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Pennsylvania Business Resources

PA Department of Community & Economic Development

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Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action

The Department of Community & Economic Development, along with the departments of Health, General Services, and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, have received a deluge of inquiries and offers from Pennsylvania manufacturers and those from around the world willing to assist us in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The offers of support have been coming in at such a high rate of speed that we quickly identified the need to establish an online portal to capture these offers and assess the needs of our manufacturing community, which is facing challenges in its supply chain and workforce.

Along with its strategic partners and valued members of the manufacturing community, the department developed the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action Portal. This portal is designed to engage with those who seek to develop the supplies and equipment most needed by our healthcare professionals or to re-tool their existing manufacturing lines and as they continue to fight COVID-19. This will also create a streamlined gateway for the Department to assess supply chain or workforce development needs.

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Gov. Wolf Announces Additional $96 Million for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Governor Tom Wolf today announced that an additional $96 million in state grants have been approved for 5,373 Pennsylvania small businesses that were impacted by the business closure order due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Businesses in every county were approved for grants in this round of funding, and 52 percent are historically disadvantaged businesses.

To date, more than 10,000 businesses were approved for $192 million in grants through the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been caused a lot of hardship for our business community, and it has been particularly difficult for Pennsylvania’s small businesses to weather the economic effects of this crisis. Pennsylvania’s small business owners are community-focused employers, and they drive our economy, so they deserve our support as we continue to navigate this public health crisis,” Gov. Wolf said. “As we seek to recover, and rebuild our economy following the downturn caused by this pandemic, it’s critical that we provide opportunities for these businesses to recover and rebound, and this funding will provide much-needed support for businesses in communities across the state.”

The governor announced this funding at the Broad Street Market in Harrisburg and was joined by public officials and the owners of two local businesses: D.McGee Design Studio, located in the market, which was approved for a $10,000 grant, and Gifted Hands Barber Studio, located on 3rd Street near the market, which was approved for a $5,000 grant.

The COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance funding was developed in partnership with state lawmakers and allocated through the state budget, which included $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, of which $225 million was earmarked for relief for small businesses.

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) distributed the funds to the Pennsylvania Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which are administering the grants.

 

DCED Announces COVID-19 Hazard Pay Grant

 
Overview

The COVID-19 PA Hazard Pay Grant Program was established to help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Hazard pay is intended to keep front-line employees working in sectors that are vital to every Pennsylvanians’ existence. The program will help employers provide hazard pay for their employees to retain current employees. This reimbursement-based grant is for employers who will be offering hazard pay over the eligible program period.

Eligibility

Businesses, healthcare non-profits, public transportation agencies, and certified economic development organizations may apply for funding for employers located and operating in Pennsylvania within one of the following eligible industries:

  • Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Food Manufacturing
  • Food Retail Facilities
  • Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation
  • Security Services for eligible industries listed above and commercial industries that were not closed as a result of the Governor’s Business Closure Order
  • Janitorial Services to Buildings and Dwellings

Additional details about eligible industries and employers can be found in the program guidelines.

Funding

Grant funds may be used for hazard pay (as defined below) for direct, full-time and part-time employees earning less than $20/hour, excluding fringe benefits and overtime. Funds may only be used to pay hazard pay for eligible employees for the 10-week period from August 16, 2020 through October 24, 2020. Hazard pay means additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship, in each case that is related to COVID-19.

Applicants may apply for up to $1,200 per eligible full-time equivalent (FTE) employee. The hazard pay must be paid to the eligible employee over the 10-week period of August 16, 2020 through October 24, 2020 as a $3/hour hazard pay increase to their regular pay rate. Employers may apply for a grant to provide hazard pay for up to 500 eligible full-time equivalent employees per location ($600,000 maximum grant per location). No Employer may receive more than $3,000,000 of the funding under the COVID-19 Hazard Pay Grant Program.

How to Apply

Applications will be received between July 16, 2020 and July 31, 2020. To apply for funding, applications must be submitted through the Electronic Single Application (ESA).

 

State Announces Reopening Process

Discussed in greater detail below, the administration will utilize a three-phase matrix to determine when counties and/or regions are ready to begin easing some restrictions on work, congregate settings, and social interactions. As the state was shut down on a county-to-county basis, the reopening process will also operate in a similar fashion, but on a regional level (also see regional map below).

