Facts  |  Resources  |  Response  |  Impact

COMBATING CORONAVIRUS

Updated Thursday, June 11, 2020, 5:30PM EST

With the rapid spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) around the United States and the world, it is important to us that we both understand how this is impacting your business and employees, and share up-to-date information and resources to better protect your enterprise. Scroll down to learn more about the virus, see what resources (local, state, and federal) are available, how BECMA and state entities are responding, and how you're reporting on the impact this will have on you. Got any questions or recommendations? Send them to info@becma.org.

Combating Coronavirus

FACTS & GUIDELINES

What is Cornoavirus?

[From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] - "Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in humans and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people, such as with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in China and some limited person-to-person transmission has been reported in countries outside China, including the United States. However, respiratory illnesses like seasonal influenza, are currently widespread in many US communities." Visit the CDC website to learn more.

 

CDC-recommended strategies for employers to use:

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home:

    • Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.

    • Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.

    • Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.

    • Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.

    • Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.

  • Separate sick employees:

    • CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).

  • Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees:

    • Place posters that encourage staying home when sickcough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.

    • Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.

    • Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.

    • Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.

    • Visit the coughing and sneezing etiquette and clean hands webpage for more information.

  • Perform routine environmental cleaning:

    • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.

    • No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.

    • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.

  • Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps:

    • Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from China, and information for aircrew, can be found at on the CDC website.

    • Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before starting travel and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.

    • Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.

    • If outside the United States, sick employees should follow your company’s policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.

  • Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the COVID-19:

    • Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

    • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

 
 

Combating Coronavirus

BUSINESS RESOURCES

Here are the available small business resources as we understand them. We will continue to update this list as more information becomes available.

Small Business Administration


Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program The SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Learn more here. Express Bridge Loan Program This program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan. Learn more here. Paycheck Protection Program The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020. Learn more here.




Executive Office of Labor & Workforce Development


WorkShare Program The state has developed a program to help employers avoid layoffs. The WorkShare program is an alternative for employers faced with a cut in workforce. Employers can divide available work between affected employees instead of laying off workers. It allows employees to receive a part of their unemployment insurance (UI) benefits while working reduced hours. Learn more here.




Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency


MEMA has launched a hotline specifically for small businesses that are experiencing financial hardships or who have questions about how the state can support them. Call the hotline: (508) 820-2094.




City of Boston


Small Business Relief Fund On Monday, April 6, 2020, the City of Boston began accepting applications for their Small Business Relief Fund. Businesses with fewer than thirty-five (35) employees, less than $1,500,000 in annual revenue, and that are registered with, in good standing with, and operating in, the City of Boston (excluding chain or corporate franchises) can apply for grants of $2,500, $5,000, or $10,000 depending on the size of the enterprise. Learn more here.​ Boston Artist Relief Fund The Boston Artist Relief Fund will award grants of $500 and $1000 to individual artists who live in Boston whose creative practices and incomes are being adversely impacted by Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). With events of all types being canceled to reduce spread of COVID-19, people who make income partially or fully through gigs and freelance work are losing critical opportunities to support their well-being in our city. Learn more here.​




City of Cambridge


Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program This is a special program helping Cambridge’s U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (or HUD) eligible retail, food, personal services, and creative for-profit businesses with a grant up to $6,000 per brick and mortar business. The program provides short-term working capital assistance to enable the viability of the business and the retention of jobs during the severe interruption of business related to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing. Grant applications are only available starting March 26, 2020, until May 1, 2020, at 12:00 p.m. EDT. Learn more here.​




Foundation for Business Equity


Business Equity COVID-19 Emergency Fund The Fund will provide loans/grants and crisis response support teams to Massachusetts-based Black and Latinx businesses with revenues of at least $250,000. The BECEF will be operated by a group of Coalition Partners that are all nonprofit business support organizations focused on supporting Black and Latinx businesses in Massachusetts. Coalition Partners include the Foundation for Business Equity (FBE), Business Equity Fund (BEF) at the Boston Foundation, Amplify Latinx, BECMA, CommonWealth Kitchen, and Ujima Boston. Applications are due Monday, April 13, 2020. Here's what it offers:

