LRCOG News & Updates
Our Mission
"In its dedication to regional excellence, the Lumber River Council of Governments is
proactive in identifying local and regional needs and the resources to address
those needs in an effective and fair manner."
Announcements
Local Area NCWorks Career Centers Closed to Public
We are continuing to provide services to our valued customers virtually by phone and email. See below the contact information for local area centers:

Bladen County NCWorks Career Center
Phone: (910) 862-3255
Fax: (910) 862-4098

Hoke County NCWorks Career Center
Phone: (910) 875-5059
Fax: (910) 875-2125

Robeson County NCWorks Career Center
Phone: (910) 618-5500
Fax: (910) 618-5570

Richmond County NCWorks Career Center
Phone: (910) 997-9180
Fax: (910) 997-9184

Scotland County NCWorks Career Center
Phone: (910) 276-4260
Fax: (910) 277-2628
2020 Census Operations Change Slightly Due to COVID-19
CDC Webinar: Update for Rural Partners, Stakeholders,
and Communities on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Response

Monday, March 23, 2020 Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

Presenter: Dr. Jay Butler (Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is hosting a webinar to update rural stakeholders and communities on the COVID-19 response.

Dr. Butler will share guidance with partners, public health practitioners, healthcare providers, and others working to protect the health of rural communities. He will describe what CDC knows at this point and what CDC is doing in response to this outbreak. We will also have time for questions and answers.

Please email  eocevent337@cdc.gov  to submit questions in advance and indicate that questions are for the 3/23 call.

This event will be recorded. Questions not answered during the webinar may be sent to ruralhealth@cdc.gov .
The First Coronavirus Response Act, HR 6201, has passed both chambers of Congress and has been signed by the President.
 
Key provisions of the act include the following:
 
COVID-19 Testing
  • Requires private health plans to provide coverage without cost sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic testing authorized or approved by the FDA as well as the cost of the visit, including a telemedicine visit.
  • Requires Medicare Advantage plans to cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing and the visit that results in the order for the test without cost sharing.
  • Waives cost sharing for Medicare beneficiaries’ doctor visits to receive or order a COVID-19 diagnostic test. Currently Medicare covers diagnostic laboratory tests with no cost-sharing.
  • Requires Medicaid and CHIP to cover diagnostic testing for COVID-19, including the cost for the provider visit, with no cost sharing. State expenses for the uninsured for diagnostic testing and the associated provider visit would be covered by the federal government through Medicaid.
  • The bill provides $1 billion to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, available until expended, to reimburse providers for diagnostic testing for people who are uninsured.
  • Classifies personal respiratory protective devices for which the FDA has issued an emergency use authorization as “covered countermeasures” under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act until October 1, 2024. PREP allows the Department of Health and Human Services to provide liability protections for emergency countermeasure products.
  • Ensures TRICARE beneficiaries, covered veterans, and federal employees are covered for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the cost of the physician visit.
  • Provides the Indian Health Service $64 million to cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related services.
  • Each state, including the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, may receive an emergency federal medical assistance percentage increase of 6.2 percentage points for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. To be eligible, states are required to provide coronavirus testing coverage with no cost sharing to beneficiaries and meet certain other requirements without placing undue burden on states to change their Medicaid operations in the middle of this crisis.
 
Nutrition Programs
  • $500 million for the special supplemental nutrition program for women infants and children.
  • $400 million for the emergency food assistance program, which helps states and food banks distribute food for low-income people through local agencies.
  • $250 million for nutrition programs for seniors, including home-delivered meals.
  • For fiscal year 2020, allows the secretary of agriculture to approve state plans to provide additional, temporary SNAP benefits to families with eligible children, when their schools close for at least five days in a row during a public health emergency. The amount will be based on the reimbursement value for free or reduced-price meals for each eligible child in the household.
  • $100 million for nutrition assistance grants for Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.
  • $15 million for the Internal Revenue Service’s taxpayer services or operations support activities for carrying out this act.
  • Allows the agriculture secretary to grant COVID-19 waivers for certain school meal program requirements, to ensure meals are provided despite school closures. Can waive nutritional content requirements if food supply chains are disrupted. Also allows child and adult food program centers to serve food without requiring participants to gather and eat.
  • Waives federal SNAP work requirements temporarily but maintains work training program requirements. Provides that the three-month SNAP participation limit for people who do not satisfy the work requirement will restart one month after the declared pandemic emergency has been lifted.
 
Coronavirus Related Leave
  • Sets up a paid sick leave requirement for employers with fewer than 500 employees to give to their employees who have the virus; are in quarantine or caring for someone in quarantine; or are caring for a child under 18 whose school is closed. Full-time workers receive 80 hours of paid sick leave, and part-time workers receive time equal to the average number of hours they work in a given two-week period. Pay is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for employees with the virus or in quarantine. Pay is capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for employees caring for someone in quarantine or for a child whose school closed. The required sick leave and family leave are paired with a refundable payroll tax credit to cover these amounts, and the requirement ends December 31.
  • Amends the Family and Medical Leave Act to set up a temporary emergency paid leave program through December 31. Requires private employers with fewer than 500 workers and government employers to provide employees up to 12 workweeks of leave, for those who have worked at least 30 days. Applies if the employee requests leave to take care of a child under 18 whose school or day care facility is closed. The first 10 days may be unpaid but generally would be covered by the emergency sick leave requirement, or the employee could use vacation leave or other eligible paid leave for these days. For the rest of the leave, employees would be entitled to at least two-thirds of their regular pay, up to $200 per day and $10,000 total. Employers will be fully reimbursed for these amounts. Employers with fewer than 25 employees do not have to reinstate an employee who takes leave if the position no longer exists and the employer tried to put the person in a similar position. Allows the Labor Department to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from this new leave requirement if it would put them in jeopardy.
  • Provides payroll tax credits for employers required to provide emergency paid sick leave or family medical leave under the bill. The emergency paid sick leave credit provides a maximum credit of $511 per day, for up to 10 days or two weeks, for employees on leave because they have the virus or are in quarantine. If the employee is on leave to care for a child whose school or daycare closed, or to care for a person who is in quarantine or seeking medical care, the maximum credit per employee is $200 per day, for up to 10 days or 2 weeks. The payroll credit for family leave applies to leave required to be paid to employees beyond the 10 sick days, but it only covers wages paid to an employee on leave to take care of a child whose school or day care facility is closed. The family leave credit provides a maximum credit of $200 per day, up to $10,000 or 10 weeks. Both credits apply against the employer’s portion of the Social Security tax and cover 100% of wages required to be paid. Both credits are fully refundable.
  • Establishes comparable sick leave and family leave income tax credits for self-employed workers, to cover the same coronavirus-related circumstances, days of leave, and wage amounts as the employer credits. The self-employed tax credits are also 100% refundable.
  • Employers in the U.S. possessions and territories are subject to Social Security tax and therefore will be eligible for the employer tax credits on the same basis as U.S.-based employers. Special rules provide for Treasury to make payments to U.S. possessions and territories to cover the cost of administering comparable sick and family leave credits for the self-employed.
  • Provides the Treasury with broad authority to issue rules and guidance, including to help businesses manage cash flow to meet the sick leave and family leave requirements.
  • Provides that the Social Security Trust Fund and Railroad Retirement Fund are held harmless through a general fund transfer.
  • $1 billion for emergency administration unemployment insurance grants to states. The states will receive half of their funds within 60 days after meeting conditions, such as requiring employers to tell employees about UI benefits when they separate and letting people apply remotely as well as in person. States that see at least a 10% increase in unemployment claims will receive the rest of the funds. States are also given authority to make changes to their regular UI practices in light of COVID-19, such as waiving job search requirements and eliminating any waiting period.
  • Provides 100% federal funding, up from 50%, for extended unemployment benefits. These additional weeks of benefits begin when a state has a high unemployment rate and when a recipient has exhausted benefits in his or her state.
COVID-19 Public Assistance Hotline

The NC Division of Emergency Management has stood up a COVID-19 Public Assistance Hotline to help local governments answer questions about FEMA Public Assistance for COVID-19. Applicants (local governments and eligible non-profits) are encouraged to call the number below or send an email to get questions answered.
NCEM PA Hotline Number: (919) 825-2548
NCEM PA Hotline Email: pahotline@ncem.org

