April 30, 2020 ARA Update to Recyclers
ARA COVID-19 Relief Fund
The ARA COVID-19 Relief Fund Goal is to raise $75,000+ - it currently stands at $64,500. Please note that any direct member can apply for their company or an employee that may have been affected by Covid-19. Details for applying and application are here.
Special Thanks to All Who Have Donated!
Car-Part.com - Rebuilders Automotive Supply - AB CatTech - Robertson's Auto Salvage
Northlake Auto Recyclers - Reitman Auto Parts - We Buy Key Fobs - VET Environmental Team
Yesterday, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration released a joint statement stating that certain Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans will be reviewed. Specifically they stated “To further ensure PPP loans are limited to eligible borrowers,…it will review all loans in excess of $2 million, in additional to other loans as appropriate, following the lender’s submission of the borrower’s loan forgiveness application.” This is in reaction to a number of larger business entities that received PPP funds which they eventually returned and constitutes a further reason for all applicants to keep excellent records.
It has been reported in the collision media that careful attention should be made to how a vehicle cleaning process is described to customers. Often words like disinfecting and sanitizing are used interchangeably and in today’s COVID-19 pandemic atmosphere and with business liability issues pending, a careful use of terminology is important. The latest Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines are as follows:
“CDC flu guidance as of 2018 distinguished between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing as follows: Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection. (Emphasis CDC’s.)”
Contact ARA Staff with any questions or concerns. You can reach us at 571-208-0428 extension 2 or 3 or Sandy directly at 505-228-0401. In order to comply with the Virginia Governor's Directive to close all non-essential businesses, the ARA Office is closed and the staff continues to work remote from home.
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Discussion of Relief Package #5
The ink isn’t dry on the most recent COVID-19 economic relief package and there is discussion in the U.S. Congress of yet another measure which would be #5. This bill already looks to be highly contentious along partisan lines. Senate Republicans want inclusion of provisions to limit liability from lawsuits for not just health care workers but also businesses as they reopen. House Democrats insist on financial assistance to local governments which was not included in the last package. The Senate Majority leader is holding the local assistance proposal hostage to the liability issue. Stay tuned.
Toyota's Guidelines to Disinfect Vehicles
ARA has published vehicle disinfecting information in past updates and includes another reminder here with Toyota’s recent instructions. Important points to remember are to disinfect high-touch areas on both the vehicle’s inside and outside and to use the correct disinfecting products, which are listed here. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of approved disinfecting solutions against COVID-19 is also included.
SBA AND TREASURY GUIDANCE ON PPP
The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury continue to release information and guidance on the COVID-19-related business loan programs because of their size, unique forgiveness properties and speed with which they were drafted.
The link below addresses details and methodologies to be used for calculating maximum loan amounts if the borrower is a partnership, a C or a S corporation.
Partnership, a C or a S Corporation Calculating PPP Maximum Loan
The link provided below is yet another updated question and answer document that covers diverse questions such, as if an application needs to be changed because it was based on an earlier PPP rule and there has been updated guidance (Answer: No) and are federal taxes part of the PPP loans payroll costs (Answer: employer paid federal payroll taxes are excluded). The issues are obviously technical and the FAQs provide examples to assist in answering concerns.
Additional FAQs You Need to Know
Essential Business Employer Liability
On the issue of essential business employer liability for alleged inflection in the workplace, the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission will withdraw a previous emergency rule that would have “…created a presumption that the workplace was the cause of a COVID-19 infection.” The action was in response to a lawsuit brought by two dozen business organizations and under a temporary restraining order a Judge ruled that the Commission “exceeded its rulemaking authority.” Close to 20 other states have passed similar presumptive measures but they are limited solely to the health care workforce and first responders. The issue is being closely monitored.
PPP Funds Available Today
The latest Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) loans are officially available today. Past updates have detailed these programs which also now provide part of their funding for smaller community lenders.
