March 19, 2020
COVID-19 Update
Resources for businesses and employees impacted by coronavirus pandemic
The critical efforts underway to stem the spread of the deadly and contagious COVID-19 virus are having unfortunate side effects on our local business community and workforce. The city of Fort Lauderdale is working hard with other local governments and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce to take steps to mitigate this.

Here are details about ongoing efforts to assist those affected. Please know too that Fort Lauderdale continues to assess what steps we can take to help and what we can do to advocate on your behalf at the federal and state level. 

First, the Broward County Office of Economic and Small Business Development is a lead agency in this effort. Resources that become available from the federal, state or county governments for all size businesses will be posted at www.broward.org/econdev . This agency encourages the business community to follow them on social media @BrowardCountyOESBD on Facebook and @BCOESBD on Twitter. 

There are two loan programs currently available for business. 

SBA Economic Injury Loan Program
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced implementation of its Economic Injury Loan, a federally funded loan program available to Florida's small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most non-profit organizations. The program is administered through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and provides up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met if a natural disaster, like COVID-19, had not occurred. 

The information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is being made available to all affected communities as well as updated on the SBA website:  sba.gov/disaster . The electronic loan application for the loan can be found here:  disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ . If you need to contact the SBA Disaster Customer Service Center, please use 800-659-2955 or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov .
Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
Gov. DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. The application period runs through May 8. More information is at FloridaDisasterLoan.org

There are other measures underway: 

The Internal Revenue Service is hoping to provide relief by extending its payment deadline. Please click here for information pertinent to businesses and individual taxpayers. 

Gov. DeSantis has also called upon Florida's Department of Revenue to offer flexibility on the deadlines of taxes due, including corporate income taxes and sales taxes, to help businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus response efforts. On March 16, the governor said some income tax payments can be deferred until the end of the fiscal year. 

And, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity offers the Short Time Compensation Program , which helps employers retain their workforce in times of temporary slowdown by encouraging work sharing as an alternative to layoffs. Participating employees must have regular schedules and work at least 32 hours a week. For more information about the program, visit the DEO’s Reemployment Assistance Center page

Gov. DeSantis also has launched the Business Damage Assessment Survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy. To complete the survey, please visit floridadisaster.biz .

As part of the efforts to relieve distressed Americans, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced that it will suspend evictions and foreclosures for 60 days for homeowners with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.  

HUD and the Federal Housing Finance Agency further explained that homeowners with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration or with mortgages backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae would be protected. The HUD press release can be found here and accompanying Mortgagee Letter here .

Congress is enacting legislation to offer even more assistance. 

On March 18, President Trump signed bipartisan legislation, called "Families First Coronavirus Response Act," providing for the following: 

  • Free testing for coronavirus: All individuals who need a test, including those with private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, VA, FEHBP, and TRICARE, as well as the uninsured, will have access at no cost. 

  • Paid emergency leave: The bill provides two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of job-protected leave to allow workers to follow quarantine recommendations and care for their family members impacted by the virus. 

  • Enhanced unemployment insurance: It extends emergency unemployment insurance to help cover workers who are furloughed or quarantined due to an outbreak in their workplaces. 

  • Food security: It expands food assistance through the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program, food banks, Meals on Wheels, SNAP, and provides electronic benefit transfer amounts to families who would usually receive free and reduced-price meals at school. 

  • Health security: It invests additional federal funding into Medicaid to give states the option to expand Medicaid coverage for COVID-19 testing. 

We are facing a great test as both a community and as a nation. As a city, we are trying to take the most prudent and responsible measures possible to stop this pandemic. These have included closing the beach and other places where people congregate.

Hopefully, these steps will prevent the serious and widespread outbreaks witnessed elsewhere in the world. We continue to analyze these actions daily based on the best information we have from the healthcare community and will make adjustments as necessary. 

I hope this information helps. As more becomes available, we will share it. One last thing: please support our local restaurants. While dine-in services are prohibited at this time, many are offering takeout, delivery and drive-thru options.

Sincerely,


Dean
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract coronavirus by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
 
Symptoms of coronavirus
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
 
Prevention
The CDC recommends taking everyday preventive actions, including:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then throw the tissue in the trash immediately.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, please seek medical attention.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for   health workers   and   people who are taking care of someone in close settings   (at home or in a health care facility).

Should I be tested for coronavirus?
If you are concerned that you have been exposed to COVID-19, please call the Florida Department of Health in Broward County at  954-412-7300  and your healthcare provider before traveling to any healthcare facility.
 
For More Information
The Florida Department of Health has established a dedicated Coronavirus Call Center at  1-866-779-6121  that is available 24 hours a day seven days a week, as well as a dedicated email address at  COVID-19@flhealth.gov  which the public can use for questions or clarifications on issues related to the coronavirus.
 
For additional information regarding Coronavirus, please visit  www.floridahealth.gov  or  www.cdc.gov  or  www.fortlauderdale.gov/coronavirus  .
 
Neighbors are encouraged to stay up to date by following the city on social media at:

 
Neighbors may also call the city’s 24-hour Neighbor Call Center at 954-828-8000.