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Daily Update – 88

Post: Jun. 17, 2020

Testing and Accelerated Reopening

New York State has now performed over 3,000,000 COVID-19 tests, including both diagnostic and antibody tests. According to the State’s “Results By Region Dashboard” all regions are continuing to show a low number of positive cases. Yesterday, all regions were at or below a 1.4% positive rate. A six-week, 12,000 random sample antibody test study has been completed.  It found that 13.4% of the general population tested positive for antibodies. Most regions of the State increased slightly in percent positive from a previous antibody study. A few regions showed a slight decrease in percent positives.

The State is again accelerating certain activities as the public health metrics being tracked are continuing to trend in a positive direction while reopening. Starting today, the State will now allow hospitals to accept visitors at their discretion. Starting Friday, group homes certified by the NYS Office for People with Disabilities may begin visitations at their discretion. 

See the Results by Region Dashboard

Tennis Anyone?

The U.S. Open will take place in Queens, New York without fans from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13. The State is working with the U.S. Tennis Association to take extraordinary precautions to protect players and staff, including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space, and dedicated housing & transportation.

The Capital region is cleared to enter phase three today (6/17). The Capital region includes Albany, Columbia, Greene, Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Warren, and Washington counties.  Our Mid-Hudson Region is slated for phase three next Tuesday (6/23) Phase three industries include restricted indoor and outdoor dining at food service establishments and personal care services.

Phase three guidelines for these industries can be found here. 

Read the Governor’s press release

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Advance Program Is Reopened to All Eligible Small Businesses and Non-Profits Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

To further meet the needs of U.S. small businesses and non-profits, the U.S. Small Business Administration reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19 today.

SBA’s EIDL program offers long-term, low interest assistance for a small business or non-profit.  These loans can provide vital economic support to help alleviate temporary loss of revenue.  EIDL assistance can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt or fund other expenses.  Additionally, the EIDL Advance will provide up to $10,000 ($1,000 per employee) of emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties, and these emergency grants do not have to be repaid.

Learn more and apply

Liberty Street Economics: Finally, Some Signs of Improvement in the Regional Economy

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s June business surveys show some signs of improvement in the regional economy. Following two months of unprecedented decline due to the coronavirus pandemic, indicators of business activity point to a slower pace of contraction in the service sector and signs of a rebound in the manufacturing sector. Even more encouraging, as the regional economy has begun to reopen, many businesses have started to recall workers who were laid off or put on furlough since the start of the pandemic. Some have even hired new workers. Moreover, businesses expect to recall even more workers over the next month. Looking ahead, firms have become increasingly optimistic that conditions will improve in the coming months.

Read more at the NY Fed

IRS Provides Guidance On Employer Leave-Based Donation Programs That Aid Victims Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

Bruce H. Schwartz of Council Associate Member and Friend Jackson Lewis writes on IRS Notice 2020-46 that addresses the tax treatment of employees who elect to have their employers donate sick, vacation or personal leave as cash payments to charitable organizations that provide relief to victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Notice provides that the donated leave should be not be treated as W-2 wages to the donating employees.  The donated leave should not be included in Box 1 [wages subject to income tax], Box 3 [wages subject to Social Security tax] or Box 5 [wages subject to Medicare tax] of the Form W-2.  But employees may not claim a charitable contribution deduction for the value of the donated leave.

Read more at Jackson Lewis

CDC Issues Guidelines to Manage An Outbreak in the Workplace

With COVID-19 cases spiking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released recommendations for companies that test employees for COVID-19 as part of their disease control measures. The document outlines potential testing strategies in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case in the workplace, including organizing employees by risk categories, contact tracing to help identify possible spread, taking action in the event of multiple positive cases and recommendations on when exposed employees can return to work. The CDC also indicates that testing strategies should only be used if the testing results will lead to specific actions.

You can read the recommendations here.

DHS Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility

In May, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. This temporary guidance was set to expire June 18. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended this policy for an additional 30 days.

This provision only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. See the original news release for more information on how to obtain, remotely inspect, and retain copies of the identity and employment eligibility documents to complete Section 2 of Form I-9.

See the original news release

Main Street Lending Program Registration Now Open

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has now opened lender registration for the Main Street Lending Program, which will provide loans to businesses with up to 15,000 employees or $5 billion in annual revenues. After registering with the Fed, lenders will be able to make loans ranging in size from $250,000 to $300 million to businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Fed is encouraging lenders to begin lending to eligible borrowers “immediately.”

You can find more information here