Edition for Friday, April 10, 2020
To view this Daily Impact online, click here.
Welcome to your daily Impact newsletter!
As a valued member of
the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, we plan to stay in touch with you every
afternoon, through emails like this one and on Facebook and Twitter, until the pandemic passes. We intend to provide you with the latest
state and federal information, as well as highlighting the creativity and
innovation that is occuring here in Maine during this unpredictable and
rapidly changing time. To assist you in navigating the uncertainties ahead,
we have created a diverse and comprehensive collection of web-based
resources to help you take care of yourself and your family, your employees, your business, and your community.
Do you have a
We are here to help in any way we can!
Governor Mills Joins Dr. Shah
for CDC Update Today
By now we're used to the daily
process of the CDC Updates. Dr. Shah delivers the numbers and data with
precision, compassion, and a sometimes a colloquial reference. Today was no
different. Maine mourns another individual who has died with COVID-19, a
woman in her 80s from Sagadahoc County, bringing the state's total to 17
deaths. The number of cases is now at 586, an increase of 26 from yesterday.
The number of hospitalizations now totals 111, an increase of six from
yesterday - 57 are currently hospitalized, with 20 of those being ICU patients.
And the most hopeful number in the daily reports, those that have recovered increased
44 from yesterday to now total 246.
But most of us pause a moment
when we learn that Governor Mills will be joining Dr. Shah for the daily
briefing. Rightly so, as it has come to signal and change in policy or procedure.
However, today, Governor Mills brought information and encouragement to the
people of Maine.
She commended companies such as
L.L. Bean, New Balance, and American Roots for helping to make PPE in Maine. She
commented on the overnight nor'easter that left many with power outages caused
by the high winds and downed limbs. With nearly one-third of all electricity customers
losing power from the storm, MEMA has been directed to help restore power -
giving priority to hospitals and caregiving facilities - noting that restoration
efforts will likely go into the weekend.
Governor Mills also provided funding
updates, highlighting the $30 billion in support for healthcare. Also of note
were the 76,000 Mainers that have filed for unemployment in past few weeks, a
number that has more than doubled in just three weeks and has surpassed the entire
amount of claims from last year. Maine DOL is expanding its capacity to field
and answer calls for at least the next six months, noting that the DOL will
continue to work through the weekend.
Lastly, Governor Mills provided a picture of where Maine is compared to other states. Maine ranks 34th lowest in the nation and lowest in New England, right now, for the number of COVID-19 cases (per capita). The state is seventh highest in nation for the number of those who have recovered (per capita). She also implored Mainers to continue with their persistence and patience through the upcoming Easter weekend, saying, "Do your part and stay apart. Stay home and only go out when necessary. When you do, stay six feet apart. Be kind, help save a life."
Maine State Chamber
President Dana Connors participated in two Tele-Town Hall meetings hosted by
Congressman Jared Golden
This week, Maine State Chamber
President Dana Connors participated in two tele-town hall meetings hosted by
Congressman Jared Golden, Maine's second congressional district
representative to the U.S. House. Golden initiated the listening sessions to
hear from Maine small businesses about their challenges during the
Coronavirus crisis and what resources they need to help them stay afloat
during the pandemic.
SBA Maine District Director
Amy Bassett, Chris Pinkham of the Maine Bankers Association, and Todd Mason
of the Maine Credit Union League were also on hand to answer questions and
offer guidance about the various programs and resources available to help
Town Hall participants
included small business owners, seasonal business owners, sole-proprietors,
self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and fishing and
lobstering business owners. Altogether, several hundred people called-in over
the two nightsa.
Discussions and questions
focused primarily on the financial relief programs in the Coronavirus Aid,
Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including the Economic Injury
Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and
changes to unemployment insurance. Bassett emphasized the compliance and
documentation requirements to maximize PPP loan forgiveness. Golden addressed
congressional efforts to put forward additional stimulus packages to help more
Maine businesses, and the potential extension of relief programs beyond the
initial 8-week aid period.
Golden pointed to several
resources for small businesses, including his office's Small Business
Resource Page for information on loans, grants, and other federal programs
available during the crisis. Constituents can reach his Small Business
Response Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Golden also mentioned several free resources for small businesses, including
Maine's Small Business Development Centers, SCORE, CEI, and SBA.
The Maine State Chamber thanks Congressman Golden for hosting these important events to help provide businesses across Maine with accurate and current information on COVID-19 resources. The chamber appreciates the work of Maine's entire federal delegation, and the partnership between the public private sectors, including Maine's lending institutions, for their efforts over the last four weeks to quickly make available new programs and put new processes in place to help Maine businesses access the critical aid they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will share a link to
recordings of both tele-town hall as soon as they are available.
Senator Collins Announces
5,334 Maine Small Businesses Have Been Approved for Over $1 Billion in
Paycheck Protection Program Loans
U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced yesterday that 5,334 small businesses in Maine have been approved for more than $1 billion in forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program she co-authored. Dozens of Maine lending institutions are currently participating in the program.
