne. If the challenger wins the belt, maybe the storyline of Gaethje trying to avenge a 2-year-old TKO loss to Poirier will carry the day, but an immediate Khabib rematch seems more likely. Poirier might be left to fight a guy ranked above him who’s coming off a loss (Tony Ferguson) or one ranked below him who’s on a seven-fight winning streak (Charles Oliveira).

What did you think of Mike Perry’s corner experiment?

Helwani: Hard to hate on it because Perry won and looked good. I have heard from fighters who have said they don’t put a lot of emphasis on corners during fights, so I guess Perry backed that claim up tonight. But in all seriousness, I don’t think this is something that should be replicated, and it’s a little weird that a week after telling me they’d investigate the Robert DrysdaleMax Rohskopf situation, Nevada was OK with this. In any event, it worked out for Perry, and it generated attention, but I think he knows this isn’t sustainable. I suspect Perry will join another team before his next fight. Maybe it’s American Top Team, as his manager Malki Kawa suggested on Twitter, or maybe it’s elsewhere. Who knows with Mike Perry. He always keeps us guessing, and that’s why so many love him. But one thing is certain: Latory Gonzalez is undefeated as a corner woman. Put some respect on her name.

Okamoto: You know what? I am 100 percent good with it. I think it was a brilliant move, actually.

Now, I’ll add to that: I don’t think it’s the smartest thing moving forward. At the end of the day, is it a good idea for a UFC fighter to go into a high-caliber matchup with no one in his corner who can offer advice, recognize injury or provide expertise? Of course not. But I think most of us would agree that Perry looked … different … all week. Maybe he needed to do this one time — prove a point, do it for himself, whatever the case was — so that he could go out on his own and get a win this weekend.

If he moves forward with this peculiar strategy, again, I don’t think it’s a good idea, but the truth is Perry is probably never going to win a championship. He’s an entertainer. To borrow his words, “He knows how to fight.” If, from a mental standpoint, he feels most confident going in there with his girlfriend, that isn’t something I would ever advise someone to do, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world, either.

Thanks Perry, now my wife thinks she’s walking out with me next fight ?

— Ricky Simón (@RickySimonUFC) June 28, 2020

Raimondi: It worked, mostly because Mike Perry is flat-out better than Mickey Gall. Perry’s strength and athleticism were just too much for Gall, and that had nothing to do with who was in Perry’s corner. The biggest takeaway for me was that Perry was in great shape, and he was polished. Yes, his girlfriend, Latory Gonzalez, was in his corner, but it was clear that Perry took his conditioning and training seriously.

Overall, though, one inexperienced person in a fighter’s corner is a bad precedent. It’s something the commission should take a look at if it happens again. It was funny tonight because Perry is such an over-the-top character. But it’s also a health and safety issue. A corner person is a state-licensed position. It should be taken seriously by the commission, with those licenses going to experienced people who are there to take care of their fighter. MMA isn’t a game; it’s a brutal, dangerous sport.

Wagenheim: Perry fought a more disciplined fight than I’d ever seen from him. Maybe coaching complicates things for the guy, gets him out of his instinctual rhythm. Then again, maybe what we saw was something of a mirage, a deceptive byproduct of an experienced veteran of high-level opposition being in the Octagon with an opponent who had fewer than half as many pro fights. Would Perry have been able to get by without coaches in his corner if he were competing against someone the caliber of Donald Cerrone or Paul Felder, to cite two names on his résumé? Who knows? Let’s chalk this up to Mike Perry being Mike Perry.

Which prospect made the biggest statement?