NSC Guidelines to Reopen Businesses
The National Safety Council is partnering with dozens of organizations to work on safety mitigation strategies for the reopening of large and small businesses. The 501 non-profit public service organization created a program called SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns. The program will work on a “multifaceted effort to help employers create safe workplaces in a post-coronavirus world.” It will create and publish guidelines for employers of all sizes and some industry-specific sectors. Task force members are as diverse as Dow, McDonald’s, NASA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The National Safety Council was chartered by Congress in 1913 and is a good resource for workplace safety material - nsc.org.
New Bill Funds PPP, Again
Once again the House and Senate passed a COVID-19 economic relief package and the one and a half page Resolution replenishes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). The total package of $484 billion brings the total of all four packages to S2.7 trillion. Yesterday’s package, called the “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” designates $310 billion to the PPP and $50 billion for the EIDL. The President has signaled his support and his signature is expected shortly, maybe even today. If an ARA member has not yet been able to receive a loan, reach out today to your lender. The Resolution itself as well as the SBA list of participating lenders and the Treasury Department’s updated (as of today) list of frequently asked questions can be at the following links: 116th Congress/House Bill, SBA, PPP.
Non-Essential Business Back in Business
States are starting to outline plans to relax work restrictions for non-essential businesses. Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee were among the states that are beginning to address varying degrees of reopening plans. At the same time, Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina extended their stay in place orders. Since it is a decision that a state, and sometimes a locality, has the jurisdiction to mandate, the country has become a patchwork of orders. ARA will try to add the reopening plans to its list of stay at home orders which can be found at a-r-a.org.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released guidance to its Area Offices on how to address “…handling COVID-19-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports.” OSHA instructs the field personnel to “…allow flexibility and discretion…to maximize OSHA’s impact in securing safe workplaces for workers in this evolving environment.” However, this by no means mitigates their responsibility to identify, investigate and report on potentially hazardous occupational exposures.
Specifically, OSHA prepared their Area Offices with “good faith” guidances for workplace protective measures and told agents to evaluate:
1) Workplace risk levels;
2) Complaints; and
3) Inspection planning roles.
Enforcement and “Appropriate action to take [will be] based on the employer’s response” to complaints.
NAM Recommendations on Pandemic Liability
The issue of potential COVID-19-related liability issues for businesses still creates a great deal of uncertainty, especially for those businesses that were deemed “essential” and remained at least partially open. Alleged workplace transmission may spark lawsuits or other governmental enforcement actions. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) stated yesterday in a document entitled “Pandemic Liability Policy Recommendations” that the “Federal government must protect those who have served the needs of the public during this pandemic by enacting targeted legal liability reforms that reduce the uncertainty and unlock the full potential of manufacturing in America, as we move from response to recovery and American renewal.” While this paper obviously is directed towards manufacturers, it applies to all essential businesses who remained open and tried in good faith to protect its employees and customers.
The NAM recommendations cover many issues including defining evidence criteria for lawsuits and providing federal protection from “public nuisance” lawsuits. The three-page document can be found HERE.
A new COVID-19 economic relief package has been cobbled together in the U.S. Senate and is headed to the U.S. House of Representatives. The $484 billion measure contains $380 billion to replenish small business loans implemented in the last relief bill - $321 billion of which is earmarked for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which ran out of funds last week and nearly $60 billion in loans and grants for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. In addition, it includes $75 billion in aid to hospitals and $25 billion for testing. The U.S. House is expected to pass the bill on Thursday after which it will immediately be sent to the President for his signature. The Senate and House have been passing these relief measures by consent (without having to call the Members to the Chambers) but the House is calling as many Members back to Washington as possible for the Thursday vote. Congress was otherwise not expected to actually reconvene on Capitol Hill until May 4 at the earliest. Passage of any other relief measures by consent is deemed highly unlikely.
ARA will closely monitor and communicate passage and guidance on this measure for ARA members that were not yet able to get relief.
Center for Disease Control Update
Important new interim guidance was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding precautionary strategies for protecting individuals in the workplace. Given that many states are considering when to reopen businesses or have begun staged openings, this issue is extremely critical to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19.
The new, main updates to the CDC guidance for businesses and employers include:
The guidance has many resources and links to resources including comprehensive guidance for employers specifically, guidance for mitigation strategies and guidance for preparing the workplace including sanitizing recommendations. Click here to view the document in its entirety.
Congress Close to Refunding Programs
The U.S. Congress and the Administration are still grappling with approval of an additional COVID-19 economic relief package and may be closing in on a compromise. At this point in time the measure includes $300 billion in additional funds for small business loans program, $50 billion for a disaster loans program for small businesses, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing. The total package may top $400 billion.
In terms of federal guidance for the reopening of the government and testing, Republicans and Democrats are also disagreeing about who should handle the issue. Many Republicans and the Administration say that states and the private sector should handle testing while Democrats think that the federal government should “nationalize” the distribution of tests.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a notice allowing temporary procedures for the fax filing of Forms 1139 and 1045 – claims for quick refunds of a credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations and net operating loss deductions. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the previous means of filing these reports was by hard copy but the CARES Act allows for the faxing of these documents. The fax numbers and more details are provided in this link.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) further revised its list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce and added auto dealers to the list. Other segments of the auto supply chain such as the repair sector had previously been included in this federal guidance. States and localities make their own determinations but many states have used the CISA guidelines. The actual new language is as follows:
“Workers critical to the manufacturing, distribution, sales, rental, leasing, repair, and maintenance of vehicles and other transportation equipment (including electric vehicle charging stations) and the supply chains that enable these operations to facilitate continuity of travel-related operations for essential workers."
The Occupations Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced relief to employers who are unable to fulfill certain annual testing, inspection, training or auditing due to the pandemic. The stipulation is that “the employer [make] good faith efforts to comply with applicable OSHA standards and, in situations where compliance was not possible, to ensure that employees were not exposed to hazards from tasks, processes or equipment for which they were not prepared or trained.” Some examples of the areas of testing and training include respirator fit testing and training and construction crane operator certification. For the entire OSHA memorandum, click here.
Unrest over Status Quo
Controversy abounds on the federal, state and local levels about when business and civic life should begin to resume across the U.S. As mentioned yesterday, the Administration released a three stage reopening guide but acquiesced to the fact that states are autonomous in their final decision-making. Protests have erupted in several states with citizens demanding relief from social distancing. The President’s “Opening up America Again” plan suggests phasing in the opening of retail establishments, additional adherence to sanitization, limited travel and many other recommendations to start. For the full guidelines for individuals and businesses, click here.
Also as reported yesterday, the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) have officially run out of money. The Administration and bipartisan leaders in Congress are still arguing about what is necessary in an additional economic relief package and while passage is expected, the timing and content is very much up in the air. The Small Business Administration (SBA) posted the following on their website yesterday:
Notice: Lapse in Appropriations
The SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding.
Notice: Lapse in Appropriations
SBA is unable to accept new applications at this time for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)-COVID-19 related assistance program (including EIDL Advances) based on available appropriations funding. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
America's Current Driving Record
It has been reported that while number of miles driven by Americans is significantly diminished, fatalities in some states may be rising due to speed on empty roads. Pedestrian fatalities are also rising in some states. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that “New York City issued 24,765 automated speeding tickets citywide on March 27, nearly double the amount issued daily a month earlier”. But the number of accidents nationwide has also dropped during the stay at home orders. The data is still evolving and will be closely analyzed by safety and insurance groups.
OSHA Fielding Complaints
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that they have already received over three thousand complaints on behalf of “essential” workers. The complaints arise from the alleged lack of safety precautions amidst potential exposure to the COVID-19 in the workplace. The Washington Post used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain details on this emerging issue. Specific complaints include lack of access to protective gear such as masks and not enough room to socially distance.