"These overwhelmingly high numbers speak for themselves. This more than $1 billion in urgently needed relief is great news for our State, and it will help thousands of Maine small employers continue to pay their employees and keep from closing their doors," said Senator Collins. "I worked hard with a bipartisan group of my colleagues to create this forgivable loan program to support small employers and their employees, which will address the cash-flow problem that small businesses are facing due to the economic harm caused by COVID-19. Maine banks and credit unions are working around the clock to assist small businesses and certain nonprofits with their funding needs. I will continue to work closely with these financial institutions, the SBA, and the Treasury Department to ensure this approved funding is disbursed as soon as possible."
FCC Ready to Vet
Applications for $200M in Virus Telehealth Aid
The FCC will start vetting
applicants Monday for the $200 million in telehealth cash that Congress
allocated as part of the recent coronavirus pandemic stimulus legislation. Details
will be available at a portal
going live then, including a forthcoming explainer video to help applicants. The
FCC quickly moved to adopt the Covid-19 Telehealth
Program order after President Donald Trump signed the relief measure into
law, promising the $200 million will be open to a variety of health care
providers to help with broadband connectivity and devices for telehealth
services. The commission will consider applicants on a rolling basis and
potentially make hundreds of cash awards. It expects to make no individual
grant greater than $1 million.
The agency is able to move
forward now following White House Office of Management and Budget approval as
well as the order's publication in the Federal Register, necessary
bureaucratic steps after the commissioners voted to sign off on the program.
It provided initial guidance for prospective applicants on Wednesday. Still,
some lawmakers say more telehealth support is necessary. Reps. Anna Eshoo
(D-Calif.) and Don Young (R-Alaska) today unveiled
legislation that would increase the subsidy rate of the FCC's Healthcare
Connect Fund Program and provide $2 billion to aid in telehealth and
healthcare connectivity efforts.
A New $2.3 Trillion Fed Plan
to Aid Localities and Companies
According to a recent
Associated Press story, the Federal Reserve
unleashed a new series of moves Thursday to try to make loans available
to states, localities and companies that have been hard hit by the
coronavirus. In doing so, the Fed will pump an additional $2.3 trillion into
the U.S. economy. The central bank, in part, is drawing on money made
available in Congress' new economic relief package to buy municipal bonds as
well as debt that did not previously qualify for federal backing. The
extraordinary rescue package comes on top of efforts the Fed has already made
to bolster the economy, including cutting its benchmark interest rate to near
zero and supplying more than $1 trillion to purchase Treasury and mortgage-backed
securities to help keep credit flowing.
On Wall Street, the Dow jumped
300 points after the Fed action. Powell said there was "every reason to
believe that the economic rebound, when it comes, can be robust" because the
economy was doing well before the virus hit.
The Fed said it was activating
a Main Street Lending Program authorized by the CARES Act, the largest
economic relief package ever passed by Congress. Among the actions taken
Thursday, the Fed activated a loan program for municipal governments, as well
as additional support for the Paycheck Protection Program, which the Small
Business Administration rolled out last week. The program provides loans to
businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
The Fed on Thursday said it
would purchase up to $500 billion of municipal bonds to help state and local
governments borrow enough to cover day-to-day operations, from road repairs
to hospital expansions. Both state and local governments are facing
precipitous drops in revenue as sales tax receipts plunge and millions of
Americans lose jobs and pay less income tax. At the same time, governments
are facing rising social safety net costs, as the ranks of unemployment
insurance and Medicaid recipients swell.
Responding to questions after
his speech, Powell was not specific on when he believes that the recovery
might begin, suggested it could begin in the second half of this year. "When the virus runs its
course, we would expect there to be a fairly quick rebound as people go back
to work," Powell said. But he added that such an outcome depends on people
"staying home and staying healthy" now.
Many of the support programs
the Fed is deploying against the virus shutdown are similar to programs it
utilized to support the economy following the 2008 financial crisis. But in
many cases the Fed is going farther than it did in 2008 to back riskier types
of credit. In its Thursday announcement the Fed said it would expand a credit
backstop for new debt issued by highly rated firms to include so-called
"fallen angels" - companies that were investment grade in mid-March but have
subsequently been downgraded from triple-B to double-B.
An Aspiring-Doctor Has
Helped Launch A Free Child Care Service For Health Care Workers
A Maine Public story featured
the efforts one
aspiring physician from Tufts who is helping the medical community in a
different way. The spread of COVID-19 has greatly restricted medical
students' access to hospitals, which traditionally is a major part of their
hands-on education. With more time on their hands than expected, Becca Bell
and a group of medical students from the University of New England created
COVID Sitters, a group that offers free child care to Maine health care
workers. The following is her story, in her own words:
"Being sent home when the
pandemic had started was disappointing and frustrating. The other health care
workers were working incredibly hard, and kind of being put into situations
that were really uncomfortable and scary. Feeling like we couldn't help with
that was tough.
