May 11, 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Facts and Resources

McGuireWoods Consulting has compiled the below information coming from Washington and state capitals in response to COVID-19 as it pertains to employers and businesses across industry sectors. Members of MWC’s federal public affairs team are closely following developments on Capitol Hill, and we will update information as news and insights become available.

MWC’s government relations professionals stand ready to help business owners and leaders navigate uncharted territory to identify and secure COVID-19 relief funding. Not only are we equipped to assist with funding applications, we also maintain long-standing relationships with high-ranking influencers who we can advocate before on behalf of our clients. Additionally, we are positioned to help companies identify procurement opportunities created as a result of federal and state funding for emergency services. Our economic development professionals stand ready to assist local and state economic development agencies to help businesses through this crisis. 

How We Can Help You

Federal Government Response

American Rescue Plan

State actions on coronavirus relief funds American Rescue Plan overview

On March 10, Congress passed President Biden’s stimulus and COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan. The $1.9 trillion package provides additional funding for vaccination efforts, COVID-19 testing, state and local governments, stimulus checks, unemployment assistance, rental assistance, education, child care, and small businesses.

Notably, the final bill is not the same bill that originally passed the House of Representatives on February 27. Because the Senate used the budget reconciliation process in order to pass the measure without Republican support, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that some provisions included in the House-passed version of the American Rescue Plan were not permissible under the Byrd Rule. (The Byrd Rule was adopted by the Senate in 1985 to protect the original intent of the budget reconciliation process and to exclude extraneous provisions. Read more from our team on the Byrd Rule here.) Some of the provisions that were excluded from the final version of the bill as a result of the Byrd Rule include a $15 minimum wage increase and several transportation related provisions. In addition to these exclusions, Senate Democrats made numerous other changes to the bill, such as decreasing the income threshold to receive a stimulus check, decreasing unemployment benefits from $400 per week to $300 per week, and decreasing the appropriation to the Education Stabilization Fund. For a summary of all the modifications the Senate made to the House bill, please see here.

On May 10, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the launch of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to provide $350 billion in emergency funding for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments. Treasury also released details on how these funds can be used to respond to acute pandemic response needs, fill revenue shortfalls among these governments, and support the communities and populations hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis. With the launch of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, eligible jurisdictions will be able to access this funding in the coming days to address these needs.

Education

The legislation includes $165 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) will receive $122.7 billion for K-12 education. Of this funding, $800 million is set aside for the Secretary of Education to provide services and assistance to homeless youth. The remaining $121.9 billion will go to the state education agencies (SEAs) based off the Title I-A formula under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). SEAs must award at least 90 percent of the funds to local education agencies (LEAs) based off the same formula. LEAs can use the funding to help schools reopen safely, including repairing ventilations systems, reducing class size to ensure social distancing, and purchasing PPE, among other things. The legislation also requires that 20 percent of the funding that Local Education Agencies (LEAs) receive must be used to address learning loss. 

The legislation also requires the SEAs to reserve a portion of their funding for specific purposes. For example, SEAs must use at least five percent of their funding to address learning loss. Additionally, at least one percent must be used for evidenced-based summer enrichment programs, and another one percent must be used for “evidence-based comprehensive” after school programs.

The Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) fund will receive $39.6 billion to support higher education.  Institutions of higher education must use at least half of the funding for emergency financial aid grants for students.

Finally, the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) fund, which was originally authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), will receive $2.75 billion under the American Rescue Plan. While this program was originally under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund in the CRRSAA, it is important to note that the American Rescue Plan does not include appropriations for the GEER fund.

The funds for all of the programs in the Education Stabilization Fund will remain available through September 30, 2023. For additional information on the Education Stabilization Fund and estimated allocations, please see here.

Broadband

The American Rescue plan invests $7 billion to expand broadband via the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-rate program. Additionally, $10 billion of the $350 billion for state and local governments must be set aside for infrastructure projects, such as broadband infrastructure.

Other Key Provisions

Breaking Down the Byrd Rule – Will My Provision Be Included in the COVID-19 Relief Bill?

The U.S. House of Representatives will introduce and likely vote on the COVID-19 relief bill supported by President Biden the week of Feb. 22, 2021. As the vote nears, however, the Byrd rule will be key in determining which provisions, such as raising the minimum wage to $15, will survive the congressional process. Read more to learn the advantages and limitations of lawmakers using the budget reconciliation process to push a bill like this through Congress.

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

On Monday, December 21, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which includes the highly anticipated coronavirus relief package. The $900 billion relief package includes funding for stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, small businesses, vaccine distribution, health care, education, transportation, rental assistance, and agriculture. Compared to the CARES Act, the stimulus checks in this new relief package are smaller. Taxpayers making less than $75,000 can expect to see a $600 stimulus check, compared to $1,200 per person included in the CARES Act. Similarly, the relief package will provide an extension of the CARES Act unemployment insurance of $300 through March 14, 2021. Under the CARES Act, workers receiving unemployment received $600 per week. The package provides $325 billion to the Small Business Administration. Of this appropriation, 284.45 billion is allocated for the Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Loans. Small businesses with 300 or fewer employees that have lost at least 25 percent of their revenue in any quarter of 2020 are eligible to receive a second draw.

The legislation provides $82 billion for the education funding streams created under the CARES Act. Of this appropriation, $4.1 billion is allocated for the Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. This appropriation includes a $2.75 billion for private schools. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund will receive $54.3 billion, and the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund will receive $22.7 billion. Funds will be allocated to these streams using the same formulas that were used under the CARES Act. Funds must be used within 1 year of receiving them. In addition, the package provides $7 billion for broadband access. Notably, the package does not include funding for state and local governments nor liability protections for businesses; however, the package does extend the deadline for spending appropriated money from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (aid to states and localities) by one year until December 31, 2021. Liability protection and funding for state and local governments were very contentious and excluded from the package in an effort to reach an agreement before the 116th Congress adjourned. 

Read more on major provisions included in the bill from McGuireWoods Consulting's federal team.

Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act passed the House on April 23. The $484 billion bill includes over $320 billion in additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $60 billion of which is set aside for institutions with assets less than $50 billion, split evenly between institutions with assets of less than $10 billion and those with assets between $10-50 billion. The bill also includes:

  • $60 billion for additional Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program loans and grants.
  • $75 billion for hospitals and healthcare providers.
  • $25 billion for testing split between the states and several federal agencies.
  • $1 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), $1.8 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $1 billion for biodefense, $22 million for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and $750 million for tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian health organizations.

On June 4, the Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, sending it to the President for his signature. The bill reforms the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to allow forgiveness for expenses beyond the eight week covered period to 24 weeks.

CARES Act

On March 27, Congress passed a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The legislation includes direct assistance to taxpayers and families, expanded unemployment insurance, a retention tax credit for employers, hundreds of billions in loans and grants to small and large businesses across the country and $340 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations.

Executive Orders, Defense Production Act

  • March 18: Executive Order on Prioritizing and Allocating Health and Medical Resources to Respond to the Spread of COVID-19, empowering the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make decisions about the distribution of certain resources.
  • March 24: Executive Order to prevent hoarding of health and medical supplies to respond to the pandemic.
  • March 27: President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to address medical equipment shortages, directing General Motors to accept, perform and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators. The president invoked the Act again on April 2 to secure supplies for manufacturers to build ventilators.
  • April 28: Executive Order invoking the Defense Production Act, designating meat and poultry processing plants critical infrastructure. The White House published a fact sheet on the Order.
  • May 15: Executive Order invoking the Defense Production Act to authorize the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to support domestic production of strategic resources needed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, including strengthening relevant domestic supply chains.
  • June 22: Executive Order suspending H1-B, H4, L, H2B (exception for food service workers), and J visas (exceptions for au pairs and university scholars). 
  • August 4: Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access, which directs the federal government to launch a joint initiative in 30 days to improve healthcare communication infrastructure and expand rural healthcare services. 
  • August 6: Executive Order on Ensuring Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs Are Made in the United States, aimed at boosting the U.S. supply chain for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies and equipment.
  • August 8: Trump signed four coronavirus-related executive actions governing payroll taxes, evictions, unemployment assistance, and student loans.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 14, the House passed by 363-40, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to enhance the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and address the impact of the virus on personal safety and financial security. The legislation expands access to free testing, provides $1 billion in food aid, and extends sick leave benefits. After negotiations between Speaker Pelosi and the administration, the House passed by unanimous consent (UC) a resolution to make several revisions to the legislation. The Senate passed the bill 90-8 on March 18 and it was signed into law by President Trump.     

