Here’s today’s update:

  • Some good news on the economic front: new numbers out today indicate the unemployment rate has fallen to 13.3% in May, down from 14.7% a month earlier, while the U.S. economy added some 2.5 million jobs.  Experts had been predicting a 7.5 million job loss. This is an encouraging indicator that despite the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, our economy is poised to rebound strongly once businesses can reopen and more Americans return to work.  It’s also a sign that the Paycheck Protection Program is helping our small businesses keep their employees and recover faster.

  • Earlier this afternoon, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, overwhelmingly-bipartisan legislation passed by Congress that improves the PPP and will make it even more beneficial to our economy as a whole.  Here’s an overview of the changes to the program that will be taking place as the law is implemented.

  • An update on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler Programs, which we hear questions about frequently from constituents.  These programs include Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST.  Enrollment centers for these programs are currently closed at least through July 6, 2020.  This applies to all Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST enrollment locations, and Global Entry mobile enrollment events are paused, as well.  A few additional notes:
    • Conditionally-approved Trusted Traveler Program applicants who seek an interview at an enrollment center will need to reschedule their appointment using the online scheduling tool after July 6.
      • Some Enrollment Centers are extremely limited in the number of appointments they can offer, and the few they can are being filled very quickly after being released for appointment online.  This can give the impression there are no appointments at some Enrollment Centers – a situation compounded by the fact that many applicants with interviews scheduled earlier in the year are now trying to reschedule for after July 1, as well.
      • These applicants are encouraged to check their e-mail and Trusted Traveler Program accounts for further information. CBP will continue to monitor the situation in order to resume enrollment center interviews as soon as possible.
    • CBP’s Enrollment on Arrival program will remain operational. Conditionally-approved Global Entry applicants will be able to complete the enrollment process when arriving on an international flight at any of the airports that offer this program.
    • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CBP extended the period of time that Trusted Traveler Program applications remain active. Each applicant now has 485 days from the date that CBP conditionally approves his or her application to complete the enrollment process.  In addition, CBP will extend for up to 18 months the Trusted Traveler Program benefits of members who apply for renewal before their current membership expires.
    • I understand this is a frustrating situation for many of you hoping to have these benefits before you travel later this year.  Know that my office remains in contact with CBP regularly for the latest information and updates. 

  • North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services has launched new initiatives to expand COVID-19 testing and contact tracing across the state. Two new online tools can help people determine if they need to be tested and find a nearby testing place. Check My Symptoms (ncdhhs.gov/symptoms) helps those who feel uncertain about whether they should get tested. Find My Testing Place (ncdhhs.gov/testingplace) is a resource for anyone who needs to locate a testing site.

  • The N.C. State Board of Education has approved the allocation of $70 million in congressionally-approved CARES Act funding for school districts and charter schools across North Carolina to help support summer programs that provide educational opportunities to K-4th Grade students during the 2019-2020 school year and need extra instruction due to this year’s school closures.  The Board also approved an additional $35 million in CARES Act funds to purchase computers and other technology for the use of students, teachers and staff.  More information from the Department of Public Instruction here.

For today’s good news story, I’m highlighting the Frying Pan Restaurant in Southport, who served 175 plates of meals to employees of the Dosher Hospital as a thank you for the work they’re doing on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Businesses large and small across North Carolina continue to give back to our health care workers and first responders.

As always, stay tuned to Coronavirus.gov and the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ website for the latest on the outbreak.