Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates from ABC Keystone

Kristi Pronovost The Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

ABC Keystone is committed to serving our members during this unprecedented time. We are continuing to offer valuable updates, resources and services to our members, and staff will be working remotely temporarily to ensure that we are available for you. Please reach out to our team via their emails located here. https://abckeystone.org/contact-us/#staff

Below are recent updates from the Chapter regarding the COVID-19 crisis. Please scroll down to see all updates.

Click here for the full Coronavirus section of our website which includes links to resources and updates from ABC Keystone and ABC National.

For a direct link to a continuously updated list of COVID-19 informational resources, please click here.
To sign up for Voter Voice action alerts, please click here.

The information contained in the Coronavirus Update and Resources webpages is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney. We encourage you to reach out to your attorneys, accountants, insurers and other parties for advice. You can access a listing of ABC Keystone member associates here.

Note: The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has announced that the exemption application process for businesses will close on Friday, April 3, 2020 at 5:00 PM. Requests can be submitted here: https://bit.ly/343uQhI



4/6/20:

ABC Keystone Members:

Protecting employees is paramount during this pandemic.
To assist your efforts, we are providing you with a Supplemental Health and Safety Plan for you to easily customize to your organization and add to your current safety procedures – click here to download.
In addition, we are offering the first of a collection of no-cost virtual trainings from ABC Keystone to be held on April 9 or 13 (choose your date) titled “COVID-19 and Dealing with a Pandemic – Implementing a Response for the Workplace.” ABC National has also recently added more webinars to assist you. We encourage you to utilize these exclusive member resources.
Note: Please always seek advice from your accountants, attorneys, insurance providers and financial institutions.

NO-COST VIRTUAL TRAINING:
Exclusive Member Benefits to Help You Navigate COVID-19 Safely
“COVID-19 and Dealing with a Pandemic – Implementing a Response for the Workplace”
  • Discover how you can implement programs to protect your workplace from COVID-19
  • Gain insight on CDC and OSHA guidelines to assist with protecting your workers
  • Obtain answers to your most pressing questions
Choose your date – Click to register:
Additional virtual trainings from the Chapter are in development. Please watch the calendar page of our website for updates.


As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions. Please stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely,
ABC Keystone President-CEO
(717) 823-7602

– CORONAVIRUS UPDATE, April 6, 2020 –



4/1/20:

ABC Keystone Members:

In today’s update, please see an important message regarding the Coronavirus Emergency Relief Legislation as well as links to your April Spokesman and upcoming webinars. As always, we are here to provide you with the information you need. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Watch a Brief Video Message from Dave:

Please remember to think about the the mental health of your employees during this time.”


The April Merit Shop Spokesman:
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen rapid changes to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the nation. We recognized in mid-March, that sending the April Merit Shop Spokesman to print at that time would result in out-of-date articles and information by the time it reached our members on April 1. In an effort to ensure that this issue is as current as possible in this rapidly-changing environment, we elected to make this month’s issue a digital-only publication. This allowed for information to be current for you. We will return to a print issue in May. Please click the link below to access your Merit Shop Spokesman.

Take Note of Verbiage in the Coronavirus Emergency Relief Legislation:
The Coronavirus Emergency Relief Legislation (CARES) act creates a $350 billion loan program for small businesses and establishes a $500 billion lending fund for industries, cities and states. Other provisions include payroll tax delays and other tax fixes for businesses and, importantly, $140 billion for hospitals.
Please consult with your legal/accounting/insurance team for advice. There are restrictions to which you are subject as a result of the acceptance of a mid-sized business loan under the CARES Act.
  • Click here for a copy of the final bill
  • Click here for a section-by-section analysis
  • Click here to learn about the Senate CARES bill tax provisions.
  • Click here to learn about the Senate CARES bill unemployment provisions.
  • Click here to learn about the Senate CARES bill small business provisions.
  • Click here to learn about the Senate CARES bill distressed industries provisions.

Webinar from Pennsylvania OSHA Consultation:
Steps All Employers Can Take to Reduce Workers’ Risk of Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
Date:  Friday, April 3, 2020
Time: 10:30am
Overview: Bryan Brougher, CSP; Dane Sprankle, MS, CSP; and Richard Mason, CSP, CIH, CHMM, from Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s OSHA Consultation Program, will host the webinar. This webinar was developed to provide guidance to employers seeking help in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
Join from PC, Mac, iOS or Android: 
Password: paosha

Webinars from ABC:
ABC National is offering a series of webinars available to members to assist you during this time. Upcoming webinars include:
Register for the above webinars and watch for new offerings here.

Please stay safe and healthy.
Sincerely,
ABC Keystone President-CEO
(717) 823-7602

– CORONAVIRUS UPDATE, April 1, 2020 –



3/30/20:

ABC Keystone Members:

Information regarding which construction projects are considered essential vs. non-essential continues to change in this ever-evolving situation. We have now been told that public school construction projects do not require a waiver. Please see below for more information regarding this and for links to ABC National’s series of webinars that have been created to provide you with timely information and assistance.
Note:
If you choose to work on these exempt projects, please be certain to follow all social distancing and COVID-19 protocols required by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Please also consult with the school district and your attorneys.

FAQ: Must school districts seek a formal exemption through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to continue construction projects?
Answer: School districts should use best judgment in exercising their authority to continue critical construction projects, and should not seek a formal exemption through DCED (Department of Community & Economic Development). All school district construction decisions should appropriately balance public health and safety while ensuring the continued safety of critical infrastructure. School districts and the contractors must ensure continuance of and compliance with the social distancing and other mitigation measures to protect employees and the public, including virtual and telework operations (e.g. work from home) as the primary option when available, as have been or will be established by the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In-person work is only to be performed on the most limited basis possible.

Webinars from ABC National
ABC National is offering a series of webinars available to members to assist you during this time. Upcoming webinars include:
Register for the above webinars and watch for new offerings here.

Please reach out to me if you have questions on the above information. I’m here to help you, and please continue to watch your email and our website for additional updates.
Sincerely,
ABC Keystone President-CEO
(717) 823-7602

– CORONAVIRUS UPDATE, March 30, 2020 –



3/27/20:

ABC Keystone Members:

The CARES Act just passed the House this afternoon by voice vote and is expected to be quickly signed into law by President Trump today. Please see the information below for details on provisions. ABC encourages members to consult with their tax accountants on these provisions to see what best fits their business needs.

CARES Act Information:

The bill authorizes $2 trillion in federal funding for programs to support our nation’s hospitals and businesses, including the Paycheck Protection Program that authorizes $349 billion in forgivable loans from the Small Business Administration. PPP loans must be made during the period prior to June 30, 2020.

The bill defines eligibility for these loans as a small business, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, a 501(c)(19) veteran’s organization, or Tribal business concern described in section 31(b)(2)(C) of the Small Business Act with not more than 500 employees, or the applicable size standard for the industry as provided by SBA, if higher. It also includes sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals as eligible for loans and allows businesses with more than one physical location that employs no more than 500 employees per physical location in certain industries, mainly franchise and food services, to be eligible.
The bill requires eligible borrowers to make a good faith certification that the loan is necessary due to the uncertainty of current economic conditions caused by COVID-19, and that they will use the funds to retain workers and maintain payroll, lease, and utility payments; and are not receiving duplicative funds for the same uses from another SBA program.

PPP Loans:

PPP loans can be as large as 250% of a business’s average monthly payroll costs over the last 12 months, however, the maximum loan amount under this program is $10 million through December 31, 2020. It also specifies allowable uses of the loan to include payroll support, such as employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums, and mortgage, rent, and utility payments.
PPP loans are made by SBA-certified lenders (over 800 financial institutions currently), in all 50 states, through delegated authority from the SBA. In addition, the SBA Administrator and Secretary of Treasury may further authorize additional lenders to join the program, as needed. SBA-certified lenders simply need to verify that a small business was in operation on February 15, 2020, and paid employee salaries and payroll taxes or paid independent contractors, as reported on Form 1099- MISC, for eligibility in the PPP.
The SBA is required to issue regulations on the application process within 15 days after the enactment of the CARES Act, and ABC will be sure to provide updates on any agency guidance that comes out.

Loan Forgiveness:

Principal amounts on PPP loans, for the first 8-week period from when the PPP Loan is made, may be forgiven, if loan funds are used to cover payroll costs, interest payments on mortgages (not including prepayments or principal), rent and utilities.
The amount of a PPP loan that may be forgiven cannot exceed the principal amount of the loan. The amount forgiven will be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees retained compared to the prior year and reduced by the reduction in pay of any employee beyond 25 percent of their prior year compensation. To encourage employers to rehire any employees who have already been laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis, borrowers that re-hire workers previously laid off will not be penalized for having a reduced payroll at the beginning of the period.

Tax Provisions:

 Other critical provisions in the bill include tax provisions that will help businesses maintain liquidity through this national crisis.

Retention Tax Credit. Creates a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Qualifying Employers are those whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shut- down order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year.
  • For employers with greater than 100 full-time employees, qualified wages are wages paid to employees when they are not providing services due to the COVID-19-related circumstances described above.
  • For eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit, whether the employer is open for business or subject to a shut-down order.
  • The credit is capped at $10,000/quarter per employee, including health benefits paid.
  • The credit is provided for wages paid or incurred from 3/13/2020 through 12/31/2020.

Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes. Payment would be due over the course of two years with half due 12/31/2021 and the balance due 12/31/2022.

Modification for net operating losses (NOL). This provision would allow five-year carryback for 2018, 2019, and 2020 tax years, respectively.

Modification of limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations. The 80 percent carryback limitation would be lifted for pass-through entities to harmonize with corporate NOL treatment for 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Modification of credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations. This would accelerate the ability of companies to recover AMT credits in the form of refunds.

Modification of limitation on business interest. This would loosen the limitation on interest deduction to 50 percent of EBITDA for 2019 and 2020.

Technical amendments regarding qualified improvement property (QIP). This fix to the so-called “retail glitch” would unlock $15 billion in liquidity for QIP expenses incurred by hard-hit sectors like restaurants, hotels, and retail, among others.


Families First Coronavirus Response Act—DOL Resources:

On March 26, the U.S. Department of Labor issued additional guidance explaining paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:


Please feel free to reach out to me with your concerns and questions, and as always, please be in communication with your attorneys, accountants, banks, and insurers for advice.
Sincerely,
ABC Keystone President-CEO
(717) 823-7602

– CORONAVIRUS UPDATE, March 27, 2020 –



3/26/20:
“We’re here for you. Stay informed and stay safe.”
Watch a video message from President-CEO, Dave Sload:

Dear Members,

You’ve received a number of COVID-19 Update emails from me over the past week with vital, timely information regarding the current crisis. I wanted to take a moment and reach out to you personally to share with you what’s on my mind, and to let you know that your needs during this time are our top priority here at the Chapter. We encourage you to reach out to us and let us know how we can best serve you as we all get through this together. Please see my video message above, and as always, please feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, and concerns. Let us know how we can help. We’re here for you.

Sincerely,

David Sload
ABC Keystone President-CEO
dave@abckeystone.org
(717) 823-7602


– CORONAVIRUS UPDATE, March 26, 2020 –



3/26/20:

URGENT Message: DCED Revises Waiver Request Process

Please be Advised:
ABC has been advised by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), that businesses that submitted a waiver form through the email process should re-submit their waiver request through the DCED web form found here:
If you submitted a waiver through the original email process, please reach out to DCED and/or re-submit at the link above. Please see this link for a revised FAQ listing on submissions.

– CORONAVIRUS UPDATE, March 26, 2020 –




3/26/20:

ABC Keystone Members:

The fast-paced developments over the past week due to the COVID-19 pandemic are having a tremendous impact on businesses and individuals. We are here to help you navigate these ever-evolving developments, and we are available for your questions. Please see below for an update on legislation set to pass in Congress and be signed into law this week and for additional information. This legislation has the potential to help lessen the financial impact on employers and employees.

Coronavirus Emergency Relief Legislation:

Last night, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion bill that will provide relief to states and enhance federal assistance programs to address the ongoing health crisis. The U.S. House is expected to take up the measure on Friday. The legislation would send $1,200 checks to many Americans under a certain income threshold, create a $350 billion loan program for small businesses, and establish a $500 billion lending fund for industries, cities and states. Other provisions include payroll tax delays and other tax fixes for businesses and, importantly, $140 billion for hospitals. Click here for a copy of the final bill and click here for a section-by-section analysis. Additional information and links on the bill are included below.
  • CLICK HERE to learn about the Senate CARES bill tax provisions.
  • CLICK HERE to learn about the Senate CARES bill unemployment provisions.
  • CLICK HERE to learn about the Senate CARES bill small business provisions.
  • CLICK HERE to learn about the Senate CARES bill distressed industries provisions.

DOL FFCRA Resources:

Below is some additional information on the previously passed legislation that requires paid leave from employers with fewer than 500 employees.
ABC general counsel Littler Mendelson’s analysis of DOL’s guidance.
Additional DOL resources can be found on ABC’s Coronavirus Update webpage.
Note: The U.S. Department of Labor is hosting a national online dialogue, Providing Expanded Family and Medical Leave to Employees Affected by COVID-19, to help employers and workers understand their responsibilities and rights, respectively, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Please register to participate.

As new information comes forth we will continue to provide you with updates to help you during this time. Please feel free to reach out to me with your concerns and questions.

Sincerely,
ABC Keystone President-CEO
(717) 823-7602

– CORONAVIRUS UPDATE, March 26, 2020 –



3/24/20:

ABC Keystone Members:

I would like to share with you some updates to the Governor’s order, issued on 3/19, which shut down all non-life sustaining businesses. There has been some additional clarification from the Governor that states that exceptions to the shut down of all commercial construction are:

  • Emergency repairs;
  • Construction of health care facilities such as hospitals, long term care facilities and drug and alcohol treatment facilities.

If you are unsure whether your projects fall under these categories, please reach out to the PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov

Employers, Please Note: The safety and health of our workforce remains our No. 1 priority.

It is vital during the spread of COVID-19 that employees are kept safe if they are returning to work, and there are a number of safety precautions* put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and ABC National’s Safety Committee that we highly suggest you adhere to for health, safety and legal reasons. Every company performing work at this time should have their safety directors review in full the information below with anyone currently working on a jobsite.

We encourage you to review the updates to the Governor’s Order found here to determine if your projects meet the above exceptions. Please see the following important safety precautions listed below. At the end of this email, please see valuable Unemployment Compensation and Workers’ Compensation links.

The guidelines below are for informational purposes only and do not eclipse any established local, state or federal guidelines. Please contact ABC National’s Safety Team with any issues or concerns and, as this issue is constantly evolving, please stay updated on information and recommendations from our local government and health department.


ABC National Safety & Health Committee Recommended Best Practices & Jobsite Precautions for COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Prevention Recommendations:

According to resources available on the CDC website, there are many steps you can take to protect yourself, including:
Clean your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact

Take steps to protect others

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Wear a facemask if you are sick

  • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply, and they should be saved for caregivers.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

To disinfect: Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface. Options include:

  • Diluting your household bleach.
  • To make a bleach solution, mix: 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water OR 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

  • Alcohol solutions – Ensure solution has at least 70% alcohol.
  • Other common EPA-registered household disinfectants – Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).

Complete disinfection guidance

Construction Jobsite-specific Information:

The ABC National Safety Committee created a list of practical things jobsite leaders should be mindful of during the coronavirus outbreak. Recommendations include:

Employee Education

  • Provide training for supervisors, employees and other key personnel to recognize signs and symptoms of COVID-19, as specified by the CDC.
  • Humanize the virus by asking supervisors to greet employees at the gate or jobsite entry point.
  • Schedule daily toolbox talks to communicate news concerning the virus/project, etc. and to visually assess your crew’s health.
  • During toolbox talks, remind employees to keep 6 feet of personal space.
  • Review, update and communicate your “fit for duty” policy, including the requirement to provide a return to work pass if seen by a physician.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Personal protective equipment should be assigned to an individual, not shared among groups.
  • Glove technology has advanced extensively in recent years. Companies should consider a 100% glove use policy.
  • Wipe down all tools before storing or at the end of every shift.

For additional information, refer to CDC’s resources on the coronavirus disease.

Personal Hygiene

  • Encourage clients/owners to provide access to handwashing facilities onsite, where practical.
  • Provide adequate hand washing facilities on projects, particularly at break areas.
  • Designate specific break areas on projects.
  • Suspend biometric or other fingerprint time signatures.
  • Use Portable Bathroom Trailers or ensure daily or twice daily cleaning of portable toilets.
  • Provide hand sanitizers at strategic locations throughout the project.
  • Water fountains and other gathering points should be disinfected after each use or consider using bottled water.
  • Projects should re-consider food truck access to projects.

Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation

Please see the following links for information regarding how COVID-19 is impacting Unemployment Compensation and Workers’ Compensation:


  • For a direct link to a list of additional COVID-19 informational resources from the Chapter, please click here.
  • To access resources from ABC National, including forms, guidelines, and webinars, please click here.
  • To sign up for Voter Voice action alerts, please click here.

To protect the health of our staff, our physical location is currently closed, and staff members are working from home. We are still here to serve you during this time, and we encourage you to reach out to us with questions and for information.

Please feel free to contact me at dave@abckeystone.org (cell: 717-823-7602) or Stephanie Larkin, Vice President of Education, Safety & Workforce Development stephanie@abckeystone.org (cell: 717-727-5326) for assistance.

Thank you and stay healthy,

G. David Sload
ABC Keystone President-CEO
dave@abckeystone.org
(717) 823-7602 (please note this cell phone number correction)

Note: If your business would like to seek a waiver from the current order in place, you may send an email to this address: RA-dcexemption@pa.gov If you have questions about whether your business needs to close, you can email: ra-dcedcs@pa.gov


– CORONAVIRUS UPDATE, March 24, 2020 –