April 5 Oregon Regional Solutions Employment and Economic Response to COVID-19

Oregon Regional Solutions Employment and Economic Response to COVID-19 Weekly Summary: Sunday, April 5

This digest is a compilation of information and resources related to employment, commerce and economic development issues surrounding COVID-19. There are numerous online resources for those seeking health-related information, including daily COVID-19 updates from the Oregon Health Authority at https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19.

Business Resources

The State of Oregon has a Work Share Program that can help businesses avoid layoffs by retaining employees who have seen reduced hours due to COVID-19. The program is available to businesses with three or more employees.  

The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services released answers to frequently asked questions regarding financial services provisions in the CARES Act.

The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a summary of the four primary relief options for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance, SBA Debt Relief and Express Bridge Loans.

Oregon’s agricultural producers can now apply for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. The federal program is part of the recently passed CARES Act. It offers loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. Producers should contact the Small Business Administration district office at 503-326-2808 for more information.

The CARES ACT established $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides relief to millions of small businesses to sustain their businesses and keep their workers employed. This news release from the U.S. Treasury Department explains the program, where business owners can go to a participating Small Business Administration lender, bank or credit union starting April 3, with funds approved the same day. Loans will be forgiven as long as the funds are used to keep employees on the payroll and for certain other expenses. View a list of approved SBA lenders in Oregon here.

The Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs can help minority small businesses in identifying appropriate sources of financing for COVID-19 challenges.

The Oregon Small Business Development Center has created a guide for navigating a business crisis.

The state of Oregon is asking business owners to take a survey to learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting businesses around the state. Information gathered by this survey will be vital to policy-makers who are working to provide assistance to businesses during this crisis. The survey is open through April 15.

Watch a Vimeo that walks through the details of the SBA grants and loan applications. The video is current as of Monday, March 31 and will be updated if the application changes.

The not-for profit State Accident Insurance Fund has money available to SAIF policy holders to promote employee safety, reduce injuries and decrease workplace exposures to COVID-19. This fact sheet has more information on the program.

Worker and Unemployment Resources 

The Oregon Employment Department has a new blogpost about the latest unemployment insurance numbers. During the week starting March 22, the Oregon Employment Department received 92,700 initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits. That represented a 21 percent increase from the previous record during the week starting March 15. Read the full post.

Essential workers who have to continue working during the COVID-19 crisis can find childcare resources from the state here.

The Professional Beauty Association (PBA) and PBA Charities have created a new fund, the COVID-19 Relief Fund, and will provide $500 to licensed beauty professionals who are unable to work due to COVID-19.

Cities and Counties

The League of Oregon Cities has launched a new Resource Center with information about the COVID-19 pandemic, sorted by topic. Sections include public meetings, employment, business and economic development, workers compensation, sample policies and more.

The Office of Justice Programs is providing funding to states, local governments and tribes to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus through the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program. Allowable projects and purchases include overtime, law enforcement needs, medical personal protective equipment (PPE), hiring, supplies, training and more. It also includes funding to address the medical needs of inmates in state, local and tribal prisons, jails and detention centers.

The Oregon Community Foundation has two new active funds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation’s website has information on the Oregon Small Business Stabilization Fund and the Oregon Community Recovery Fund.  

The Oregon Farmers Market Association has released guidance around famers markets, many of which remain open around the state as essential businesses.

Policy and Legislation

Governor Kate Brown announces Oregon progress on personal protective equipment acquisition, highlights urgent need for federal contribution. View the news release here.  

Governor Kate Brown Announces Statewide Initiative to Support Small Businesses: Governor Kate Brown announced the launch of the Coronavirus Small Business Resource Navigator, which will help connect small businesses to financial support and information they need to stay in business through the COVID-19 crisis. Read the full news release here

Oregon reports 2 new COVID-19 deaths, 90 new COVID-19 cases: COVID-19 has claimed 2 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll from 19 to 21, the Oregon Health Authority reported Thursday morning. The agency also reported 90 new cases of COVID-19. The state provides daily updates at https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19.

Read the Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response from the legislative committee tasked with responding to and making recommendations on COVID-19 in Oregon.  

The Institute for Disease Modeling released data Wednesday that suggests a slight increase in current COVID-19 infections in Oregon than previously estimated. However, the modeling also indicates that social distancing and the current stay-at-home order appear to be reducing the spread of transmission.  

Governor Kate Brown Statement on Special Session: Governor Kate Brown today issued a statement on calling a special legislative session. Read the full statement here.  

Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) has issued a temporary order for Oregon’s manufacturing facilities in regards to the maximum hours employees in manufacturing are allowed to work. Specifically, the order removes overtime limitations in the manufacturing sector, allowing for up to a 91-hour workweek. This order is in effect from March 27, 2020 to September 22, 2020.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is postponing tax payment due dates and filing due dates for excise tax returns for 90 days for industry members affected by COVID-19. 

The recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes resources for small businesses, non-profit groups and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available through the act.

Governor Kate Brown Issues Commercial Eviction Ban: Governor Kate Brown today issued Executive Order 20-13, placing a 90-day moratorium on commercial evictions for nonpayment, in light of the impacts on business owners caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The order also strengthens Governor Brown’s previous ban on residential evictions, and prohibits landlords from charging tenants late fees for nonpayment of rent during the moratorium. 

The Oregon Department of Education released its school closure guidance and commitment to distance learning. School districts throughout the state should have distance learning plans in place by April 13.