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

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Insights  <  COVID-19 Update for June 19: 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, June 19, 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, June 19, here are the latest updates leaders in Rhode Island’s business community need to know. To view last weeks updates, click here. 

THE LATEST – NATIONAL NEWS

SBA issues new guidance; releases revised forgiveness forms for PPP loans.

As usual, let’s start with the Paycheck Protection Program. The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury, this week issued revised forgiveness applications, instructions and other guidance related to the PPP. The relevant forms released this week can be found in the links below.

What does all of this mean for your business? blumshapiro partner David Fontes breaks it down on our website. You can review his analysis by clicking here.

Speaking of David, he was busy this week! He spoke with Providence Business News regarding the next steps on the Paycheck Protection Program, and he was featured in the same publication’s weekly “Five Questions With…” executive profile column. All of that – plus, all of blumshapiro’s additional PPP resources – are included in the links below.

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.

The window for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is back open.

Moving away from the Paycheck Protection Program, but staying with the SBA: The SBA-administered Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs reopened this week.

Created by the CARES Act near the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the EIDL and EIDL Advance programs offer long-term, low-interest financial assistance for small businesses and non-profit organizations across the country. Through the EIDL program, applicants may be eligible for loans of up to $10,000, which can be used to cover payroll, inventory, debt or other expenses. The interest rate for small businesses is 3.75%. For non-profits, it’s 2.75%.

The EIDL Advance program can provide eligible applicants with an additional emergency grant of up to $10,000. Those grant dollars are fully forgiven, and do not need to be repaid.

Learn more from the U.S. Small Business Administration by clicking here.

The Main Street Lending Program is officially live.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the group responsible for administering the $600 billion Main Street Lending Program, announced on Monday that it was ready to begin its lender registration process.

The Main Street Lending Program aims to assist “midsized companies with 15,000 employees or less.” Our team at blumshapiro has an overview of the initiative, which you can find by clicking here.

Before we move on, here are some quick hits from around the Web.

Looking to stay safe as the world gets back to normal? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new guidance on minimizing your risk of exposure while running errands, eating out and doing other day-to-day activities.

It doesn’t feel possible, but July is sneaking up on us. The IRS updated its website with some helpful resources regarding the upcoming July 15 filing deadline.

Plenty of experts are warning that a “second wave” of COVID-19 is coming toward the end of the year – but, it’s important to remember: Even though some of us are headed back to the office, the first wave hasn’t yet passed.

What are the odds of another economic shutdown? According to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: Slim.

Some (relatively) good news: Month-over-month American retail sales spiked by a record 17.7% from April to May (YTD purchases are still down around 6% from last year).

Finally, an interesting experiment: The tiny town of Tenino, Washington is trying to support its local economy by… printing its own currency that can only be used in Tenino, Washington. The Hustle has more in a fascinating story involving thin sheets of wood and a century-plus-old newspaper printer.

THE LATEST – NEWS FROM RHODE ISLAND

Let’s start with the latest numbers…

As of Thursday evening, 16,269 Rhode Islanders had tested positive for COVID-19. One-hundred and twenty-six patients were in the hospital, and 885 individuals had unfortunately passed away due to the virus.

ReopeningRI: Phase II continues; Phase III may be launching soon.

Rhode Island is well into Phase II of its long-term, comprehensive approach to reopening its economy, and Phase III is expected to begin at some point in the next few weeks.  

Officials from the Department of Business Regulation and Rhode Island Commerce have applauded the business community’s collective cooperation and compliance during Phase II of this process, saying that most businesses have taken all of the necessary precautions to welcome back their employees and customers in the safest way possible.

As a reminder: If you’re reopening your business, you have a few rules you need to follow. 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.

Free COVID-19 testing available for some asymptomatic residents.

A big reason for Rhode Island’s relatively speedy reopening has been the state’s impressive testing capacity. Since the pandemic began, Rhode Island has processed more than 211,593 COVID-19 tests, leading the nation in its number of completed tests per capita.

In the first several months of the crisis, tests were only available to individuals who were showing symptoms, or to essential employees like public safety officers and medical professionals. That changed this week, as state leaders announced a significant expansion of asymptomatic testing.

If you work at a close-contact business (think: restaurants, gyms, hair salons, tattoo parlors, child care facilities and the like), or if you’ve attended any large protest or demonstration in the last two weeks, you can (and are strongly encouraged to) sign up for a free COVID-19 test. Make an appointment by clicking here.

Congressional delegation still pushing for additional stimulus package.