 Reopening Grid Website

 

Health Systems Map

For a full explanation, please visit the governor's website here.

 

Update (4/27): Governor Wolf Clarifies Reopening Standards and Metrics

Gov. Tom Wolf's office released additional detail over the weekend clarifying the metrics and standards that will be used to begin reopening regions of the commonwealth next Friday. In addition to a region having fewer than 50 new confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in the previous 14 days (example available here), the commonwealth must also ensure there is:

  • enough testing for those with symptoms, first responders, and those at risk
  • case investigation and contact tracing capacity
  • identification that high-risk facilities (prisons, long-term care centers, etc.) have necessary safeguards in place

 

Wolf Administration Announces Targeted Mitigation Efforts in Response to Recent COVID-19 Case Increases

Bars and Restaurants

All businesses in the retail food services industry, including restaurants, wineries, breweries, private clubs, and bars, are permitted to provide take-out and delivery sales of food, as well as dine-in service in both indoor and outdoor seating areas so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance, as required by the order, including:

  • Prohibition from conducting operations unless the facility offers sit-down, dine-in meals or is serving take-out sales of alcoholic beverages. All service must be at a table or booth; bar service is prohibited.
  • Alcohol only can be served for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal.
  • Take-out sales of alcohol for the purposes of off-site consumption are permitted subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law.
  • Non-bar seating in outdoor areas (i.e. tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating.
  • Social distancing, masking, and other mitigation measures must be employed to protect workers and patrons.
  • Occupancy is limited to 25 percent of stated fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining, or 25 persons for a discrete indoor event or gathering in a restaurant. The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.

Nightclubs

  • All nightclubs, as defined by the Clean Indoor Air Act, 35 P.S. § 637.2, are prohibited from conducting operations.

Other events and gatherings

Events and gatherings must adhere to these gathering limitations:

  • Indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 persons are prohibited.
  • Outdoor events and gatherings of more than 250 persons are prohibited.
  • The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.

Teleworking

  • Unless not possible, all businesses are required to conduct their operations in whole or in part remotely through individual teleworking of their employees in the jurisdiction or jurisdictions in which they do business.
  • Where telework is not possible, employees may conduct in-person business operations, provided that the businesses fully comply with all substantive aspects of the business safety order, the worker safety order, and the masking order.

Gyms and fitness facilities

  • All gyms and fitness facilities, while permitted to continue indoor operations, are directed to prioritize outdoor physical fitness activities. All activities must follow masking requirements as provided by the July 1 order, and must provide for social distancing requirements of persons being at least 6 feet apart, as well as being limited by any limitations related to gatherings.

Enforcement

Businesses and individuals in violation of these orders, issued pursuant to the authority granted to the Governor and the Secretary of Health under the law, including the Pennsylvania Disease Control and Prevention Law, could be subject to fines, business closure or other applicable enforcement measures.

Beginning with a spike in cases in Allegheny County in late June, Pennsylvania has seen cases continue to rise there and in other southwest counties, along with additional select counties in the state.

The state has identified three catalysts for case increases:

  • First, some Pennsylvanians have been ignoring mask-wearing requirements and social distancing when they are visiting Pennsylvania bars and restaurants. There they are unknowingly spreading or picking up the virus.
  • Second is out-of-state travel. Both by Pennsylvanians returning from travel to hotspot states, and travelers visiting our commonwealth from those hotspots.
  • And third, a lack of national coordination has resulted in states in the south and west not committing to social distancing.

 

COVID-19 PEDA Restart Grant

PEDA (Pennsylvania Energy Department Authority) is offering an opportunity to apply for a PEDA Restart Grant to assist with the completion of eligible energy projects initiated but then disrupted due to the COVID 19 pandemic (COVID-19) response, including projects that were planned prior to COVID-19 but not yet started. 

PEDA is offering approximately $2 million with individual awards not to exceed $250,000 for clean, advanced energy projects including the development and deployment of innovative, clean, advanced and efficient technologies; the generation of alternative energy or the production of alternative fuels; or the implementation of energy efficiency/demand side projects.  Businesses conducting manufacturing or production operations related to alternative and clean energy projects in Pennsylvania are also eligible.

PEDA will receive competitive proposals/applications for funding requests to support the purchase of equipment and supplies.  Applicants can request funds for retroactive costs, working capital or both, however applicants must propose a minimum 1:1 match consisting of all eligible costs as described in the solicitation that will be expended after the application submission date.

In order to insure good faith and project completion, all awarded Grantees will be required to purchase a surety bond in the total amount of the grant award and matching funds plus a 10% maintenance surety as a condition of receipt of the grant funds. 

Applicants shall demonstrate how this award will mitigate the impact of a disruption experienced associated with the COVID 19 response and how the provision of a grant will enhance the ability to complete the project in an expeditious manner. This includes but is not limited to: Re-hire of workers or hiring of additional workers to complete the project quickly, ability to make immediate equipment payments to restart the supply chain, or opportunity to overcome lost revenue due to market stagnation.  PEDA encourages the hiring of Pennsylvania contractors, suppliers, labor and minority, veteran, service-disabled veteran and women-owned businesses as a response to high job losses due to the COVID 19.

Applications will be accepted any time beginning on the grant opening date of August 17, 2020 until the application deadline of October 2, 2020 at 4 p.m. All applications must be submitted online through DCED’s Electronic Single Application (ESA) system.

 

COVID-19 Information for Travelers

If you have traveled, or plan to travel, to an area where there are high amounts of COVID-19 cases, it is recommended that you stay at home for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania. If you travel to the following states, it is recommended that you quarantine for 14 days upon return:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

Questions about travel and quarantine? Read the travel recommendations frequently asked questions

 

Hospital Emergency Loan Program (HELP) Announced

The new Hospital Emergency Loan Program (HELP) is now open for applications through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. Eligible applicants include all health care facilities licensed as hospitals pursuant to Ch. 8 of the Health Care Facilities act of 1979. HELP will provide working capital bridge financing to COVID-19 impacted hospitals located within PA. Funding may be used for working capital, fixed assets, and machinery & equipment expenses that are related to COVID-19.

 

Governor Wolf says Pennsylvania’s non-life sustaining business closures will extend indefinitely

The spread of the COVID-19 virus continues to present new challenges for our communities, businesses, and Pennsylvania’s economy. Governor Wolf has taken action to protect the public and businesses in order to slow the spread of the virus. On March 19, Gov. Wolf issued an order to close all non-life sustaining businesses.

The Wolf administration announced that the waiver application period for businesses seeking to continue operating in the wake of the governor's order for "non-life-sustaining" businesses to close their physical locations ended on Friday, April 3.

Update: Pennylvania Stay-Home Order Extended to May 8

Governor Wolf has extended Pennsylvania's stay-home order until May 8. At that point, some businesses will be able to resume in-person, physical operations. Wolf’s administration is working on specific guidelines that will be in place before any regions of the state can be opened and noted that the state was shut down on a county-by-county basis and will reopen in a similar fashion.

A new interactive map is also available, which shows the concentration of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 by both county and zip code. For a full breakdown of PA-specific COVID-19 data by age, race and gender click here.

Click here for Pennsylvania's COVID-19 Resources.

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Wolf Administration: Guidance for COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Grants

Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced that program guidelines and additional details for the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Grants are now available on DCED’s website.

“COVID-19 has put a significant strain on all of Pennsylvania’s businesses and communities, and the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program will expeditiously provide assistance to Pennsylvania’s small businesses, which we know are hurting,” said Sec. Davin. “This critical funding will help underserved businesses such as minority-owned businesses and other businesses in historically-underserved areas begin recovery efforts and get back on their feet.”

Governor Wolf announced the program’s creation earlier this week. Under the program, $225 million is available for COVID-19 relief to small businesses through a distribution to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for loan payment deferment and portfolio loan loss reserves, main street business revitalization grants, and historically disadvantaged business revitalization grants.

The funds will be available through three programs:

  • $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the governor’s March 19, 2020 order relating to the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses and have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19;
  • $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the business closure order, have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19, and in which socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations.
  • $25 million for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program, which will allow the CDFIs the opportunity to offer forbearance and payment relief for existing portfolio businesses that are struggling due to the impact of COVID, as well as shore up the financial position of the CDFIs that are experiencing significant increased defaults in their existing loan portfolios.

Eligible businesses with 25 or fewer employees may receive a maximum grant of $50,000 so long as the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and, if required, paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns; COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant; the grant will be used cover COVID-19 related costs; and during the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program.

 

PA Department of Health Business Guidance

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The PA Department of Health (DOH) has received questions and requests for business guidance amid the COVID-19 breakout. They encourage all life-sustaining businesses to take the necessary steps to ensure a healthy environment. Below is a list of resources to assist Pennsylvania’s life-sustaining businesses:

Questions?

For any DOH business guidance questions, call 1.877.PA.HEALTH (1.877.724.3258). Continue to stay up-to-date with all COVID-19 information for businesses, communities and local governments by visiting our COVID-19 Resources webpage.

 

New Worker Safety Measures Announced

Linked below are new worker safety measures issued by Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Levine. Please remember that the non-essential business closure is still in effect until May 8th, as it stands now.

If you are an essential business that is still operational, or you’re a business that plans to reopen when allowed, please review the attached guidelines. They include new cleaning and distancing protocols as well as employee temperature screening and shift staggering information. I’m sure that most of you have already head that you are also required to wear a mask within your business locations as well – there is information on that in this order.

This order takes effect immediately and will be enforceable as of 8:00 p.m. on April 19, 2020.

Find the full order here.

 

Governor Wolf Is Recommending All Wear Masks

Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced that he is recommending all Pennsylvanians wear a mask anytime they leave their houses.

N-95 and paper masks should be reserved for health care workers.

The governor is recommending the use of a cloth or homemade mask. Directions for making your own mask are available at https://www.health.pa.gov/

Universal masking is expected to be recommended by the White House and CDC in the near future to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 

PA Department of Labor and Industry

PA DOL

For review of unemployment compensation benefits, eligibility, claims, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, please visit https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Click here for additional Unemployment Compensation resources for businesses.

 

Toolkit and Resources for PMA Members

PMA

PMA has been continuing to compile a list of resources for members to refer to during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Toolkit was recently updated to include information on Governor Wolf's Executive Order on the Efficient Allocation and Effective Use of Critical Medical Resources.

Please take a moment to review and let us know if you have any questions. We have been updating this list frequently so check back often for additional information. Click on the button below to access these resources.

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Federal Resources

Resources from NAM

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Manufacturers have mobilized to respond to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic in ways unseen in modern history. To strengthen the nation’s response to COVID-19 and ensure manufacturers are poised to lead the recovery and renewal of the American economy, the National Association of Manufacturers released the “American Renewal Action Plan.” This plan highlights the fact that manufacturers possess a unique perspective on the current situation and are critical to ensuring America emerges stronger than ever before.

The NAM is in contact with federal officials who are overseeing the response to COVID-19 and will be working to share additional available information. For more information and resources, please visit their website at https://www.nam.org/coronavirus/.

 

Federal Reserve Announces New Details on Liquidity Facilities for Large Employers

The New York Federal Reserve Bank announced additional information on the Federal Reserve’s Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, which were established to support liquidity for large employers impacted by COVID-19. The announcement indicates that the SMCCF is expected to begin purchasing eligible exchange traded funds in early May. The PMCCF is expected to become operational soon thereafter, and then the SMCCF is expected to begin purchasing eligible corporate bonds.

The updated guidance includes new details that the NAM requested. Notably, the FAQ clarifies that the previously announced restriction on companies that received “specific support pursuant to the CARES Act” only applies to airlines, air cargo carriers and national security businesses receiving funding under Section 4003(b)(1)-(3). And businesses need only count their own employees and those of any consolidated subsidiaries, and not any employees of their parents or sister affiliates, for purposes of the program’s requirement that a majority of an issuer’s employees be based in the United States. Read the updated FAQ document here.

 

New Operational Practices to Consider in the Time of COVID-19

The guide at the link below is a collection of emerging strategies and new operational practices that many leading manufacturing organizations of all sizes are considering and/or implementing to guide their workplaces and employees safely through the pandemic.

These practices are being shared to assist manufacturers taking steps within their facilities to meet or exceed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines and recommendations, while also mitigating operational and business risks that are outside the scope of such guidance. This information is not meant as authoritative legal, medical or regulatory guidance or advice. It is not an exhaustive list of operational practices in the COVID-19 environment but rather represents some of the most common “best practices” communicated to the National Association of Manufacturers. Find the guide here.

 

Resources from OSHA

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General Business Frequently Asked Questions


CDC has provided answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) that build on the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers and Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Workers. Answers address suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, healthy business operations, cleaning and disinfection, and critical infrastructure. These FAQs are not intended for healthcare facilities; CDC has provided separate Guidance for Healthcare Settings.

 
Industry Specific Resources

 

CDC has published several fact sheets for workers who may be at risk for exposure to COVID-19. New fact sheets are now available for these specific groups:

New Respirator Information & Guidance

 

Understanding the Use of Imported Non-NIOSH-Approved Respirators


The CDC and FDA have determined additional respirator options to protect healthcare workers during the pandemic when respirator shortages are reported across the nation. If a healthcare facility needs more filtering facepiece respirators, employers should understand these options. One to consider in a time of shortage is non-NIOSH approved respirators manufactured internationally. This NIOSH Science Blog provides information on how to determine the reliability of imported respirators, NIOSH’s efforts to assess imported respirators, and how to tell if a respirator is NIOSH-approved.


NIOSH Respirator Assessments to Support the COVID-19 Response: Assessment Results


NIOSH has begun sampling respirators received from other countries and from stockpiles, along with respirators that have gone through decontamination cycles (without the respirator being contaminated). These preliminary assessments will inform respirator users whether the products meet similar filtration performance requirements as those for NIOSH-approved N95 respirators. Results of this testing are now being posted to the NIOSH website and include a summary and report for each model tested.


Powered Air-Purifying Respirators and Elastomeric Respirators Guidance


CDC has released guidance for optimizing the supply of powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) and for using reusable elastomeric particulate respirators. The guidance aims to provide respiratory protection options to healthcare practitioners as a component of a formally developed and implemented written respiratory protection program. These guidance materials address conventional, contingency, and crisis surge use and maintenance practices. They will assist respiratory protection program managers, health officials, and other program leaders responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures to prevent pathogen transmission, including those developed to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

 

OSHA Guidelines for Employer Reports

OSHA recordkeeping requirements mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log. Employers are responsible for recording and reporting cases of COVID-19 to OSHA if:

  1. The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19;
  2. The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
  3. The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g. medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work).

OSHA has stated COVID-19 is a recordable illness if a worker is infected on the job. This alone is hard to verify because the virus is so widespread. If an employee becomes infected while traveling for work or at work, the employer would be required to prepare and file appropriate reports with OSHA.

The illness is not recordable if a worker was exposed to the virus while off the clock. Under OSHA’s Section 5(a)(1) Duty Clause, employers must take reasonable steps to provide a hazard-free workplace. Now, more than ever, employers should be keeping their workplaces clean, with adequate access to handwashing and sanitizing, and space for social distancing. Employers could be held liable if an employee contracts coronavirus at their workplace because it did not meet these standards.

Additionally, employees have a duty to comply with rules, regulations, and orders to help maintain a hazard-free workplace.

View OSHA updates at:  https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19

 

DOL Announces That COVID-19 Cases Not Recordable Incidents for OSHA Recordkeeping Purposes

The Department of Labor has announced that businesses will not have to consider confirmed cases of COVID-19 as recordable incidents for Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordkeeping purposes unless there is objective evidence available to them that the cases are work related. OSHA noted that determining whether a worker contracted COVID-19 while performing work duties is difficult given ongoing community spread.

This announcement provides regulatory certainty to the manufacturing community and helps protect companies from unfounded liability claims while allowing businesses to focus on hygiene and safety procedures at their facilities.

Full Memo Here

 

Handwashing Station Examples

Here are two examples of best practices for handwashing stations that came directly from OSHA, including one from MAEA member LR Costanzo Construction Services Co. Inc.

 

OSHA and CDC Interim Guidance for Agriculture Workers and Employers

OSHA and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued joint Interim Guidance for Agriculture Workers and Employers. This guidance provides a template of action to protect agriculture workers from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Agricultural employers can adapt these recommendations to protect workers at their particular work sites or in specific work operations. This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about COVID-19. CDC and the U.S. Department of Labor will update this guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available.

 

Alert to Keep Stockroom And Loading Dock Workers Safe

OSHA has issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to protect stockroom and loading dock workers in the retail industry from exposure to the coronavirus. The new alert is available for download in English and Spanish. Safety measures employers can implement include:

  • Stock displays (e.g., shelves and freezers) during slow periods or shifts during which stores are closed to minimize contact with the public
  • If stocking occurs while stores are open, use barriers or markers to physically separate shelf stockers from customers
  • Maintain at least 6 feet between co-workers and customers, where possible
  • Limit customer capacity in stores
  • Coordinate with vendors and delivery companies to minimize the need for stockroom and loading dock worker contact with delivery drivers
  • Allow workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent spread of the virus
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.

 

ADA Guidelines for Employer Reports

The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees, and protects employees and applicants from discrimination.

Under ADA, employers are restricted in their ability to ask employees personal medical questions. However, in cases where an employee is a direct threat to others, there are exceptions. Employers under this direct threat exception can take steps into inquiring about those infected and their potential spread to other employees.

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the ADA, not disclosing an individual’s identity or any medical information.

Similarly, an employer cannot disclose any information that would lead others to uncover the identity of infected employee.

 

SBA Emergency Capital Programs Are Available Today

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  • Paycheck Protection Program Loans: For small businesses needing funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. May also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. These are loans that may be fully forgiven. Additional information about this program is available at www.sba.gov/coronavirus.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (low-interest, long-term loans up to $2 million): The first payment is deferred for 12 months. The application has been simplified and can be completed 100% online through our web portal https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance up to $10,000: The form to apply is part of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan application noted above. If approved, these funds can be used for payroll and other operating expenses and will be forgiven. Businesses that did not originally apply for the advance may apply now.
  • SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center: can be reached at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for questions and guidance on the loan application process, including business eligibility.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loan allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap while applying for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan funding.
  • Current SBA 7(a) loans, 504 loans, or Microloans: Payments will be deferred for 6 months by the lender.
  • Existing SBA Disaster Loans (from previous Disaster declarations): Payments have been deferred through Dec. 31, 2020. Although no application for this is needed, businesses are required to stop/restart preauthorized debits for this.

 PPP Update (4-23)

The House of Representatives passed a new COVID-19 relief package. The legislation, which passed the Senate on April 23rd, includes $310 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. The Small Business Administration recently issued an updated FAQ document for PPP lenders and borrowers to provide guidance on application submissions, secondary sales of PPP loans and eligibility for businesses with large company ownership. You can read the FAQ here.

PPP Update (4-27)

The Paycheck Protection Program relaunched on April 27th at 10:30 a.m. Ahead of the rollout, the Small Business Administration released new resources for businesses applying for loans under this second tranche of program funding. This includes an overview of how companies can calculate loan amounts, an updated FAQ document (listed above) on how to count employees and a new interim final rule with guidance on affiliation and eligibility issues.

The SBA has also announced that individual banks will be limited to processing 10% of the total PPP funding and discouraged certain larger businesses and publicly traded companies from applying for the program. The SBA has further created a safe harbor to allow such companies to return any funds received before May 7 with no penalty. Larger companies can still explore financing options such as the Federal Reserve’s liquidity facilities funded by the CARES Act.

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PPP Update (5-7) from NAM

First, the Small Business Administration issued an update to its PPP FAQ document that called into question the previously announced methodology for the program’s employee headcount test. The NAM is working to get clarification on this issue from the SBA, and we will continue to work to ensure that manufacturers can qualify for the PPP under the previously announced terms of the program.

