Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | April 6, 2020
Happy Monday – I am hoping this finds you and your family well. I just got the news that my brother-in-law, a nurse in Greater Minnesota, has COVID-19 (he is recovering at home) and we have one case within the long term care facility where my mom resides. We all are impacted in some way, aren’t we?

State updatepdate:

  • On April 4, Governor Walz signed a Presidential Disaster Request for Public & Individual Assistance under the provisions of the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The letter refers to public assistance support to EOC activations, National Guard costs, law enforcement, and other measures to protect public health & safety. The letter also refers to individual assistance support to crisis counseling, disaster supplemental nutrition program, individual and household programs, medical assistance, funeral assistance, disaster legal assistance, small business administration disaster assistance and hazard mitigation. 

  • New Executive Orders: EO 20-28 and 20-29, which will expand mental health counseling options and streamline the process for Minnesotans applying for unemployment insurance.

  • Update from DEED: to date, has received over 342,000 applications for unemployment insurance, more than all of 2019.

  • On Monday, the Governor announced $6.2 million in financial assistance grants for Minnesota veterans and their families, along with one-time payments of $1000, in the form of COVID-19 Disaster Relief Grants (open as of 4/6/2020).

  • The Governor’s State of the State Address on Sunday: This was unusual for a number of reasons. It was 12 minutes long, delivered live via YouTube and various media outlets, and focused solely on the COVID-19 pandemic. He anticipates a surge ahead in numbers of those sick with COVID-19, though Minnesota is preparing well for what is ahead. 

Local updates:
  • City of Saint Paul continues to prepare for the Saint Paul Bridge Fund launch on April 8. The Saint Paul Bridge Fund will provide emergency relief for the small businesses and families in our community who need it most. 

COVID-19 updates by the numbers:
Confirmed cases: from 742 to 986
Cases requiring hospitalization: fr om 138 to 223
#s currently hospitalized: from 75 to 115
#s no longer needing to be isolated: f rom 373 to 470
#s tested: from 22,394 to 28,128
Total deaths: from 18 to 30
Counties represented:
Hennepin County: from 235 to 280
Ramsey County: fr om 67 to 96
Dakota County: from 52 to 67
Washington County: from 46 to 65
This week I’ll send my Sit Reps on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In each update I will review one business organizational type and detail funding/resource options available and indicate eligibility for the organizational type we’re focusing on for that day.

Today’s look: “I’m an independent contractor or self employed or a 1099 contractor or in a ‘gig business.’ What are my options?”

Of all of the state and federal programs developed in support of business and nonprofits, I have highlighted 6 programs that should apply to you. They are detailed below.

Before I get to that, what may be particularly interesting for this group, perhaps, are the significant provisions of the $2 trillion stimulus package affecting individuals.

For You as an Individual
Significant Provisions Within the Stimulus Package Affecting Individuals
First of all, the Treasury Dept and the IRS have announced that economic impact payments distribution will begin within the next 3 weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people, assuming you file a return. See the IRS Coronavirus webpage for more details. The site is updated regularly, so keep checking back for updates.

Coronavirus tax relief will include rebate checks based on a new tax credit of $1,200 per filing adult and $500 for each qualifying child. Additionally, unemployed individuals will receive an unprecedented expansion of benefits and payments. Here is a list of the most significant provisions affecting individuals, with further guidance on their website .
  • Single Americans will receive $1,200, married couples will get $2,400 and parents will receive $500 for each child under the age of 17.

  • Unemployed individuals, including freelancers and furloughed employees, will get an extra $600 per week for up to four months, on top of state unemployment benefits.

  • The package also calls for a new pandemic unemployment assistance program, which will provide jobless benefits to those who are unemployed, partially unemployed or unable to work because of COVID-19 and who don't qualify for traditional benefits.

  • The Department of Education will suspend payments for student loan borrowers without penalty through September 30.

  • There will be housing protections against foreclosures on mortgages and evictions for renters. Anyone facing a financial hardship from the coronavirus will receive a forbearance on federally backed mortgage loans of up to 60 days. Those with federally backed mortgage loans who have tenants are not allowed to evict tenants solely for failure to pay rent for a 120-day period.

For Your Business
Most resources are still in the format of loans, though some are forgivable/grants. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) should be available soon (mentioned above), and you do have access to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which includes the potential of a forgivable Advance of up to $10,000.