Guests had to watch from their computers (and presumably cook their own eggs), but the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce found a way to host its annual Congressional Breakfast on Monday morning.

A major topic of discussion during the virtual event: The possibility of yet another federally funded stimulus package. Providence Business News has a recap; find it by clicking here.

General Assembly back in session; approves revised budget.

After a long time away, Rhode Island’s lawmakers returned to Smith Hill this week and quickly approved a revised $11.8 billion budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which ends on June 30.

The daunting task for the General Assembly is expected to come in July, when lawmakers will begin the unenviable task of trying to balance the FY 2020-21 budget, which is facing a projected deficit of up to $600-800 million.

Tune in: There are several interesting webinars coming up next week.

Here’s a sampling:

Plus, Lt. Gov. McKee will continue virtually hosting his weekly Town Hall meetings on Tuesdays at noon. These town halls cover a wide range of topics related to the COVID-19 crisis. They are free to join and open to the public.

Here are a few ways you can join:

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHTs

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

Construction: This crisis has hurt the construction industry, but is there a silver lining to be found? Anirban Basu, the chief economist with Associated Builders and Contractors, covered that question – and more – in his mid-year forecast webinar last week.

Plus: The D.C. Circuit Court decided to reject a lawsuit brought by the AFL-CIO to compel OSHA to issue an “emergency temporary standard” for infectious diseases. Here’s the reaction from industry leaders.

Hospitality: Did restaurants open too soon? Well, it depends on where you live. As hotels across the country start reopening, industry leaders are warning guests: Don’t have your heart set on a breakfast buffet. 

Plus: Here’s a “survival guide” for the hospitality industry… and a survey for Rhode Island’s restaurant industry.

Finally: Who needs Italy? You can have your European-style outdoor dining experience right here in Rhode Island, as Federal Hill is shutting down Atwells Avenue to let folks eat in the street.

Long-Term Healthcare: The CDC issued a new FAQ document for clinical care workers based on feedback from frontline health professionals. They also updated their operational guidance for healthcare facilities.

Plus: HHS launched a new online portal to help providers through the process of applying for funding through the federal Provider Relief Fund. And… what should you do if a resident refuses a COVID-19 test?

Manufacturing: Inc.com has a quick read outlining seven steps to keep warehouse workers safe.

Plus: Here are two good stories from Providence Business News this week. One runs through the hazards of offshoring during the pandemic; another details what local factories have done to stay safe during the crisis.

Non-Profits: The Main Street Lending Program may be made available to non-profit organizations. Plus: Google is committing $200 million in advertising grants to help non-profit organizations across the country that were impacted by this crisis.

ONGOING – FINANCIAL RELIEF PROGRAMS FOR BUSINESSES

We’ve mentioned most of these programs in prior weekly updates – but they’re still available, so we keep including them. Feel free to keep scrolling if you’ve read our past dispatches.

Rhode Island still accepting applications for Microenterprise Stabilization Grant Program (MSGP)

Introduced by Rhode Island Commerce on Thursday, April 23, the MSGP is designed to provide financial relief to small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 but left out of federal stimulus programs. The program can provide up to $5,000 to so-called microenterprises, which are defined as “bona fide business entities with between two-five employees” whose owners’ total household income must be 80% less than their hometown’s median income.

These loans are only available in participating towns and cities across Rhode Island. Learn more about the program, and find the links to apply, by clicking here.

Staying with Rhode Island Commerce, here are a few additional resources:

Micro-loans are still available for Providence businesses.

The Providence City Council, in partnership with the Providence Revolving Fund, recently launched the Providence Commercial Corridor Micro-Business Loan Program. The initiative is funded with $200,000 and will support businesses with fewer than 10 full-time employees in the service, retail and manufacturing industries.

Eligible businesses can apply for loans ranging from $500 – $5,000. Learn more about the program by clicking here.

Small Business Administration resources

The Small Business Administration’s Rhode Island District Office is promoting a couple of webinars scheduled for next week. Sign up by clicking here.

Plus, remember: The SBA funds a network of partners that offer local businesses free counselling and guidance through this crisis. Here are the links to learn more:

SHOUT OUT TO HELPING HANDS

We’re 13 weeks into this crisis, and Rhode Islanders are still looking out for one another.

Our favorite feel-good story from this week: A few dozen local bartenders organized a charity bike ride on Monday. They rode around 20 miles down the East Bay Bike Path and raised more than $8,000 for a number of worthy causes. Read more in Rhode Island Monthly.

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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