COVID-19 Small Business Resources

May 25-31, 2020

The Daily Record staff is compiling a comprehensive list of COVID-19 resources for small business owners and companies in Central Arkansas. This list will be updated regularly in weekly print edition. If you have any information that should be included on this page, please send to us at editor@dailydata.com

 

 

U.S. Census Bureau releases Small Business Pulse Survey: Tracking Changes During the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

The Census Bureau today released the first results from its Small Business Pulse Survey on May 14. The results represent data collected between April 26 and May 2, 2020 and are available at www.census.gov/businesspulsedata.

 

The experimental Small Business Pulse Survey (Business Pulse) measures the changes in business conditions on our nation’s small businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in near real time. Results will inform government response and recovery planning as well as help businesses make decisions.

 

The Census Bureau, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, plans update the data every Thursday through July 9. The release includes national, state, and sector results.

 

Business Pulse complements existing U.S. Census Bureau data collections by providing high-frequency, detailed information on small business-specific initiatives such as the Paycheck Protection Program. Results from the survey could provide useful information to policymakers as they seek to address some of the challenges faced by small businesses. In addition, the information may aid businesses in making decisions and assist researchers studying the impact and responses to COVID-19.  

 

To learn more, visit https://portal.census.gov/pulse/data/.

 

 

Gov. Hutchinson announces limited reopening for theaters, lecture halls and other large venues 

 

Indoor venues such as theaters, arenas, stadiums, and auction houses that are designed for large groups may reopen on May 18 on a limited basis, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced. The Arkansas Department of Health issued a directive on May 4 that allows the venues to open for audiences of fewer than 50 and that requires strict social distance among performers, contestants, and members of the audience.

 

“We are attempting to move past the restrictions that have been necessary during this pandemic, but we must do so in a manner that is based on solid data,” said Hutchinson. “I am confident this measured reopening is the best approach that will allow us to enjoy these entertainment venues again. As we cautiously emerge from this difficult time, we will keep an eye on data for any evidence that we are moving too quickly.”

 

This directive covers indoor venues for commercial, community, or civic events and activities where an audience, spectators, or a gathering of people are present, such as concerts, plays, movies, lectures, presentations, conferences, conventions, sporting events, races, fundraisers, trade shows, and festivals.

 

Venues include auditoriums, lecture halls, movie theatres, other theatres, museums, arenas, sports venues, racetracks, stadiums, gymnasiums, auction houses, amusement centers, barns, exhibit halls, conventions centers, and funeral homes. The list of venues also includes recreational facilities such as bowling alleys and trampoline parks.

 

Gatherings subject to this directive also include, without limitation, community, civic, public, leisure, commercial, or sporting events. The ADH issued this directive today in regard to reopening large venues:

• The performers/players/contestants must be separated from the audience by at least 12 feet and must be limited to 50 or fewer.

• The audience is limited to 50 or fewer people.

• Lines or queues for entrance, exit, making purchases, or for other reasons must be marked or monitored to maintain six feet between people.

• Seating must be arranged to maintain six feet between members of the audience.

• Family groups may sit together but maintain six feet between groups.

• Every other row of seating should be unoccupied.

• Face coverings are required except for children younger than 10.

• Performers/players/contestants may be without a face covering if they are 12 feet from each other.

• Signs must be posted at all entrances advising members of the public not to enter if:

• - They have fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or a recent loss of taste or smell.

• - They have had known exposure to someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

• - Signs must be posted at all entrances advising members of the public that they may wish to refrain from entering if:

• - They are 65 years of age or older.

• - They have underlying health conditions including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity, asthma, or weakened immunity.

• Hand-sanitizer stations must be available at all entrances and exits.

• Refreshments may be served. However, self-service operations, including, but not limited to, salad bars, buffets, and condiment bars shall not be allowed.

• The facility, including seating, shall be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use.

• Frequently touched surfaces shall be cleaned periodically during the course of the event.

 

Find the Arkansas Department of Health directive for large indoor venues at https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/pdf/Directive_for_Large_Indoor_Venues-05-04-20.pdf. 

 

 

NIH clinical trial shows Remdesivir accelerates recovery from advanced COVID-19

 

Hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19 and lung involvement who received remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received placebo, according to a preliminary data analysis from a randomized, controlled trial involving 1063 patients, which began on Feb. 21. The trial (known as the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial, or ACTT), sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is the first clinical trial launched in the United States to evaluate an experimental treatment for COVID-19. 

 

An independent data and safety monitoring board (DSMB) overseeing the trial met on April 27 to review data and shared their interim analysis with the study team. Based upon their review of the data, they noted that remdesivir was better than placebo from the perspective of the primary endpoint, time to recovery, a metric often used in influenza trials. Recovery in this study was defined as being well enough for hospital discharge or returning to normal activity level.   

