It’s Monday and after a number of delays, we finally have a public proposal from Republicans in Congress. The stage has officially been set for this long-awaited showdown on who gets what they want in a small amount of negotiation time for something that is continued to be reported extremely far apart. We will touch below on bits and pieces of the next phase of relief.
Federal Funding Rollout
The proposal has mainly what we’ve been covering over the last week. The highlight being the much talked about liability protection again covid related lawsuits. The specific act is referred to as HEALS or Help, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools Act. The act includes funding for schools, and a direct stimulus payment, and wage replacement for the unemployed.
Unemployment Insurance Proposal Update
The GOP proposal, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will transition to payments equal to roughly 70% of an individual’s previous wages starting in October. States and GOP lawmakers have warned that it could take weeks, if not months, to be able to switch to unemployment benefits that would be scalable based on a person’s wage. Negotiators had discussed doing something similar during the March negotiations but were told by the Labor Department that because of archaic technology it was not possible.
Mnuchin also said that the GOP proposal will provide a “bridge” as states transition to the new system. The GOP proposal will propose lowering the federal employment benefit to $200 per week and give states approximately two months to transition to being able to match previous wages.
New Details on the “P4”
The Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program, or P4 would be available to businesses with fewer than 100 employees that experienced a quarterly revenue loss of 50% or more, relative to the same quarter in 2019. The amount of the loan could be just as large as was allowed for the first round of PPP lending. To make sure that the very smallest employers receive their share of support, the bill reserves either $25 billion, or 20% of the program’s funding, for businesses with 10 or fewer workers.
Additional HEALS Act Items
- $105 billion in education funds, split as $70 billion for K-12, $30 billion for colleges/universities, $5 billion for governors to utilize
- $16 billion in new funds for state testing grants, plus an administration commitment to designate $9 billion in unused funds from the CARES Act (making the total $25 billion)
- $26 billion for vaccine research and distribution
- $15.5 billion for the National Institute of Health
- Increased flexibility and time window for states to utilize initial CARES Act funds, but no explicit new funds
- Enhanced employee retention tax credit
- Deductions for employer purchases of testing, PPE, and other supplies
- Extension of federal eviction moratorium.
Pelosi: House will Stay in Session Longer to Finalize Deal
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House could stay in session longer if necessary, to arrive at a deal with Senate leaders for a new coronavirus relief package. “We have been ready for two months and 10 days,” she said,” referencing the $3 trillion relief bill — dubbed the HEROES Act — the House passed in May. “We can’t go home without” a deal, she added. “It’s so sad that people should have this uncertainty in their life.”
Will County CARES Act Funds
Here is a letter released at the end of last week from Will County Executive Denise Winfrey and Speaker of the Board Mimi Cowan as an update on funds to be released by the county:
Will County government has been actively working to address the COVID-19 health crisis. These efforts include working with State of Illinois, our County Health Department, local governments, first responders, and many other stakeholders. We have made progress but there is more work and know that we will do all that we can to keep our residents safe.
Our efforts to protect our residents have been greatly aided by the approximately $121 million dollars provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The County received this direct allocation of federal dollars because the population of our county is greater than 500,000. It is the intent of the Will County Board and the Will County Executive’s Office to share these funds where they are most needed in the local communities. We are reaching out to residents, local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and local governments to offer an opportunity to apply for funding to help offset the economic impacts of COVID-19.
As you can imagine, setting up processes to distribute these funds where needed, while following the federal guidelines, is challenging. We thank everyone for their patience as we finalize these procedures using best practices and continuing to spend taxpayer funds responsibly.
The federal guidelines for the CARES funds can be found on this web page in addition to a list of frequently asked questions, which are meant to help clarify the requirement for and uses of the CARES funds. Please read through these guidelines and see if your organization may be eligible for funding.
In the next few weeks, their page will be updated to provide additional information about eligibility, and instructions for application/submission for reimbursement. Here is the web site: https://willcountyillinois.com/cares-act
Country of Clinical Trials
Do you know what clinical trials are taking place in your local community or state-wide community? Twenty-three vaccines are in the clinical stages of development. Eleven in phase 1, eight in phase 2, two in phase 2/3, and 2 two in phase 3.
- Total number of COVID-19 clinical trials in the United States = 578
- Total number of states with COVID-19 clinical trials = 50
- Percentage of congressional districts in which there are COVID-19 clinical trials = 85%
How Covid-19 Will Shape Holiday Retail Shopping in 2020
While the unknowns of the 2020 season are many, you can count on seeing these four trends. Even though Black Friday is still months away, a few predictions can now. Analysts believe no matter what, spending will take place and shopping will certainly occur. Here are some things to think about as we get closer:
- In-and-out floor plans
Optimize your store layout for a quick in-and-out visit. Adapting to consumers’ changing shopping habits is more important than ever. When shoppers venture into stores, they’re on a mission. Brick-and-mortar stores need to convince shoppers that it is healthy and safe to come in. Have staff readily available to quickly point customers in the right direction.
- Extra shopping help
You may want to hire plenty of shopping assistants, those employees who run through the store to get items people want for curbside pickup or delivery. Staff up early since competition for this help could be stiff. The hiring surge could be so significant that it could affect temporary employment statistics in the fourth quarter.
- More for the homebody, less for parties
People will want to buy products that align with social distancing lifestyles, even continuing into November. Expect a big uptick in the home entertainment category, such as remote-learning tools like iPads and laptops, and in other gifts that reflect stay-in-place routines.
In contrast, food spending will be down if people cannot gather for big meals. The fewer dollars going to big fancy meals or traveling may mean more going toward gifts.
- More returns
Prepare for more returns than usual. If customers do buy online, they’ll likely buy more than what they need since they can’t go into the store to try things on or see the product in real life, eventually returning a lot of those items. Plus, you likely have additional sanitization processes to think about. Be prepared to handle those returns in a timely way.
Finally, get ready for our next Virtual Conference offering. It will take place this Thursday, the 30th at 11:00 AM.
“Challenge Accepted! Now What Questions to Ask…”
Please join the Joliet Chamber for a free, interactive virtual conference with Annette Szobar, Independent Associate with LegalShield to help you navigate potential legal concerns caused by COVID-19. Learn what questions to ask and where to find the answers.
- Can you ask employees to get tested for COVID-19?
- What are your obligations to protect your employees?
- Are there any new laws around altering your paid sick leave policy?
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry