***Individuals having trouble getting through to the Maryland Unemployment Office can visit https://beacon.labor.maryland.gov/beacon/claimant-page.html***
Maryland Department of Human Resources (Department of Social Services) offers help to vulnerable Marylanders buy food, pay energy bills and obtain medical assistance.
Main phone number: 1-800-332-6347
- It’s very important to reiterate to all concerned constituents/callers the critical importance of first calling their health care provider before they seek out testing.
- Hospitals are also requesting that people who believe they are infected not come to the emergency room, but call their local doctor or health department first.
- This is a crucial step in the process as COVID-19 testing can only be conducted with prior authorization (i.e. a referral or order) from a physician.
- Walk-in testing is generally not permitted at public or private sites.
- Drive-up collection sites are available, as well as triage tents outside facilities, but a referral is still necessary.
Prohibition on Utility Shutoffs and Charging of Late Fees
· Prohibits electric, gas, water, sewage, phone, cable TV, and internet service provider companies from shutting off any residential customer’s service, or charging any residential late fees.
· Authority by Governor’s EO
Prohibition on Tenant Evictions
· Prohibits Maryland courts from ordering the eviction of any tenant who can show that their failure to pay rent was the result of COVID-19
· For example, because of lost or reduced unemployment, or needing to care for a school-aged child—or because they are diagnosed with, or under investigation for, COVID-19
· Authority by Governor’s EO
· Executive Order: Prohibiting Evictions of Tenants:
On March 13, dozens of major ISPs signed on to the FCC “Keep Americans
Connected Pledge” that pledged companies for the next 60 days to continue
providing unimpeded access to consumers and small businesses, including:
o (1) Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers
because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by
the corona virus pandemic;
o (2) waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers
incur because of their economic circumstances related to the corona virus
o (3) open its WI-Fi hot spots to any American who needs them.
Includes AT&T, Comcast, Sprint, US Cellular, and Verizon, among others.
* Original list: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-363033A1.pdf
* Updates: https://www.fcc.gov/document/more-providers-take-chairman-pais-
*Certain internet providers, such as Comcast, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint also
announced plans to upgrade all existing customers to unlimited data plans and/or
waive overage charges for the next 60 days to help respond to the increased
demand for Internet access.
President Donald J. Trump Directs FEMA Support Under Emergency Declaration for COVID-19
The federal government continues to take aggressive and proactive steps to address the COVID-19 threat as the health and safety of the American people remain a top priority (President Donald J. Trump Has Mobilized the Full Resources of the Federal Government to Respond to the Coronavirus). On Friday, March 13, President Trump declared a nationwide emergency pursuant to Sec. 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207 (the “Stafford Act”) (Letter from President Donald J. Trump on Emergency Determination Under the Stafford Act). This increases federal support to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in its role as the lead federal agency for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response. As a result of the President’s decisive, unprecedented action, FEMA is directed to assist state, local, tribal, territorial governments and other eligible entities with the health and safety actions they take on behalf of the American public. Part of preparedness includes a robust blood supply. The current situation around COVID-19 heightens the need for a ready blood supply, please encourage your health community members to keep their appointments to donate blood.
· CDC released updated guidance on infection prevention and control recommendations for healthcare workers. Healthcare workers are fighting this outbreak on the front lines, and this guidance is intended to provide assistance to healthcare settings that are handling suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. This guidance is applicable to all U.S. healthcare settings.
· The most up-to-date information and guidance can be found via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Disease 2019 website (here)
· HHS/CDC Community Framework for Mitigation (here)
· Guidance for families, businesses, schools and others (here).
· The Coronavirus Task Force holds frequent national briefings which can be viewed live (here)
What You Need To Know
· What You Should Know – How COVID-19 Spreads, Symptoms, etc. (here)
· Situation Summary (here)
· Travel Information (here)
· Preventing COVID-10 Spread in Communities (here)
· Higher Risk & Special Populations (here)
· Healthcare Professionals (here)
· Resources for Healthcare Facilities (here)
· Resources for Health Departments (here)
· Laboratories (here)
· Communication Resources (here)
SBA To Provide Disaster Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)
On Thursday, March 12, SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza issued the following statement: “The President took bold, decisive action to make our 30 million small businesses more resilient to Coronavirus-related economic disruptions. Small businesses are vital economic engines in every community and state, and they have helped make our economy the strongest in the world. Our Agency will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the situation. Additionally, the SBA continues to assist small businesses with counseling and navigating their own preparedness plans through our network of 68 District Offices and numerous Resource Partners located around the country. The SBA will continue to provide every small business with the most effective and customer-focused response possible during these times of uncertainty.” SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. More information can be found here.
