An overview of the COVID-19 response in the last 2 weeks April 2, 2020BlogJessica Hemingway The COVID-19 response: An Overview · On March 27, President Trump signed the CARES Act into law. The CARES Act allocates over $2 trillion to COVID-19 response efforts. · All 50 states, the District of Columbia, five territories and eighteen tribes are working directly with FEMA under the nationwide emergency declaration for COVID-19. In addition, President Trump has approved 3 major disaster declarations for State COVID-19 response, including the state of Louisiana. · Federal agencies are working to increase supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) through new acquisition, DOD allocation, increasing production, and ensuring effective strategies to appropriately manage important resources . The Administration – led by FEMA – is also marshalling resources from the private sector – and the response from the private sector has been tremendous. · The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued an unprecedented array of temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to equip the American healthcare system with maximum flexibility to respond to COVID-19. · On Tuesday, March 31, the White House Coronavirus Task Force issued revised guidelines – 30 Days to Slow the Spread (Español)– for an additional 30 days. Even if you are young and otherwise healthy, you are at risk, and your activities can increase the risk of contracting the Coronavirus for others. Everyone can do their part. The recommendations are simple to follow but will have a resounding impact on public health. The $2.2 trillion CARES Act economic relief package includes: · $1,200 tax free payments (treated as refundable tax credits) to Americans; · $150 billion in direct aid to State, Tribal, and local governments; · $340 billion in additional emergency supplemental funding to combat the coronavirus outbreak. · $500 billion for loans and guarantees that authorize the U.S. Treasury to support eligible businesses and States and local governments to cover losses incurred as a result of COVID-19; · $100 billion for hospitals and health care facilities to reimburse expenses or lost revenues not otherwise reimbursed that are directly attributable to COVID-19; · $3.5 billion to allow States to expand childcare benefits for healthcare workers, first responders, and others on the frontlines of this crisis. Individual, Small Business and Unemployment Assistance Update · The Internal Revenue Service has setup a website with up-to-date guidance to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. · Distribution of economic impact payments to individuals will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. Social security recipients, who are not typically required to file a tax return, will automatically receive economic impact payments. For guidance, see Economic Impact Payments: What You Need To Know). · The Small Business Administration is offering low interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations all U.S. States and territories. Learn more here. · The CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program authorizes up to $349 billion for small businesses to be applies towards job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible non-profit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. · For a top-line overview of the program: Click Here · If you are a lender: Click Here · If you are a borrower: Click Here · For the application for borrowers: Click Here · March 28, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published more guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it goes into effect on April 1, 2020. More information here. · The Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act (FFCRA), signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020 authorizes the U.S. Department of Labor to disburse $1 billion in grant funding to states for the administration of unemployment insurance programs. The funding is available to states in two allocations. 23 states have applied for the first round of funding, and DOL is working with the Department of Treasury to certify the funds. · Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program, but all states follow the same guidelines established by federal law. For more information regarding rules in your state, contact with your state’s unemployment insurance program. · The FFCRA also authorized emergency paid sick leave and an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act. On April 1, 2020, DOL issued a temporary rule codifying in regulation previously issued guidance regarding the implementation of the new leave benefits. · The CARES Act, in part, creates the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program which provides unemployment compensation benefits for employees traditionally not eligible for these programs (self-employed, independent contractors, and those with limited work history). DOL anticipates additional guidance on the implementation of the CARES Act in the near future. · On March 18, DOL announced availability of up to $100 Million in National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) in response to COVID-19. The DWGs are intended to provide eligible participants with both disaster-relief employment and employment training services. These participants can include dislocated workers, workers who were laid-off as a result of the disaster, self-employed individuals who are unemployed or underemployed as a result of the disaster, and long-term unemployed individuals. Learn more here. · Functioning critical infrastructure is imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for both public health and safety as well as community well-being. Certain critical infrastructure industries have a special responsibility in these times to continue operations. On Saturday, March 28, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) – released updated guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce.