By James DeChene, Armitage DeChene & Associates and Verity Watson, Ruggerio Willson and Associates
The spread of and reaction to COVID-19 has the world changing minute by minute, and the business community has come together in these uncertain times to focus not only on keeping their doors open and their employees paid but also continuing to be a helpful presence in their communities.
It’s not an understatement to say we are currently navigating in uncharted waters. In an effort to provide some stability for employers during these times, the State Chamber of Commerce, along with other chambers across the state, industry associations and other business-focused groups are committed to finding ways for employers to keep their lights on and continue to operate.
Some of these recommendations have already been implemented as of mid-March. Currently the waiting period to file for unemployment benefits has been reduced to seven days. Workers are now allowed to supplement their income with part-time employment while still collecting benefits. Tipped employees are not being classified as minimum wage as long as they claim their tips, increasing them to a higher unemployment benefit rate. Alcohol regulations have been relaxed to increase sales at local restaurants. Zero percent loans have been made available for businesses forced to close under the State of Emergency order.
As we continue to see fallout from this crisis, there a few more areas where targeted government action could have very positive impacts for struggling businesses. These include:
These unique circumstances demand unique solutions. Other recommendations being floated include the state utilizing its top bond rating to borrow funds necessary to fully fund the unemployment insurance trust fund, to provide employers with rent relief, and to cover payroll taxes paid by employers. As mentioned earlier, access to capital remains a critical component for businesses looking to reopen, to remain open, and stay solvent during these difficult times. The ability for the state to provide this safety net is a much-needed service toward its maintenance of a strong bonding rating was designed to achieve.
As we look forward to the eventual reconvening of the General Assembly, the business community’s message is clear—a plea for action only on critical legislation. Budget, Bond, and Grants-in-Aid bills are a priority, as are any bills providing relief to employers, employees, and at-risk citizens. During these uncertain times legislative focus should remain on how we will recover as a community.
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has the potential to dwarf the economic impact of the Great Recession. In 2008-2009, extraordinary measures were undertaken by the Markell Administration and the General Assembly to keep Delaware going, and just a few short years ago we faced a $350 million budget deficit that also took extraordinary measures to overcome. With the help and planning of the Carney Administration and the General Assembly, Delaware can position itself to come out of this crisis better positioned for the future.
Delaware's first cases of coronavirus were confirmed this week. As businesses and nonprofits in the state respond to this information, we asked the state's healthcare leaders to provide insight and advice on how to make educated decisions as we move forward.
This coronavirus is new and we don’t know all that we’d like to and need to know. Since this is a rapidly changing event, the best advice is to visit the Delaware Division of Public Health's 'DE Update on Coronavirus' for the latest news and advice.
As the coronavirus situation continues to evolve, Highmark Delaware is monitoring it closely and we urge our members, partners and employees, to exercise educated caution. Normal preventive actions like washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, staying home if you are sick, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, can go a long way in stopping the spread of illness. Highmark has created a website dedicated to information about the disease, as well as suggestions for protecting your health and the health of those around you. Visit faqs.discoverhighmark.com
"At Saint Francis, we encourage our community to follow CDC and Delaware Department of Health guidance: Stay home if you are sick; Cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze; Wash your hands; Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; Disinfect surfaces and objects; and avoid large gatherings. These actions will can slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, helping to ensure that the sickest and most vulnerable members of our community continue to have access to critical care."
how to prevent spreading covid-19:
These are challenging times for businesses of every kind and from every corner of our state. While working remotely via a laptop or other means is an option for some, it is not an option for many others. Agriculture, food manufacturers, building contractors, utility companies, industrial production sites, first responders, municipal services and countless others need people in place in order to get work done. And, let’s not forget retailers or restaurateurs that need foot traffic, or the hospitality, lodging or entertainment businesses that need guests.
how can you support local businesses
An interesting read: 9 charts that explain the coronavirus pandemic, Vox