 

Preliminary results indicate that patients who received remdesivir had a 31% faster time to recovery than those who received placebo (p<0.001). Specifically, the median time to recovery was 11 days for patients treated with remdesivir compared with 15 days for those who received placebo. Results also suggested a survival benefit, with a mortality rate of 8.0% for the group receiving remdesivir versus 11.6% for the placebo group (p=0.059).

 

More detailed information about the trial results, including more comprehensive data, will be available in a forthcoming report. As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s commitment to expediting the development and availability of potential COVID-19 treatments, the agency has been engaged in sustained and ongoing discussions with Gilead Sciences regarding making remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible, as appropriate. The trial closed to new enrollments on April 19. 

 

The first trial participant in the ACTT trial was an American who was repatriated after being quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Yokohama, Japan, and volunteered to participate in the study at the first study site, the University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine, in February 2020. A total of 68 sites ultimately joined the study – 47 in the United States and 21 in countries in Europe and Asia. 

 

Remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc., is an investigational broad-spectrum antiviral treatment administered via daily infusion for 10 days. It has shown promise in animal models for treating SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection and has been examined in various clinical trials.

 

 

New credits fund employers for Coronavirus-related paid leave

 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides tax credits to reimburse employers for the costs of providing paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave to employees unable to work because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). These credits are refundable. That means if the amount of the credit exceeds the amount of tax owed, the remainder is refunded to the business or organization.

 

The law is intended to allow employers to keep employees on their payrolls, while at the same time making sure employees aren’t forced to choose between their paychecks and public health measures needed to combat COVID-19.

 

These credits are available to eligible employers beginning April 1, 2020, for qualifying leave they provide between April 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020.

 

Covered employers

 

Eligible employers are businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 full-time and part-time employees within the United States or any U.S. territory or possession and that have to meet employer paid leave requirements. The Questions and Answers and regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor have more information about the 500-employee threshold and the paid leave requirements.

 

The law allows equivalent credits for self-employed individuals in similar circumstances. For details, see specific provisions related to self-employed individuals in the COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses FAQs.

 

Paid sick leave requirement and credit

 

Employees of eligible employers who are unable to work or telework because they’re quarantined or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis can receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. This pay is at their regular rate of pay or, if higher, the applicable minimum wage, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in total.

 

Employees can receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at 2/3 of their regular pay or, if higher, the applicable minimum wage, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in total. Employees can receive this benefit if they need to care for:

• an individual subject to quarantine,

• a child whose school or place of care is closed, or

• a child whose child-care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 or because they’re experiencing similar conditions as specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

An employee is eligible for paid sick leave, regardless of length of employment.

 

The eligible employer is entitled to a fully refundable tax credit equal to the required paid sick leave wages. Eligible employers can also get an additional credit for the employer’s share of Medicare tax imposed on the qualified sick leave wages and the cost of maintaining health insurance coverage for the employee during the sick leave period. The employer is not subject to the employer portion of Social Security tax on those wages. 

 

Paid family and medical leave requirement and credit

 

In addition to the paid sick leave credit, an employee who is unable to work or telework because of a need to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed or whose child-care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19, is entitled to paid family and medical leave equal to 2/3 of the employee’s regular pay, up to $200 per day and $10,000 in total. Up to 10 weeks of qualifying leave can be counted toward the paid family leave credit. 

 

An employee qualifies for paid family and medical leave if they’ve been on an employer’s payroll for 30 calendar days or more.

 

The eligible employer is entitled to a fully refundable tax credit equal to the required paid family leave wages. Eligible employers can also get an additional credit for the employer’s share of Medicare tax imposed on those wages and its cost of maintaining health insurance coverage for the employee during the family leave period. The eligible employer isn’t subject to the employer portion of Social Security tax on those wages.

 

How to claim the credits

 

Eligible employers report their total qualified leave wages and the related credits for each quarter on their federal employment tax return, usually Form 941, Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return. They can receive the benefit of the credits by reducing their federal employment tax deposits for that quarter by the amount of the qualified leave wages, allocable qualified health plan expenses, and the employer’s share of Medicare tax on the wages. They’ll account for the reduction in deposits due to the leave credits on the Form 941 they file at the end of the quarter.   The IRS recently posted Frequently Asked Questions about the ability both to reduce deposits for the credits and to defer the deposit of all of the employer’s portion of Social Security tax due before January 1, 2021 under a separate provision in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

 

If employers don’t have enough federal employment taxes to cover the amount of the credits, after they have deferred deposits of employer Social Security taxes under the CARES Act as discussed in the Frequently Asked Questions, they may request an advance payment of the credits from the IRS by submitting Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19. They may fax their completed forms to 855-248-0552.