Helwani: I know Tanner Boser is now 18-6-1 following his vicious, first-round knockout of Philipe Lins on Saturday, but he’s only 28, and that was just his third UFC fight, so I’ll go with the native of Bonnyville, Alberta. In my eyes, he’s still a prospect. How much fun is Boser? The hair, the teeth, the Western Canadian accent … it’s a wonderful package. He’s now 2-1 inside the Octagon, with his lone loss to uber-prospect Ciryl Gane, so I think he’s a name to keep an eye on at heavyweight. Now, if we want to talk about who has the highest ceiling of the bunch, I’ll go with 20-year-old Kay Hansen. In case you missed it, Hansen, who is the youngest woman in the promotion and the second youngest overall (behind Chase Hooper) was signed just six days ago. She’s a big-time prospect and will be a player at 115 for years to come. It was a great win for her Saturday against former Invicta atomweight champion Jinh Yu Frey. That armbar submission was a beaut.

Okamoto: I have to go with Kay Hansen, and it isn’t particularly close for me. Although I wouldn’t say her victory over Jinh Yu Frey was one of the most memorable of the card — there were plenty of other finishes on Saturday that stood out more — a 20-year-old, making her UFC debut, against an opponent with much more experience against better opposition? This result says a lot. Khama Worthy, Tanner Boser, Youssef Zalal, all of them had big wins on the undercard, but there’s something impressive about seeing a 20-year-old win in the Octagon. Not to mention, Hansen’s best skill (at least right now) — her wrestling — should continue to serve her well as she progresses through this division and grows into her body.

Raimondi: Kay Hansen. It wasn’t just that she beat former Invicta FC atomweight champion Jinh Yu Frey with a slick armbar in the third round of her UFC debut. It was that Hansen was able to battle adversity to do it. She clearly had a game plan of getting the smaller Frey down and imposing her will on the ground. Frey had none of that for most of the first two rounds, and she was making Hansen pay for her aggression, popping her with hard left hands. Hansen, to her credit, stuck to her strategy, finally got Frey down in the third and finished the bout that was tied heading into the final round. Hansen is just 20 years old, the second-youngest fighter in the UFC. There is immense potential there.

Wagenheim: It’s tough to go against Kay Hansen, who at 20 years old took out a far more experienced fighter who has been a champion in another fight organization. But I was most impressed by Khama Worthy, who scored his second straight eye-opening UFC win. Last summer he was a humongous underdog when he won his UFC debut. Was that just a matter of his having the night of his life? No, it was not. This time, he took on Luis Pena, who came in with six fights in the UFC, including wins over some seriously legitimate opponents. After a good start by Worthy, Pena put on a dominant display of wrestling in the second round. But Worthy persevered, and when the fight went back to the canvas in Round 3, he was ready. Worthy sunk in a modified guillotine choke to squeeze the air out of any lingering doubts.

Which fighter had the best finish?

With less than a week’s notice, @juicyj_erosa pushed the pace for three rounds and sunk in this D’arce choke to finish it off at #UFCVegas4

— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 28, 2020

Helwani: There were so many good ones to choose from tonight, as this was a fun card with great finishes. In the end, I’ll go with Julian Erosa‘s D’Arce choke. First of all, the fact that he took this fight on four or so days’ notice and was a +400 underdog against the previously undefeated Sean Woodson is impressive in its own right. However, that D’Arce was as slick as can be and came at the end of a phenomenal fight. I love stories such as Erosa’s: Former “The Ultimate Fighter” alum, released in 2016 after going 1-1, gets a second chance on Contender Series two years later, wins that fight, gets signed again, goes 0-3 in the UFC, gets cut, wins a fight on the regional scene and then capitalizes on this opportunity after a visa issue precluded Canadian Kyle Nelson from competing Saturday. Way to persevere, Julian.

Okamoto: Julian Erosa. Four days’ notice against arguably the most promising prospect on the card in Sean Woodson. Was it the “highlight reel” KO we usually think about when it comes to best finish? No. Not at all, actually. But taking everything into consideration — fighting on four days’ notice, the biggest betting underdog on the card, losing the first round, the fact that he has been cut from the UFC before — it’s incredibly impressive. Erosa knew after that first round against Woodson that he had to bite down, eat shots and make the fight ugly, and that is way easier said than done. Not only did he have the intelligence to acknowledge that, but he also had the courage and heart to do it. It’s difficult to not feel happy for him.

