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COVID-19 Update for August 7: 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 7, 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 7: 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 7, 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 7, 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 continues to discuss the next stimulus bill…

Today (Friday, August 7) is the last day of the Senate’s summer session before going on a scheduled month-long recess, but it looks like our federal lawmakers may need to work overtime in order to finalize the nation’s next COVID-19 stimulus package.

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.

As the two chambers work to bridge the $2 trillion gap between these two proposals, several questions remain unanswered. Chief among them: What will become of the weekly $600 unemployment benefit that officially expired last week?

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

Main Street Lending Program extended to December 31…

The $600 billion Main Street Lending Program, originally set to expire in September, has been extended through the end of the year. The lending initiative, created by the CARES Act, aims to provide financial relief to mid-sized businesses (read: 15,000 employees or fewer, or annual revenues of less than $5 billion) that have been impacted by the pandemic.

We have an overview of the Main Street Lending Program, which includes instruction on how to apply and other resources, on our website. Find it by clicking here.

PPP: Application deadline tomorrow; new FAQs released…

The application portal for the popular, much-discussed Paycheck Protection Program will officially close tomorrow, Saturday, August 8. According to the latest data from the Small Business Administration, more than 5 million loans were administered through this program, adding up to a total sum of just over $520 billion.

Meanwhile, some good news for lenders and business owners who had lingering question about the loan forgiveness process: The SBA and U.S. Treasury this week released their long-awaited FAQ document.

blumshapiro partner David Fontes broke down the key takeaways from this new FAQ document on our website. Catch up by clicking here.

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…

What do Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Louisiana, Michigan, Virginia and North Carolina have in common? As of this week, they’re all on the same team when it comes to COVID-19 testing.

Are you still working from home? You’re not alone – and you might be Zooming into conference calls until 2021.

Plus: Will the remote work trend impact employees’ income tax? And, on the vaccine front, Maryland-based Novavax is the latest American company to release encouraging Phase 1 vaccine data.

THE LATEST – NEWS FROM RHODE ISLAND

Let’s start with the latest numbers…

As of Thursday evening, 19,611 Rhode Islanders had tested positive for COVID-19. Eighty-three patients were currently in the hospital, and 1,014 individuals had passed away due to the virus. The state had processed 390,478 COVID-19 tests.

APPLICATIONS 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 – is officially open.

The program aims to help small businesses (10 employees or fewer) that have been most severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Eligible businesses can apply for grants of up to $15,000, which 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.

The application portal for the Restore RI Grant Program officially opened Monday evening, August 3. You can start the application process by clicking here.

State launches Back to Work RI program to help unemployed population…

Governor Raimondo’s administration also recently committed $45 million from the state’s pool of CARES Act funding to launch a workforce development program known as Back to Work Rhode Island. According to the Dept. of Labor & Training, the initiative will “connect Rhode Islanders with job opportunities in vibrant sectors across the state,” while “prioritizing Unemployment Insurance claimants and other traditionally underserved communities.”

Specific details about the program are not yet available, but it’s already accumulated buy-in from some of Rhode Island’s largest businesses. Care New England, Lifespan, Bank of America, IGT, General Dynamics Electric Boat and Raytheon are among the handful of private businesses attached to the program.

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.

The Week Ahead: Upcoming webinars, training sessions and more…

As has been the case since the pandemic began, several organizations are hosting virtual panel discussions, training sessions and other educational webinars in the coming weeks.

Here’s a quick roundup of what’s already run – and what’s to come in the next few weeks.

Quick Hits: Rhode Island News

We talked about the Main Street Lending Program earlier, but here’s what Rhode Island business leaders think about it.

Planning on traveling any time soon? Your options may be limited (unless you want to quarantine when you come back).

Plus: Are kids ready to go back to school? Short answer: It depends on the district.

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHTs

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

Hospitality: The National Restaurant Association held a webinar detailing a “short-term survival plan” for the food-service industry. If you missed it, don’t worry: You can give it a watch by filling out the form linked here.

Have you had an employee test positive for COVID-19? Here’s a form you need to fill out. Thirty-three states are on Rhode Island’s restricted travel list. Here’s the certificate of compliance hotels need to have their guests sign if they want to enjoy a stay in the Ocean State.

Plus: Newport’s newest hotel opened in the middle of the pandemic… and it’s still finding a way to sell out its rooms.

Long-term care: ICYMI, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recently announced a plan to commit $5 billion in CARES Act funding to help enhance nursing homes’ response to the pandemic.

Plus: The national public health emergency declaration was officially extended through October. Here’s why that’s good news for long-term healthcare providers.

THE NEW NORMAL

The global business community is still trying to figure what life in a post-COVID world is going to look like. Here’s what we’re reading on the subject.

In what may become a trend across the business community, Google employees are going to be working from home for a long, long time.

Remote work has taken a toll on typical office dynamics. Managers are navigating trust issues – and employees are having a hard time being heard (literally and figuratively) on Zoom.

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.

SHOUT OUT TO HELPING HANDS

We’re several months into this crisis, and Rhode Islanders are still looking out for one another.

A local graphic designer is, quite literally, giving away hearts to her neighbors. Walt Buteau at WPRI-12 has more on last week’s edition of Street Stories.

This isn’t exactly a philanthropic story – but it’s welcome news nonetheless. The Boston Globe’s Amanda Milkovits did the taxing work of taste-testing Rhode Island’s to-go cocktail options. Here’s her review.

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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