COVID-19 Small Business Resources
October 26 - November 1, 2020
CARES Act funding totaling $150 million now available for Arkansas cities, towns and counties
Arkansas cities, town and counties may now apply for reimbursement of COVID-19-related expenditures through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), state Department of Finance and Administration officials announced on Oct. 17.
A total of $150 million has been set aside from the fund, split evenly with cities and towns receiving $75 million along with $75 million for counties. The relief funds are a portion of the $1.25 billion the state received via the CARES Act Steering Committee, approved earlier this year by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. To date, the panel of state lawmakers and top policymakers has approved more than $$420 million of the state’s $1.25 billion allotment from the federal emergency relief package.
“As Arkansas communities and counties approach the end of 2020 and begin planning for 2021, we want to ensure local leaders are aware of the CARES funding available to them,” said Larry Walther, Department Secretary for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), the department administering the local relief funds. “From the smallest communities to the state’s largest cities, COVID-19 had a significant impact on local budgets.”
Expenditures that are eligible for reimbursement include those that are incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency that are not already accounted for in any recently approved state government budgets. The expenditures must have been incurred from March 1, 2020 and no later than Dec.15, 2020.
Cities, town and counties may be reimbursed, among other things, for the following COVID-19-related spending:
• Payroll for Public Health and Safety Employees
• Budgeted Personnel and Services Diverted to a Substantially Different Use
• Public Health Expenses
• Personal Protective Equipment
• Improve Telework Capabilities of Public Employees
• Other – not listed above
The allocation for towns and cities may be found at www.arml.org while allocation by county is available at www.arcounties.org. Cities, towns and counties must submit application for the funding by Nov. 16, 2020 and expenditures for reimbursement no later than Dec. 15, 2020.
“Resources are in place to effectively walk local leaders through this process,” said Paul Louthian, State Comptroller and DFA Deputy Director. “I encourage communities and counties to utilize these resources as soon as possible to identify the expenses for which they may be reimbursed.”
The applicant call center may be reached at 1-800-268-7907 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cities, towns and counties may submit applications for reimbursement at www.arctcportal.com. DFA’s website contains an informational page with details on the program. It can be found by visiting https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/administrative-services/covid-19-cares-act/municipalities-and-counties.
Legislative council approves $50 million in CARES Act grant funding for state’s ailing tourism industry
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADPHT), the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), and the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) received approval to proceed with a grant program utilizing $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in industries significantly impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The Arkansas Legislative Council on Oct. 16 approved a business interruption grant for certain Arkansas businesses in the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. The grant will provide reimbursement for a portion of specific eligible expenses incurred by businesses in these industries between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020.
The grant application period will open Monday, Nov. 16, and close Wednesday, Nov. 25. Grants will be awarded on a prorated basis depending on the total number of applicants and the amount of reimbursement requested. The program anticipates making grant awards in late December.
“In my visits with business owners over the past several months, I’ve been impressed with the measures they have taken to protect customers and employees, and to adapt business models that have kept them viable during this pandemic. The grant will help businesses that were disrupted by the precautions necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Arkansas small businesses having 250, or fewer, full-time employees located in Arkansas may seek reimbursement for expenses associated with COVID-19 mitigation or certain listed business interruption expenses due directly to local, state or federal government COVID-19 directives.
“We have heard the businesses in the hospitality and personal care industries who continue to be impacted by this pandemic and desperately need help to continue to operate and to do so safely,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “With the help of AEDC and DFA, I think we have developed an excellent program that will provide the most help we can give where it is most sorely needed.”
Information on the grant program will be posted to www.ArkansasReady.com about the grant, the application period, training and a helpline. Details regarding the grant rules can be accessed by visiting https://arkansasready.com/site/assets/files/1887/oct_14_2020_rules_business_interruption_grant.pdf.
Gov. Hutchinson announces plan for rapid COVID-19 test distribution
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced during his daily press briefing on Oct. 14 that Arkansas has received 100,000 Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests and will receive about 50,000 more each week,
“This is a new world for us that will give us new benefits,” said Hutchinson. “This testing will give us a quick response on positive tests, but also offer quick assurance for negative results. We will utilize it in schools, health care settings, human development centers, and with Department of Corrections staff. Health care workers will always have priority.
“This is the first time we’ve developed a plan for broader surveillance testing. These tests will help us identify new cases in ways we haven’t before. You get results within 15 minutes. The tests give us more flexibility.”
The state has 100,000 Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests on hand with approximately 50,000 more expected each week. BD Veritor antigen tests are available through ADH local health offices. The BinaxNOW rapid tests are being distributed as part of the over 900,000 rapid tests Arkansas will receive from the federal government.