Raimondi: I won’t soon forget Tanner Boser, sporting an absolutely glorious mullet, starching former PFL heavyweight champion Philipe Lins with a punching combination for a knockout win. Boser, from Alberta, Canada, is unassuming. Maybe he caught Lins by surprise. Boser let loose with a fast combination and clanged multiple punches off Lins’ head. Lins was out when he hit the ground, spurring referee Herb Dean to dive in and hit a near-judo throw to get Boser off an unconscious Lins. It was a memorable knockout for a fight — and a fighter — many people didn’t have circled coming into this event.

Wagenheim: The second- or third-best finish on this night would have been in the running for top honors on many fight nights. At one point, there were five straight finishes, each a thing of beauty. But I have to go with Julian Erosa’s third-round D’Arce choke, which handed prospect Sean Woodson his first career defeat. Erosa, who twice has been cut by the UFC, came in on four days’ notice and was the biggest underdog on the card. He looked the part in the first round, absorbing a steady diet of straight left hands. But he ate them all and kept coming for more, and when he finally got Woodson on the canvas, he did not waste the opportunity, efficiently and stunningly eliciting a tapout.

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Debate rages

Debate rages over new lifeline for small business as loan program ends – POLITICO

Senate Small Business Chair Marco Rubio, a lead architect of the Paycheck Protection Program, said the next phase of assistance will be “very targeted” to ensure the businesses that need the most help can “survive and restart.” | Al Drago/Pool via AP

Washington’s massive small business rescue is ending after delivering more than half a trillion dollars to millions of employers. Now, everyone from key lawmakers to the Federal Reserve says it may not be enough.

That’s spurring a debate in Washington over how to provide a new lifeline to the beleaguered businesses.

While there is still $130 billion left unspent in the so-called Paycheck Protection Program, lobbyists say that’s because there were onerous restrictions — chiefly that businesses are prohibited from borrowing a second time, so if they’re out of money, they’re out of luck. Others say that many potential borrowers were largely left out of the process, including minority employers, who often don’t have relationships with bankers.

Still others are looking for a longer-term solution: There is emerging bipartisan support for new government-backed lending that would last much longer than lawmakers first envisioned with the Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed to delay mass layoffs in the early days of the pandemic.

“We’re still in a crisis,” said Holly Wade, director of research and policy analysis for the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small businesses. “Until we have better therapies and a vaccine, we’re not going to see a full recovery by any stretch.”

That concern is shared by the Federal Reserve, which warned Congress last week that small businesses may need more help even as the economy reopens amid “alarming” circumstances.

How to further support small business is shaping up as one of the key questions Congress faces as it nears negotiations on what is expected to be another huge economic relief package in the coming weeks.

The Small Business Administration will stop approving the government-backed loans after June 30, and a growing number of lenders have already quit taking applications as they try to clear their final queues. And lawmakers have paid more attention in recent weeks to how to make it easier for businesses to convert the loans into grants — a key selling point for employers to take the loans and maintain payroll.

But even critics of the way the PPP has been implemented say more small business aid will be needed and that the program may once again be the means by which Congress delivers it. Still, they’re preparing to push for greater restrictions on who can benefit amid concerns that too much of the money went to businesses that didn’t need it.

“That may exactly be the vehicle,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in an interview. “But we can’t just re-up it. … We really do need to qualify these things and target them far better than we did initially.”

Early data on the condition of small businesses paints a stark picture.

According to an analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the number of working business owners — including small business owners — fell by 22 percent from February to April, in the largest drop on record. Restaurants, hotels, construction and transportation companies faced large declines. The damage was even worse for African American employers, which experienced a 41 percent drop, and Latinx businesses, which fell 32 percent.

