In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19,  many companies have allowed employees to start working from home;  bars, movie theaters and restaurants have been closed or reduced to takeout only, travel restrictions have been initiated and grocery stores have been cleared with people preparing to stay indoors for the time being. 

All of this has caused great strife in the U.S. economy. The stock market continues to go down, service and retail workers have been laid off and many Americans have been left unsure of how they are going to pay for anything in the upcoming months.

Officials all across the country are trying to find solutions to this sudden crisis that has altered the American economy. In New York City particularly, the department of Small Business Services has established two initiatives to help small businesses stay afloat during this critical situation. 

The first is called NYC Small Business Continuity Fund and is meant for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Businesses will be eligible for zero interest loans of up to $75,000 if they can demonstrate the ability to repay the loan. As of right now, you can fill out an interest form on the site and should receive information about application in the coming days. 

The second initiative, the NYC Employee Retention Grant Program, is for businesses and non-profits with less than five employees. If the company has been in operation for at least six months, NYC is offering a grant to cover 40% of the payroll cost for two months so the companies can keep their employees.

According to the NYC Small Business Services site, both initiatives require businesses to be located in the five boroughs, prove a 25% decrease in revenue since the outbreak, and have no outstanding tax liens or legal judgments.

To prove a decrease in revenue, applicants can provide documentation such as point-of-sales reports, bank statements, quarterly sales tax filings, 2019 tax returns, or CPA-certified profit-and-loss statements.

To calculate the impact of COVID-19 on a business’s revenue, the SBS will look at their financial documents and compare the average revenue of the past two months of 2020 to the average of the same two months in 2019 and the average of all of 2019. For the grant, businesses will need to submit their last two months of payroll records, a signed Participation Affidavit and their bank account information.

Applications are open on the site as long as you have all the proper documentation.  As for the rest of the country, President Donald Trump and many politicians are urging for bills  to be passed that can help Americans before a wave of bankruptcies ensue.

To find out more dertails about how coronavirus is impacting businesses in the state of New York, you can visit this site.

Most recently

Trump has been working to pass stimulus packages to aid the country in the upcoming months. The first bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was passed Saturday and includes provisions for paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave, up to three months paid family and medical leave and free testing for COVID-19.

Since this bill left out so many people, such as businesses and caretakers, a revised bill was put forth. The revised bill that passed Wednesday extended the two weeks of sick leave to people who have been told to stay home due to exposure.

However this bill also capped these payments at $155 a day instead of the original measure that stated workers would receive full pay. Workers with family members affected or children with closed schools are now limited to $200 a day.

The bill also guarantees free coronavirus testing to every single American, expanded unemployment insurance and expanded food security. Overall, the bill is set to cost around $104 billion. 

The next stimulus package the White House is looking to push could cost over $1 trillion dollars. In this package, the Treasury Department will be asking Congress for $500 billion in direct payouts for taxpayers.

The payments would be divided in two rounds, each $250 billion, set to go out first on April 6 and next on May 18. The payments would be based on income level and family size and each payment will be the same amount. 

This bill also aims to help businesses that have been affected since the outbreak of COVID-19, including major corporations. In addition to the $500 billion, the treasury will be asking for $50 billion for the airline industry, $300 billion for small businesses and $150 billion for other distressed sectors such travel and tourism.

Members of the Republican and Democratic parties are fighting over this bill, as democrats want to make sure the White House is considering families first before providing help to corporate America.  

Senator Marc Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill to the Senate that asks for $50 billion to open up the Small Business Administration’s current 7(a) loan program. This would provide capital for employees’ payroll and sick leave. All fees for the lenders and borrowers would be waived for a year and a 90% loan guarantee will be provided no matter the size.  

The House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), set forth a proposal Wednesday evening for the next stimulus bill Congress will pass. While the plan has such a precise budget, it does ignore major industries’ requests for help in favor of families and individuals.

It ask adults to receive $2,000 monthly and children to receive $1,000, suspension of all consumer and small business credit, ( which includes mortgage, car payments, student loans, credit card bills, personal loans, etc,) $5 billion in assistance for the homeless, a ban on all evictions, foreclosures, and repossessions, suspension of rental and utility payments.

The proposal also includes a number of bills previously introduced by Democrats on Water’s committee. It asks for $100 billion to build new public and affordable housing and restrictions on bailouts for large corporations, requiring them to make disclosures on environmental, social and governance matters, outsourcing, and political campaigns.

While the last stimulus package remains undecided , COVID-19 continues to leave many Americans jobless, or unable to make an income for the time being. People are stressed about how they will continue to pay for monthly expenses such as bills and mortgage payments.

Many companies have made initiative to help people with these costs for the next few months.  Carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Google, Verizon and many more signed the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge which asks U.S. telephone and broadband service providers to agree that for the next 60 days they will leave Wi-Fi hotspots open, not terminate any services for residential or small business customers who can’t pay and waive any late fees that might occur during this time. 

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that mortgage lenders are drafting a plan to suspend payments during the outbreak. According to the Housing Policy Council, a group of bankers and other mortgage industry participants are the ones making this plan and they hope to have it ready by April 1. 

Facebook has decided to help people across the globe by offering $100 million in cash grants and credit to up to 30,000 small businesses in over 30 counties. Businesses will be able to use the money to pay rent, for operational costs, or to run advertising on Facebook.

The application process will begin in the coming weeks, but for now you can sign up for updates on the site. 

In addition, Facebook’s Journalism Project Community Network grant program has partnered with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association (LMA) to offer a total of $1 million in grants, up to $5,000 each, to support US and Canadian local news organizations covering the coronavirus. Grants can be requested by profit and non-profit local news stations and freelance individuals with established working relationships with news organizations.

Priority will be given to publishers covering at-risk communities, small publishers, organizations that need tools to work remotely, and organizations looking to expand their coverage within their communities.  Similar to Facebook, Kerby Jean-Raymond, designer of NYC based brand Pyer Moss, has set aside $50,000 to help minority and female owned businesses that are struggling due to COVID-19.

He made this announcement through a post on Instagram, stating that one should email, 

In the next few weeks, Americans will start to have a better idea of how COVID-19 will continue to affect daily life for weeks, maybe months to come. The actions, initiative, plans, and pledges that people across the country are working on are things American citizens are going to need not just during the pandemic but after.

It is important that we stay focused on what is being done for the economy, and what is being done for us, as we navigate through these tough times. 

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