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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With less than 24 hours until Election Day, there's one truth that applies to every federal elected official running for re-election, from President Trump to the furthest backbencher in Congress: They failed to produce the economic stimulus that almost everyone agrees is needed, including a second wave of PPP loans.

Why it matters: Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are rising, including in areas that weren't hard hit earlier. Many small businesses and nonprofits have failed since negotiations began in earnest just before Labor Day, and more will fail as politicians sort through the election debris. This didn't need to happen.

Meanwhile, there is new scrutiny on certain businesses that received the first round of PPP loans, as first alerted to to me via an email from K&L Gates' Rick Giovannelli and Mary Burke Baker.

  • Borrowers of $2 million or more soon will be asked by the SBA to complete a new form that is expected to ask about private equity/venture capital ownership, plus information about quarterly revenue and specific COVID business impacts.
  • In other words, SBA is interested not only in business conditions at the time of PPP application, but also at what happened after loans were disbursed — including such possible events as dividends and debt prepayment.
  • Plus, SBA may ask whether a company had employees or owners with annual comp of $250,000 or more. Per Giovannelli: "This question is not supported by the CARES Act... and may be be based on some sort of assumption that a borrower who could afford to pay such highly compensated personnel such amounts may not have 'needed' the loans. It could signal that forgiveness may be especially challenging for law firms and other professional service firms."

Between the lines: This raises new questions about how SBA and DOJ will determine "good faith," and also if there's potential liability issues for company owners. It also could set some new guardrails for a second round of PPP, were D.C. to get its act together, although expectations are that it would come with lower loan ceilings.

What to watch: How quickly winners are determined, both for president and for Congress, because stimulus talks won't unstick until everyone knows the new math.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

NYC set to restart indoor dining in February, weddings in March

Outdoor dining in New York City in January. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that if the current coronavirus positivity in New York City holds, indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, one of the busiest dining days of the year.

Why it matters: The forced closure of indoor dining in December caused major backlash, as New York's struggling restaurant industry had already been hit hard by pandemic restrictions. Restaurants will still be required to close at 1o p.m.