As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to result in social and economic disruption in the United States and around the world, the Chamber aims to bring you up-to-date guidance and resources in our regular communications. Please see below for national, state, and local updates, including what resources are available to support businesses and workers across New Mexico and Albuquerque and what our businesses and local governments are doing to provide support for the community during this difficult time.
See below for the latest White House Guidance on responding to the Coronavirus pandemic:
See the Center for Disease Control’s Guidance for Businesses here, including preparations you can carry out now and recommendations for planning should conditions worsen. See here for informational fliers in English and Spanish that can help keep your team informed about prevention, symptoms, and FAQs regarding COVID-19.
The Department of Labor has provided updated OSHA standards applicable to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly for those businesses whose employees are at elevated risk of exposure.
On Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for the following policy measures to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the businesses:
“1. Legislation canceling payment of all payroll taxes paid by employers for the months of March, April, and May. Employers send more than $100 billion to the federal government monthly in the form of Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes. Collectively, these taxes add just over 15% to the cost of employing the average employee. Temporary relief from these taxes would give businesses more breathing room and operating capital to keep paying their employees and avoid layoffs.
2. Legislation expanding and streamlining loan programs for small businesses experiencing revenue loss from Coronavirus. The Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan program for those impacted by the Coronavirus should be immediately made available nationwide, eliminating the complex and time-consuming local certification processes. The SBA also should be given the authority to streamline its disaster-loan approval process for amounts below $350,000 in order to provide emergency capital more quickly. This should include removing the requirement that small businesses demonstrate that they cannot access credit elsewhere before turning to the SBA. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid because of the virus’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.
3. Legislation enabling the creation of credit facilities to provide loans and loan guarantees to employers with more than 500 employees experiencing significant revenue loss from the Coronavirus. Specifically, legislation should expand the use of the Federal Reserve Discount Window through the easing of restrictions of Section 13-3 of the Federal Reserve Act. The U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation should also work in combination with banks to establish a system of credit facilities to provide loans and loan guarantees that can be accessed by businesses with more than 500 employees to address disruptions from the Coronavirus.”
NEW MEXICO UPDATES
The New Mexico Department of Health is providing regular updates on testing, reported cases, and recommendations in our state including guidance for returning international travelers. The state hotline for coronavirus information and guidance for those who may be feeling ill is 1-855-600-3453.
Wednesday afternoon, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced additional measures and restrictions in New Mexico, including:
- Bars, breweries, restaurants will be limited to take out service and home delivery
- Shopping malls, movie theaters and spas are directed to close
- Typical office environments should limit operations to the extent possible
- Hotel and motels are to operate at no more than 50% capacity.
New Mexico has qualified for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Assistance program to assist businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. There are two ways to learn more and begin a loan application:
- Online by visiting the Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance program at www.sba.gov.disaster.
- By phone at (800) 659-2955 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals who are hearing impaired may call (800) 877-8339.
The New Mexico Economic Development Department is assisting businesses in obtaining emergency loans or lines of credit to help cover payroll, inventory, and other vital business functions.
Last week, the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions provided a webinar to connect businesses to resources and information available at this time; click here to watch.
The Albuquerque Journal is also providing regular updates on statewide efforts to contain coronavirus spread in the state and support those impacted. See below for the latest information on confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Mexico:
*As of Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Health has announced five additional cases, bringing the state’s total to 28, and including the first confirmed instance of “community spread” in Bernalillo County
GREATER ALBUQUERQUE AREA UPDATES
The City of Albuquerque has provided guidance for businesses to help support their employees and customers and maintain operations as much as possible during this time.
Mayor Tim Keller is calling on Albuquerque residents to support their local businesses in a variety of ways:
Purchase a gift card from your favorite local shop or restaurant.
Buy Local online and offline – purchase merchandise, look for local ecommerce websites, shop for cookies, salsa, chile, beans, beer, wine and other goods at local businesses.
Order take-out and delivery from local restaurants and consider tipping more than usual.
Smith’s Food and Drug locations in Albuquerque are offering additional morning hours from 7AM-8AM at all locations exclusively for senior citizens in order to limit this vulnerable population’s exposure while shopping.
Comcast is providing free access to its Xfinity WiFi Hotspot network to all Americans, and providing unlimited data and a pause on disconnections to all customers.
Perhaps most importantly, the Chamber is offering its sincere gratitude and appreciation to members like Lovelace Health System, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, UNM Health Sciences Center, and all the other hospitals, medical professionals, and first responders on the front lines of this crisis