National Emergency

On March 13, the president declared a national emergency in relation to the coronavirus. The declaration provides the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with critical authorities to waive certain laws to enable telehealth, remote doctors’ visits, and hospital check-ins; licensing requirements so doctors from other states can provide services in areas with the greatest need; critical access hospital requirements to allow those hospitals to have more beds and longer lengths of stay; the requirement of a 3-day hospital stay prior to admission to a nursing home; rules hindering hospitals’ ability to bring additional physicians on board or obtain needed office space; and restrictions on where hospitals can care for patients.

$8.3 Billion Emergency Funding Bill

On March 5, Congress passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill to aid the fight against the coronavirus. The Department of Health and Human Services received $6.5 billion and was tasked with meting out $1 billion to states, cities and tribes within 30 days to aid in the local response to COVID-19. Congress also ordered the department to use $3.1 billion on medical supplies, vaccine-making and assistance to the U.S. health system. The State Department received $1.3 billion, and the Small Business Administration received an extra $20 million to increase the number of loans that go to businesses affected by the coronavirus. 

Coronavirus Response Timeline

Government Assistance, Tax and Relief Programs

Federal Government Assistance

Economic Development Assistance

Please see examples below of state and local tax remittance waivers and extensions, state unemployment insurance policies and best practices states and localities are implementing to help businesses. These examples are provided as a template for others to use. 

State Tax Remittance Waivers and Extensions

 

State Unemployment Insurance Policies

 

Local Tax Remittance Waivers and Extensions

 

Private Grants to Impacted Businesses

 

Economic Development Incentives Deferrals

Government Business Reopening Funding Programs

 

 

Best Practices for Helping Businesses

As a site selector with a national practice, I get newsletters and updates from literally hundreds of economic development organizations from around the country. In normal times, those are helpful in staying on top of trends in workforce, tax policy, and new projects. In times like this, I’m seeing many great ideas on how various communities are helping impacted businesses through the COVID-19 related challenges. Here are some links to some of the best ideas I’m seeing around the country which others may want to mimic. – Chris Lloyd, Senior Vice President and Director of MWC's Infrastructure and Economic Development team

Webinars

Healthcare

American Rescue Plan

HEROES Act

CARES Act

CMS Information

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued temporary waivers and new rules to provide the healthcare system with additional flexibility to respond to the coronavirus. The actions fall into four categories - increasing hospital capacity, expanding the healthcare workforce, reducing paperwork and expanding telehealth in Medicare.

Telehealth

Supply Chain

Education

American Rescue Plan

The legislation includes $165 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) will receive $122.7 billion for K-12 education. Of this funding, $800 million is set aside for the Secretary of Education to provide services and assistance to homeless youth. The remaining $121.9 billion will go to the state education agencies (SEAs) based off the Title I-A formula under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). SEAs must award at least 90 percent of the funds to local education agencies (LEAs) based off the same formula. LEAs can use the funding to help schools reopen safely, including repairing ventilations systems, reducing class size to ensure social distancing, and purchasing PPE, among other things. The legislation also requires that 20 percent of the funding that Local Education Agencies (LEAs) receive must be used to address learning loss. 

The legislation also requires the SEAs to reserve a portion of their funding for specific purposes. For example, SEAs must use at least five percent of their funding to address learning loss. Additionally, at least one percent must be used for evidenced-based summer enrichment programs, and another one percent must be used for “evidence-based comprehensive” after school programs.

The Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) fund will receive $39.6 billion to support higher education.  Institutions of higher education must use at least half of the funding for emergency financial aid grants for students.

Finally, the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) fund, which was originally authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), will receive $2.75 billion under the American Rescue Plan. While this program was originally under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund in the CRRSAA, it is important to note that the American Rescue Plan does not include appropriations for the GEER fund.

The funds for all of the programs in the Education Stabilization Fund will remain available through September 30, 2023. For additional information on the Education Stabilization Fund and estimated allocations, please see here.

How States Are Addressing Learning Loss

Nearly one year after schools across the nation shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic, policymakers and educators are looking at how to address one of the most consequential educational impacts of the pandemic: learning loss. According to a study published by McKinsey & Company, the average student is “likely to lose five to nine months of learning by the end of this school year,” with students of color being more acutely impacted. In response, policymakers at both the federal and state levels are taking action.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan requires state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) to use a portion of their relief funding to address learning loss. Furthermore, more than 15 states have introduced legislation that attempts to mitigate or remedy learning loss. For example, in California SB 723 has been introduced in the attempt to establish a tutoring program that will reduce learning loss. In addition to tutoring programs, decision-makers across the country are looking at summer school and extending the school year to address learning loss. MWC has compiled a chart of how all 50 states are planning to address learning loss (either through legislation or other actions). This is an evolving issue as the federal money set aside for learning loss will help bolster the states’ ability to address learning loss, and MWC will update this chart as necessary.

CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) contains several provisions related to education.  The U.S. Department of Education will receive $30.9 billion total, of which $30.75 billion will go directly to states, local districts and institutions of higher education "to help schools, students, teachers, and families with immediate needs related to coronavirus." Those funds include: 

Full details on the education provisions can be found in MWC's update on the coronavirus and its impact on education.

Learn more about private equity-backed education platforms and assistance from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund here

The Department of Education announced $13.2 billion in CARES Act emergency relief funds is available to state and local education agencies to support continued learning for K-12 students whose educations are disrupted by COVID-19. Secretary of Education DeVos also said that colleges and universities with large endowments should not apply for CARES Act relief funds. She further called on Congress “to change the law to ensure no additional taxpayer funds be allocated to elite, wealthy institutions.”

Reopening

Department of Education

On March 20, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it will waive standardized testing requirements for K-12 schools this year. The Department is also setting federal student loan interest rates to zero percent and will allow students to defer student loan payments for at least 60 days. 

The Department had previously eased rules on colleges and universities amid coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, offering flexibility on higher education regulations as campus closures continue. The guidelines seek to alleviate concerns around enrollment requirements and maintaining financial aid eligibility. On April 1, the Department proposed new rules to govern distance learning for higher education students. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced flexibilities to allow meal service during school closures. As of March 18, the USDA granted waiver approvals to all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico to enable Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO) sponsors to serve meals in a non-congregate setting and at school sites during the coronavirus outbreak. President Trump announced that the government would waive federal student loan interest until further notice.  

Webinars

State and Local Action on COVID-19

Florida | Georgia | Illinois | North Carolina | South Carolina | Texas | Virginia

State Actions Limiting Supplemental Unemployment Benefits

A summary on state actions to limit supplemental unemployment to date (May 11, 2021). 

State Actions on Coronavirus Relief Funds

State Allocations and Reporting Requirements for CARES Act Funding

Webinars

MWC's National Practice Team Helps Business Navigate States' Reopening Plans

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., McGuireWoods Consulting’s National Practice team has been helping clients monitor and interpret governors’ COVID-related executive orders, and where necessary, conduct outreach and engage governors’ offices. Our team successfully worked on this around governors’ shelter-in-place orders and are now helping clients work with governors’ offices to expeditiously re-open and adhere to state regulations. 

Status of State Legislative Sessions

Review our state-by-state chart for full details on the status of each state's legislative session, as well as each state's budget. 

Relevant Resources

MWC Federal Contacts

 Ryan Bernstein  Stephanie Kennan

 Ryan Bernstein, Federal Government Relations

 

 Stephanie Kennan, Healthcare

 

 scott binkley  Scott Frein

Scott Binkley, National Multistate Strategies

 

 Scott Frein, Education

 

 Martin_Tucker  Genevieve McGroarty
 Tucker Martin, Crisis Communications  Gena McGroarty, Crisis Communications

MWC State Contacts

 Sean_Stafford  sara clements

 Sean Stafford, Florida

 

 Sara Clements, Florida

 

 Kent Gaffney  Michael Shelnutt

 Kent Gaffney, Illinois

 

 Michael Shelnutt, Georgia

 

 Kerri Burke  Brian Flynn

 Kerri Burke, North Carolina

 

 Brian Flynn, South Carolina

 

 Holly Deshields  Michael Thomas
 Holly Deshields, Texas  Michael Thomas, Virginia

 

MWC Economic Development Contacts

 Chris Lloyd  Benton Blaine

 Chris Lloyd

 

 Benton Blaine

 

MWC Crisis Communications

 Mark Hubbard  Mike Reynold

 Mark Hubbard

 

 Mike Reynold

 

 Chad Bernard  
 Chad Bernard