Apr 6, 2020
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
Coronavirus Response Timeline
$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.
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.
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.
On March 18, the president signed an 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. On March 24, President Trump signed an Executive Order to prevent hoarding of health and medical supplies to respond to the pandemic.
Economic Stimulus Package
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.
Defense Production Act
On 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 Act, passed in 1950, is designed for use during war and allows the President to expedite and expand the supply of resources for homeland security, energy, or military purposes. The president invoked the Act again on April 2 to secure supplies for manufacturers to build ventilators.
Other Relief Measures
Bicameral, bipartisan negotiations are underway on additional legislation, which will serve as a vehicle for other relief measures not included in the CARES Act. Speaker Pelosi has stated that phase four coronavirus relief legislation will look more like a second CARES Act, rather than a broader economic stimulus package. She cited more assistance for small businesses (including farmers), extending unemployment benefits, additional direct payments and additional resources for state and local governments and the healthcare sector as priorities. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that healthcare is his top priority for phase four, but that he is “not of favor of rushing” into more legislation until Congress evaluates the impact the CARES Act is having. President Trump has indicated that he would like to see Congress pass a $2 trillion infrastructure bill, advocating for funding in the phase four coronavirus relief package. The administration is also revising its FY21 budget request to seek additional funding for the CDC.
Government Assistance, Tax and Relief Programs
Tax Filing Season Extended
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced March 20 that the IRS will postpone the April 15 filing deadline to July 15. Individuals will be able to defer up to $1 million without interest or penalties, and corporations can defer up to $10 million.
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
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
Who is Hiring
White House Requests Daily COVID-19 Test Results from Hospitals with On-Site Labs
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.
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.
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:
- $3 billion for the "Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund"
- $13.5 billion in funding for the "Elementary and Secondary Education School Emergency Relief Fund"
- $14.25 billion in funding for the "Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund"
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.
While no formal plan has been proposed, Congressional Democrats are also considering increasing funding for E-rate and broadband infrastructure. Specifically, Democrats want to require the FCC to waive existing E-rate rules to allow schools to issue Wi-Fi hotspots or devices to students who lack Internet access at home. Several organizations that represent K-12 public and program school and public library beneficiaries support this notion and have called on the FCC to use its emergency powers to temporarily waive relevant E-rate program rules to ensure all students have Internet access while schools are closed due to coronavirus. Read more from our national education team.
State and Local Action on COVID-19
Florida | Georgia | Illinois | North Carolina | South Carolina | Texas | Virginia
State Mandated Closures of Non-Essential Businesses
Many of our business clients are facing potential shelter in place emergency executive orders by state and local governments related to the COVID-19 virus that will shut down business operations. With emergency executive orders being entered by the hour, a team of MWC consultants has been advising clients on how to tackle these orders and effectively engaging public officials in jurisdictions across the country.
Most of these orders include standard exemptions for critical infrastructure jobs, like medical operations, food and drug and transportation, but there are generally also exemptions for jobs in industries designated by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency as critical infrastructure. The below map depicts states where governors have issued an order requiring non-essential businesses to close and states that have yet to take that action. Governors are continuing to weigh if this type of executive action is needed in their state. Our National Practice team is tracking the continuously evolving landscape in states across the country. Learn more here.
Current Status of State Legislative Sessions
MWC Federal Contacts
MWC State Contacts
MWC Economic Development Contacts
MWC Crisis Communications