COVID-19

Economic Recovery Initiative

Information for Workers and Employers in Thurston County

The Thurston Regional Economic Recovery Task Force* is developing and coordinating a multi-faceted response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its specific impacts to and throughout our broader Thurston County Community.

This is a difficult period for our community, and we want you to know, you’re not alone. Local partners are coming together in an effort to figure out how we can reduce impacts today and position ourselves for a quick and effective recovery in the months ahead.

We will endeavor to provide local businesses and impacted workers relevant information through this resource site and other means as events unfold. We’re working fast to bring you information as we learn about it, so please forgive any errors or omissions and be sure to share with us any resources or solutions you think could help others.

Together, we will make it through this.

The Thurston County Chamber is closely monitoring the impacts to our local businesses caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. We will be updating this page with resources and information that can help our small business community get through these challenging times.

 

This page is a work in progress! We are updating it with new information on an hourly basis! Do you have information to share? Send us a note at info@thurstonchamber.com. Thank you.

Department of Revenue Covid-19 Related Relief for Taxpayers https://dor.wa.gov/about/2019-novel-coronavirus-outbreak-covid-19-update
IRS Answers about Federal Tax Relief related to Covid-19 https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus
Small Business Administration Assistance for businesses impacted by Covid-19 https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner Information about how different types of insurance coverage may be affected https://www.insurance.wa.gov/coronavirus?fbclid=IwAR1-w7MxF7HgSAqxYzNx5ZLBR-zF8yXuoU0X-_ihk7HkpbG82Hld2WU1qBo
Washington State Department of Financial Institutions Links and answers to questions about not being able to make mortgage payment, rent, credit card and other financial issues that could be impacted by coronavirus. https://dfi.wa.gov/coronavirus-financial-resources
Governor’s Office The Governor’s Office has compiled this partial list of resources to support economic retention and recovery related to COVID-19 coronavirus. https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-resources-businesses-and-workers
WA Health Benefit Exchange Special Enrollment Period https://www.wahbexchange.org/washington-healthplanfinder-announces-special-enrollment-period-in-response-to-growing-coronavirus-outbreak/?fbclid=IwAR0wGG9FL9BANDfg4mowu6l_NDImT_F5AARpULIoisYzvvaCnkUi9R8UPHg
Thurston County Government Economic injury worksheet. Please submit forms to emwebmaster@co.thurston.wa.us emwebmaster@co.thurston.wa.us https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/em/emdocuments/Economic%20Injury%20Worksheet.pdf
Small Business Administration SBA) may be able to provide assistance through the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program to businesses that have suffered substantial economic injury in an eligible disaster area. https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
The Washington State Department of Revenue The Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR) can work with impacted companies that request an extension on tax filing. The law grants the Department authority to extend the due date for excise tax returns. Contact DOR at 360.705.6705
Small Business Administration Federal Disaster Loans for Businesses, Private Nonprofits, Homeowners, and Renters https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/EIDLLoans
The Washington State Department of Commerce’s The Doc can help companies identify alternative markets and provide firms with STEP Vouchers to defray the costs of trade show or trade mission fees, airfare, interpreter and translation services, business matchmaking, export training programs and more www.commerce.wa.gov/promoting-washington-state/export-assistance
Employment Security Department SharedWork is a voluntary business sustainability program that provides flexibility to retain employees at reduced hours. https://esd.wa.gov/SharedWork
Employment Security Department ESD can provide support in the form of unemployment benefits. For employers that want to keep from losing highly-trained employees, these unemployment benefits can be received through, or while covered by, Shared Work, Partial Unemployment and Standby https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment
Washington State Health Department Do you have questions around what you should you do if you suspect a staff member is at risk for COVID-19?Or do you have questions on how you can plan to prevent COVID-19 impacts at your work place? Visit this website for information and recommendations. https://www.doh.wa.gov/Coronavirus/Workplace
Employment Security Department A Scenario & Benefit guide for businesses use. https://esdorchardstorage.blob.core.windows.net/esdwa/Default/ESDWAGOV/newsroom/COVID-19/covid-19-scenarios-and-benefits.pdf
Department of Labor and Industries This page has information and guidance on use of the state’s paid sick leave laws (RCW 49.46 and WAC 296-128) in connection with the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. https://www.lni.wa.gov/agency/outreach/paid-sick-leave-and-coronavirus-covid-19-common-questions
Department of Labor and Industries Occupational Safety and Health Administration https://www.lni.wa.gov/agency/outreach/novel-coronavirus-outbreak-covid-19-resources?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
WA State Office of Insurance Commissioner Information on how insurance coverage will change in response to covid https://www.insurance.wa.gov/coronavirus
USBG National Charity Foundation Bartender Emergency Assistance Program https://www.usbgfoundation.org/beap
This form will be utilized by our Local Economic Development Partners to provide information about the impacts of COVID-19 to our community and for our teams to connect with you about how we might assist during this time. Additionally, this information will be used to inform potential grants to bring in federal funds to our communities. These funds will help mitigate the economic impacts of the virus.

CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE THE ECONOMIC INJURY FORM

Washington Department of Health Novel coronavirus fact sheets in AnhAric, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/FactSheet
WA State Department of Health Up to date information on Covid-19 https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus
Office of the Governor Washington State information on Covid-19 https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-resources-businesses-and-workers
WA State Department of Health Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/FrequentlyAskedQuestions
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Protecting Your Mental Health During the Outbreak https://afsp.org/taking-care-of-your-mental-health-in-the-face-of-uncertainty/?fbclid=IwAR0h-0fJ_w0SAhvJYx8_iW_IQEe4vvimMUWZn1tvhi2tc8TBjTkEZgON5z0
Cascade Regional Blood Services Sign up to donate http://www.crbs.net/donate/
Kids Health COVID-19 tips for parents to talk with children and more https://rb.gy/niohhd
Simply parenting A special five-part audio series, “Troubling Times: Anxiety Rising, Schools Closing, and Way More Time at Home Wit https://www.simplicityparenting.com/?fbclid=IwAR3qSTjDpI0DSVPflHanxpcTVaP6xQPE0JzOg2VQwRHeLKsyfZJkyQOfySk
FCC Article: FCC will not disconnect those with unpaid bills for 60 days https://www.uwkc.org/news/unemployed-due-to-coronavirus-pandemic-heres-where-to-get-help/
UHaul UHaul is offering free self storage for 30 days for college students. Also offering special rates for other services. https://www.uhaul.com/Articles/About/20625/College-Students-U-Haul-Offers-30-Days-Free-Self-Storage-amid-Coronavirus-Outbreak/
Verizon, TMobile, Sprint, AT&T Cell phone providers are removing data caps and not charging late fees. https://www.cnet.com/news/carriers-are-suspending-internet-data-caps-during-coronavirus/
Comcast Free wifi for new low income customers, reduced rate for returning low income customers. https://corporate.comcast.com/covid-19
Puget Sound Energy PSE response to COVID-19 https://www.pse.com/press-release/details/learn-about-our-covid-19-response-plan
Enterprise With colleges and universities announcing campus closures in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, Enterprise wants to make it easier for students to get home to their families by reducing the age minimum and waiving the young renter fees for rentals through May 31, 2020. https://www.enterprise.com/en/car-rental/deals/young-driver.html
Child Care Action Council Are you looking for childcare fast? Child Care Action Council compiled a list of local organizations and resources that can help or are providing additional care. https://www.ccacwa.org/health-safety-updates
Family Education & Support list of carefully selected, up-to-date resources for Washington parents. http://familyess.org/covid-19/
From Thurston County Public Health: Due to the level of concern about COVID-19 this website gives local updates that effect Thurston County. https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/phss/Pages/coronavirus.aspx
1st Security Bank https://www.fsbwa.com/
ACU https://www.youracu.org/business-banking/business-loans/amplify-sba-loans/
Bank of the Pacific https://www.bankofthepacific.com/business-banking
Capital Choice Financial Group http://www.CapitalChoice.com
Columbia Bank https://www.columbiabank.com/business-banking
Commencement Bank https://www.commencementbank.com/
First Citizens Bank https://www.firstcitizens.com/
Heritage Bank https://www.heritagebanknw.com/home/resource-center/covid-19#HereToHelpYourBusiness
HomeStreet Bank https://www.homestreet.com/emergency-response
Hooper Financial Services http://www.dhooperfinancial.com/Business-Solutions.t589.htm
KeyBank https://www.key.com/businesses-institutions/index.jsp
Olympia Federal Savings https://www.olyfed.com/small-business/
Timberland Bank https://www.timberlandbank.com/
TwinStar Credit Union https://www.twinstarcu.com/business/services
Umpqua Bank https://www.umpquabank.com/blog/coronavirus-covid-19-readiness/
US Bank https://www.usbank.com/splash/covid-19.html
Washington Business Bank https://wabizbank.com/business/
Wells Fargo https://www.wellsfargo.com/
Travel and Leisure Online access to Virtual Tour of 12 International Museums https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours
Scholastic Day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/teaching-tools/articles/resources/scholastic-learn-at-home–free-resources-for-school-closures.html# 
Metropolitan Opera Daily live performances (available for 20 hours after too) https://operawire.com/metropolitan-opera-to-offer-up-nightly-met-opera-streams/?fbclid=IwAR1NymjVHstyaVqPwGy3V6nWXTV7k-B4br6BUsAZfnhX4FqZOJfBwmNMkzA
Seattle Symphony Live broadcasts from Seattle Symphony https://www.seattlesymphony.org/watch-listen/beyondthestage/live-broadcasts
Timberland Regional Library Check out the many Virtual Resources on this site that will continue to be available during the closure of the physical library buildings.continuing education and job skills https://www.trl.org/level-your-skills 
Evergreen State College Spring quarter 2020 instruction will now begin on Thursday, April 2, 2020 and all classes will be held online at least through the first four weeks, through April 24. Over the next two weeks, the college will accelerate work in progress to prepare faculty and staff to shift instruction online. https://www.evergreen.edu/covid19
South Puget Sound Community College Spring Quarter will start late on April 13 and classes will resume with virtual or alternative delivery https://spscc.edu/news/coronavirus
Tumwater School District Breakfasts and lunches will be made available for all students 18 and under, regardless of enrollment or free/reduced meal  Elementary, and Tumwater High School. https://bit.ly/2J3qspD
North Thurston Available for pickup at all 13 NTPS elementary schools and Salish Middle School starting March 16th, 11:30am – 12:30pm during the closure.  Students must be present to pick up the meals. https://bit.ly/2U92pub
Olympia School District Grab-and-Go meals (lunch and a breakfast for the next day packed in a paper bag) will be available at no cost for pickup between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.  The meals will also be available at some community sites. View all the distribution sites located on website https://bit.ly/3aYYvuJ
Yelm School District Meal services and daycare plans for health care providers and first responders will be communicated to families by Wednesday, March 18, 2020. https://www.ycs.wednet.edu/Domain/1031
Rainier School District Starting Wednesday, March 18th, FREE Grab & Go bagged breakfast & lunch will be available for pickup at Rainier Elementary School. Meals are available for anyone age 0-18. Daily service: Monday-Friday from 11 AM to 1 PM https://bit.ly/2U9bfs0
Rochester School District Starting Tuesday, March 17th Free Grab-and-Go bagged lunches and breakfasts will be available for pickup during the closure at the following locations: Swede Hall Parking Lot (12:00-1:00 pm), Rochester High School (11:00 am-12:00 pm), 201st @Prairie Pines Park (11:00 am)*,Bus Garage Parking Lot at 7505 183rd Ave, Rochester (11:40 am)*, Boys & Girls Club at 10140 Highway 12 SW, Rochester (12:00 pm)*. https://bit.ly/2xBKPYh
Shelton School District Breakfast and lunch will be served to students and community members who are 18 years and younger in a ‘grab and go’ manner, set up at the Shelton High School Student Union Building (SUB) from 9 a.m – noon, Monday-Friday. Starting on Wednesday, March 18, Bordeaux Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, and Olympic Middle School will ALSO be serving FREE breakfast and lunch to students and community members who are 18 years and younger in a ‘grab and go’ manner from 9 a.m-noon, Monday-Friday. https://bit.ly/2WdNfqc