Health Care Workers are top priority for PCR testing. Antigen tests will be used for health care workers as needed. Election workers will have a priority at local health department offices for rapid tests. The other priorities are:
• Staff of Department of Corrections: Visitors and residents whose jobs require them to interact with the public - 20 percent of tests
• DHS Human Development Centers: Staff at Arkadelphia, Booneville, Conway, Jonesboro and Southeast - 20 percent of tests
• K-12 schools: Used for weekly screening of staff. Symptomatic staff will continue to have priority for rapid testing at ADH local office - 55 percent of tests
• Health care workers: Tests held in reserve for health care workers and other populations as needed - 5 percent of tests
UAMS study finds low risk of COVID-19 infection from hospital
People who had recently been in the hospital were 24 times less likely to develop a COVID-19 infection than the general population, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) researchers found in a recent study that used data from 45 hospitals.
The study focused on people who had been in the hospital for conditions not related to COVID-19. Among the 101,533 patients, only 44 (0.043%) tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of discharge from the hospital. By comparison, the percentage of positive COVID-19 patients among the total U.S. population is 1.035%.
Dr. Krishna Nalleballe, the lead author on the study and stroke neurologist and assistant professor in the Department of Neurology in the UAMS College of Medicine, said hospitals across the nation have reported fewer people visiting the hospital and emergency rooms, even for illnesses like strokes and heart attacks where life-saving care is time-sensitive.
“We suspect these trends are related to patient fears about contracting COVID-19 while in the hospital, so we wanted to take a closer look,” Nalleballe said. “The results, which suggest low rates of infection, should be reassuring and encourage patients to seek timely treatment of health care problems during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid unnecessary complications and impacts on quality of life.”
Many hospitals, including UAMS, have enacted targeted policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including personal protective equipment for medical staff, universal masking for staff and patients, limiting or restricting visitors, and heightened cleaning protocols and ventilation standards.
“These results suggest that such precautionary measures are working and creating an environment of relatively low risk in the hospital setting,” said Nalleballe.
The study has been accepted for publication in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, a peer-reviewed medical journal. Co-authors from UAMS include Dr. Sukanthi Kovvuru, Dr. Poornachand Veerapaneni, and Dr. Sanjeeva Reddy Onteddu of the Department of Neurology, and Dr. Suman Siddamreddy, of the Department of Internal Medicine. Bhaskar Roy of the Department of Neurology at the Yale School of Medicine is also a co-author.
Data for the study came from TriNetX, a global clinical research platform that collected anonymous patient data from 45 health care organizations in real time. It contains a large amount of data about COVID-19 patients and is being used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute as researchers look for trends to pinpoint the best drugs and therapies for COVID-19 patients.
SBA streamlines Paycheck Protection Program forgiveness for loans of $50,000 or less
The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced on Oct. 8 that it has released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. This action streamlines the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to America’s smallest businesses while also ensuring sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
“The PPP has provided 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to American small businesses, providing critical economic relief and supporting more than 51 million jobs,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “This action streamlines the forgiveness process for PPP borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less and thousands of PPP lenders who worked around the clock to process loans quickly,” he continued. “We are committed to making the PPP forgiveness process as simple as possible while also protecting against fraud and misuse of funds. We continue to favor additional legislation to further simplify the forgiveness process.”
SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said the PPO emergency loan fund has been an overwhelming success and served as a historic lifeline to America’s hurting small businesses and tens of millions of workers. She said a new loan forgiveness application demonstrates the SBA’s “relentless commitment to using every tool in our toolbelt to help small businesses and the banks that have participated in this program,”
“We are continuing to ensure that small businesses are supported as they recover,” said Carranza.
Under CARES Acts rules, PPP loans were intended to provide emergency aid to small businesses without collateral requirements, personal guarantees, SBA fees, or credit elsewhere tests. However, a recent SBA Inspector General report said the program included loopholes allowing large corporations to apply for PPP loans. Those eligible for the program were supposed to be “mom-and-pop” small businesses, certain non-profits, veterans’ organizations, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and other businesses with fewer than 500 employees and less than $1 million in revenue.
At the end of July, SBA’s District Office in Little Rock had processed a $3.3 billion in PPP loans that were made to 43,181 businesses across the state. The average PPP loan was a tidy $78,246, keeping nearly 400,000 Arkansas workers off unemployment rolls, SBA Arkansas officials said. The program expired on Aug. 8, although top House and Senate officials are in talks to expand the program in new stimulus package equal to or larger in size that the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.
SBA and Treasury have also eased the burden on PPP lenders, allowing SBA-approved banks, credit unions and other financiers to process forgiveness applications more swiftly. SBA began approving PPP forgiveness applications and remitting forgiveness payments to PPP lenders for borrowers on Oct. 2, noting it will continue to process all forgiveness applications in an expeditious manner. To learn more, visit https://www.sba.gov/article/2020/oct/08/sba-treasury-announce-simpler-ppp-forgiveness-loans-50000-or-less?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.