Of the overview of 1-8 programs detailed below, you can apply for:
  1. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – still waiting on federal guidance; once approved, will be retroactive.
  2. DEED’s Small Business Emergency Loan (SBEL) – fill out DEED’s initial application and submit to approved lender.
  3. Minnesota DEED Small Business Loan Guarantee (SBLG) – apply through an approved lender.
  4. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans/Advance (EIDL)* apply through SBA’s online portal.
  5. SBA Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program: apply through an approved SBA Express Lender.
  6. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans* apply through an approved SBA lender.

*You can apply for both Payroll Protection Plan and the EIDL/$10K advance though, when determining loan forgiveness under PPP, assistance you receive from EIDL is taken into consideration.

Minnesota State Unemployment Insurance: not available if you are not paying in to UI now.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA):

On Saturday, April 4, the U.S. Department of Labor published the Unemployment  Insurance Guidance Letter 15-20  (UIPL) providing guidance to states for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Under FPUC, states will administer an additional $600 weekly payment to certain eligible individuals who are receiving other benefits. This provision is contained in Section 2104 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) enacted on March 27, 2020.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is part of the FPUC, a new program that covers those who do not qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits, such as independent contractors and self-employed people. It is in the process of being implemented. When it is implemented you apply directly with the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance at .
Due to a high volume of inquires please wait until more information is available before contacting . More information will be available soon.

Minnesota DEED Small Business Emergency Loan (SBEL) Program:
The  Minnesota Small Business Emergency Loan program  was established following Executive Order 20-15. It will assist small businesses directly and adversely affected and whose industry is named in Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-08 following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

See a list of eligible businesses , “whatever the form of their organization,” listed here

NOTE: You should apply for DEED’s SBEL and the SBA’s EIDL at the same time. DEED’s intent is that any loans or grants received subsequent to the SBEL proceeds should be used, when allowed by the lender, to pay off the SBEL. See the  Small Business Emergency Loan site  for more details.

Minnesota DEED Small Business Loan Guarantee (SBLG):
DEED now offers the  Minnesota Small Business Loan Guarantee Program . This program enables a small business to obtain a term loan when it cannot otherwise qualify for a loan. This is a temporary program, approved by the Legislature in late March.

Eligibility is based on business size, fewer than 250 employees statewide, with certain restrictions for industry type. No job creation requirements. Funds may be used as working capital.

Loans are made by lenders enrolled in the SBLG program. See a list of enrolled lenders listed here.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan/Advance (EIDL):
This program provides low interest, long term Economic Injury Disaster Loans for up to $2 million and can include a onetime immediate advance of up to $10,000, contingent on eligibility and availability. The first payment on loans is deferred for 12 months. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75% and the loans can be extended over 30 years.
Businesses applying for an EIDL loan can request up to $10,000 to be disbursed immediately in the form of an emergency advance. Note that the advance is up to $10,000; no guarantee you will get that total amount. The initial amount need not be repaid, regardless of the loan decision.

The application has been simplified and can be completed 100% online through the improved web portal at .

SBA Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program:
This program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. Can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. The idea is that, once an EIDL is approved, this Bridge Loan is repaid (functions like Minnesota DEED’s SBEL, in that it’s intended to be a bridge before/until EIDL funds are received).

U.S. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans:
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.

The PPP is a forgivable loan program for small businesses to encourage them to maintain their payrolls. The loan will be forgiven as long as the loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made; and employee and compensation levels are maintained during that 8 week time period.

Should you have laid off employees already, you can receive the loan, re-hire your employees, and use the loan proceeds to make payroll and other eligible costs. To receive forgiveness, you must rehire employees by June 30, 2020 and maintain head count and compensation levels for 8 weeks after you receive the loan.

The program is open through June 30, 2020, though you are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. There are specific requirements about how you spend the loan and if you continue to employ your workers in order for it to be forgiven. Read them here .
Small businesses and sole proprietors can begin applying on April 3. Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply beginning on April 10.

The Treasury Department has just released the loan application -- view it here . The loans are government-backed, but you will still need to apply for the loan at your local bank. This is just the application.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act:
You can now view the slides from the DOL Families First Response Act Webinar . These slides include additional helpful guidance related to the use of FFCRA related paid leave.

Lastly, the Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) posted the rule issuing regulations pursuant to the new law. Those regulations can be accessed Here. I urge everyone to review the regulations as they provide even more detailed guidance for the questions that many folks have.

I know this is a lot of information to digest. We are working with our partners to organize information and coordinate efforts to educate our community. As always, if you still have questions about resources available, contact our Rapid Response Team to assist you in finding an answer.

Be well !

B Kyle
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce