Coronavirus Government Response Update—Senate Showdown on Small Business Aid
Welcome to the Coronavirus Government Response Update. This information is intended to keep ISSA members up to date on fast-moving government affairs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other public policy issues important to the cleaning industry. Today’s update touches on a potential showdown in the U.S. Senate on small business aid, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for implementing safety practices for critical infrastructure workers, and more.
McConnell Sets Up Showdown with Schumer on Small Business Aid
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to seek swift passage of a US$250 billion boost in small business relief, but he risks failure without a last-minute breakthrough with Democrats who want twice as much for the slumping economy. McConnell has circulated legislation reflecting U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s request for the aid, which if approved would bring funding for the small business Paycheck Protection Program to $600 billion. With most lawmakers out of town, the only way to meet Mnuchin’s goal of getting the additional money passed by the end of the week is by unanimous consent in the Senate and House.
OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed COVID-19 planning guidance based on traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. It focuses on the need for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees. OSHA’s guidance is intended for planning purposes.
Interim CDC Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
To ensure continuity of operations for essential functions, the CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. A potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.
Extra $600 Unemployment Benefits Will Start Flowing as Early as This Week
Some jobless Americans will start seeing heftier unemployment checks as soon as this week, depending on where they live. States are beginning to implement the historic enhancement of unemployment benefits that Congress included in its $2.2 trillion relief package to address the coronavirus pandemic savaging the economy. It includes a $600 weekly increase for up to four months, on top of state benefits. Among the earliest beneficiaries are unemployed people in New York, which has emerged as the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak—but laid-off workers in most states will eventually get the full amount due, retroactive to as early as March 29.
Fed Up with Scammers, Los Angeles Moves to Create Clearinghouse for Medical Supplies
Faced with dwindling supplies and urgent need, Los Angeles is moving to create its own real-time clearinghouse of medical goods to help hospitals buy critical gear as the coronavirus crisis intensifies. For weeks, as COVID-19 patients have flooded hospitals in California and throughout the United States, medical workers on the front lines have been left without basic protective gear like masks and gowns. Federal supplies have been slow to roll out, and state resources have not been enough.
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