Also linked below is a FEMA fact sheet on eligible emergency protective measures for COVID-19. Please review as it may answer some of your questions.
UPDATE per Norma Houston with UNC School of Government:

FEMA will NOT require a local state of emergency declaration as a condition for FEMA reimbursement for eligible emergency protective measures (Category B) expenses related to the COVID-19 emergency

 This does not mean that you should not consider issuing a local declaration to implement your emergency operations plans and triggering local authorities to impose emergency restrictions and prohibitions as your local officials deem necessary – that is your decision to make based on what you determine best protects the public health and safety of your communities. It does mean that you do not need to declare a local state of emergency for the sole reason of preserving your opportunity for FEMA reimbursement.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Websites
The President's Coronavirus Guidelines for America
Get the latest information on COVID-19 in North Carolina
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
LOCAL GOVERNMENT RESOURCES
Resources
NC  2-1-1
Get up to date information on COVID-19
NC 2-1-1 is an information and referral service provided by United Way of North Carolina. Accessible via an easy-to-remember, three-digit number, families and individuals can call to obtain free and confidential information on health and human services and resources within their community.
Text COVIDNC to 898-211 for announcements and updates
Dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162 Available 24 hours a day 7 days a week
Governor Cooper's Executive Order No. 118
Coronavirus in the Workplace and the Community: A Primer for North Carolina Local Governments Webinar
Unemployment Insurance Changes Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
The North Carolina Employment Security Division is publishing instructions and guidance to help you understand new changes to the state’s unemployment system, due to the current impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus in North Carolina.
These changes were ordered by Governor Cooper on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, as outlined in his Executive Order 118.

We are working to ensure that necessary unemployment insurance benefits will be available to eligible North Carolinians affected by job loss due to the COVID-19 coronavirus disease in our state.
On this page, you will find answers and instructions:
  • For people seeking to apply for unemployment insurance benefits, due to the COVID-19 situation
  • For employers seeking guidance for how to navigate the new changes to the unemployment insurance system
COVID-19: Procurement Questions for North Carolina’s Local Governments
COVID-19 has arrived in North Carolina and units of local government across the state are facing tough questions as they purchase goods and services. This post addresses some of the legal issues under North Carolina law confronting local procurement officials....
Meetings and Public Hearings Under the Coronavirus State of Emergency
This blog focuses on how local governments can do business and comply with both state law and the state guidance to avoid public gatherings. It also looks at how individual public officials can self-quarantine and practice social distancing, and still carry out their officials duties.
FEMA- PDAT Resources when Procuring with Federal Grant Funds

Some communities may not always have the resources on hand to properly prepare for, respond to, or recover from a disaster.

When using FEMA Public Assistance funds to procure goods and services before, during and after a disaster, you must follow the federal procurement under grant regulations .

Failure to follow the applicable rules may place your FEMA grant funding at risk.

In addition to providing training and technical assistance on the procurement under grant rules, the Procurement Disaster Assistance Team (PDAT) has created and compiled the resources below to help you avoid common mistakes when procuring with federal disaster grant funds.
PDAT (procurement) refresher for COVID-19
NC Main Street and Rural Planning Offers Tips and Resources
Funding Opportunities
SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus

The SBA has approved the North Carolina Governor’s request for a disaster declaration, and you may begin the application process. Eligible applicants may now apply for economic injury disaster loans (EIDLs) as a result of the ongoing effects of COVID-19.
We know that your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. We’ve heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so we are offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time.
North Carolina Business Relief Resources – COVID-19 provided by The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC)
Suggested Reads
Cities, States Halt Evictions During Coronavirus Pandemic
Why water systems should not be enforcing water disconnections during the COVID-19 outbreak
Please contact the LRCOG Community and Economic Services Division
with any questions.
Navigating the Challenges Ahead for Businesses
Deloitte
  • Combating COVID-19 with resilience
  • Topics include: Managing cashflow during a period of crisis, The heart of resilient leadership, Evaluate working capital and liquidity requirements, Future of Work: Ways of working in uncertain times, etc.
McKinsey & Company
  • COVID-19: Implications for Business
CONTACT US

Lumber River Council of Governments | Phone: 910-618-5533 | Fax: 910-521-7556