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COVID-19 Update for July 24: 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, July 24, here are the latest updates leaders in Rhode Island’s business community need to know.

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Insights  <  COVID-19 Update for July 24: 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, July 24, 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, July 24, 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…

Federal lawmakers are back in Washington this week, and their most pressing item of business is figuring out what the next large-scale stimulus package will ultimately look like.

Up for debate: Will Americans receive direct stimulus payments similar to the $1,200 checks provided by the CARES Act back in March? What will become of the weekly $600 unemployment benefit that expires at the end of July? And, perhaps most importantly, what will be the total price tag on the new package, and how much will trickle down to state governments?

Senate Republicans were expected to introduce their initial proposal on Thursday evening. From there, it’s safe to expect several rounds of back-and-forth before a finalized bill reaches the Oval Office.

Forgiveness process is under way for Paycheck Protection Program loans…

Nearly $380 billion of the $521 billion committed to the Paycheck Protection Program has been distributed. The deadline to apply for a PPP loan was recently extended to August 8.

Meanwhile, thousands of businesses across the country have started the process of working through their lenders for loan forgiveness. The timeline of the loan forgiveness process will vary on a case-by-case basis, but the Small Business Administration has stated individual applications can take up to three months to complete.

As a friendly reminder: 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.

Who’s receiving these PPP loans?

We now have an answer to that question, as the SBA and U.S. Treasury this week released the complete database of businesses across the country that received funding through the PPP.

The SBA approved nearly 5 million individual loans under this program. The amount of each individual loan ranged from as high as $10 million to as low as $9, with the average amount coming in around $100,000. Here in Rhode Island, more than 17,000 businesses were approved for the PPP, nearly 2,500 of which qualified for loans of at least $150,000.

Quick Hits: National COVID-19 news…

The race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is heating up. A state-owned Chinese company says they’re starting to test their vaccine on their own employees. Cambridge-based Moderna is poised to enter the final stage of its clinical trial as early as next week. And the U.S. government and Pfizer reached a nearly $2 billion deal to produce 100 million doses of a vaccine.

Coronavirus data is being routed away from the CDC and toward the White House, and President Trump has resumed his daily COVID-19 briefings, saying the pandemic will “get worse before it gets better.”

Plus: Dr. Anthony Fauci is scolding the youths. Walmart is mandating masks. And millions of Americans are waiting to find out whether they’ll still collect an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits.

THE LATEST – NEWS FROM RHODE ISLAND

Let’s start with the latest numbers…

As of Thursday evening, 18,148 Rhode Islanders had tested positive for COVID-19. Sixty-seven patients were currently in the hospital, and 1,001 individuals had unfortunately passed away due to the virus. The state had processed 325,979 COVID-19 tests.

State commits $200 million in federal funding to support small businesses…

Last week, Governor Raimondo announced the state would earmark $200 million from Rhode Island’s share of federal CARES Act funding to support the small business community. The Boston Globe included a roundup of the plans for those dollars in its daily Rhode Map newsletter.

The biggest chunk of the $200 million announcement was an initial $50 million investment in a new program called RestoreRI.

RestoreRI is a grant initiative facilitated through the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation that aims to help small business owners reopen in compliance with COVID-19 safety guidance. Grants will be available for up to $15,000 for eligible Rhode Island businesses, and can be used to cover reopening expenses (think: cleaning supplies, PPE, or equipment like plexiglass barriers between cubicles), or large fixed expenses (think: rent, utilities and the like).

As of Thursday, applications were not yet open. Learn more about the program by clicking here.

We’re still waiting on additional information on the rest of the $200 million package. We will update our website with the latest as it becomes available.

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

Rhode Island officially entered Phase III of its ReopeningRI plan on Tuesday, June 30, and it’s safe to assume we’ll stay in this phase for at least the next few weeks.

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 to come.

Quick Hits: Rhode Island News

The ReopeningRI story to keep an eye on: Are kids really going back to in-person learning at the end of August? As of now, that’s still the plan.

As state lawmakers continue to scramble to balance the budget, Rhode Island Treasurer Magaziner says we’re in a position to “safely borrow” nearly $600 million through bonding efforts.

Although Rhode Island’s COVID-19 numbers have remained relatively steady through the reopening process, we are seeing a bit of a spike in beach communities.

Plus: Which financial institutions were doling out the most PPP loans in Rhode Island?

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHTs

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

Construction: The national trade group Associated Builders and Contractors recently sent a letter to House and Senate leaders in support of the RELIEF for Main Street Act, a bipartisan effort to provide $50 billion in direct funding to states and cities to help small businesses.

Speaking of ABC, the local chapter of the organization has a webinar coming up on Friday, August 7. It’ll cover recent developments and compliance challenges facing the industry.

Hospitality: While those RestoreRI grants we mentioned earlier are typically only available to small businesses with less than 20 employees, that rule doesn’t apply to restaurants and caterers. Non-chain restaurants are eligible regardless of size.

On the hotel side, here’s a “Safe Guest Checklist” from AHLA.

Plus: Here’s a glass-half-full outlook from a veteran food service employee: “With help, we can get through this together.”

Long-term care: HHS is planning to supply a “new, rapid point-of-care testing system to nursing homes” across the country. Here’s more on that plan.

Plus: Looking for more information? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hosts a weekly webinar on Thursdays from 4-5 p.m. to provide training for infection control processes in nursing homes.

A few other highlights from blumshapiro this week: Our healthcare team looked at which financial processes will prove vital for multi-location healthcare practices.

Two interesting pieces related to education: David Sun touches on why educational institutions need to take a hard look at their cyber security processes, and Brian Berry has a piece on the rise of artificial intelligence in the classroom.

Plus: Here’s an update from Mary Kay Curtiss on COVID-19 Emergency Acts reporting, and an update from Alan Huberman on tax inflation adjustments for filing year 2020.

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 are a  couple of interesting think-pieces on the “new normal” from the past week….

SHOUT OUT TO HELPING HANDS

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

A fun story unique to the Ocean State: Rhode Island’s fishing community is working together to create seafood cooking classes that also help feed families in need. Providence Business News has the story.

The “smile-friendly,” transparent facemasks designed by a pair of local teachers are having a moment. WPRI-12 featured their “Speak E-Z” mask on its “Good News” segment. Watch it by clicking here.

Want to win a gift card to your favorite restaurant? Delta Dental of Rhode Island is continuing to give them away on social media. All you have to do is help them “Share a Smile.”

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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