Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act

From the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship

The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain non- profits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.

To keep up to date on when these programs become available, please stay in contact with your local Small Business Administration (SBA) District Office, which you can locate here.

For more information and to download the Guide, click here.

Table of Contents

  • Paycheck Protection Program Loans
  • Small Business Debt Relief Program
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants
  • Small Business Counseling
  • Small Business Contracting
  • Small Business Tax Provisions

Struggling to get started? The following questions might help point you in the right direction. Do you need:

  • Capital to cover the cost of retaining employees? Then the Paycheck Protection Program might be right for you.
  • A quick infusion of a smaller amount of cash to cover you right now? You might want to look into an Emergency Economic Injury Grant.
  • To ease your fears about keeping up with payments on your current or potential SBA loan? The Small Business Debt Relief Program could help.
  • Just some quality, free counseling to help you navigate this uncertain economic time? The resource partners might be your best bet.

Essential Businesses & Operations Frequently Asked Questions

Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity

Executive Order 20-10 requires all non-essential businesses and operations to cease all activities except for minimum basic operations. Non-essential businesses may also continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors working from home.

What businesses and operations are considered essential?

  • For information and updates to essential businesses click here

My business falls within one of the categories. Can I require my employees come to work?

  • The intent of the EO is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of Even essential businesses and operations should promote telecommuting whenever possible.
  • Consider alternating work schedules to minimize the number of employees in the office at the same time.
  • To the greatest extent feasible, essential businesses and operations shall comply with social distancing requirements, including maintaining six-foot foot social distancing for both employees and members of the public at all times. They must also take the following practice measures wherever possible:
    • Designating with signage, tape, or by other means six-foot spacing for employees and customers in line to maintain appropriate distance;
    • Having hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers;
    • Implementing separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers;
    • Posting online whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely.

I’m not sure if my business falls within one of those categories

Please read the Executive Order as it provides much more information of what businesses and operations are essential. If after this review you still are not sure, you can reach out to DCEO at [contact info] and please be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What general industry are you in?
  • What products do you make/what services do you perform?
    • Where/when do those products/services go into the stream of commerce?
    • Which specific medical or other essential business do you supply products to?
    • Is there a pending order or a routine schedule for shipments?
  • Can any of your business functions be performed remotely?
  • How many employees do you have?
    • Can your employees work remotely?
    • If some or all of the employees must be at the place of business, can operations be modified so that employees work in shifts (one week at home; one week at the place of business)?
  • What is the physical layout of the facility where people work?
    • How will you be able to ensure proper distancing?
    • Do you have hand sanitizer available?
    • Are restrooms cleaned frequently and stocked with soap?
    • Where do employees eat? Is that cleaned frequently and is there room to social distance?
  • Explain why you believe your business falls within one of the essential business categories.

My business is not considered an “Essential Business,” does this order require the business to shut down my facility?

  • You and your employees are allowed to perform “Minimum Basic Operations” at your work place, so long as employees maintain a distance of six feet from one another to the greatest extent feasible. Minimum Basic Operations include maintaining the value of inventory, payroll, ensuring security, and ensuring that employees can work remotely. Other than to maintain “Minimum Basic Operations,” employees can only work remotely from their residences.

My technology company provides products and services that the public needs to access critical services. Is my company being completely shut down?

  • No, However, most employees of such companies will need to work from home. Anyone who must work onsite to maintain “Essential Infrastructure” for the community or to maintain “Minimum Basic Operations” as described in the Order may continue to work in the workplace so long as they are maintaining social distancing.

Are companies that sell only CDB products and/or nutritional supplements, but not medicine or other medications not requiring a prescription, considered essential businesses?

  • No. Companies that only sell these products do not fall within Section 12(a) of the Executive Order and must temporarily cease operations apart from “Minimum Basic Operations.”

Can people who reside in Illinois but perform manufacturing or supply chain work outside the state (where there is no such order in place) be able to travel to their jobs?

  • Yes. This order covers businesses in Illinois and their operations; it does not cover businesses that are located outside of Illinois.

My business is non-essential. Can I have one person come in on a daily basis to pack up online orders and take them to the post office?

  • Yes. Maintaining inventory is considered a minimum basic operation  that  non-essential businesses can continue to perform. However, non-essential businesses are not permitted to have in-store pickup. The inventory must be taken to the post office.

My business is non-essential. Can I have an employee come to the building each day to pick up the mail?

  • Yes. Retrieving mail is considered a minimum basic operation that non-essential businesses can continue to

Can a personal trainer have exercise training sessions with 5 or fewer people?

  • No. Professional services such as a personal trainer is not considered essential business under the restrictions contained in the executive order.

Would manufacturers that produce products for the transportation and construction sectors qualify under Sec. 12(t) of Essential Businesses? (e.g. supply products or parts for street/highway signs and construction sites)

  • This depends on how directly and closely linked the manufactured products are to critical infrastructure, public health, and/or essential You will need to answer additional questions such as: what products are you producing? Do you currently have orders to supply an essential business such as a restaurant, grocery store, or health care facility? Do you currently have orders to supply firms or governments that are building or maintaining critical infrastructure such as roads, railroads, airports, or electrical power plants?  If after conducting  an analysis guided by the questions above you are still not sure, you can reach out to DCEO at 1-800-252- 2923 or CEO.support@illinois.gov.

Can golf courses stay open?

  • No; recreational sports businesses including golf courses are not considered essential businesses under the executive order.

Are car dealerships considered essential businesses? 

  • Car dealerships can remain open for repair services. They can also remain open for car sales on an appointment-only basis. Showrooms must remain closed. 

Can residential and commercial lawn service remain open?

  • Many landscape projects will fit under an exemption such as construction, agriculture, or public works. Outdoor landscape projects generally will provide for good social distancing that poses little risk of transmission, but it still is important to ensure the ability to wash or sanitize hands and take other precautions.

Is residential remodeling an essential business?

  • Generally yes, residential remodeling falls within Section 9 of the Executive Order. However, residential remodeling companies must ensure social distancing compliance during their work.

Are car washes considered an essential business?

  • Exterior automated car washes, both free-standing and those connected with a gas station, are Full-service car washes are not permissible. Interior cleaning is prohibited. Self- service vacuums are also prohibited.

Are moving companies considered essential?

  • They fall under Section 12(i) as shipping, delivery and pick-up services.

Are sprinkler contractors considered “essential business”?

  • Yes. Sprinkler contractors fall within Section 9 of the Executive Order as essential infrastructure (construction and building maintenance).

Are fire alarm system contractors and fire protection/suppression system contractors considered “essential businesses”?

  • Yes. Fire alarm and fire protection/suppression systems are deemed critical trades under Section 12(h) of the Executive Order as they ensure the safety of residences, Essential Activities and Essential Businesses and Operations

Are building security systems contractors considered “essential businesses”?

  • Yes. Building security systems contractors are deemed critical trades under Section 12(h) of the Executive Order as they ensure the safety of residences, Essential Activities and Essential Businesses and Operations.

Are businesses licensed under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor, and Locksmith Act deemed essential?

  • Yes. Section 12(h) provides that “security staff” is a critical trade and an essential business and operation that may continue in operation and is not subject to the stay-at-home directive. The Department deems private detectives, private detective PERCs, private alarm contractors, private alarm contractor PERCs, private security contractors, private security contractor PERCs, fingerprint vendors, canine handlers, locksmiths, locksmith PERCs, and security officers of a registered armed proprietary security force holding active licenses under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor and Locksmith Act to be “security staff” as referenced in Section 12h of the Executive Order and not subject to the stay-at-home directive.

Are greenhouses/garden centers that sell vegetable plants in addition to flowers considered essential?

  • Generally, no. Garden and flower stores are not essential. However, stores that sell supplies that assist with either (a) agriculture; or (b) products for landscaping continue to sell those products to the public , provided adequate social distancing is complied with.

 

Energy Sector FAQs

Will public utilities and other service providers be subject to movement and business operations restrictions?

  • The energy sector maintains multiple types of facilities that must remain operational for the remainder of the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation.
  • Individuals may leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to offer, provision, operate, maintain and repair “Essential Infrastructure,” including the operations and maintenance of electrical generation, provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements.
  • The definition of Essential Businesses and Operations in Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order is meant to encompass the workers identified in the Memorandum issued by the S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, on March 19, 2020, which can be found here: https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure- workforce
  • Utilities should prioritize essential services and use best judgement when deciding to proceed with infrastructure upgrades and movement and business operations. 

How should essential employees identify themselves? Will they be able to present their company badges to law enforcement and allowed to proceed home or to work? How will this be communicated to local law enforcement?

  • Law enforcement officials should not stop residents who are on their way to or from work.
  • To preserve public health and safety throughout the state and ensure that our healthcare delivery system is capable of serving those who are sick, we recommend that utilities identify absolutely essential staff – those who ensure basic power plant operations and cannot do their work remotely.
  • Individua ls that are not subject to movement and business operations restrictions should wear appropriate badging (where available) and carry company identification (if available).
  • Individua ls may also display other documentation or orders that clearly indicate their role or purpose matches the exceptions to any movement and business operations restrictions.

Is the state prioritizing power plants with supply chain needs, for items such as cleaning supplies and surgical masks?

  • The state’s reserve of personal protective equipment (PPE) is currently prioritized for health care workers and first responders.

What is the protocol for commercial transportation if mechanical equipment is needed for power plant operations?

  • “Essential Travel” includes any travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Activities,.
  • Individuals engaged in any Essential Travel must comply with all Social Distancing Requirements as defined in the Executive Order.
  • Transportation of mechanical equipment necessary for plant operations will still be allowed.

Will rain carriers be subject to the movement and business restrictions?

  • Individuals employed by, contracted with, or operating on behalf of railroads are not subject to the movement and business operations restrictions when providing products and services necessary to maintain safe and efficient train operations in the furtherance of community relief and sustained supply chains.

Will the vendors or contractors relied upon by public utilities and other utility service providers be subject to movement and business operations restrictions?

  • Individuals employed by or working on behalf of establishments that provide parts, repair and service, fuel, security, or other products or services necessary for the operation of “Essential Infrastructure” or electrical generation are not subject to these restrictions.
  • This includes, but is not limited to, individua ls employed by entities that sell any of the following to essential businesses or infrastructure: IT and telecommunication equipment; electrical, plumbing and heating material; automotive fuel; domestic fuel.

What other guidance do you have for utility companies and their workers?

  • If you must do work at a customer’s home, practice social distancing.
  • If you are sick and have respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, stay home unless you need medical Remain in your home until you feel better and have no symptoms.
  • Keep in mind there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill can isolate at While at home, as much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people.
  • Those who need medical attention should contact their health care provider who will evaluate whether they can be cared for at home or need to be hospitalized.
  • Additional guidance can be found on IDPH’s site: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics- services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus

For questions regarding essential businesses call (800) 252-2923 or email CEO.Support@illinois.gov.

State Treasurer to Make Low-Interest Bridge Loans for Businesses Available as Soon as This Week

Illinois small businesses can tap into $250 million in low-interest bridge loans as soon as this week to help push through the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said today.

The state treasurer’s office will make $250 million available to Illinois banks and credit unions that wish to participate. The financial institutions will determine who is eligible for the loans.

“We can move faster than the federal government and its partners because we are not slowed by the partisanship that overshadows such efforts,” Frerichs said. “Part of ensuring the health and well-being of our residents includes making sure small-business owners stay solvent so their workers can be paid.”

Kraig Lounsberry, president of the Community Bankers Association, encourages its members to participate in this loan program. “Partnering with the state treasurer’s office will give community banks a powerful new tool to quickly protect small businesses suffering during this crisis,” Lounsberry said.

The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office can move faster than others because facilitating low-interest loans is one of its core functions. These linked-deposit loans have been a staple for decades. The most widely known linked deposit is Ag Invest, which helps farmers with annual and long‑term loans to be used for operating costs, equipment purchases, livestock purchases, and construction-related expenses. Established in 1983, Ag Invest has provided more than $4 billion in loans.

Other linked-deposit models include efforts to assist workers impacted by a government shutdown; faith‑based organizations seeking facility improvements; and the legal cannabis industry.

“As someone who used to be in the restaurant business, these bridge loans truly are needed and will make a difference,” said Illinois Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield. “Small business is the backbone of our economy, and now, more than ever, these businesses need to know state government is here to support them and their employees.”

“In Illinois, we can move more quickly than others because the treasurer’s office already has the authority to create these loan programs. These loans can help businesses stay solvent today, when they need the help,” said Illinois Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign.

For more about the Illinois Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program, visit bit.ly/SmallBizRelief.

About the Illinois Treasurer

As Illinois State Treasurer, Frerichs is the state’s Chief Investment and Banking Officer and actively manages approximately $31 billion. The portfolio includes $13 billion in state funds, $12 billion in college and retirement savings plans and $6 billion on behalf of local and state governments. The investment approach is cautious to ensure the preservation of capital and returns $42 to the state for every $1 spent in operations. Frerichs’ office protects consumers by safeguarding more than $3 billion in unclaimed property, encouraging savings plans for college or trade school, increasing financial education, assisting people with disabilities save without losing government benefits, and removing barriers to a secure retirement. The Treasurer’s Office predates Illinois incorporation in 1818. Voters in 1848 chose to make it an elected office.

DuPage Business Resources Related to COVID-19

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Choose DuPage is committed to assisting and connecting businesses in DuPage County with the resources they need during this time. Below is a list of business and industry resources related to COVID-19.

For more information, questions, or if your business is in need of assistance and you are not sure where to turn, please contact Greg Bedalov at gbedalov@choosedupage.com or Lisa Miceli at lmiceli@choosedupage.com.

You can also join us on social media, where we are sharing information about what businesses and residents in DuPage County are doing to help, and demonstrate the #DuPageDifference.

Choose DuPage 

Choose DuPage Board Members have volunteered their expertise to assisting businesses in DuPage County in the coming weeks. If you would like to be connected to an expert in banking, education, insurance, legal, or marketing, please contact Lisa Miceli, lmiceli@choosedupage.com.

View our message to the community from Choose DuPage President & CEO, Greg Bedalov.

DuPage County Health Department

The DuPage County Health Department has put together information for businesses on COVID-19, including guidance, food facility guidelines, water sampling, CDC guidance, education, outreach and more. Click here for details.

  • If there is a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case identified at your agency or business, please contact the DuPage County Health Department Communicable Disease and Epidemiology program at (630) 221-7553 (8:00AM – 4:30PM) or (630) 682-7400 after hours for consultation and next steps.
  • If potential exposure to confirmed case of COVID-19: Click here
  • If diagnosed with COVID-19: Click here
  • For any questions or concerns about COVID-19 call (630) 221-7030

Businesses that can provide respirators, ventilators, and personal protective equipment or other medical devices should contact DuPage County at oem@dupageco.org or click here for more information.

State of Illinois

  • State of Illinois COVID-19 Information and Resources: Click here
  • Illinois COVID-19 Hotline (800) 889-3931
  • List of essential businesses: Click here
  • Illinois Department of Revenue Taxpayer Resources (Employers): Click here
  • Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) Information for Employers: Click here
  • Illinois Emergency Child Care for Essential Workers Information: Click here
  • State Treasurer’s announcement to make low-interest bridge loans available for businesses as soon as this week (3/23/20), click here. For future updates, click here.
  • Hospitality Emergency Grant Program: Click here
  • Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund: DCEO and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) are establishing the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund to offer small businesses located outside the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019, low-interest loans of up to $50,000. Click here for details.
    NOTE: DCEO and its lending partners are continuing to review the large number of submitted loan applications. To allow more time to process received applications quickly, they are temporarily suspending the acceptance of applications. 
  • DCEO is hosting a webinar on Thursday, April 30 to discuss the three Notice of Funding Opportunities under the Rebuild Illinois Capital Program. For more information, and to register, click here.
  • To view a FAQ for businesses concerning the use of face coverings during COVID-19, click here.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

For small business guidance and loan resources, click here.

Illinois Economic Injury Disaster Loan

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering Illinois businesses low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). For more information, visit their website or review the resources below.

  • Start you disaster loan application now: Click here
  • Disaster loan assistance: Click here or click here
  • Stay up-to-date: Click here
  • For frequently asked questions: Click here
  • Register for webinars on the Economic Injury Disaster Loans by clicking here. The trainings will cover program eligibility, use of proceeds, terms, filing requirements, and additional small business resources. 

Paycheck Protection Program

  • Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by eight weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
  • SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
  • Business owners can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. 
  • Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3. The program will be available through June 30.
  • Click here for information sheet for borrowers. 
  • Click here for more information. 

7(a) Borrower Relief

SBA will pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months, beginning with the first payment due on or after March 27, 2020. The SBA will also pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to Sept. 27, 2020. Your lenders will be receiving more guidance on this program soon.

SBA Express Bridge Loans

Small businesses that currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender can access up to $25,000 to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. Contact your existing lender to see if they can participate in this program.

Contact Information for the U.S. Small Business Administration

Local staff is on-hand and ready to assist. 

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The programs and initiatives in the CARES Act that was passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain non- profits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.

To keep up to date on when these programs become available, please stay in contact with your local Small Business Administration (SBA) District Office, which you can locate here.

Struggling to get started? The following questions might help point you in the right direction. Do you need….

  • Capital to cover the cost of retaining employees? Then the Paycheck Protection Program might be right for you (see page 2 in the guide).
  • A quick infusion of a smaller amount of cash to cover you right now? You might want to look into the Emergency Economic Injury Grant (see page 7 in the guide).
  • To ease your fears about keeping up with payments on your current or potential SBA loan? The Small Business Debt Relief Program could help (see page 6 in the guide).
  • Just some quality, free counseling to help you navigate this uncertain economic time? The resource partners might be your best bet, click here.

Download the Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. This page will be updated as new information is available, click here to view.

Tax Deadline Changed
The deadlines to file and pay federal income taxes are extended to July 15, 2020.

workNet DuPage Career Center

The workNet DuPage Career Center has funds available to cover the cost of retraining your staff so that their jobs can be repurposed and layoffs can be averted. For information on these grants, please contact Ron Schlager (630) 955-2037, rschlager@worknetdupage.org.

If you have to layoff staff, there are resources available free of charge for those individuals (including up to $10,000/person of funding assistance for necessary job training.) Affected workers should visit www.worknetdupage.org to access services.

Pace

Pace is offering free rides on all Pace fixed route bus and On Demand services to all medical personnel–including doctors, nurses, EMTs, and paramedics–for the duration of the State’s “stay at home” order. To ride free, medical personnel must present a work ID showing that they are employed at a hospital, doctor’s office, medical facility or local fire department. 

For the latest information on Pace’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: Click here

Utilities 

Industry Resources

Healthcare

Manufacturing

Retail

Hospitality

  • Hospitality Emergency Grant Program: To help hospitality businesses make ends meet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity is launching the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program with $14 million drawn from funds originally budgeted for job training, tourism promotion, and other purposes. Grant funds are available to support working capital like payroll and rent, as well as job training, retraining, and technology to support shifts in operations, like increased pick-up and delivery. Bars and restaurants that generated between $500K and $1M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $25,000, and bars and restaurants that generated less than $500K in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $10,000. Hotels that generated less than $8M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $50,000.
  • DuPage County Health Department Food Facility Guidelines: Click Here

Additional Small Business Resources

Other Important Resources

This page is will be updated throughout the next few weeks. Check back for more information about DuPage business resources related to COVID-19.

Breaking Down the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Written By: Mark McAndrew, Rathje Woodward LLC

On March 11th, H.R. 6201 was introduced in the House, and yesterday, it was passed by the Senate and President Trump has signed it. Although a more thorough analysis of the 110 page bill is warranted, the following are my initial takes on the bill.

Food and Nutrition Service

Includes funding to ensure the domestic nutrition assistance programs have adequate resources to help those impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Emergency Paid Sick Days Program

Includes $5 million for the Department of Labor to administer the emergency paid sick days program. Senior Nutrition Program – Includes $250 million for the Senior Nutrition program in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to provide approximately 25 million additional home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors who depend on the Senior Nutrition programs in their communities.

Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students Act Section 101.

Short Title. The short title for the bill is the Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students Act or the MEALS Act. Section 102. Waiver Exception for School Closures Due to COVID-19. Provides the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to issue nationwide school meal waivers during the COVID-19 emergency, which will eliminate paperwork for states and help more schools quickly adopt and utilize flexibilities. Title II – COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act Section 201. Short Title. The short title for the bill is the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act. 3 Section 202. National School Lunch Program Requirement Waivers Addressing COVID19. Allows all child and adult care centers to operate as non-congregate (i.e. they can serve outside the school or in individual settings) and waive all meal pattern requirements if there is a disruption to the food supply as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. Title III – SNAP COVID-19 Response Waivers Section 301. SNAP Flexibility for Low-Income Jobless Workers. Suspends the work and work training requirements for SNAP during this crisis. Section 302. Additional SNAP Flexibilities in a Public Health Emergency. Allows states to request special waivers from the Secretary to provide temporary, emergency CR-SNAP benefits to existing SNAP households up to the maximum monthly allotment, as well as give the Secretary broad discretion to provide much more flexibility for States in managing SNAP caseloads. Additionally, this language requires the Secretary to make State requests for waivers and the USDA response, as well as any USDA guidance on State flexibilities, publicly available.

Emergency Paid Leave Benefits.

This section creates a new federal emergency paid leave benefit program. Eligible workers will receive a benefit for a month (up to three months) in which they must take 14 or more days of leave from their work due to the qualifying COVID-19-related reasons. Days when an individual receives pay from their employer (regular wages, sick pay, or other paid time off) or unemployment compensation do not count as leave days for purposes of this benefit. The program will be administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Specifications include the following: 5 • Benefit amount: Two-thirds of the individual’s average monthly earnings (based on the most recent year of wages or self-employment income for which records are readily available), up to a cap of $4,000.• Program and benefit period: The benefits will be available for leave that occurs from January 19, 2020 (the date of the first U.S. COVID-19 diagnosis) through one year after the bill’s enactment.• Retroactive benefits: Benefits can be paid retroactively, and applications can be filed up to 6 months after enactment.• Application: Applications will be taken online, by phone, or by mail. Individuals will not visit SSA field offices to apply. Payments will in most cases be issued electronically.• Program integrity: Applicants must attest that they meet the criteria for eligibility and existing penalties for fraud or misrepresentation with regard to Social Security benefits are applied to the federal emergency paid leave benefits program.

Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal and Family Care Act

The emergency paid sick days legislation:

  • Requires all employers to allow employees to gradually accrue seven days of paid sick leave and to provide an additional 14 days available immediately in the event of any public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis;
  • Requires all employers to provide an additional 14 days of paid sick leave, available immediately at the beginning of a public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis;
  • Ensures paid sick leave covers days when your child’s school is closed due to a public health emergency, when your employer is closed due to public health emergency, or if you or a family member is quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency;
  • Reimburses small businesses—defined as businesses with 50 or fewer employees—for the costs of providing the 14 days of additional paid sick leave used by employees during a public health emergency;
  • Enables construction employees to receive sick pay based on hours they work for multiple contractors; and
  • Makes the bill effective immediately so that employees in areas covered under a qualifying Public Health Emergency, upon the date of enactment, can take 14 days of paid sick leave in order to address COVID-19.
Coverage of Testing for COVID-19.

This section requires private health plans to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the cost of a provider, urgent care center and emergency room visits in order to receive testing. Coverage must be provided at no cost to the consumer.

Section 102.

Waiving Cost Sharing Under the Medicare Program For Certain Visits Relating To Testing For COVID-19. This section requires Medicare Part B to cover beneficiary cost-sharing for provider visits during which a COVID-19 diagnostic test is administered or ordered. Medicare Part B currently covers the COVID-19 diagnostic test with no beneficiary cost-sharing. 

Section 103.

Waiving Cost Sharing Under the Medicare Advantage Program for Certain Visits Relating to Testing for COVID-19. This section requires Medicare Advantage to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the associated cost of the visit in order to receive testing. Coverage must be provided at no cost to the beneficiary.

Section 104.

Coverage at No Cost Sharing of COVID-19 Testing Under Medicaid and CHIP. This section requires Medicaid to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the cost of a provider visit in order to receive testing. Coverage must be provided at no cost to the beneficiary. It would also provide states with the option to extend Medicaid eligibility to uninsured populations for the purposes of COVID-19 diagnostic testing. State expenditures for medical and administrative costs would be matched by the federal government at 100 percent.

Section 105.

Laboratory Reimbursement for Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19 in Uninsured Individuals. This section requires the National Disaster Medical System to reimburse the costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided to individuals without insurance.

Section 106.

Treatment of Personal Respiratory Protective Devices as Covered Countermeasures. This section requires certain personal respiratory protective devices to be treated as covered countermeasures under the PREP Act Declaration for the purposes of emergency use during the COVID-19 outbreak and ending October 1, 2024.

Section 107.

Application with Respect to TRICARE, Coverage for Veterans, and Coverage for Federal Civilians. This section ensures that individuals enrolled in TRICARE, covered veterans, and federal workers have coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing without cost sharing.

Section 108.

Coverage of Testing for COVID-19 At No Cost Sharing for Indians Receiving Contract Health Services. This section ensures that American Indians and Alaskan Natives do not experience cost sharing for COVID-19 testing, including those referred for care away from an Indian Health Service or tribal health care facility.

Section 109.

Emergency FMAP Increase. This section provides a temporary increase to states’ federal medical assistance percentage for the duration of the public health emergency for COVID-19. It requires states to maintain eligibility standards that are no less restrictive than the date of enactment.

Rathje Woodward LLC

Rathje Woodward advises clients on a broad range of employment and labor matters, including compliance, policies and procedures, internal investigations, administrative proceedings, collective bargaining negotiations and disputes, union avoidance policies and litigation defense.

If you have questions about how these new laws may impact your business, contact them.

For more information regarding Rathje Woodward’s employment practice and its attorneys, please visit www.rathjewoodward.com.

Senate Passes Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Written by: Emily Shupe, Rathje Woodward LLC

On March 18, 2020, the Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the President is expected to sign the bill shortly.  The Act includes several provisions regarding emergency paid sick leave and paid family leave in the event of school closures due to COVID-19.  Specifically, the Act requires employers with up to 500 employees to provide paid sick leave and paid family leave and provides a refundable payroll tax credit to employers.

In general, employers must offer 10 days of paid sick leave for COVID-19-related reasons, although existing leave policies may count towards the 10 days.  If the sick leave is for an employee who is seek or seeking a diagnosis, the benefit must replace all of the employee’s wages, up to a maximum of $511 per day.  If the employee is caring for a qualifying ill individual, the benefit must replace at least two-thirds of the employee’s wages, up to a maximum benefit of $200 per day.

In addition, employers must offer 12 weeks of paid leave for employees: (1) who have been employed for at least thirty days; (2) who have a qualifying minor child; and (3) are experiencing closures of the child’s school or place of care.  While the first 10 days are unpaid, the employee may use the 10 days of paid sick leave.  The benefit must replace at least two-thirds of the employee’s wages, up to a maximum benefit of $200 per day.

There are tax credits that will offset 100% of the employer’s costs for providing this leave, and credits to offset the employer contributions for health insurance premiums during the leave period. In addition, employers with less than 50 employees may be eligible for exemptions based on a demonstration of hardship.

Rathje Woodward LLC

Rathje Woodward advises clients on a broad range of employment and labor matters, including compliance, policies and procedures, internal investigations, administrative proceedings, collective bargaining negotiations and disputes, union avoidance policies and litigation defense.  If you have questions about how these new laws may impact your business, contact Emily A. ShupeRaymond J. SanguinettiMark J. McAndrew, or John R. Zemenak at 630-668-8500. Their online contact form may be found here.

For more information regarding Rathje Woodward’s employment practice and its attorneys, please visit www.rathjewoodward.com.

COVID-19: 5 Steps Every Impacted Business Should Take to Maximize Insurance Coverage

Written By: Charles L. Philbrick & David P. Hollander, Rathje Woodward LLC

In the wake of COVID-19, businesses everywhere are reckoning with how to keep dollars coming in the door. While many will find that coronavirus itself will not trigger insurance coverage, every impacted business should be taking a hard look at their existing policies. Business should consider the following five steps to better their position with regard to their existing insurance policies. For those who are unfamiliar with insurance coverage issues, a glossary of key terms can be found by clicking here. For those looking to dig deeper, read on for a more substantive discussion of the key provisions and issues that may arise, as businesses attempt to secure coverage for losses caused by COVID-19.

FIVE-STEP INSURANCE COVERAGE CHECKLIST:

  1. Review all existing insurance policies, front to back. One-page endorsements tucked in the back may dramatically change what sort of claims are and are not covered by the policy.
  2. Do not rely too heavily on the advice of your broker or agent. Your broker or agent may attempt to negotiate claims between you and your carrier. Communicate with your broker or agent, ask for their advice, but know that they may have conflicting incentives.
  3. If in doubt, give notice to your carrier about the loss. Failure to give notice can result in waiver of coverage that you otherwise might have.
  4. Meticulously document both the cause and amount of any losses. For example, if a key supplier says they need to back out of an agreement due to coronavirus, ask follow-up questions and take detailed notes.
  5. Consult an attorney who has experience negotiating with and litigating against carriers.

BUSINESS INTERRUPTION. 

Some businesses may find relief in their existing business interruption insurance (or business income coverage). This coverage arises most commonly with a fire or natural disaster that destroys a building. Ideally, the business would turn to first-party property insurance for construction costs, while seeking business interruption coverage for the business income that was lost while the building was unusable. As stated by one Wisconsin court, “business interruption insurance covers profits lost and continuing normal operating expenses incurred while the business is not fully operational.”

If your business has a general property or commercial policy, it likely has some form of business interruption coverage. But just because the coverage is part of the policy, it does not follow that you will be entitled to reimbursement any time you suffer a loss of business income. There must be a covered loss to trigger the business interruption coverage. An insurance policy is a contract and the existence of insurance coverage turns, first and foremost, on the policy language and the nature of the insured’s losses.

PROPERTY DAMAGE. 