 

 

UAMS creates guidelines for safe return to play for team sports 

 

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has developed guidelines to help high school and collegiate sports teams plan to safely resume activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

The UAMS COVID-19 Sports Committee that drafted the recommendations and considerations included experts from sports medicine, orthopaedic surgery, family medicine, pathology and infectious disease. 

 

“Our experts developed these guidelines so teams across the state don’t have to start from scratch as they consider what a safe return to play might look like,” said Wesley Cox, M.D., committee chairman and chief of orthopaedics and sports medicine at UAMS Northwest Regional Campus. “We also wanted to provide some basic expectations for all teams so they feel they can interact and compete with the peace of mind of knowing everyone is holding themselves to the same safety standards. Safe team sports make for safe students and safe communities.” 

 

Team sports have been suspended in Arkansas because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. However, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Nate Smith, M.D., Arkansas Department of Health director and state health officer, have said they plan to make an announcement about team sports in mid to late May. Cox wants to help teams prepare for the possible resumption of gameplay. 

 

The guidelines are a resource for teams, coaches, schools and team physicians, as well as student-athletes and their families. They aim to protect student-athletes, as well as staff, administrators and fans. “We must all work together to safely return to sports,” said C. Lowry Barnes, M.D., committee member and chair of the UAMS Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. 

 

“At stake is the health of our athletes, our communities, our economy, our state and our nation. As soon as it is safe to do so, we want athletics to resume. To ensure continued safe play, we must remain diligent in reducing the risk of infection as much as possible.” 

 

The guidelines include: 

-Education for coaches and staff -Quarantine and screening guidelines, plus what to do if a team member tests positive 

-Advice for pre-participation screening during physicals 

-Guidelines for home life and safe living situations for student-athletes to limit the potential for disease spread 

-Tips on team meals, transportation, on-field hydration 

-Equipment disinfection 

-Best staff and management practices, such as continuing to conduct meetings remotely when possible -Guidelines for locker rooms and training rooms 

-Recommendations on vaccinations Furthermore, the guidelines encourage teams and student-athletes to be role models in safe infection control in their communities. 

 

“For us all to get back to the activities we love, whether on or off the court, we must be the example and hold ourselves and our teammates and peers accountable for our actions,” Cox said. “We must be the ultimate teammate and assign the health of our teammates – and our communities – as our No. 1 priority.” 

 

The full detailed guidelines are available on the UAMS website at http://go.uams.edu/high-school and http://go.uams.edu/collegiate. School physicians and team physicians are encouraged to reach out to UAMS with questions and for additional recommendations at 479- 966-4491 or 501-364-8336.

 

 

More than 675 organizations in 67 counties received $1,000 COVID-19 Mini-grants from Arkansas Community Foundation

 

Two months after the creation of its COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist in pandemic relief, Arkansas Community Foundation has awarded $1,000 rapid response mini-grants to 678 organizations in 149 cities and towns located in 67 counties.

 

“These mini-grants support immediate, essential community needs in human services, food, health, housing and education,” said Heather Larkin, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Recipients range from youth basketball leagues distributing food to hungry families to summer reading programs opening early, to the purchase of software that allows child abuse hotline staff to accept calls at home.”

 

A list of the organizations who have received mini-grants is available at www.arcf.org/covid19. Community Foundation Phase Two Adaptation Grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 are now being processed and will be awarded by the end of May. These grants will continue to help organizations who are adapting their organizations to meet the ongoing needs of Arkansans affected by the pandemic and shore up critical systems like healthcare, education and food distribution.

 

The total amount raised for the COVID-19 Relief Fund has topped $3.4 million, with donations coming from the Community Foundation, other Arkansas foundations, businesses and individuals. Called the Gratitude Report, a list of donors to the fund is available at www.arcf.org/covid19.

 

“The response of the public to requests for donations has been amazing,” said Larkin. “Just as impressive has been the response of the Community Foundation staff, Board and volunteers who have faithfully reviewed grant applications every day since we started accepting applications. Our finance staff members have processed and mailed grant checks at a record pace.”

 

The COVID-19 Relief Fund was created March 18, 2020. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the Community Foundation’s fund as a way for Arkansans to best help those in need during the pandemic. In addition, the Arkansas Republican and Democratic Parties jointly requested donations to the fund.

 

Donations are still being accepted online at www.arcf.org/covid19 or by mailing a check to Arkansas Community Foundation, 5 Allied Drive, Suite 51110, Little Rock, AR 72202. All donations to this fund will be granted to Arkansas organizations working to serve the state’s most vulnerable populations and those disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and its economic fallout.