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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2020
DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond Forms COVID-19 Task Force
Task force driven by medical and scientific expertise
DECATUR, Ga.—DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond has formed a COVID-19 Strategic Task Force.
Driven by science and medical expertise, the task force will provide professional, technical and strategic counsel related to protecting the health, safety and economic well-being of DeKalb’s 750,000 residents.
Top medical experts will include David Ross, president and CEO of The Task Force for Global Health, and Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford, district director of the DeKalb Board of Health.
The task force will host its inaugural meeting virtually Wednesday, April 1, 2020, at 10 a.m.
“This pandemic is a fluid situation with no standard playbook or set of rules,” CEO Thurmond said. “During this critical time in the life of our county, it is important to gather the best information and advice from experts to help us save lives and restart our economy.”
Members of this task force will include the Board of Commissioners Presiding Officer Steve Bradshaw and two commissioners, representatives of the DeKalb County School District, the DeKalb State House and Senate Delegations, DeKalb Municipal Association, DeKalb public safety leaders and economic development experts. Other members may include business and civic leaders, educational institutions, faith organizations, and human services professionals.
The task force is authorized by Executive Order 20-001 issued March 23, 2020, in response to the public health and economic emergency within DeKalb County due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting can be accessed via:
- Comcast Cable Channel 23 in DeKalb County
Members of the task force (still being assembled) include:
Board of Commissioners
DeKalb County School District
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act” passed the U.S. Senate last night, March 25, and is headed to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration as soon as today March 26. This is a $2 trillion stimulus bill which will provide economic relief to individuals, families, small businesses and other sectors of the United States economy that took a hard hit due to the pandemic. Once this is passed in the House and signed by President Trump, most provisions are available to individuals and businesses almost immediately.
Summary of Key CARES Act Provisions (Adapted from the National Manufacturing Association Summary)
$500 billion in loans to eligible businesses
- Targeted at companies that do not receive adequate relief from other provisions of the bill, located in the U.S. and with a predominantly U.S. employee base
- Eligible businesses must maintain employment levels from March 24, 2020, to September 30, 2020
- Prohibits stock buybacks, dividend payments and increasing compensation for certain high wage employees
- $46 billion set aside for the airline industry: $25B for passenger airlines; $4B for cargo air carriers; and $17B for businesses important to national security
$350 billion in small business loans administered nominally through the SBA, called the “Paycheck Protection Program.” Loans will be administered through local and regional banks; any federally regulated bank may become an SBA lender for this purpose. The Department of the Treasury will issue regulations for these loans quickly. SBA lenders will be able to determine eligibility creditworthiness by determining whether a borrower was operational on March 1, 2020, and had employees that they paid salaries and payroll tax. The government guarantee of 7(a) loans would be increased to 100% through the end of 2020, at which point the guarantee would return to 75% for loans over $150,000 and 85% for loans less than or equal to $150,000. The complete deferment of 7(a) loan payments is permitted for up to one year.
- Targeted at companies with less than 500 employees or otherwise specified by SBA standards
- Loans can be used for payroll, mortgages, rent, insurance premiums and utility payments.
- Up to $10 million per company available
- Cannot apply for SBA disaster loan related to COVID 19 and loans under this program at the same time
- Loans can be forgiven up to the amount spent by the borrower during the eight weeks from loan origination on payroll costs up to $100,000 in wages, mortgage interest, rent or utilities
- Forgiveness is reduced by layoffs or pay reductions in excess of 25%.
- Forgiveness is not treated as taxable income
- Additionally, $24 billion is set aside for relief to stabilize the farm economy.
- Companies may use tax losses in 2018, 2019 and 2020 to offset income from the prior five years.
- The maximum amounts of business interest deductions are increased for 2019 and 2020 from 30% to 50%.
- It allows an employer to defer its share of 2020 payroll tax and pay them over two years.
- The 2018 tax reform bill imposed a one-time tax on earnings held overseas, which could be paid over eight years. The IRS has taken the position that companies cannot receive refunds until the eight-year period is completed. The bill overturns the IRS position.
- Creation of a new, temporary refundable payroll tax credit for companies who keep workers on their payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic, up to $5,000 per worker.
- Companies may accelerate recovery of Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Credits.
- Businesses in retail, restaurants, and hotels to write off certain facilities improvements immediately.
Health Care Provisions
- $150 billion for hospitals and other health facilities, which will come from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and more funding for small and rural hospitals
- Provides permanent liability protections for makers of PPE that are called for public health emergency countermeasures.
- Clarifies no COVID-19 cost-sharing for private insurance, requires free vaccine coverage without cost-sharing following current vaccine practices guidelines and includes a range of public health measures to address COVID-19 treatment and response, including liability protections for doctors who volunteer.
- Removes barriers and facilitates telehealth services, especially for high deductible health plans that utilize health savings accounts.
- It provides $200 million to boost telehealth services.
- Sets a cap on maximum payments employers will be required to pay for new emergency paid leave requirements. The provision also allows employers to receive an advance tax credit on paid leave rather than having to be reimbursed on the back end.
- Provides individuals an additional $600 per week for up to four months on top of state unemployment benefits. The provision also establishes short-term compensation programs for states like Georgia that allow employers to reduce workers’ hours while still providing employees a pro-rated unemployment benefit.