The most common trigger for business interruption coverage is physical damage to the insured’s property. Property damage often involves damage that structurally alters the property (like a fire or floods) so courts may be skeptical of claims that coronavirus constitutes property damage. Nonetheless, some courts have held that, even in the absence of visible damage, physical damage can be established by showing that the insured property was rendered unusable or uninhabitable. For example, a federal court in Oregon has stated that “physical damage can occur at the molecular level and can be undetectable in a cursory inspection.” Once again, whether coronavirus constitutes physical property damage will hinge on the policy language used, and the ways in which the virus impacts the insured’s business.

Moreover, even if coronavirus does not itself cause physical loss, it could lead to property damage. For example, with millions of employees shifting to remote work, there may be no one around the insured’s property to notice a plumbing leak before it causes significant water damage. Similarly, with no employees present, the insured’s property may become a target for a burglary. If the insured loses key equipment or hardware, it may cause an interruption in business.

CIVIL AUTHORITY. 

A somewhat common trigger to business interruption coverage involves closure by order of a “civil authority” such as a city or state agency. Civil authority coverage may still require property damage—for example damage to a nearby building, which leads a government authority to bar access to the entire block. However, the policy language varies, and the opportunity to secure coverage via civil authority orders will continue to grow, as agencies become more proactive in attempting to control coronavirus.

VIRAL AND BACTERIAL EXCLUSIONS OR ENDORSEMENTS. 

A policy might provide for exclusions, such as a Virus or Bacterial Exclusion, which squarely preclude coverage caused by coronavirus. Conversely, a policy can explicitly include such coverage through an endorsement. Insureds may have virus or bacterial coverage without realizing it. For example, a business that is highly sensitive to cyber risks may have obtained virus and bacterial coverage as part of a package of endorsements that the insured purchased primarily with the intention of securing cyber coverages.

DIFFERENT COVERAGES. 

There are other permeations of business interruption insurance that, while less common, provide significant benefits. For example, “contingent business interruption” insurance may provide coverage if a key supplier of the insured suffers property damage, resulting in losses to the insured. A “leader property” endorsement may provide coverage for physical loss or damage to nearby property, where the insured’s business relies upon the neighboring property. As an example, this could come into play for restaurants adjacent to schools or sports stadiums that have been shut down. Finally, an insured may have service interruption coverage for loss to electrical, steam, gas, water, sewer, telephone, or other utilities, should those situations arise.

OTHER FACTORS. 

Assuming coverage exists, there will be several additional factors to consider and negotiate with the carrier. Coverage may be limited by time period (i.e. two weeks after a civil authority imposes an order) or dollar value (i.e. only the first $50,000 of lost business income). The insured will also be expected to prove its losses and should therefore meticulously document both the cause and extent of any losses. The insured should also be mitigating damages. The insured will be expected to take reasonable steps to minimize its business interruption (by, for example, emphasizing online sales, if possible).

CONCLUSION.

Policy language varies greatly and COVID-19 is largely unprecedented. No business should assume that they are without coverage. Follow the Five-Step Insurance Coverage Checklist and contact one of the authors if you need assistance in evaluating your policies.

Rathje Woodward LLC

Rathje Woodward routinely advises insured companies on how to maximize their insurance coverage. Rathje Woodward negotiates claims with carriers and, where necessary, litigates coverage disputes through to trial and appeal. Rathje Woodward’s attorneys also have extensive experience in commercial litigation, employment, business and government law, among many other areas.

A Message to Our Community

From Greg Bedalov, President & CEO, Choose DuPage

As the businesses and residents of DuPage County prepare to face uncertain times, I’m reminded of how and why Choose DuPage was formed in the first place. It was 2005, and the local economy was shifting rapidly. The public and private-sector leaders of DuPage knew they needed a long-term action plan. So they made a commitment, and for the good of their neighbors and the prosperity of local commerce, Choose DuPage was formed. In the last 15 years, working closely with the business community, elected officials and residents, we have reaped the benefits of that decision-strengthening our economic resolve.

And now, in the face of uncertainty like we have never seen before, we are again seeing a commitment—from both businesses and residents. A commitment to supporting local businesses and the industries impacted most. A commitment to ensuring residents are safe, and have access to things they need. A commitment to do what we can to help. Now more than ever, I’m proud to live and work in such a great community. At Choose DuPage, we will continue to do our part —for the future of our economy, the prosperity of our people and the legacy of our County.

Join us on social media, where I encourage you to share information about what is happening in your business or community, and how people can help. At Choose DuPage, we often speak of the DuPage Difference — now let’s demonstrate it.