"My name is Becca Bell,
and I am a third-year medical student in the Tufts Maine-Track program, and I
helped to organize the Maine COVID Sitters. These health care providers were
being put into kind of dangerous situations and scary situations in their workspace.
But then, at the same time, kind of the entire state was being shut down and
people were being sent home from their jobs outside of health care. So that's
including child care providers and nurseries and things like that. And so
knowing that those were being shut down, I knew that our providers would need
a little bit of extra help.
"We're giving one or two
students to one specific family. So we're not bouncing around from home to
home. And we're really trying to minimize our exposures and their exposures.
And so basically the one to two students that form a pod that support a
health care family, they become kind of part of that family. We think that
that's the best way to kind of mitigate risk, but also provide the support
that they need.
"I think we're all very
aware of that - scared about the risks of going to the grocery store, let
alone going into the home of a health care provider. The way I've kind of
interpreted these stay-at-home orders is that we need to all work together to
reduce the number of risks that we're taking, and this feels like a necessary
risk to take.
"We've had a lot of
really kind emails and messages from the health care workers getting support
through our program. They're especially exhausted, and they're coming home
and they're pretty grateful to have the support from the health care students
that have stepped up to support them."
Becca Bell is a third-year
medical student in the Tufts Maine-Track program and one of the COVID
sitters, a group of medical students from the Unversity of New England that
offers free child care to Maine health care workers.
Monday, April 13 | U.S.
Chamber of Commerce Foundation Path Forward Program
Join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation this Monday, April 13, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. ET for the inaugural Path Forward broadcast, a dialogue on helping America prepare to restart the economy and get millions of people back to work. Airing twice-weekly on Mondays and Thursdays at 3:00 p.m. ET, the Path Forward program will feature conversations led by U.S. Chamber president Suzanne Clark to explore the complex issues that must be considered as part of a responsible reopening strategy with insights from cross-industry experts. Learn more and register here.
The Intersection of
Wednesday, April 22 | 11:00 a.m.
Webinar for Sole Proprietors:
Wednesday, April 29 | 11:00 a.m.
Recent State and Federal Tax Changes and How They Affect
Wednesday, May 13 | 11:00 a.m.
THE INTERSECTION OF
Wednesday, April 22
Starting at 11:00 a.m.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employers, their employees, and our state and national economies has been remarkable. Across the state, businesses large and small are struggling with how to adjust to this new and dramatically different paradigm. Like many other groups, the Maine State Chamber has worked to bring our members and employers all around the state the latest and most accurate information on changes to our unemployment insurance system, paid sick leave, paid FMLA leave, the CARES Act, and the accompanying Paycheck Protection Program and EIDL assistance.
forgotten up to this point is how another important aspect of the cost of
doing business may be impacted by the pandemic - workers' compensation
insurance. Like so many other business factors, there are a significant
number of unknowns surrounding workers' comp going forward, including the
compensability of COVID-19-related claims, claims that may arise while
employees are working remotely from their homes, and how a shrinking
statewide payroll may impact premium rates, and therefore, overall premium
WEBINAR FOR SOLE PROPRIETOR BUSINESSES:
Wednesday, April 29
Starting at 11:00 a.m.
will focus on the short- and long-term issues arising from the pandemic for
sole proprietors - with suggested solutions. Topics covered will include a
review of up-to-date federal and state legislative opportunities, tax issues
to discuss with your accountant, insurance liability, health insurance
options, credit protection, and steps for sole proprietors to take with customers.
There will also be a brief review of pertinent estate planning options during
register | Sponsored by Lambert Coffin
RECENT STATE AND
Wednesday, May 13
Starting at 11:00 a.m.
webinar will focus on federal tax changes contained in the CARES Act and
changes made at the state level that provide support for businesses during
this pandemic. Additional topics also include a look at the ever-changing
landscape at the federal level for additional stimulus funds and what those
changes might look like.
webinars will be forthcoming, and sponsorship opportunities are available. Questions can be directed
to Angela S. Arno, director of programs and events for the Maine State
Chamber of Commerce, by emailing email@example.com or calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 104.
Tuesday, April 28 | Legislative
Strictly Social Virtual Coffee Hour
The Maine State Chamber of
Commerce and the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce invites you to attend
Strictly Social Virtual Coffee Hour. We invite you to grab a cup of
coffee at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 28, and hear from legislators about
Normally, our annual series of
statewide receptions is an ideal way for you, the Maine business leader, to
interact with business associates, new and prospective Maine State Chamber
members, and state representatives in a relaxed setting. This year, due to
the COVID-19 situation, we will be hosting this event online as a coffee
hour. We will have a panel of Maine Legislators open the hour and there will
be an opportunity for questions through the Zoom chat feature. Please join us
for this presentation. A participation link will be sent to you after you
have completed registration. Learn more or register here.
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