COVID-19 UPDATES FROM YOUR CHAMBER
Like all of you, the Chamber is sensitive to how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts both business and community. While we are in uncertain times, we continue to monitor this situation, we are dedicated to sharing important information with you, as appropriate.

Please note that, starting tomorrow, March 19, 2020, the Chamber office will be closed to the public. However, we are here to serve our members, and we will continue to provide support as we work together during this
challenging time. 

Your Chamber team will be available via email and phone,
and we ask you to reach out if there is anything we can do for you.
ALEXIS EHRHARDT
RACHEL COVINGTON
DONNA ASHWORTH
GOVERNOR'S EFFORTS FOR SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF
Below you will find a link to a brief survey that will allow the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity  to collect data on the impact COVID-19 is having on business revenue and employment.   We invite the small business community to participate in this survey process as Governor Northam has declared a state of emergency for Virginia, thereby making our Commonwealth eligible for federal disaster relief.

The input and response from small businesses throughout the Commonwealth is critical for us to have enough data to meet federal requirements which will allow access to disaster loan funds at the federal level.
  
Please take a moment to complete this survey so we can share the results with State and Federal partners. We would like to receive responses as soon as possible but will be leaving the survey open through 5 p.m. on Friday, March 27 to capture responses.  
SBA DISASTER AREA REQUEST
A message from Jim Pomeroy, Constituent Services Representative of the Office of Denver L. Riggleman, III:

Congressman Riggleman is very concerned with the affect that COVID19 will have on small businesses, as well as other businesses and constituents in the 5 th  District. In light of this, he has created a COVID-19 page on his website .

In order for Virginia to qualify to receive SBA assistance, we need to have as many small businesses as possible, in all localities in Virginia, send an email to  commerce.trade@governor.virginia.gov  with the  Subject: Disaster Area Request , providing the name of business, address, contact information, and assistance requested, and specifically request your locality be designated as a disaster area.

In addition, we are asking that businesses also complete Congressman Riggleman’s form on his COVID-19 page  so our office can keep track of the assistance that is being requested in the 5 th  District.
 
Congressman Riggleman and staff are continuing to monitor this situation very closely and if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our district offices at 434.973.9631 and 434.791.2596 or go to  https://riggleman.house.gov/issues/covid-19
COVID-19 FEDERAL LEGISLATION: WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU
A message from Barry DuVal, President of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce:

On Friday, the House passed HR 6201, which would require businesses with 500 or fewer employees to provide 2 weeks of paid sick leave at an employee's full wages and an additional 10 weeks of paid leave at 2/3 the employee's pay rate - this includes paid leave for taking care of children as a result of school closures and for any federal, state or local quarantines. The mandate would be in addition to any paid leave the employer already provides. The leave is for any covered absences between 15 days after the bill is signed into law and December 31, 2020. While the bill attempts to mitigate these costs through tax credits and refunds, these payments to employers will not be immediate. There is a section that allows employers with 50 or fewer employers to petition the Department of Labor for an exemption from the 10 week leave requirement. 

Please see below for a summary of the legislation:

Paid Sick Leave:
Requires private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers to provide employees with two-weeks of paid sick leave (80 hours for full-time employees and typical number of hours over two-weeks for part-time employees).

Eligibility:  The paid sick leave is available to any employee without regard to duration of employment if they are out in order to:
  • Self-isolate because they have coronavirus,
  • Obtain a diagnosis because they are exhibiting symptoms,
  • Comply with an order by a health care professional to stay away from work,
  • Care for a family member facing the instances mentioned above, or
  • Care for children if schools are closed or their caregiver is unavailable because of a public health emergency.

Rate of Pay:  Employees are compensated at the higher of their regular rate, the federal minimum wage, or the local minimum wage. However, if the employee is absent to care for a sick family member or a child unable to attend school, they are compensated at 2/3 of the rate they would otherwise receive.

Relationship to Existing Programs:  This paid sick leave is in addition to whatever sick leave is already offered by the employer [including subject to state or local requirements]. Once this legislation is enacted an employer may not make changes to its sick leave policy.

Effective Dates:  The provision takes effect not later than 15 days after enactment of the bill and sunsets on December 31, 2020.

Funding:  Each quarter, private sector employers subject to the requirement are entitled to a fully refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave wages paid by the employer. Qualified sick leave wages are capped at $511 per day [$200 per day if the leave is for caring for a family member] and 10 days. The tax credit is applied against employer Social Security taxes, but employers are reimbursed if their costs for qualified sick leave exceed the taxes they would owe. The Treasury Secretary is provided with regulatory authority intended to help with cash flow issues, for example by waiving penalties on failing to deposit payroll taxes in anticipation of the credit.

Paid Family and Medical Leave:
With certain possible exceptions [see below], requires private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.

Eligibility:  The paid sick leave is available to any employee who has been employed for at least 30 days if they are out in order to:
  • Comply with a requirement or recommendation to quarantine because of exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus,
  • Care for a family member facing the instances mentioned above, or
  • Care for children if schools are closed or their daycare is unavailable because of a public health emergency.

Rate of Pay:  After 14 days, during which time the employee can take unpaid or paid leave (if available), employees are compensated at 2/3 of their regular rate.

Small Business and Other Exemptions:  The Secretary of Labor is authorized to exempt health care providers and emergency responders and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the requirement would jeopardize the business as an ongoing concern. The requirements to restore the employee to their position after the paid leave is taken do not apply to businesses with fewer than 25 employees if the position no longer exists because of the public health emergency (provided the employer takes certain actions to try and assist the employee). Employers with less than 50 employees are exempt from civil actions brought by employees for violations of this section.

Effective Dates:  The provision takes effect not later than 15 days after enactment of the bill and sunsets on December 31, 2020.

Funding:  Each quarter, private sector employers subject to the requirement are entitled to a fully refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified paid family leave wages paid by the employer. Qualified paid family leave wages are capped at $200 per day and $10,000 overall. The tax credit is applied against employer Social Security taxes, but employers are reimbursed if their costs for qualified paid family leave exceed the taxes they would owe. The Treasury Secretary is provided with regulatory authority intended to help with cash flow issues, for example by waiving penalties on failing to deposit payroll taxes in anticipation of the credit.
MEMO FROM FCS REGARDING CORONAVIRUS PROCEDURES
Dear Valued Business Partner:
 
In response to the developing situation regarding coronavirus/COVID-19, we have received a number of inquiries from clients regarding what steps can be taken from a cleaning standpoint to help prevent the spread of infection.
 
The effectiveness of any cleaning program as a preventive measure against the spread of this or any other viral illness is somewhat limited. A simple illustration of the limitations of preventive cleaning measures is this: if an FCS employee fully disinfects and sanitizes a door handle, and then the next person who opens that door is a carrier of an illness, then the door handle is no longer sanitary. Therefore, unless a surface is sanitized after each and every use, cleaning alone can not promise to stop the spread of the disease. These types of concerns come up every few years (Ebola, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, etc.), and are always followed by worries over how to best clean. The reality is that cleaning is only one part of a solid preventative plan.
 
We understand that you are concerned for the health and safety of your staff, customers, vendors, and other visitors. One measure you may take in this effort would be to install extra hand sanitizer stations in all areas where it is possible to do so. Personal hygiene is far and away the best way to fight this type of virus and its spread.

It is important to emphasize to all individuals in your facility the need for regular, thorough hand washing and other basic personal hygiene tasks, both while at work and elsewhere. Should you wish to go a step further, there are companies that produce antimicrobial surface coatings that can be applied to door handles and various other high-touch surfaces. These coatings provide continuous "cleaning," meaning that the surfaces can kill any bacteria that may touch them after the coatings have been applied.  You should also encourage employees to stay at home if they have a fever or other flu-like symptoms.
 
In the event an individual who has recently been in your facility tests positive for COVID-19, FCS can offer emergency deep cleaning services to disinfect the facility . After a known exposure, a professional decontamination effort is recommended before opening back up for business. This should be handled by a firm with specialized training and equipment. It should not be handled like a “normal” cleaning for your business. FCS has the certified personnel, equipment, and chemicals needed to provide emergency response in such a situation. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information on services or to put a contingency plan in place, as many of our clients have done already.
 
Otherwise – keep calm, carry on, and wash your hands!
 
Thank you,
 
Conrad Smith
President FCS, Inc.

525 Wilson Street
Danville, VA 24541
434.489.4342
Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce | www.dpchamber.org
(T) 434.836.6990 | (F) 434.836.6955
8653 US Hwy 29 | PO Box 99 | Blairs, VA 24527