Issues to Resolve for a Successful Return to Work

Essential Services and Resources

Bringing employees back to work and reopening commerce will require that certain essential services and resources are in place. These include:
General Health Screening

The CDC has recommended that critical infrastructure employers screen certain exposed employees for temperature, ideally before entering the facility. If this recommendation is expanded to cover all employees and potentially customers, employers will have to acquire temperature checking equipment and develop a process to screen individuals. Early and federally consistent guidance as to what will be expected is critical because it will take time to acquire equipment and establish protocols.
COVID-19 Testing

To the extent that return to work is based on the testing of employees either for the COVID-19 virus or antibodies to COVID-19, there will have to be sufficient testing capacity, as well as clear resolution on who is responsible for administering the tests, paying for the tests, and checking test results. Most employers are not well-positioned to administer these medical tests, so there must be widely accessible third-party providers. There also will need to be standardization as to when employees need to be tested, the frequency of tests (especially important if testing for infection, rather than antibodies), and the documentation employees will provide to employers. Frequent testing could be especially costly, and it should be determined who will bear those costs.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

If public health professionals recommend widespread use of PPE, such as masks, it will require clarity as to what is needed and who is responsible for providing such equipment, especially if shortages persist. For example, with respect to certain employees in critical infrastructure, the CDC has said: “Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.” However, the purpose of these masks should be made clear as many are not rated for protecting the wearer and employers asking employees to wear them should not be held liable if an employee contracts COVID-19 while wearing such a mask.
Transportation

Approximately eight million Americans rely on public transportation to get to and from work each day. Public transportation is most efficient when it maximizes density, which needs to be avoided to preserve social distancing. While staggered worktimes can help spread out the rush hour, transit systems likely will need to operate at what would normally be excess capacity in order to support public health. Transit systems will likely require some form of financial assistance to support a safe return to work.
Childcare

Throughout the United States, many childcare providers that are still operating are primarily only caring for the children of essential workers. They also have implemented various public health recommendations to increase social distancing, such as lowering teacher-child ratios. In order to allow other parents to return to work, childcare providers will need to presumably operate under sub-optimal financial conditions: below previous capacity levels (as not all employees will return to work at once) and with increased costs (to maintain social distancing and accommodate staggered work times). Childcare providers will likely require some form of temporary financial assistance in recognition that they will need to operate at a loss in order to allow parents to return to work.

Resolution of Regulatory and Legal Liability Issues

A reopening plan that is medically based and relies on social distancing and other best practices for public health may raise significant regulatory and legal liability risks. These are in addition to numerous lawsuits already filed as a result of COVID-19 and litigation risk that will become exacerbated during a reopening. Issues include:
Health Privacy

Federal and some state laws are designed to maximize the health privacy of individuals. However, this objective could conflict with potential reopening requirements for employers to verify an employee’s COVID-19 status and/or their vulnerability due to underlying health conditions. Employer efforts to protect other employees and conduct contact tracing in the workplace after an individual has tested positive could be slowed by obligations to protect the infected individual’s health privacy. In addition, confidentiality requirements could prevent businesses from narrowly focusing their contact tracing so as to balance workforce safety while minimizing business interruption. During the COVID-19 national emergency and recovery period, employers will need a broad safe-harbor to make necessary inquiries regarding health status and to make certain limited disclosures to prevent the spread of the disease.
Discrimination Claims

Employers who conduct a medically-based or risk-based reopening (using factors such as age or underlying health conditions) may face liability under existing anti-discrimination rules, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, employers could face claims for adverse employment actions by employees who are delayed in returning to work or who feel they are not provided other reasonable employment accommodations. At the same time, employers can likewise face liability if they return at-risk employees to work too soon. There is a need for clear guidance about what practices are acceptable in conducting a medically-based or risk-based reopening and provide a safe harbor for actions taken by employers consistent with those guidelines.
Safe Workplace Requirements

Generally, when maintaining a safe workplace requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, respirators, and physical barriers, OSHA requires employers to be responsible for ensuring the availability of such equipment and training employees on the use of the equipment. This is simply not possible if PPE becomes recommended in all workplaces. The federal government should make clear that PPE recommended specifically to combat the spread of COVID-19 is not subject to the normal OSHA requirements around workplace PPE.

Employers also may face lawsuits around the limited supply of or training for PPE. Worker’s compensation issues dealing with shortages of PPE or its incorrect use are also likely to emerge. The federal government should clarify the scope of liability for the provision (or inability to provide due to scarcity) of PPE.
Support for Independent Contractors

More than 23 million Americans receive income as independent contractors in fields as varied as construction, news reporting, professional services, and online-platform-enabled work. Businesses want to be able to provide the same type of workplace protections to independent contractors as they do for employees. However, doing so could be used to argue that the individual has ceased to be an independent contractor and is instead an “employee.” Congress should settle this tension by creating a safe harbor that would allow businesses to implement health practices and provide benefits, including PPE, without establishing a formal employment relationship for the duration of the COVID-19 return to work transition.
Employment Practices

Employers already are facing litigation regarding employment practices related to the pandemic. This includes class actions in the transportation industry regarding employees’ scope of work and travel destinations. Employers also could face liability around wage-and-hour issues (for example: Are employees compensated while getting tested or passing through screening?), leave policy, travel restrictions, telework protocols, and worker’s compensation. In addition, employers could risk legal actions if they do not accommodate employees who either insist on returning to work even though they have not completed health screenings or are high risk, or who refuse to return to work and provide adequate support for such refusal. There should be a safe harbor for temporary employer-implemented workplace policy changes designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Another source of liability are charges against employers forced to lay off workers in response to social distancing policies and government-mandated closures. The federal WARN Act and many similar state laws require employers comply with procedural requirements, including notice to employees in the event of layoffs. California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on March 17, 2020 that suspended some requirements under California’s WARN Act and ordered the state’s labor agency to issue guidance on the suspension. Policymakers should implement similar statutory and/or regulatory changes designed to limit the application of the WARN Act for COVID-19 related layoffs.
Exposure Liability

This is perhaps the largest area of concern for the overall business community. It encompasses multiple types of claims that could be brought against business that have been designated as “essential” as well as large swaths of the remaining business community once the economy is reopened. The core component of claims in this category is that a customer/employee/patient/member of the public/etc. was exposed to COVID-19 in a business facility or as the result of a business’ particular action, or failure to act, and then that claimant became sick. The legal theories underlying these claims may range from simple negligence to strict liability to public nuisance, which the plaintiffs’ bar could try to pursue through contingency fee arrangements with cash-strapped states and municipalities. Depending on the legal theory underlying the claim, proving causation may be a challenge for plaintiffs. If enough claims are brought, the scope and magnitude of the litigation still may exert enough pressure to threaten businesses or industries with bankruptcy. The threat of exposure-related lawsuits also will deter some businesses from reopening even after it is determined that they could safely operate by following the guidance of appropriate health authorities.

Reforms to address these types of claims are largely dependent on which legal theory underlies a particular claim. For example, in the negligence space, providing a safe harbor for companies following CDC or state/local health department guidance could be helpful so long as the companies’ actions do not amount to gross negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct. Procedural reforms such as channeling certain claims into federal court rather than allowing them to remain in various state courts could be helpful. Prohibiting or tightly circumscribing public nuisance claims also could be useful. Finally, policymakers should look to the reforms contained in prior economy-wide federal legal reform laws, such as the Y2K Act for guidance.
Product Liability

Makers of certain products/devices/equipment to either protect against, treat, or test for COVID-19 may not have sufficient protection against speculative litigation. While the PREP Act currently provides protection against some types of liability for some categories of key “countermeasures,” it does not cover others. For example, while respirators are now covered by the Act, hand sanitizers, soaps and other key cleaning supplies are not. Furthermore, the Act does not provide protection outside key healthcare-related spaces. For example, a non-healthcare provider business that provides PPE to its employees or uses recommended cleaning products does not receive any protections under the PREP Act. The list of product types covered by the PREP Act should be expanded to include widely recommended protective products such as hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies. In addition, the Act could be expanded to cover additional categories of users and providers of essential countermeasures.
Medical Liability

There is increasing concern about medical liability claims being brought against healthcare providers and facilities caring for COVID-19 patients. For example, the plaintiffs’ bar could try to bring medical liability/malpractice claims arising from care decisions, lack of care due to equipment shortages, as well as mistakes due to long hours or staff shortages. Also of concern are lawsuits brought against nursing homes and assisted living facilities for allegedly failing to protect residents/patients from contracting COVID-19. Healthcare facilities could be forced to ration care and make difficult decisions about who does and does not receive specific types of treatments, and each of those decisions has the potential of becoming a lawsuit. In addition, there are liability concerns about claims brought by non-COVID-19 patients who allege that they did not receive the appropriate standard of care due to the influx of COVID-19 patients that a healthcare facility or provider was required to treat.

At the federal level, the CARES Act provides some liability protections for volunteer healthcare providers caring for COVID-19 patients. The CARES Act language should be expanded to include all healthcare providers and facilities (not just volunteers). In addition, significant state-level COVID-19 medical liability statutes, such as one New York recently enacted, could serve as a model for a preemptive federal fix in this area.
Securities Litigation

Securities class actions already have been filed against businesses impacted by the coronavirus—such as those in the cruise line and pharmaceutical sectors—based on stock-price drops resulting from the impact of the virus and claims that companies should have been warning investors about the potential consequences if the world was faced with an unprecedented pandemic. In addition, securities litigation also has been filed related to data privacy concerns for certain video conferencing platforms that have increased in popularity due to the increased use of teleworking because of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. An automatic stay should be placed on securities litigation cases arising out of or related to the COVID-19 emergency until after the President’s declaration of a public emergency has been rescinded. In addition, these types of securities cases could be consolidated into one or a few federal district courts for efficiency purposes. Also, defendants in these cases should be allowed to have interlocutory appeal rights for the denial of a motion to dismiss and plaintiffs should have to plead with particularity all the elements of their claim in these cases; and all discovery should be stayed until after the motion to dismiss stage of the litigation. Finally, it is worth considering a cap on damages in COVID-19 related securities lawsuits.
Customer Communications

Businesses have an enhanced need during the COVID-19 emergency to communicate to customers via telephone and text messages regarding operating status, restricted access, and other issues. However, the threat of litigation under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) can cause a business to limit the use of the important informational phone calls and texts. Approval of a pending petition at the FCC to expand the type of communications subject to an emergency exemption due to the COVID-19 situation would be helpful.
False Claims Act

Cases brought under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) can impose significant liability on entities receiving federal funding or contracts and these types of liability concerns have the potential of slowing down relief under the CARES Act and any future relief measures. In the FCA space, the Small Business Administration’s Interim Final Rule implementing the paycheck protection loan program under the CARES Act does contain very helpful hold harmless language for financial services providers; to more fully effectuate that language a memorandum of understanding between the SBA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding how DOJ will approach FCA litigation under the CARES Act loan program would be extremely valuable and similar reforms also should be implemented for any future relief measures.

