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COVID-19 Update for August 21: Here’s what Rhode Island businesses need to know

As the news surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our team at blumshapiro is staying focused on answering the local business community’s most pressing questions. As of Friday, August 21, here are the latest updates leaders in Rhode Island’s business community need to know.

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Insights  <  COVID-19 Update for August 21: Here’s what Rhode Island businesses need to know

As the news surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our team at blumshapiro is staying focused on answering the local business community’s most pressing questions. As of Friday, August 21, here are the latest updates leaders in Rhode Island’s business community need to know.

As the news surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our team at blumshapiro is staying focused on answering the local business community’s most pressing questions. As of Friday, August 21, here are the latest updates leaders in Rhode Island’s business community need to know. Please note, for the full story on some content, a subscription to that source may be required.

THE LATEST – NATIONAL NEWS

Congress moves to recess without a deal on stimulus package…

What’s happening with the next federal stimulus package? We’ll have to wait until September at the earliest to find out.  Congress went to recess without a compromise, and businesses and individuals across the country are anxious to learn what comes next.

As a refresher: The Democrat-controlled House introduced and passed a $3 trillion package known as the HEROES Act back in May. The Republican-controlled Senate countered with a proposed $1 trillion package known as the HEALS Act in July.

We are keeping an eye on these negotiations, and we will post updates on our website as the situation continues to develop.

Quick Hits: Paycheck Protection Program…

The loan forgiveness process for the federally funded Paycheck Protection Program has officially begun, as the Small Business Administration has started receiving applications from lenders. But many small businesses are opting to wait. Here’s why.

Plus: In Rhode Island, roughly 18,000 businesses received PPP loans of a combined total of $1.9 billion. Here’s an overview of the latest PPP guidance. And… the next stimulus package might include what’s being called a “revamped” PPP.

As always, here’s a roundup of all our PPP resources…

blumshapiro has been at the forefront of interpreting PPP guidance and providing trusted resources for our clients since the program launched in April.

Our team is working with clients to assist them with navigating through compliance requirements of the loan forgiveness program, to ensure forgiveness is received, help expedite the loan forgiveness process and provide a reliable and trusted source of information. You can learn more about our loan forgiveness services by clicking here.

Quick Hits: National COVID-19 news…

It hasn’t been a great few weeks for colleges and universities, as schools like UNC, Notre Dame and others are dealing with COVID-19 clusters as students return to campus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention lost two senior leaders, as the agency’s chief of staff and deputy chief of staff resigned on Friday.

Plus: Why are the stock markets so highly valued in the face of uncertainty? What if herd immunity was closer than we thought? And… fear not the nasal swab: The federal government has approved a saliva-based COVID-19 test.

THE LATEST – NEWS FROM RHODE ISLAND

Let’s start with the latest numbers…

As of Thursday evening, 20,871 Rhode Islanders had tested positive for COVID-19. Eighty-four patients were currently in the hospital, and 1,028 individuals had passed away due to the virus. The state had processed 444,574 COVID-19 tests.

Dr. Fauci pays Rhode Island a (virtual) visit…

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and potentially the first epidemiologist to have a bobblehead made in his honor, joined Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo for a virtual chat last week.

The key takeaway: Rhode Island is a “green zone” (translated: We have a positive infection rate of less than 5%), which is step in the right direction when it comes to things like reopening businesses and sending kids back to school.

Other notes from the conversation: Dr. Fauci’s daily exercise routine? Power-jogging. His thoughts on going back to school? He’s for it, but wants everyone to be safe. Finally, will this period of uncertainty ever end? Yes.

“Keep it up,” Fauci said, as reported by the Providence Journal. “It will end. A year from now, I hope we will be celebrating how we got through this together.”

ROUND 2 OPEN: Restore RI Small Business Grant Program…

The $50 million Restore RI Grant Program – the first wave of the $200 million plan to support Rhode Island’s small business community – officially launched at the beginning of August.

Around 1,500 businesses applied during the first round of the application process, requesting roughly $15 million in grants. Round 2 of the popular local program launched on August 15.

The Restore RI initiative was designed to support the state’s most severely impacted small businesses. To be eligible, businesses must have 10 employees or fewer (with some industry-specific exceptions), and they must prove that the pandemic has led to significant losses in revenue. Grants of up to $15,000 are available, and they can be used to cover large fixed expenses like rent and utilities, or costs related to reopening their doors in compliance with the state’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

Want to apply? Click here.

State rolls out other programs to support local businesses…

Restore RI isn’t the only program Rhode Island leaders have launched in recent weeks. A few others include…

  • Back to Work Rhode Island is a program led out of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training that aims to help unemployed Rhode Islanders find work. By partnering directly with local businesses, the initiative aims to connect people with job opportunities in vibrant sectors across the state. Learn more by clicking here.
  • Rhode Island Reconnect, a program from the Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, was created to help Rhode Islanders change careers, learn a new trade or work toward a degree or professional certificate. Learn more by clicking here.
  • The Neighborhood Business Grant Program, funded by Lowe’s and administered by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), is offering financial support to small businesses across Rhode Island. The initiative has been funded with $400,000, and minority- and women-owned businesses will be prioritized. Learn more by clicking here.

A full list of COVID-19 business resources is available on Rhode Island Commerce’s website. Find it by clicking here.

We’re still in Phase III of the ReopeningRI plan…

…And we’ll probably stay here for a little while. As Rhode Island’s daily COVID-19 positive caseload trends in the wrong direction, state leaders are cracking down on the existing rules and adding new restrictions.

A Phase III reminder: If you’re planning to reopen, you have some paperwork to fill out. Here’s where to start.

  • COVID-19 Control Plan: If you’re planning to reopen, you’ll need to develop a written plan outlining the steps you’re taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The state has provided an easy template for this plan, which you can find by clicking here. An important note: You don’t need to submit this plan for approval. Just fill it out, sign it and put it in a drawer; you may need to present it in the case of an inspection.
  • COVID-19 Checklist: All businesses planning to reopen also need to print, sign and display a COVID-19 Checklist. You can download and print the checklist by clicking here.

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHTs

We took another industry-by-industry tour around the Web. Here’s what we’re reading.

Hospitality: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to a nearly 30 percent decline in hotel occupancy over the next 12 months, according to a new study. That represents a projected revenue loss of about $75 billion in room revenue.

The National Restaurant Association updated its “Blueprint for Revival.” Here’s the latest. The association is also lauding U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer for his support of the RESTAURANTS Act of 2020.

Plus: Industry leaders are looking for local hospitality leaders’ thoughts on the state’s Back to Work Rhode Island program. Here’s a survey for food-service businesses, and here’s another for hotels.

Long-term care: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has announced $175 billion in relief funds, including to hospitals and other healthcare providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. Want to learn more? Here’s the CARES Providence Relief Fund Application Portal.

Plus: AICPA has a helpful list of COVID-19-related FAQs. And here’s a petition to urge Congress to finish its next COVID-19 stimulus package.

Manufacturing: The Congressional Manufacturing Summit is coming up! It’s being held virtually on Monday, August 24 from 10 – 11 a.m. Sign up here.

THE NEW NORMAL

Two interesting stories from Inc.com this week: One focusing on how businesses can come back from the pandemic with a stronger team; the other offering working parents a few tips to manage their time if schools remain closed.

Plus: What will today’s unemployment rate mean for tomorrow?

And you’re not going crazy: The workday feels longer in these uncertain times, because it is.

GOOD NEWS

Rhode Island Monthly has its “Best of Rhode Island” celebration coming up next week. It’s all virtual, but it should still be fun!

Plus: Ever wonder which Rhode Island beach has the best chicken fingers? The Boston Globe’s Dan McGowan was sent on an assignment to find out.

OUR INSIGHTS: INDUSTRY-BY-INDUSTRY

Our team at blumshapiro is working every day to provide you with the latest information pertaining to the individual industries in which you operate. You can find real-time updates within the following links:

Our firm’s complete suite of COVID-19 webinars, articles and federal and state guidelines can be found by clicking here.

 

COVID-19 Business Resources

Disclaimer:  The contents of this resource are for general informational purposes only.  While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, the information is provided “as is” and no representations are made that the content is error-free.  We have no obligation to update any content, comments or other information for retroactive or prospective interpretations or guidance provided by regulators, financial institutions or others.  The information is not intended to constitute legal advice or replace the advice of a qualified professional.  There are areas of the CARES Act where additional clarification from the Treasury Department and the SBA is needed.  Your judgment and interpretation of the act may be needed.  Users should consult with their legal counsel and representatives of the lending institution regarding the proper completion of their application and supporting documentation.

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