COVID-19 Update 03/30/2020
Special Series: All this week, Bellevue Strategies will be going into depth on certain sections of the CARES Act that was signed into law on Friday. Today, we will be focusing on the Paycheck Protection Program and updates to the Paid Family Leave Act.
Please reach out if you want additional information or would like our firm to cover a specific section of the act.
- The Paycheck Protection Program is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses and nonprofits to keep their workers on payroll by providing each small business or nonprofit a loan up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses. The loans allow business and nonprofits to pay their employees, provide benefits and cover facilities and certain business costs through June 30, 2020.
- If all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks, SBA will forgive the portion of the loans used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Up to 100 percent of the loan is forgivable.
- The grants would be retroactive to February 15, 2020, to help bring workers who have already been laid off back onto payrolls.
What can the loans be used for?
- Costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums;
- Employee salaries, commissions, or similar compensations;
- Payments of interest on any mortgage obligation (which shall not include any prepayment of or payment of principal on a mortgage obligation);
- Rent (including rent under a lease agreement);
- Interest on any other debt obligations that were incurred before the covered period.
The details are coming soon.
- The Paycheck Protection Program is an extension of the Small Business Administration 7(a) program. SBA will determine the exact rules, and then the rules will be implemented by the 1,800 banks that are part of the program. To participate, you need to contact a bank.
- Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said on Fox Business News that he hopes the applications will be available by Friday.
The White House is working with the Federal Reserve and the Small Business Administration to set up the program, accelerate the approval process and start doling out the money. Details are still being worked out.
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FFCRA goes into effect on April 1, 2020, and essentially does the following in conjunction with the new Federal Paid Sick Leave regulations:
- Temporarily expands the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) until the end of December 2020, while providing an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19;
- Provides two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a healthcare provider), or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a healthcare provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19; and
- Provides tax credits for the paid leave provisions created by the act and expansion of unemployment insurance.
Both the additional FMLA leave provisions and the new federal sick leave apply to governmental agencies and schools. For private companies, the new laws apply only to employers affecting interstate commerce with fewer than 500 employees in aggregate.
Temporary employees do count toward an employer’s total. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from civil actions brought by employees for violations regarding emergency paid FMLA.
Bellevue Strategies will be having a webinar this week on how to apply for all loans and grant opportunities at the local, state and federal level. Please stay tuned.
- The Minnesota legislature approved a massive $330 million package in one day and sent it to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. The bill includes $200 million for state agencies, $30 million in grants for childcare centers, $40 million in grants and loan guarantees for small businesses.
- Rhode Island approved a plan for the state to borrow up to $300 million from the federal government and other sources.
- In Massachusetts, the Senate approved a measure that would expand the scope of practice for certain health care professionals during the pandemic. It would allow a variety of advanced practice nurses to treat patients without a doctor’s supervision.
- A record of 3.3 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits. Job loss can trigger the loss of health insurance including Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act Marketplace and COBRA.
- Medicaid offers free or low-cost comprehensive coverage for people when they have a spell of low income. People used to having job-based coverage and higher income may not realize Medicaid could be an option for them.
- Adults can qualify if their current income is up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL), or $1,467/month for an individual, $3,013/month for a family of four. Unemployment compensation counts, but not the federal supplement just approved by Congress.
- 12 states (not including Pennsylvania) have opened up a special enrollment period for when anybody can buy Marketplace plans.
- People who lose other coverage are eligible for a special enrollment period (SEP) in the Marketplace.
- COBRA: People losing job-based plans have the option of continuing enrollment for up to 18 months, sometimes longer. A law known as COBRA requires firms with at least 20 employees to offer this option.
- A 1,000-bed ship, the Comfort, that includes 12 operating rooms, a medical laboratory, and more than 1,000 Navy officers, arrived in New York City today.
- Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 750 of its beds will be put to use immediately.
COVID-19 update: In Pennsylvania, there are 4,087 confirmed cases in 59 counties.
- Gov. Wolf said his administration is working on a plan “to make sure that we have a way to provide an education for the kids who are not getting one for the next two months,” and said the hope was “to have it in place for the next few days. By the time we start next week, we will have an alternative to the schools not there now.”
- Steward Health Care told employees to expect furloughs among nonclinical staff.
- The Massachusetts-based hospital system operates 37 hospitals across the country, including two in Pennsylvania: a 220-bed acute care hospital in Sharon and a 196-bed facility in Easton.
- Like many hospitals in Pennsylvania, Steward Health Care has postponed elective surgeries which is a large source of the hospital’s income.
- Gov. Wolf sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Sunday asking the president to declare a major disaster in Pennsylvania. This would free up additional federal funding and resources for Pennsylvania.
- If President Trump declares a PA a major disaster, the state would receive support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Gov. Wolf is specifically seeking disaster unemployment assistance, community disaster loans, crisis counseling, and nutrition assistance.
- Thus far, Trump has declared major disasters for 22 states including New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.
- Gov. Wolf vetoed HB1100 on Friday that would have provided tax credits to petrochemical companies that promised to locate in Pennsylvania. Wolf said in a statement that, “Although the bill requires payment of prevailing wages for facility construction, the requirement is illusory because the critical enforcement and investigative tools provided under the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act are absent from this bill.”
William Penn Foundation fast-tracks $6.6 million for the arts, adds $5 million for pre-K, loosens grant restrictions
- On Friday, the William Penn Foundation voted in an emergency meeting to award $5 million to support early childhood education and care.
- The board also approved a decision to award money to arts and culture groups earlier than the original time frame of late April. $6.6 million was awarded to 17 area arts and culture groups.
- William Penn also loosened its restrictions on grants allowing the money to be used for operating costs.
- The $5 million towards early childhood education will go towards a larger drive called the Philadelphia Emergency Fund for Stabilization of Early Education. Grants from the new entity will be administered by Philadelphia’s Reinvestment Fund.
- Agricultural chemical company FMC Corp. is donating 165,000 masks to five hospitals in the Philadelphia region.
- The much-needed equipment will be donated to Penn Medicine, Jefferson Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Temple University Health System and ChristianaCare.
- The School District of Philadelphia plans to distribute roughly 50,000 Chromebooks next week, however, the plan is facing some resistance from some Principals and teachers.
- The district said in a statement Monday afternoon that it’s taken “many precautions to safeguard staff” while ensuring students get the technology needed to keep learning during the indefinite closure of Pennsylvania’s schools.
- Next week — between April 6 and 8 — schools are slated to host in-person pickup sessions.
- Asked over the weekend whether his members seemed willing to staff the pickup sites, teachers’ union president Jerry Jordan replied, “I don’t get the sense that they are.” “People are concerned about their health,” he said. “That is a real big issue.”
- The district’s aim is to have students doing online instruction by the week of April 13.
Good News for the Day
“At Gotha Middle School, we create weekly music videos for fun. Obviously we can’t do them together anymore — and many of the 8th graders have been heartbroken.
So we created a VIRTUAL music video with 8th graders who sent in videos of themselves dancing and singing (and sanitizing) at home.
And the song choice was perfect: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.'” (Via Good News Network)