Support for Businesses and Individuals

The federal government took unprecedented steps to support employers and individuals during the current shutdown. These programs will need to be modified and to some extent extended and targeted to assist those businesses and individuals who will remain under distress during a phased or gradual reopening.
Businesses Dependent on High-Density Gatherings or Travel

Entertainment venues, restaurants, bars, companies that host meetings and events, and many other businesses are only profitable when they achieve the type of occupancy and density that is not possible during social distancing. In addition, many businesses rely on business, trade show, and personal travel that may be greatly reduced based on social distancing guidance. A gradual or phased reopening that restricts the size of gatherings or limits travel may technically permit these businesses to reopen but this will mean operating at a significant loss. During the period where occupancy and gatherings are numerically restricted, these businesses should be provided with bridge assistance to enable them to remain viable.
Individuals Delayed in Returning to Work

Until there is a widely available vaccine, or at least a widely available effective treatment for those who fall ill, not everyone will be able to resume normal work activities. High risk populations will need to engage in social distancing or even remain at home entirely. Individuals, including independent contractors, who must stay home because of their risk profile will need ongoing financial support if they cannot work remotely. This may require an extension of regular unemployment insurance or the creation of a new “high risk” unemployment insurance system.

 

Questions

  1. What additional essential services do you see as necessary to support a phased reopening?
  2. What additional resources do you anticipate needing to operationalize a phased reopening?
  3. What additional guidance, including specific regulatory guidance, from the federal government would be beneficial for a phased reopening?
  4. What additional legal liability issues are you concerned about during a phased reopening?
  5. Do you anticipate your businesses needing additional financial support to bridge a phased reopening? If so, what form should that take?
  6. How have you changed how you operate your business as a result of COVID-19 and what changes do you anticipate continuing after the pandemic?
  7. Have you benefitted from any of the federal support, including the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, implemented since the onset of the pandemic? If so, which support programs and do you have feedback on these programs and the federal response? Are there any changes you would recommend?
  8. What new support do you envision needing going forward? For example, some types of standing support for business interruption in the case of a pandemic? How concerned are you about the potential costs of such support?
  9. While restoring the economy will be a matter of private sector employers being able to resume activity, what other role should the private sector be playing, and what hindrances do you see in the way of any of these efforts?
  10. What did we forget to ask?

Click here for PDFs that include incredible information about Emergency Loans for Small Businesses during the COVID Crisis.

The Department of Commerce last week provided up to $1,000 in rental assistance and up to $500 in energy assistance for households that qualify for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The crisis funding will be distributed through Commerce’s statewide network of community action agencies, and is expected to serve an estimated 5,000 eligible households.

“Imagine not having enough funds to pay rent, the heat bill, and put food on the table. Thousands of families in Washington face this predicament, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this crisis in our state,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “We are working with our partners to disperse this funding as quickly as possible.”

Community action agencies will distribute the money on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is in place. Of the $9 million available, 15% is available for rental assistance. Tenants who are behind in their rent and meet the other qualifications for crisis benefits must apply to their local community action agency. If approved, the rental assistance payment will be made directly to the landlord.

Similarly, those unable to pay their energy bills must apply through their local community action agency. When approved, the benefit is paid to the utility that serves the qualifying household.

Who can apply and how

To qualify for the COVID-19 crisis LIHEAP benefits, a household must be at 125% of the federal poverty level and have received – or will receive – a LIHEAP or Low Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP) benefit in the current program year (October 2019 – October 2020).

Last year, LIHEAP dispersed an average rental assistance benefit of $800 to 430 households.

In 2019, a family of four, with an annual income of $32,188, or a monthly income of $2,682, qualified for the program. See LIHEAP Eligibility Guidelines

To find out if you qualify for assistance, contact your local community action agency.  An interactive map with contact information is linked here.

Commerce has implemented temporary policy changes to allow for quick, safe distribution of these funds, without personal contact. Community action agencies are accepting documents by mail, email, fax, text or telephone. Commerce implemented the program with currently available funds in anticipation of receiving federal government Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding to states soon.