  • Loans/Grants – Funding up to $100,000. Loans/grants may be used for working capital and other demonstrated business needs (e.g., salaries and wages, inventory, equipment, marketing, etc.)
  • Response Strategy Teams – Strategic advisors & crisis management expert consultants will partner with businesses to assess the existing and potential COVID-19 impact on their business, develop financial forecasts and scenarios, and co-create near and medium-term plans to mitigate COVID-19 impact (including how to leverage federal, state, and local government resources).
Learn more here.




Resource Centers


Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) The team at AIM developed comprehensive resources for employers across the state. Click here to access the guide. Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) As news about the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve and its impact is widely felt, ICIC is actively supporting the small business community by sharing a wealth of information and external resources as they become available. Click here to access their resource page.




Corporate Support


AT&T The company announced that they will not terminate the service of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer due to an inability to pay their bill as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – and we’re waiving late payment fees for those customers.

  • The company is helping businesses and universities stand-up virtual offices and classrooms with conference call and video conferencing with Cisco Webex Meetings with AT&T. The first 90 days are free. Learn more here.
  • The company is enabling businesses to forward calls to both mobile and landline phones with AT&T IP Flexible Reach. Learn more here.
​​ Comcast All Xfinity WiFi Public Hotspots are now open to everyone on the “xfinitywifi” SSID. Public hotspots can be found in small/medium businesses and outdoors in commercial areas. Non-Xfinity subscribers need to accept Terms and Conditions to access the network and repeat when requested to continue to receive free unlimited access. Click here to see the map. ​​ LogMeIn Starting immediately, the company will provide critical front-line service providers, including eligible healthcare providers, educational institutions, municipalities, and non-profit organizations as well as any current LogMeIn customer with free, organization-wide use of many LogMeIn products for 3 months through the availability of Emergency Remote Work Kits. Learn more here. Spanx Since its inception, Spanx and The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation have been dedicated to elevating and supporting women through entrepreneurship. Knowing the ripple effect that empowering women can have to strengthen neighborhoods, cities and countries, The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation donated $5 million to support female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19 and teamed up with GlobalGiving to establish the Red Backpack Fund. GlobalGiving will be overseeing the fund, making 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs in the U.S. to help alleviate the immediate needs and support the long-term recovery of those impacted by this crisis. Learn more here. Verizon Due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus and to keep customers connected during this economic and global crisis; Verizon waives late fees for residential and small business customers impacted by COVID-19, offers free international calling to CDC level 3 countries.




LISC Boston


LISC Small Business Recovery Grant Program Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Citizens Bank are pleased to announce the LISC Small Business Recovery Grant Program which will provide grants to hard-hit small businesses in Massachusetts to weather the immediate financial impact of closures and social distancing measures required to slow the spread of the coronavirus. LISC will offer grants of up to $10,000 to address immediate financial peril, limit layoffs, avoid gaps in employee benefits or insurance, mitigate economic instability and increase the likelihood of business survival. Launched with seed funding provided by Citizens, the Small Business Recovery Grant Program is part of the LISC Rapid Relief & Resiliency Fund for Massachusetts. The Fund also aims to provide critical technical assistance and longer-term funding to help vulnerable businesses and community-serving nonprofits weather the effects of the pandemic. Applications will be accepted online from Monday, April 20 to Friday, April 24, and will be available in English, Spanish and several other languages through LISC Boston’s website. To focus the grants where they will have the greatest impact, LISC will be inviting business support organizations, small business accelerators, and community networks across the state to encourage the at-risk small businesses in their communities to apply.




Lawyer's for Civil Rights (LCR)


LCR has a team of legal first responders committed to helping small businesses and individuals navigate the COVID-19 ciris. They continue to host free webinars to provide legal support for businses owners and have announced an effort to help individuals understand and apply for unemployment. To learn more about their efforts, click here.




COVID Relief Coalition


This is a coalition of law firms, nonprofits, and government agencies in Massachusetts that have joined forces to help small businesse and nonprofits in the greater Boston area access emergency loans and other sources of relief. Learn more here.




BECMA


The Futures Fund In early April, we announced a partnership with Berkshire Bank and The Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce (MALGBTCC) along with the launch of the “Futures Fund”, a $3 million COVID-19 Relief Fund aimed at providing financial support to small business members of both organizations. The fund is endowed and facilitated by Berkshire Bank. The program creates a direct credit line of $50,000 for businesses in need of financial support and flexibility while managing the effects of COVID-19 and have a low-interest rate of 3%, with three months of no payment required and a three-month extension possible after that period. Click here to see if you are eligible. If you would like to participate in this program, please reach out to info@becma.org.




Facebook


Small Business Grants Program Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would provide financial support of $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help small businesses during this challenging time. Eligibility requirements include:

  • Be a for-profit company
  • Have between 2 and 50 employees
  • Have been in business for over a year
  • Have experienced challenges from COVID-19
  • Be in or near a location where Facebook operates
Applications are available tomorrow, April 22nd. Click here to learn more about the program.




City of Somerville


Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program The City of Somerville is now accepting applications for the Somerville Small Business COVID-19 Relief Fund, which will provide forgivable loans of up to $10,000 to Somerville businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This $1 million fund uses Community Development Block Grant monies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Funds can be used for working capital expenses, including but not limited to rent or mortgage payments, payroll expenses including healthcare, and utility expenses. Learn more here.​




PayPal


In partnership with the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, PayPal announced in June 2020 the PayPal Empowerment Grants for Black Businesses Program, which will award up to $10,000 to more than 1,000 black-owned businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 and civil unrest. To access the application, click here.





 

Combating Coronavirus

RESPONDING TO THE SITUATION

Click here for updated information on how Massachusetts is responding to the situation.

On March 23, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker issues a "Stay-At-Home" advisory for Massachusetts. See the press conference below.

Check to see if your business is listed as "essential" while the "Stay-At-Home" advisory remains in effect. Click here to see.

For employers, the governor shared the following regarding unemployment:

Unemployment Assistance: The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) and the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), in coordination with the US Department of Labor (USDOL), are taking a series of actions to assist workers and employers.

 

For current unemployment claims:

 

  • All requirements regarding attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended.

  • Missing deadlines due to effects of COVID-19 will be excused under DUA’s good cause provision.

  • All appeal hearings will be held by telephone only.

 

The Department of Labor issued guidance to the states instructing state agencies to apply existing law flexibly. Under the DOL guidance, DUA may now pay unemployment benefits if a worker is quarantined due to an order by a civil authority or medical professional or leaves employment due to reasonable risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member and does not intend to or is not allowed to return to work. The worker need not provide medical documentation and need only be available for work when and as able.

 

To assist individuals who cannot work due to the impact of COVID-19, the administration is filing emergency legislation that will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.

 

EOLWD and DUA are also filing emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment if their workplace is shut down and expects to reopen in four or fewer weeks. The following conditions apply:

 

  • Workers must remain in contact with their employer during the shutdown.

  • Workers must be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do.

  • An employer may request to extend the period of the covered shut-down to eight weeks, and workers will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.

  • If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods for workers and employers.

 

Employers who are impacted by COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day grace period to file quarterly reports and pay contributions.

 

The pending federal legislation proposes further relief including additional money for unemployment benefits, and relief to employers for charges related to unemployment benefits paid due to COVID-19.

 

Combating Coronavirus

ASSESSING THE IMPACT

Between March 13, 2020, and March 17, 2020, we conducted a brief survey of BECMA business members and other Black business owners and entrepreneurs. The final report of our findings is posted below. Information gathered from the survey will help us determine the best ways to support businesses across the Commonwealth and also allow us to work with our partners to develop substantive solutions to help mitigate any damage caused by Coronavirus.

© 2020 Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, Inc.

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