Coronavirus Government Response Update—States, Companies Set up COVID-19 Legal Shields

May 22, 2020

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 states and companies setting up their own COVID-19 legal shields, a senate deal on small-business loan fixes, businesses joining the run on PPE, and more.

States, Companies Set up COVID-19 Legal Shields
States and some companies aren’t waiting for Congress and the White House to work out a possible liability shield and are instead taking their own steps to insulate businesses from lawsuits in the coronavirus era. Many states have granted some form of liability immunity to health care workers and facilities. Utah and North Carolina have gone the farthest, passing laws that offer the strongest immunities yet for a range of industries as stay-at-home orders and business closures are eased.

Senate Deal on Small-Business Loan Fixes on Hold
The Senate made headway on a bipartisan proposal to make small-business loans more flexible, though final passage will need to wait for bicameral discussions with the House, which returns next week. The plan would tweak the Paycheck Protection Program to give small-business owners double the time to spend loan funds and still have their debts wiped clean. It would extend the loan forgiveness period from eight weeks to 16 weeks and allow businesses to use loan funds to buy personal protective equipment and make other investments to reopen safely.

Businesses Hoping to Reopen Join Run on PPE
As every state gradually lifts coronavirus restrictions and some require employees of certain industries to wear face masks and eye protection, employers are scrambling to get enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to create a safe work environment. Buying safety equipment, however, has created additional challenges for businessowners, who may be unfamiliar with vendors and potential scammers. Adding to that concern, a recent Washington Post-Ipsos poll found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans fear exposing their households to the novel coronavirus upon returning to work.

U.S.-China Tensions Are Flaring on New Front: Financial Markets
Already bad friction between the U.S. and China has ratcheted higher in recent weeks, and now it has expanded onto another front—the stock market. As the coronavirus crisis draws on, the relationship has gotten more strained, with each country blaming the other about the true extent and origin of the coronavirus outbreak. U.S. President Donald Trump also threatened tariffs on China again this month. In the latest move, the U.S. Senate passed legislation that could restrict Chinese companies from listing on American exchanges or raising money from U.S. investors, unless they abide by Washington’s regulatory and audit standards.

Other links of interest