The Department of Commerce last week provided up to $1,000 in rental assistance and up to $500 in energy assistance for households that qualify for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The crisis funding will be distributed through Commerce’s statewide network of community action agencies and is expected to serve an estimated 5,000 eligible households.

“Imagine not having enough funds to pay rent, the heating bill, and put food on the table. Thousands of families in Washington face this predicament, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this crisis in our state,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “We are working with our partners to disperse this funding as quickly as possible.”

Community action agencies will distribute the money on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is in place. Of the $9 million available, 15% is available for rental assistance. Tenants who are behind in their rent and meet the other qualifications for crisis benefits must apply to their local community action agency. If approved, the rental assistance payment will be made directly to the landlord.

Similarly, those unable to pay their energy bills must apply through their local community action agency. When approved, the benefit is paid to the utility that serves the qualifying household.

Who can apply and how

To qualify for the COVID-19 crisis LIHEAP benefits, a household must be at 125% of the federal poverty level and have received – or will receive – a LIHEAP or Low Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP) benefit in the current program year (October 2019 – October 2020).

Last year, LIHEAP dispersed an average rental assistance benefit of $800 to 430 households.

In 2019, a family of four, with an annual income of $32,188, or a monthly income of $2,682, qualified for the program. See LIHEAP Eligibility Guidelines

To find out if you qualify for assistance, contact your local community action agency. An interactive map with contact information is linked here.

Commerce has implemented temporary policy changes to allow for quick, safe distribution of these funds, without personal contact. Community action agencies are accepting documents by mail, email, fax, text or telephone. Commerce implemented the program with currently available funds in anticipation of receiving federal government Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding to states soon.

This section includes information from NR Smith and Associates in Olympia, WA, regarding new information about the CARES Act. If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out to NR Smith at (360) 754-9475 or info@nrsmith.com.

THE CARES ACT

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted, an economic relief package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The CARES Act provides economic support at the federal level to the business sector, employees, individuals and families.

For our business clients, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL), may be sound tools to help their business navigate through this crisis. The PPP has provisions for loan forgiveness and the EIDL offers a $10,000 advance to be paid within 3 days. The EIDL advance does not require to be repaid when used to cover listed COVID-19 expenses, and can be given even in cases where the loan application is denied.

We are reviewing the key provisions of the Act and working with the SBA and local banks who are administering the SBA loans.

The Cares Act that allows for mortgage forbearance comes with some unanticipated consequences to the consumer and the housing industry as a whole so hoping that people if they do watch this will get a better feel for who it was really intended for, those who lost wages and are unable to temporarily make their mortgage payments vs. those who are still receiving full pay.

 

The industry is already stating that anyone taking advantage of this program will not be able to obtain a new mortgage for a refinance or purchase for a minimum of 24-months.  It will also  bring negatively impact mortgage companies and Services which obviously impacts the housing industry as a whole.

This section includes information from Ron Bruchet, President of GHB Insurance in Lacey, WA, regarding options for group medical insurance when employers are forced to reduce staff due to COVID-19. Ron explains the difference between Furlough and Leave of Absence, and how it may impact your staff.

Furlough = Leave of Absence which allows employees to return to their jobs after a period of time

Layoff = permanent dismissal of employees from their jobs because of budgetary constraints or work shortage

If you are considering reducing your staff and want to keep them covered on the group medical plan, you may want to consider a Furlough instead of a Layoff. Most carriers have a 90-day Leave of Absence policy within their contract as long as the Leave of Absence was approved/initiated by the employer and the employer continues to pay the premium. Here is a link to a sample Furlough letter that can be used – https://ghbinsurance.com/sample-covid-19-furlough-letter-2/

In addition, there are two programs available through the Washington State Employment Security Department:

Shared Workhttps://esd.wa.gov/SharedWork

  • Employees hours are being reduced by 50% or less
  • Employees receives their paycheck from their employer for reduced hours worked, and then they receive a portion of unemployment as well.
  • Employers are able to retain skilled workers while reducing cost
  • Employers are required to maintain the employees’  health insurance during this period. This can be done by using the Leave of Absence policy but only up to the period of time allowed under the carrier contract.

Standbyhttps://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/temporary-layoffs

  • Employers can request standby for employees with a probable return-to-work date within eight weeks (56 days) of the date of the request.
  • Employees will not be required to “look for work” during this period.
  • Employers should request standby using the “Request for Separation Information” form sent when a worker has applied for unemployment benefits.
  • Employers are required to maintain the employees’  health insurance for the eight weeks (56 days). This can be done using the Leave of Absence policy.

If you are considering terminating your group health insurance altogether, please contact your insurance provider about the Special Election Period (SEP) for enrolling in individual medical plans.

The Washington State Department of Commerce want businesses in our state to know that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has amended its original disaster declaration to apply to all Washington small businesses, regardless of county.

These low-interest loans for working capital are now available to any small businesses suffering economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak.

SBA disaster assistance is now available in all counties within the state of Washington.

SBA Customer Service Representatives will be available to answer questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and explain the application process.

Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the COVID-19 since Jan. 31 may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the COVID-19. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75%.

SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 16, 2020.

For federal information about Coronavirus, please visit: Coronavirus.gov.

For more information about available SBA resources and services, please visit: SBA.gov/coronavirus.

For information for Washiongton state business about our response to COVID-19, visit our web portal at coronavirus.wa.gov.

We surveyed Chamber Members to find out which restaurants are open for takeout and their hours of operations. This is an evolving list! Did we miss you? Please send us an email to info@thurstonchamber.com!

Company Name Offer Address Phone Number Hours
Refire Coffee Free Coffee delivery 6404 Sierra Drive SE, Lacey WA 360 688- 1199 9am – 6pm
Dairy Queen Drive Thru, Take Out and Delivery via UberEats 611 Lilly Rd SE 3604136901 10am-10pm
Dairy Queen Drive Thru, Take Out and Delivery via UberEats 6530 CAPITOL BLVD SE 360-754-6747 10am-10pm
Dairy Queen Drive Thru, Take Out and Delivery via UberEats 4545 Yelm Hwy SE 360-706-2109 10am-10pm
Dairy Queen Drive Thru, Take Out and Delivery via UberEats 1202 E Yelm Ave #A 360-400-2270 10am-10pm
Dairy Queen Drive Thru, Take Out and Delivery via UberEats 19742 Old Hwy 99 SW Rochester, WA 98579 360-273-5532 10am-10pm
Batdorf & Bronson Coffeehouse Grab and Go! 516 S. Capitol Way 360-786-6717 8am-4pm
Sandstone Distillery Curbside pick up. Free hand sanitizer. ( 1 per person) 842 Wright rd. Tenino, WA. 360-264-1901 Noon to 5. Call if you need to be latter.
Ralph’s Thriftway Online grocery ordering and drive thru pickup. www.olythriftway.com. The drive thru is on the State street side. 1908 4th Ave E, Olympia WA 98506 Order online 24 hours a day. Pickup 10am to 6pm
Anthony’s Hearthfire Starting March 20th from 12-6pm.  Customers can call ahead and we will run it out to their car in the round about.  All gratuities collected will go to our employees that are furloughed at this time. 704 Columbia St NW, Olympia, WA 98501 (360) 357-9700 12-6pm
Elyse’s Catering Inc Homemade Dinner Menu’s available for pick-up and delivery. 3238 Capitol Blvd S 3609435555 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM
Dirty Dave’s Pizza Parlor As of Thursday, 3/19/20, we are serving our Full Menu, packed ToGo, for customer pick up. We may enlist a third party delivery service if the In House dining shutdown gets extended. More likely, ‘when’ it gets extended. 3939 Martin Way East 3604561560 Currently Monday-Saturday 11 am-9 pm. Sunday 12 noon-9 pm. We may close earlier, depending on business.
Gotti Sweets Order Ahead Take Out 422 Legion Way SE 5033810545 Wed-Sat 9a.m.-4p.m.
Cascadia Grill Take out – order by phone or in house. Door Dash for delivery 200 4th Avw W 360-628-8731 Noon to 8pm, 7 days a week
Juju’s Iced Cream and Frozen Custard Iced Cream, Frozen Custard, Vegan Soft Serve, Milkshakes, Sundaes, and Baked Desserts to go. 208 4th Ave W 360-810-2263 Noon to 8pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Northwest Beerwerks Take out and delivery 420 Steele St SE, Olympia WA 98506 360-350-2051 4-7pm daily
Main Street Cookie Company Curbside pick-up for people who call in their orders in advance and pay over the phone. 112 Binghampton St, Rainier, WA (360) 446-0232 M-F 9am-6pm; Sa 9am-4pm
Freshii To-go orders at store and over phone, deliveries through UberEats, GrubHub and DoorDash (soon), curbside delivery and pick-up through our Freshii App. Menu at freshii.com 1200 Coooper Point Road SW Suite 412, Olympia WA 98502 360-350-6538 Monday – Friday 11:00am – 7pm and Sun/Sat 11:00am – 5:00pm

Just the Facts

Just the Facts

Just the Facts