Second, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, along with the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, have again pushed back on the Treasury Department’s CARES Act implementation. This time they have challenged guidance from the IRS that denies the deduction of trade or business expenses (e.g., payroll) associated with forgiven PPP loans, which are not taxable under the CARES Act. The congressional leaders say that the IRS guidance “is contrary to congressional intent” and are urging Treasury to reverse its position, which would undermine the liquidity support provided by PPP loans. The NAM will continue to ensure that manufacturers’ priorities are represented and heard by policymakers.

 

EIDL and Advance Program Reopened (Updated 6-16)

WASHINGTON – To further meet the needs of U.S. small businesses and non-profits, the U.S. Small Business Administration reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19 today.

“The SBA is strongly committed to working around the clock, providing dedicated emergency assistance to the small businesses and non-profits that are facing economic disruption due to the COVID-19 impact. With the reopening of the EIDL assistance and EIDL Advance application portal to all new applicants, additional small businesses and non-profits will be able to receive these long-term, low interest loans and emergency grants – reducing the economic impacts for their businesses, employees and communities they support,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. “Since EIDL assistance due to the pandemic first became available to small businesses located in every state and territory, SBA has worked to provide the greatest amount of emergency economic relief possible. To meet the unprecedented need, the SBA has made numerous improvements to the application and loan closing process, including deploying new technology and automated tools.”

SBA’s EIDL program offers long-term, low interest assistance for a small business or non-profit. These loans can provide vital economic support to help alleviate temporary loss of revenue. EIDL assistance can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt or fund other expenses. Additionally, the EIDL Advance will provide up to $10,000 ($1,000 per employee) of emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties, and these emergency grants do not have to be repaid.

SBA’s COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance

  •  The SBA is offering low interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses and non-profit organizations that are suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19 in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories.
  • These loans may be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact, and that are not already covered by a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
  • To keep payments affordable for small businesses, SBA offers loans with long repayment terms, up to a maximum of 30 years. Plus, the first payment is deferred for one year.
  • In addition, small businesses and non-profits may request, as part of their loan application, an EIDL Advance of up to $10,000. The EIDL Advance is designed to provide emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This advance will not have to be repaid, and small businesses may receive an advance even if they are not approved for a loan.
  • SBA’s EIDL and EIDL Advance are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response.
  • The SBA is also assisting small businesses and non-profits with access to the federal forgivable loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, which is currently accepting applications until June 30, 2020.

    For additional information, please visit the SBA disaster assistance website at SBA.gov/Disaster.

 

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

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Update (5/20)

For guidance on communities, schools, workplaces and events, please visit this dedicated page on the CDC website.

 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Portal Now Open

The site to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is now available. This assistance is designed for those who typically do not qualify for standard unemployment compensation benefits, like those of you who are self employed.

These benefits are retroactive to January 27, 2020.

Follow this link to get your questions answered and to file your PUA claim

The PA Unemployment Compensation Centers have increased their phone hours as of April 15, 2020. Representatives will be available from 8AM - 4PM Mon - Fri. at (888)313-7284 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and a virtual assistant is available at (877) 978-1295.

 

United States Department of the Treasury

US Department of Treasury

The CARES Act provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers and families, small businesses, and preserves jobs for American industries.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support and signed into law by President Trump on March 27th, 2020. This over $2 trillion economic relief package delivers on the Trump Administration’s commitment to protecting the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19. See here for information: https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/cares

 

United States Department of Labor and Industry

US DOL

Please click the links below for COVID-19 Fair Labor Standards Act and Family and Medical Leave Act:

COVID-19 and the Fair Labor Standards Act Questions and Answers https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/flsa/pandemic

COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/pandemic

Please see Families First Coronavirus Response Act for questions specific to the application of the FFCRA and paid leave.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Paid Leave

 

Community Resources

COVID-19 Public Testing Information for Northeast Pennsylvania

Public testing at the Mohegan Sun Pocono Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre is for those who live and work in northeast Pennsylvania, and who have COVID-19 symptoms. It is drive-thru testing site and people will remain in their cars. Pre-registration for testing is required one day in advance of testing.

Patients do not need a doctor's prescription to be tested. At this site, people eligible for testing include:

  • health care workers and first responders with symptoms of COVID-19
  • patients 65 years and older with symptoms of COVID-19

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Pennsylvania's Shared Work Program

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A Shared-Work plan allows an employer to temporarily reduce the work hours of a group of employees and divide the available hours equally rather than laying off any employees. Employees covered by a Shared-Work plan receive a percentage of their Unemployment Compensation (UC) Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA), while they work the reduced schedule, if they are otherwise eligible for UC

Shared-Work allows you, the employer, to retain your workforce during a temporary slowdown and then quickly ramp up operations without the expense of recruiting, hiring and training new employees. At the same time, Shared-Work helps to protect your employees from the financial hardship of a full layoff.

For more information on this program, click here.

 

L/S WDB Offers 'Job Seeker Hotline' and 'Employer Help Line'

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The Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Development Board, (L/S WDB) is responsible for all Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs and services offered at the PA CareerLink® One Stop Centers in Luzerne and Schuylkill Counties. The L/S WDB is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The Board wants to assure the public that the PA CareerLink ® One Stop Centers remain available to help job seekers and local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the offices of the PA CareerLink® in Hazleton, Pottsville, and Wilkes-Barre are closed, staffs are working remotely by providing assistance virtually and by phone.

In an effort to address the community’s workforce needs, the L/S WDB has created immediate support with a “Job Seeker Help Line” and an “Employer Help Line.” The Help Lines are available Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm by calling Hazleton at 570.599.2100, Pottsville at 570.453.7054 and in Wilkes-Barre at 570.453.7053. Staff are here to help individuals find work and match local employers with qualified workers!

Please visit the PA CareerLink® website at www.pacareerlink.pa.gov to see a list of job openings in the workforce area.

PA CareerLink® staff assists businesses by posting and promoting temporary and permanent job opportunities, applicant prescreening, and virtual job fairs. Please ask about the On-the-Job Training program for new employees, Incumbent Worker Training program for existing employees and young adult Internship program that offers wage reimbursement.

The PA CareerLink® is also available to assist businesses through other resources such as:

Also, don’t forget to like us on Facebook at PA CareerLink ® Luzerne County and PA CareerLink ® Schuylkill County, connect with us on Twitter at PACL_LuzerneCo and PACLSchuylkillC, and Instagram at PACareerLink_Luzerne and Schuylkill_County_CareerLink.

 

Hospitals Reaching Out to Their Communities

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As St. Luke’s and Geisinger St. Luke’s Hospitals continue to focus on protecting their patients, staff and community in response to COVID-19, they have instituted a donation program to ensure they are prepared for any shortages that could happen. St. Luke’s and Geisinger St. Luke’s are currently accepting donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies from their community partners.

The types of PPE and supplies they are specifically in need of are:

  • Surgical Masks
  • N95 Masks
  • Face Shields
  • Goggles
  • Vinyl Gloves
  • Hospital Gowns
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Lysol/Clorox Cleaner and Wipes
  • Hospital-grade cleaning supplies and disinfectant

In addition, they are also looking to connect with companies that have 3-D printers. They have had recent success producing 3D printed masks and face shields for health care providers in the wake of COVID-19.

Click here for more information about how to donate: https://www.slhn.org/covid-19/covid-19-donations.

Do you or someone know have symptoms of COVID-19? Call the St. Luke's Coronavirus hotline at 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537) and dial 7 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

LVHN Schuylkill Logo

Lehigh Valley Hospital Schuylkill would like to share the message of the importance of social distancing and remind us it is still critical during this time in every community LVHN serves to review if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Do you or someone you know have symptoms of COVID-19? Call the MyLVHN Nurse Information line at 1-888-402-LVHN.

Donations being accepted by LVHN include: * Handmade facemasks – Visit LVHN.org/facemask for more information, including patterns. (If you need fabric to create face masks, visit the 2024 Lehigh St. drop-off location. See below for location hours and details.)

  • Face shields
  • Goggles
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hospital-grade cleaning supplies and disinfectant
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Lysol and Clorox, including wipes
  • N95 masks
  • Surgical masks
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Empty spray bottles – Must be new and hold 3 ounces of liquid or more.
  • Two-way baby monitors – These assist COVID-19 clinicians who are caring for patients at the bedside in communicating with their team members outside of patient rooms. Video capability is not required but can be accepted.

 

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