COVID-19 response memo

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COVID-19 response memo

BY THE NUMBERS

(Updated last on May 15, 2020)

Number of Statewide Cases: 28,255 (+1,600)

Marion County Cases: 8,406 (+411)

Hamilton County Cases: 1,033 (+56)

Johnson County Cases: 1,002 (+43) US Cases: 1.49M

Global Cases: 4.74M

Number of Statewide Deaths: 1,621 (+71) Number of Marion County Deaths: 480 (+29) US Deaths: 89,636 (+3,662)

Global Deaths: 315,822 (+11,997)

Number of new Hoosiers Filing for Unemployment: 30,691 as of 5/14/20

FEDERAL

House Passes HEROES Act

Friday evening, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, their version of a Phase IV package directed at aiding the COVID-19 pandemic response. The bill passed 208-199. The bill did remove the Paycheck Guarantee Act, which would have guaranteed 100% of workers’ wages up to $90,000 a year. It also removed recurring $2,000 monthly stimulus payments, keeping another round of $1,200 checks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the bill a policy wishlist and considers the bill ‘dead on arrival’ in the Senate.

SBA and Treasury Release Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application Today, the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application.

The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.

The form and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers, including:

  • Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles
  • Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness
  • Borrower-friendly implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30
  • Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined

Click here to view the application and instructions.

Must-Know Changes Coming To The Small Business Stimulus

New rules could be coming for Paycheck Protection Program loans. An additional stimulus bill making its way through the House of Representatives is likely to include revisions to key aspects of the CARES Act. One of the proposed changes could significantly change the amount of time you have to spend the money in order to maximize the forgivable amount of the loan. Congress is also considering changing the rule that business owners must use at least 75 percent of PPP loans for payroll expenses in order to be eligible for full forgiveness.

"There's bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill that that rule imposed by the Treasury is a bad rule," said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who joined a panel of experts online Friday for an exclusive National Small Business Town Hall co-hosted by Inc. and the Chamber. Bradley added that the 75 percent rule is likely to be changed, while the requirements around what the loans can be used for--payroll, rent, utilities, and interest on debt--will probably stay the same.

Senate Returns Today

The Senate returns to Washington today to continue work on non-COVID matters. The Senate will continue to confirm judges, with cloture motions on as many as four nominees this week. The Senate also continues to work to bring both surface transportation and water resources legislation to the floor, though no decision has been made on timing for this legislation. In the wake of House passage of its $3 trillion HEROES package last week, Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) remains committed to slowing the process around continued COVID- 19 relief legislation, opting to allow funds authorized by the CARES Act to be drawn down before agreeing to more spending. Additionally, Leader McConnell continues to call for liability protections for doctors and businesses as a key component of the next bill. The Senate Banking Committee will conduct a hearing Tuesday with Fed Chairman Jay Powell and Treasury Sec. Mnuchin on the CARES Act. The Commerce, Judiciary, and Energy Committees will all conduct executive sessions this week. The Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing on caring for seniors during the COVID crisis.

The House is expected to remain in recess until May 27, when it will return to Washington to vote to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and potentially additional coronavirus legislation. Please note, the rules change adopted by the House on Friday does allow the House to conduct committee business by videoconference.

Congressional Oversight Commission First Report Released

The Congressional Oversight Commission, established by the CARES Act, has released its first report, focusing on the $500 billion emergency economic stabilization funds authorized by the CARES Act. The commission consists of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rep. French Hill (R-AR), Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), and Bharat Ramamurti. The CARES Act provides $500 billion in funding to Treasury to lend to businesses and state and local governments in an effort to stabilize the economy. The first report details how this money has and will be spent, and as well as updates on the lending facilities created by the Federal Reserve. The report also contains a FAQ section for businesses. 

House Changes Its Rules During Pandemic, Allowing Remote Voting For The First Time In Its 231-Year History

The House on Friday approved the most radical change to its rules in generations, allowing its members to cast committee and floor votes from afar — the culmination of a months-long struggle to adapt the 231-year-old institution to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite bipartisan frustrations with the virus’s effect on the legislative process, the changes, which include temporarily authorizing remote committee work and proxy voting on the House floor, were adopted along party lines. The vote was 217 to 189. Democratic leaders pushed forward with the changes this week after failing to come to terms in two weeks of negotiations with Republicans, who firmly opposed several key measures in the proposal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) and top Democrats said the changes were temporary and tailored to the current crisis — which has made mass gatherings of lawmakers hazardous — but necessary to ensure that the House fulfills its constitutional obligations.

WHO to Hold First Global Assembly Since COVID-19 Outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) will hold its first global assembly since the pandemic outbreak via video conference today. The meeting will include leading public health officials from around the world and will center around discussions involving an international response to the virus. The meeting could prove to be tense as the U.S., Australia, and some European countries have called on the WHO to investigate China’s response to the outbreak. Several countries have accused the Chinese Government of covering up critical information about the spread and origination of the virus. China has repeatedly denied all allegations.

Fed Chair Warns Economic Slowdown Could Last Through End of 2021

In an interview Sunday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the economic slowdown in the U.S. could last through the end of next year. Chair Powell insisted the U.S. will recover, though the amount of time recovery takes will depend on several factors. Powell noted finding a safe and effective vaccine for the virus would shorten the time needed to recover, especially if additional waves of the virus emerge. Chair Powell’s comments come on the heels of a speech he gave earlier in the day stating the economy may need additional financial support to curtail the risk of permanent job losses and increased bankruptcy filings.

Azar: No Spike in Cases in States that have Reopened

On Sunday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said the U.S has not seen a rise in COVID cases in states that have begun reopening, noting the Administration has seen a spike in cases in states that have not yet reopened. Sec. Azar’s comments appear to contradict data produced by health officials in at least one state. New confirmed cases in Texas were hovering around 1,000 a day in mid-April and have climbed marginally higher in May. The state reported a new single-day high of 1,450 confirmed cases last week.

STATE 

Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace Gets 20,000 Requests

The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace, designed to help employers obtain personal protective equipment during the pandemic, has already received 20,000 requests for equipment since its launch May 6, Luke Bosso, chief of staff for the Indiana Economic Development Corp., said Friday. To date, 10,000 orders have been shipped and 12,000 orders are anticipated to go out next week, Bosso said. In order to reopen, employees at many businesses, such as personal care services and restaurants, are required to wear masks while working. To help small businesses get their hands on the equipment needed, the state launched the marketplace, which is overseen by the IEDC but stocked with products from Indiana businesses. In order to qualify to order equipment from the marketplace, a business or not-for-profit must be registered to do business in Indiana and have fewer than 150 employees. The marketplace also is limited to retailers, restaurants, personal services and offices. The equipment includes hand sanitizer, face masks and face shields. All businesses and not-for-profits are encouraged to first source and procure PPE on their own, with the marketplace serving as an alternate backstop for employers, Bosso said.

Early Learning Indiana Announces $15M Childcare Fund

Indianapolis-based Early Learning Indiana is launching the Come Back Stronger Fund to help support health and safety-related expenses for early learning providers. With the support of a $15.7 million grant from Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc., the nonprofit will offer grants to help offset expenses incurred by Indiana providers amid the coronavirus pandemic. The nonprofit says the fund is designed to reinforce Indiana’s supply of high-quality early learning opportunities. Early Learning Indiana will make grants available in varying amounts dependent upon the provider's number of children served. “In the best of times, early learning providers operate on razor-thin margins due to the imbalance between the cost of providing care and families’ ability to afford it,” said Early Learning Indiana Chief Executive Officer Maureen Weber. “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the path forward is even more precarious with added safety-related expenses and uncertainty around enrollment and staffing. This funding will help providers make necessary operational changes to deliver safe and high-quality early learning services that are critical for Hoosier families and the state’s economic recovery.”

The nonprofit says the fund will help early learning providers implement new health and safety measures. Measures include enhancing sanitation practices, altering key aspects of the physical environment to support social distancing, adopting new staffing models that minimize exposure, and expanding to serve more children in response to a depletion in community supply, among others. In addition to grant funding, Early Learning Indiana says it will provide technical assistance to Indiana childcare providers and help them develop strategies to continue offering high-quality early care and education programming during the pandemic. The nonprofit says guidelines and application instructions will be available on Tuesday.

LOCAL

City, Indy Chamber to Help With PPE Expenses

Small business owners in Marion County may qualify for up to $5,000 in personal protective equipment as part of a $5 million RESTART Grant program announced last week by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Indy Chamber. The money can be used to reimburse qualifying small companies for purchases of PPE and improvements, such as signage or partitions. “Through the RESTART Grant Program, we will lessen the burden on our small business community as they equip themselves to protect both their employees and their customers,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. An applicant must meet the following requirements with supporting documentation:

  1. Be a private for-profit business located in Marion County with 150 employees or fewer.
  2. The business occupies the Marion County address on their business registration.
  3. Business start date prior to February 15, 2020.
  4. PPE, professional cleaning and disinfection services, and/ or capital improvements because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indy Chamber said the grants are intended to ensure the safety of employees and customers. Only certain expenditures will be reimbursed, including:

  • Personal protective equipment including masks, faces shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant products.
  • Capital improvements including but not limited to signage, air handling, partitioning for social distancing, improvements for safe queueing, and construction of health and safety improvements aimed at reducing the spread of infection and are consistent with the State of Indiana and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Hogsett and the chamber said businesses should begin gathering receipts for PPE and other health and safety-related items purchased between May 1 and June 8. The receipts are part of the application process. Click here to learn more about the program.

IMPORTANT LINKS

 Links to all executive orders may be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm

Link to the Stay-At-Home Order FAQ may be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/3232.htm

More information may be found at the ISDH website at in.gov/coronavirus/ and the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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