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An overview of the COVID-19 response in the last 2 weeks

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. 

Paycheck Protection Program loan process expected to begin April 3

Funds will be disbursed through existing banks and lenders 

The Paycheck Protection Program, which passed in the CARES Act, will be implemented through an unprecedented public-private partnership in order to quickly disburse funds to small businesses through existing banks and lenders, according to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? We encourage you to first ask your banker if they are an SBA authorized lender. If so, they can discuss the SBA loan options available to you. See a complete list of current SBA lenders in Louisiana, click HERE.

WHEN CAN MY BUSINESS APPLY? We encourage you to download the application NOW and have it ready to submit to an SBA-approved lender starting April 3.

IS THERE OTHER ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE? YES! The SBA has an Economic Injury Disaster Loan as well. You can apply for both if you use them for different expenses or if you do not qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program loans. We also advise all small businesses to talk to your current bank about immediate bridge loan assistance or deferment of existing loan payments. 

About the Paycheck Protection Program Small businesses and eligible nonprofit 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’re a lender, more information can be found HERE 
  • If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE 
  • THE APPLICATION FOR BORROWERS CAN BE FOUND HERE 

Loan Terms & Conditions

  • Eligible businesses: All businesses, including non-profits, Veterans organizations, Tribal concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors, with 500 or fewer employees, or no greater than the number of employees set by the SBA as the size standard for certain industries 
  • Maximum loan amount up to $10 million 
  • Loan forgiveness if proceeds used for payroll costs and other designated business operating expenses in the 8 weeks following the date of loan origination (due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs) 
  • All loans under this program will have the following identical features: 
    • Interest rate of 0.5% 
    • Maturity of 2 years 
    • First payment deferred for six months 
    • 100% guarantee by SBA 
    • No collateral 
    • No personal guarantees 
    • No borrower or lender fees payable to SBA 

Visit treasury.gov/cares for more information on the Paycheck Protection Program and the SBA’s assistance to small businesses. 

If you have any questions on SBA loans, we recommend you talk to your banker FIRST. For any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact:
Lisa Johnson, President/CEOBossier Chamber of Commerceljohnson@bossierchamber.com

CARES Act provisions help business and individuals

With the passage of the CARES Act last Friday, there are many provisions that are meant to help individuals and businesses alike.

The Payroll Protection Loan program is meant to encourage employers to keep employees on their payroll, even if they are at home without work to do.

“This legislation provides small business job retention loans to provide eight weeks of payroll and certain overhead to keep workers employed,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “Treasury and the Small Business Administration expect to have this program up and running by April 3rd so that businesses can go to a participating SBA 7(a) lender, bank, or credit union, apply for a loan, and be approved on the same day. The loans will be forgiven as long as the funds are used to keep employees on the payroll and for certain other expenses.” Read the Treasury press release here.

The expansion in daily stipend as well as the weeks of eligibility of Unemployment Insurance is also a way to keep employees connected to their employer, particularly for furloughed employees — those who are not working currently, are not on the employers’ payroll, but the employer intends to bring them back to work as soon as possible.  

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? If employees stay connected to their employer, even if they are furloughed, when the company can bring the employees back onto their payroll or give employees work again, they do not have to spend time, energy or money recruiting and training a new workforce. 

ALSO OF NOTE: The CARES ACT supports state governments with COVID-related expenses, including $1.8 billion for Louisiana. 

The Act also provides money for education, including $30.75 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund. Some of those funds will go to K-12 including feeding programs and technology to help with online learning. A portion of the fund will go to higher education.

Read the full bill here. Read the U.S. Chamber’s summary here.

Links from U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D.’s office:

Get financial help for your business

If your business needs financial help during this time:

Talk to your current bank/lender.

  • They may have advice on your situation.
  • There could be deferral programs for any current loans/debt.
  • They could become a lender of the new Paycheck Protection Loan Program. (Official guidance from the federal government will be coming this week on these loans as the Department of the Treasury and SBA begin to advise lenders)

Apply for a Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans address revenue losses related to COVID-19.
  • These are low-interest loans with long-term repayment programs.
  • Available up to $2 million.
  • Fixed interest rate of 2.75% for non-profits and 3.75% for businesses with specific terms based on your situation.
  • Apply for an SBA loan here.

NOTE: A small business can obtain a new Paycheck Protection Loan AND an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan so long as they are used for different expenses.

Not a small business? The CARES Act requires the Treasury Secretary to ask the Federal Reserve to create a special direct loan program for businesses and nonprofit organizations with between 500 and 10,000 employees. (Details will be announced soon)

CARES Act provisions help business and individuals

With the passage of the CARES Act last Friday, there are many provisions that are meant to help individuals and businesses alike.

The Payroll Protection Loan program is meant to encourage employers to keep employees on their payroll, even if they are at home without work to do.

“This legislation provides small business job retention loans to provide eight weeks of payroll and certain overhead to keep workers employed,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “Treasury and the Small Business Administration expect to have this program up and running by April 3rd so that businesses can go to a participating SBA 7(a) lender, bank, or credit union, apply for a loan, and be approved on the same day. The loans will be forgiven as long as the funds are used to keep employees on the payroll and for certain other expenses.” Read the Treasury press release here.The expansion in daily stipend as well as the weeks of eligibility of Unemployment Insurance is also a way to keep employees connected to their employer, particularly for furloughed employees — those who are not working currently, are not on the employers’ payroll, but the employer intends to bring them back to work as soon as possible.  

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? If employees stay connected to their employer, even if they are furloughed, when the company can bring the employees back onto their payroll or give employees work again, they do not have to spend time, energy or money recruiting and training a new workforce. 

ALSO OF NOTE: The CARES ACT supports state governments with COVID-related expenses, including $1.8 billion for Louisiana.

The Act also provides money for education, including $30.75 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund. Some of those funds will go to K-12 including feeding programs and technology to help with online learning. A portion of the fund will go to higher education.

Read the full bill here.Read the U.S. Chamber’s summary here.

Links from U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D.’s office:

U.S. Chamber answers your questions on the new Payroll Protection Loan Program

Find a full list of questions and answers in the U.S. Chamber’s guide for small businesses on the Payroll Protection Loan Program.

Who is eligible?

  • A small business with fewer than 500 employees
  • A small business that otherwise meets the SBA’s size standard• A 501(c)(3) with fewer than 500 employees
  • An individual who operates as a sole proprietor
  • An individual who operates as an independent contractor
  • An individual who is self-employed who regularly carries on anytrade or business
  • A Tribal business concern that meets the SBA size standard
  • A 501(c)(19) Veterans Organization that meets the SBA size standard

Want to know more about eligibility, what lenders are looking for, how much you can borrow and if the loan will be forgiven? Click here for the U.S. Chamber’s CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY LOANS: Small Business Guide and Checklist

Joint Chamber Webinar Recaps

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and the Shreveport-Bossier African American Chamber of Commerce to bring our members updates on COVID-19, business resources and answer the questions they may have.

In the first Webinar we had guests U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, LED Secretary Don Pierson, and Dana Cawthon the Regional Director for Louisiana Small Business Development Center, to host a webinar to share the latest information on COVID-19, answer questions and share strategies to help you with business continuity.

In the second Webinar, we hosted U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) Regional Director Dana Cawthon and Louisiana Economic Development Brandon Fail to talk about the SBA Loan and stimulus package.

For recaps on these Webinars, click here to visit the Flatten the Curve website in partnership with the local Chambers.