COVID-19/ CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION
An important message from Sen. Doug Ericksen about the coronavirus crisis
In this video, Sen. Doug Ericksen discusses the coronavirus crisis, the role of state government, and the part all of us must play in combating the spread of COVID-19. To see this message, click here.
LATEST NEWS from the office of Sen. Doug Ericksen
As scientific evidence points to reusable bags as a disease-carrier, Ericksen calls for a veto of a bill banning single-use plastic bags.
State essential-industries rules allow public construction to continue, but require residential and commercial construction to halt. If government work can be done safely, private construction should be allowed to proceed with caution, Ericksen says. See letter here.
If you think you have been exposed to Covid-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as a cough or difficulty breathing, call your doctor.
STAY HOME, STAY HEALTHY ORDER
On March 23, the governor announced a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order in Washington state, to control the spread of coronavirus.
This order requires every Washingtonian to stay at home, unless they are pursuing an essential activity, such as shopping for groceries, going to a doctor’s appointment, or going to work at an essential business.
The order bans all gatherings of people for social, spiritual and recreational purposes. This applies to both public and private gatherings, including weddings and funerals.
It is still safe to go outside, if proper social distancing techniques are maintained. By keeping our distance, each of us can play a role in combating this highly contagious virus.
Grocery stores and other businesses deemed essential remain open during this crisis. Most other businesses have been ordered to close offices, shops and other workplaces and send employees home. Telecommuting is strongly recommended during this period.
The governor’s office, through the Department of Commerce, has issued guidelines on which businesses should remain open. Businesses that provide essential services must implement rules to facilitate social distancing by at least six feet.
If you believe your business should be considered an essential business, or you need a clarification of state rules, the state has established an online system for inquiries from businesses and stakeholders. If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to call our office at (360) 786-7682.
WHAT THE FEDERAL AID PACKAGE MEANS FOR YOU
$2.2 trillion coronavirus package provides assistance for individuals impacted by shutdown
The $2.2 trillion aid package rushed through Congress in March offers big help for people affected by our current coronavirus shutdown. Here is a rundown on federal programs designed to provide assistance to individuals.
- Most Americans will qualify for a cash payment of up to $1,200 – that’s $2,400 per married couple, and an additional $500 for each child.
- No action is required. The Department of the Treasury will direct-deposit or mail funds to taxpayers.
- Those making less than $99,000 taxable income are eligible (or $198,000 for a married couple).
- State unemployment payments increased by $600/week.
- State unemployment eligibility extended by 13 weeks, through end of year.
- “Pandemic unemployment assistance” available for the self-employed, mirroring unemployment insurance benefits.
Tax deadline extended
- This year’s federal income-tax due date has been moved to July 15, a full quarter ahead.
Health insurance requirements
- Private insurers must cover treatment for COVID-19.
- All coronavirus tests must be free to consumers.
Student loan relief
- Federal loan and interest payments are deferred through Sept. 30, without penalty to borrower.
Foreclosure and eviction relief
- 120-day prohibition on landlords evicting tenants, if property is insured or guaranteed by HUD, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or the Rural Housing Voucher Program.
- 60-day foreclosure prohibition on all federally backed mortgage loans.
Payroll tax deferment
- Self-employed individuals may defer payroll tax payments through the end of the year. Employers may defer payment of the employer share of payroll taxes.
- Must be paid back, half by the end of 2021 and half by the end of 2022.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM
On April 3, the federal Small Business Administration launches its Paycheck Protection Program, which provides incentives for employers to keep 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. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.
Under this program:
- Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
- Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
- If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.
Who Can Apply
This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by coronavirus/COVID-19.
Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards for those industries.
Small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible at the store and location level if the store employs less than 500 workers. This means each store location could be eligible.
How to Apply
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.
Loan Details and Forgiveness
The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
This loan has a maturity of 2 years and an interest rate of .5%.
If you wish to begin preparing your application, you can download a sample form to see the information that will be requested from you.
These websites, updated regularly, contain the latest information about the crisis from official sources.
Washington State Coronavirus Response. Check here for official news, announcements and general advice.
Department of Health. Check here for current statistics and other information about the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state. The Department of Health coronavirus hotline number is 1 (800) 525-0127, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Whatcom County Health Department. Check here for latest updates concerning Whatcom County’s response.
Washington State Ledger. This page, maintained by the Washington House Republican Caucus, compiles links to legislative information and state and local agencies.
Department of Employment Security. Check here for information about filing for unemployment in Washington state and coronavirus-related programs for workers and employers.
Department of Commerce. Commerce is playing multiple roles during this crisis, including decision-making regarding essential businesses, business assistance programs, and homeless programs.
Business assistance programs are listed here.
Homeless-program information is listed here, including information about emergency grants.
Essential-business guidelines are listed here. Those seeking clarification of the governor’s business-closure order or inclusion in the list of essential businesses can use this form to contact the department.
Department of Revenue. Check here for information about business relief programs. Emergency measures affect a broad variety of taxes and programs, including the business and occupation tax, real estate excise tax, leasehold excise tax and others.
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Check here for information about public-school closures, graduation requirements, continuous learning programs and school meal programs.
Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Check here for information about how your insurance coverage is affected by the coronavirus crisis.
OTHER USEFUL RESOURCES
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Check here for the latest national information about the coronavirus outbreak, including state-by-state statistics.
World Health Organization: Check here for information about the coronavirus outbreak worldwide.
U.S. Small Business Administration: Check here for information about applying for disaster assistance loans and other SBA programs. Programs include:
- Paycheck Protection Program
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance
- SBA Debt Relief
- SBA Express Bridge Loans
- Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- SBA Products and Resources
- Government Contracting
- Local Assistance