U.S. Department of Education (DoED)
· The Department of Education has established a dedicated Coronavirus webpage, which includes resources for institutions of higher education and for K-12.
· The website includes guidance for students at institutions of higher education, and covers Coronavirus-related scenarios that could impact students who are enrolled in study abroad programs, students who meet full-time requirements but fall below 12 credit hours, students who are quarantined and miss class, campuses that have temporarily stopped offering ground-based classes to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, and foreign schools that serve Americans who receive Federal financial aid. Also see a letter from the Office for Civil Rights that addresses potential discrimination associated with coronavirus.
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
· The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed COVID-19 planning guidance for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and personal protective equipment.
STATE of MARYLAND INFO
ECONOMIC RELIEF PACKAGE: Governor Hogan announced more than $175 million to assist small businesses and workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. More information and resources about these programs is available at businessexpress.maryland.gov/coronavirus.
- The Maryland Department of Commerce will offer up to $125 million in loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofits through the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. A $75 million loan fund and a $50 million grant fund, with $1 million in grants dedicated to non-profits, will provide working capital to be used for payroll, rent, fixed-debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs. Businesses and nonprofits with under 50 full- and part-time employees will be eligible, and loans will range up to $50,000 and grants up to $10,000. Additional eligibility requirements can be found here.
- Maryland Commerce is also working on creating a $5 million fund to incentivize businesses to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to satisfy the increasing needs of the healthcare industry. Below please find, from the Department of Health, a list of email addresses for referrals and requests of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies/equipment. Requests and inquiries regarding the need for PPE for providers, facilities, in-home care staffing firms: Please email OP&R at firstname.lastname@example.org, OP&R will then appropriately route to our partners at MEMA for address. Resources (Sales and Product offers): email@example.com Offers and Donations (for equipment, PPE, testing and surge locations): firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- The Department also has a number of existing financing programs, like Advantage Maryland, which provides conditional loans for new businesses or business expansions; the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority and Fund (MIDFA), which provides loan guarantees; the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA), which provides financial assistance to economically disadvantaged businesses; and the Non-Profit Interest-Free Micro-Bridge Loan Program, which provides loans to nonprofits to support ongoing operating costs while waiting on a future government grant or contract. A total of about $40 million is available through these existing programs.
- Governor Hogan has allocated $5 million and the Maryland Department of Labor has allocated $2 million to collaboratively launch the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund. A total of $7 million in funds will be available to provide flexible rapid response services to proactively support businesses and workers undergoing economic stresses due to COVID-19. Funding can help Maryland’s workforce adhere to social distancing policies by purchasing remote access equipment and software to allow employees to work from home, providing on-site cleaning and sanitation services at businesses that have workers delivering essential services, and implementing other creative strategies to mitigate potential layoffs or closures in the business community. Unemployment questions: https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/uicovidfaqs.shtml
- If your business does not fit into one of the categories for closing in the executive order, there is nothing saying that you are required to close, but we strongly recommend that you use your best judgement and consider the possible impact on your employees and customers if you stay open. Public utility, such as the need to provide food or essential supplies, must be balanced with the need to preserve public health. If you remain open, it is critical that you follow social distancing guidelines and do everything in your power to prevent groups of 10 or more people from congregating in one area. If your business is not covered in Governor Hogan’s executive order, please use it as guidance. Businesses with 10 or more people that are not included in the executive order are not required to close, but we need your help to prevent the virus from spreading. This may require you to make difficult choices. You can remain open if your business does not interact with the public in person. Even if your business decides to close, key staff are allowed to access your business to perform maintenance, prevent perishables from spoiling, or maintain computer systems and telework functionality. Guidance from the CDC for businesses is available here.
- Maryland has “no-excuse” absentee voting, which means anyone who wants a mailed-out ballot can get one. Now you are no longer required to offer an excuse, such as being out of town on Election Day or having a disability or illness. If you prefer to vote from your home, you can request an absentee ballot, and you can submit a request online by visiting https://www.elections.maryland.gov and clicking the “Request a Ballot” box or obtaining a request form from elections.maryland.gov/voting/absentee.html