CDC issues limited eviction moratorium until early October for U.S. counties experiencing ‘substantial and high levels’ of the coronavirus
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
CDC statistics show that the level of community transmission for Covid-19 in Orange County is high. Visit https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view for more information.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday issued a new eviction moratorium that will keep tenants, who are behind on their rents because of the pandemic, in their homes. The moratorium — which will last until October 3 — will target counties where the disease is “experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission.”
It’s likely Orange County will be covered under the CDC’s new 19-page order. CNN reported that a source familiar with the effort indicated that “the announcement would cover 80% of US counties and 90% of the US population.”
As of Sunday, the Florida Department of Health reported that Orange County’s 14-day rolling positivity rate is 17.97 percent. The CDC also reported that Orange County’s level of community transmission “remains high,” according to the county’s page on Covid-19 statistics.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement that the move is the “right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where Covid-19 spreads. It is imperative that public health authorities act quickly to mitigate such an increase of evictions, which could increase the likelihood of new spikes in SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse.”
The CDC statement added that the moratorium provides more time to get rent relief to those who need it as well as increase vaccination rates. “In the context of a pandemic, eviction moratoria — like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing — can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease,” it said.
CDC’s order said if a county isn’t currently covered by this order but “later experiences substantial or high levels of community transmission while this Order is in effect,” then it will be covered as of the date it starts to experience that substantial transmission.
The move is at least a partial victory for many housing and community activists and Democratic congressional lawmakers who have been lobbying the White House to extend the eviction moratorium that expired Saturday. Experts predicted millions across the U.S., including thousands of Floridians, could have been pushed out of their homes.
Citing online real estate site Zillow’s research, Orlando Weekly reported last week that 144,220 renter households in Florida were at risk of eviction as of late July. According to the Zillow report, more than 7.4 million renters nationwide were behind in their rent with 3 million at risk of eviction.
President Biden told reporters ahead of the CDC announcement that the courts “made it clear” that the previous moratorium, which ended July 31, was “not constitutional.” He said he turned to the CDC for alternatives, but doesn't know whether the agency’s option would pass constitutional muster.
“There are a few scholars who say it will and others who say it’s not likely to,” said the president.
But the move, he added, will buy time to get out the $45 billion in federal money earmarked to help people pay their back rent and not get evicted. “That’s what we’re pushing now. And we’ve been pushing that. That’s the immediate thing to do,” said the president.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the state of Florida has spent only 2 percent of the more than $870 million in federal Covid-related funds allocated to help tenants behind on their rent to stay in their homes.