- CARES Act provides checks of up to $1,200 to single individuals and $2,400 to married couples (as well as $500 per child). Check amounts begin to reduce as income exceeds a threshold amount ($75,000 for individuals/$150,000 for married filers) and are completely eliminated once income reaches $99,000 for individuals/$198,000 for joint filers with no children.
- Waives the 10% penalty for distributions from certain retirement plans. Only applicable to individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, whose spouse or dependents have been diagnosed or who experience adverse financial consequences from the virus.
- $25 billion for food assistance programs
- $30 billion for emergency education funding for colleges, universities, states and school districts
- Waives the matching requirement for campus-based aid programs and it will allow institutions to transfer unused work study funding as a supplemental grant. This can be distributed to students who were unable to work due to workplace closures. Additionally, students who had to dropout due to COVID-19, grades will not affect federal academic requirements.
The Georgia Chamber encourages businesses and communities to make fact-based decisions and stay informed on COVID-19. For the latest resources, please visit www.gachamber.com/covid19.
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has adopted an Emergency Rule 300-2-4-0.5 Partial Claims, effective March 16, 2020. The rule mandates all Georgia employers to file partial claims online on behalf of their employees for any week during which an employee (full-time/part-time) works less than full-time due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the -19 public health emergency. Any employer found to be in violation of this rule will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to the employee. Download the How Employers File Partial Claims Desk-Aid found on the GDOL Alert Page and follow the step-by-step instructions.
Filing partial claims results in your employees receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefit payments faster, usually within 48 hours for claims filed electronically. Employees for whom you file a partial claim are NOT required to report to a Georgia Department of Labor career center, register for employment services, or look for other work.
Please continue to monitor the Georgia Department of Labor’s website at georgia.dol.gov for any updates to these guidelines.
What You Need to Know
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this interim guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available.
CDC is working across the Department of Health and Human Services and across the U.S. government in the public health response to COVID-19. Much is unknown about how the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads. Current knowledge is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in humans and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people, such as with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in China and some limited person-to-person transmission has been reported in countries outside China, including the United States. However, respiratory illnesses like seasonal influenza, are currently widespread in many US communities.
CDC COVID 19: What To Do
- COVID-19 Website
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- What You Need to Know About COVID-19
- What to Do If You Are Sick With COVID-19
- Health Alert Network
- Travelers’ Health Website
- Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposure in Travel-associated or Community Settings
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Small Business International Travel Resource Travel Planner
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 Recommendations for Ships
DeKalb County School District Closings until further notice over COVID-19
DECATUR, Ga., – March 12, 2020 –
DeKalb Chamber is not the owner of this content. Reprinted from DeKalb County School District www.dekalbschoolsga.org
SCHOOL DISTRICT CLOSING
March 12, 2020
We have been committed to keeping our community updated about the rapidly developing situation with COVID-19. Throughout the process, we have relied on the guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DeKalb County Board of Health, Georgia Department of Education, as well as our state leaders. During today’s 3 p.m. press conference, Gov. Kemp communicated the following, “Given the rise of the coronavirus, I am going to issue a call to action. If local communities feel it is prudent, you should consider closing day cares and schools as early as tomorrow through the next two weeks.”
As a result, Mrs. Ramona Tyson, Interim Superintendent of DeKalb County School District (DCSD), in collaboration with other metro area school districts, will close the school district on Monday, March 16, 2020, until further notice. All employees will continue to be paid and will work remotely from home. Student learning will continue through virtual learning assignments in the VERGE platform.
We are exploring options for providing emergency meal service for students. All district and school sponsored events, activities, meetings, and competitions are cancelled until further notice. It also includes athletics, extracurricular, school events and systemwide events.
More information will be forthcoming to our stakeholders. Please follow the District’s website and social media channels for more information. www.dekalbschoolsga.org
Council for Quality Growth Postpones State of DeKalb County
DECATUR, Ga., – March 12, 2020 – For Immediate Release: Media Contact: Victoria W. Howard 770-813-3388
ATLANTA – The Council for Quality Growth in collaboration with DeKalb County and DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce has postponed the State of DeKalb County to a date to be determined.
The State of DeKalb County originally scheduled for March 18, 2020, has been postponed due to rising concerns regarding COVID-19. The organizations plan to collaboratively reschedule the event when there is a clear resolution to public health concerns.
“As advocates for responsibility in the region, we feel it’s necessary to heed the recommendations of the CDC and state and local leaders and suspend all Council events across metro Atlanta. Our partners at DeKalb County and the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce agree that precautionary efforts to keep our communities safe is the right thing to do at this time,” said Council for Quality Growth President and CEO, Michael Paris.
All sponsors and attendees registered for the State of DeKalb will directly transfer to the newly scheduled date and will be notified of updates as soon as they come available.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are trying to do the right thing for our members and key stakeholders. We look forward to hosting a fantastic event when the timing is right,” said interim President and CEO of DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, Kenny Coleman.
About the Council for Quality Growth
The Council for Quality Growth is a trade organization that works to ensure continued growth and economic success for generations to come by providing advocacy, information, and education to its members. Committed to the mission of promoting balanced and responsible growth, the Council is proactively involved in the formulation of policy and legislation critical to the growth and development industry. The Council addresses, head-on, strategic economic planning, infrastructure needs and tough quality-of-life issues throughout the metro Atlanta region and state. www.councilforqualitygrowth.org.