The Fed told Congress in a June 12 report that a wide variety of data reveal “an alarming picture of small business health during the Covid-19 crisis.” While the PPP’s application rate suggests it has been “extremely valuable and timely,” the Fed said “some industries may face an ongoing need after the program expires.”

Appetite for the aid is irrefutable. Businesses exhausted the program’s initial $350 billion in funding and even more rushed to apply when Congress approved another $320 billion.

But for the last several weeks, the volume of loan approvals has shown little movement. Business groups and lenders attribute it to the program mostly meeting demand under its current rules. The requirements for the loans have not been workable for many businesses, in particular limits on how much they can spend on non-payroll expenses such as rent. It took Congress and the Trump administration nearly two months after the launch of the program to ease those rules after an outcry.

Other factors have also been at play. Businesses without existing banking relationships were initially at a disadvantage in acquiring the loans, and there have been persistent worries about the complicated process for converting the loans into grants. And after it was revealed that big companies such as Shake Shack took the aid, the Trump administration discouraged applicants who already had ample financial resources. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week that businesses had returned about $12 billion in loans.

“What we’ve realized are businesses with less than 10 employees are still on the sidelines,” SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said on Fox Business Thursday. “One, because they were apprehensive. Secondly, because some of the documentation was a little cumbersome. But in coordination with Treasury we have streamlined the application. We’ve streamlined the forgiveness application.”

Advocates say that the unused $130 billion should not be seen as an indicator that businesses don’t need more federal assistance.

Bipartisan support is growing to let businesses apply for second Paycheck Protection Program loans, recognizing that the restaurant and hospitality industries will struggle to bounce back even as social distancing measures are eased.

Restaurants have been particularly hard hit, with about 3 percent having already closed permanently and the full tally expected to be in the tens of thousands, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) are among those pushing to let businesses take a second pass at the PPP. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) have a bill that would let businesses with 100 or fewer employees apply for another loan if they demonstrate a 50 percent revenue loss because of the pandemic. House Democrats introduced a companion to the Senate bill.

“Now is when restaurants are at their most vulnerable,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs at the National Restaurant Association.

This week Senate Small Business Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla), a lead architect of the Paycheck Protection Program, said the next phase of assistance will be “very targeted” to ensure the businesses that need the most help can “survive and restart.” Rubio has devoted attention to data indicating that black-owned and Hispanic-owned businesses have been more likely to go under.

“These disparities can’t stand,” he said. “We have to confront them because what we cannot afford as a nation … is an uneven recovery, a recovery that leaves behind people in many cases along the lines of ethnicity and race.”

Last week, Mnuchin also left open the door to supporting a continuation of the Paycheck Protection Program. If it’s revived, he and Johnson are among those pressing for restrictions to ensure federal funds don’t go to businesses that don’t need assistance. Mnuchin said restaurants and hotels are among those that do need more help and that “we’re very seriously going to look at” allowing businesses to apply for second loans if there is bipartisan support.

Rubio’s House counterpart, House Small Business Chair Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), is “actively negotiating legislation” to extend PPP loan authority, a committee spokesperson said. She’s focused on ensuring funds are reaching underserved small businesses and pushing to require data reporting on loan recipients.

Lawmakers are weighing even broader expansions of the small business safety net.

One early idea proposed by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) would widen the availability of government-backed loans to firms with up to 5,000 employees — up from 500 under the Paycheck Protection Program. Their bill would offer businesses funding to cover expenses for six months. A share of the loan could be forgiven based on revenue losses in 2020 and the rest could be repaid over seven years.

John Lettieri, president and CEO of the Economic Innovation Group, is among those urging Congress to think bigger than just sticking to the current construct of the program, which lawmakers first envisioned as a stop-gap. He argues that Congress should be providing a longer-term option aimed at ensuring the viability of businesses rather than just payroll.

“We’ve succeeded in winning the crisis in the immediate sense but now risk losing the recovery if we don’t do more,” he said.