The Daily Rundown

Small Business Daily Rundown: Coronavirus Update for March 19

Welcome to the Small Business Rundown. Each day, we bring you stories that impact small business owners and their workforce.

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Highlights from March 19:

  • President Trump signed an aid package providing 2 weeks of paid sick leave for workers and funds for employees who are at home with children
  • SBOs are worried they will go out of business before they receive a disaster relief loan from the SBA
  • Regulators are calling on mortgage companies to help homeowners who have lost their job because of coronavirus
  • Small distilleries are switching products to help the hand sanitizer shortage
  • And read why we’re all making a gin and tonic tonight

Last night, President Trump signed the COVID-19 Aid package sent to his desk by the Senate. As we noted yesterday, the bill provides 2 weeks of paid sick leave for workers and funds for employees who must stay home to take care of their children during mandatory school closings. The paid sick leave is capped at just over $500 per day, while the benefit for parents sidelined at home maxes out at $200 per day.

After criticism that White House officials did not do enough in the early days of the outbreak to prepare the country, Politico is reporting that President Trump’s aides are studying lessons from the nation’s not-so-distant past as they consider ways to help bring the economy out of its nosedive without trampling on the ideology of the Republican Party.

The worry is very straightforward: Anything that looks like a bailout will divide the Republican Party. Hardcore conservatives believe bailouts are antithetical to the way risk should be managed in the economy,” said one Republican close to the White House. “They want it to look like relief — but not a bailout.”

Small business owners on the ground are desperate for less talk from politicians and more money in their pockets, however. The SBA announced a disaster relief program for companies hard hit by the pandemic, with loans up to $2 million, but many SBOs believe they will be out of business before federal funds reach their till.

There are a few bright spots, though. Federal regulators have also called on mortgage companies to provide relief in the form of reduced or suspended mortgage payments.

Homeowners who have lost their job due to the coronavirus may be eligible for reduced or paused payments for up to 12 months. Do not expect that you can just stop sending a check in, however.

Regulators warn that homeowners need “to contact their servicer, that is the lender that they send the check to every month. That lender will work with them to be able to work out a payment plan. Obviously, we hope to get them back on their feet as soon as possible.”

I’d be remiss, too, not to give a shout-out to my brother, who started talking weeks ago about the studies coming out of China pointing to an old standby malaria drug as an effective way to treat COVID-19. I read the studies and then made myself a double gin and tonic.

Today, both President Trump and Elon Musk weighed in on the efficacy of chloroquine to beat this new scourge after Bayer announced yesterday that they would donate the drug. We’ll drink to that.

And speaking of alcohol, small distilleries around the nation have switched over production to help meet the shortage of hand sanitizer.

We should take note, too, of all the SBOs who are doing their best to rally consumers, embrace innovation and spread hope during this strange and scary time.

As one SBO in Seattle said, “We have all faced crises in our business before, but this is one of those times when we’re not alone. It’s everybody locally, regionally, nationally and globally. No business large or small can escape the impacts of this. We’re all in this together.”

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