July 28, 2021
LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH ANNOUNCEMENT
Face Mask Recommendations
As you may have heard, on July 27, 2021 the CDC updated their recommendations for mask wearing. To
maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, the CDC
recommends everyone – including fully vaccinated individuals – wear a mask indoors in public if in an
area of substantial or high transmission. Given new evidence, the CDC is also recommending
universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of
vaccination status, indicating that children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with
layered prevention strategies in place. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and
Van Buren/Cass District Health Department support the new CDC recommendations and encourage
schools and businesses to consider the latest recommendations when determining mitigation strategies
for your building(s).
Updated July 28, 2021
As previously reported, the Michigan Occupational and Safety Health Administration (MIOSHA) rescinded and replaced its COVID-19 Emergency Rules on May 24 to mirror the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety requirements. Although the OSHA guidance does not impose legal obligations on employers, state and federal law requires employers to provide a “safe and healthful work environment free of recognized hazards.” This means COVID-19 will need to continue to be managed as a hazard in the workplace and citations are still possible under MIOSHA’s general duty clause.
Gov. Whitmer Announces State will Open to Full Capacity on June 22
Whitmer accelerated the end of all COVID-19 epidemic orders on gatherings and masking as COVID-19 cases continue to plummet following increased vaccinations. Beginning June 22, capacity in both indoor and outdoor settings will increase to 100% and the state will no longer require residents to wear a face mask.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer unveiled the Michigan Economic Jumpstart Plan which would allocate a portion of the federal relief funding to support and invest in working people and small businesses in Michigan. Under the governor’s plan, the state will increase incentives to boost wages to attract applicants, provide grants to small businesses to ramp up hiring, and expand access to childcare for families with young children who want to return to work but cannot.
Governor Whitmer announced on Tuesday evening that 55 percent of Michiganders had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement marks the first milestone of the Governor’s “Vacc to Normal” plan thereby allowing in-person work to resume across all sectors on May 24.
Due to the state of Michigan’s lower unemployment rate, the U.S. Department of Labor notified the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency to confirm that the state’s Extended Benefits (EB) program will no longer be payable after the week ending April 17, 2021. Extended Benefits are only available when Michigan’s total unemployment rate averages 6.5 percent or higher for three consecutive months. The Agency has begun notifying the 16,000 claimants currently receiving Extended Benefits to ensure they are aware that the week ending April 17, 2021, is the last payable week for these benefits.
The emergency rules require employees to work remotely when feasible to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 in the workplace.
In-person work is allowed for jobs that can’t be done otherwise, but remote work is strongly recommended, Michigan officials said.
Businesses that resume in-person work have to maintain a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to employees. That training must cover workplace infection control practices, how to use personal protection equipment, steps to notify the business about COVID-19 symptoms and how to report unsafe working conditions.
“It’s important to note that the emergency rules implement workplace safeguards for all Michigan businesses,” MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said. “The rules also include requirements for specific industries, including manufacturing, construction, retail, health care, exercise facilities, restaurants and bars.”
In a new Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) document, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) increased its mandatory quarantine period for individuals exposed to someone with COVID-19. The FAQ specifies that, due to increasing case rates and variant spread in Michigan, MDHHS is reinstating a standard 14-day quarantine for close contacts of COVID-19 cases. This will remove the option of reducing quarantine to 10 days, effective April 5, 2020.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund
An eligible business may receive a tax-free federal grant equal to the amount of its pandemic-related revenue loss, calculated by subtracting its 2020 gross receipts from its 2019 gross receipts. If the business is not in operation for the entirety of 2019, the total is the difference between 12 times the average monthly gross receipts for 2019 and the average monthly gross receipts in 2020 (or a formula from SBA). If the business is not in operation until 2020, it can receive a grant equal to the amount of “eligible expenses” subtracted by its gross receipts received (or a formula from SBA). If the business is not yet in operation as of the application date, but it has made “eligible expenses,” the grant would be made equal to those expenses (or a formula from SBA)
Click HERE for more information.
The latest, most reliable and relevant information about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funds are still available if you apply prior to December 31, 2021 for U.S. Small Business Association Disaster Loans. The loan amount will be based on your actual economic injury and your company's financial needs, regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.
Use of proceeds
The Michigan Employment Security Act, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Continued Assistance Act (CAA) require individuals collecting unemployment insurance benefits to be available for suitable work and accept an offer of suitable work. In situations where an employer makes a bona fide offer of work to an employee or to return to their customary employment, the employee may lose unemployment benefits if he or she refuses to return to suitable work without good cause.
Wages, workplace safety, and other factors are considered in determining whether work is “suitable.” Employers must follow current state and federal requirements and guidance to maintain a safe workplace in general and due to COVID-19 pandemic. This includes adhering to the following Michigan laws:
It is not considered suitable work if the employer is unable or unwilling to provide a safe workplace required by current state and federal law and guidance. The burden of proof is on the employer to prove that the workplace is safe and in compliance with appropriate workplace safety laws and guidelines.
Reporting an Employee Refusing to Return to Work
Both employers and employees have an obligation to report offers and refusals of suitable work to the UIA. Employees should notify UIA during their biweekly certification if they have refused an offer of work.
If an employee refuses an offer of suitable work, the employer can notify UIA in one of the following ways:
If you have questions, visit www.michigan.gov/uia for tools and resources. You can also access your MiWAM account to chat with an agent Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. Visit our website for hours of operation. TTY service is available at 866-366-0004. You can also contact Customer Service at 1-866-500-0017, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) - Update
SBA, in consultation with the Treasury Department, has recently released additional PPP guidance and resources:
1. Procedural Notice - PPP Borrower Resubmissions of Loan Forgiveness Applications Using Form 3508S, Lender Notice Responsibilities to PPP Borrowers, and Offset of Remittances to Lender for Lender Debts (Released 1/15/21)
2. Procedural Notice - Paycheck Protection Program Excess Loan Amount Errors (Released 1/15/21)
4. Helpful Reminder for This Round of PPP - Make sure the PPP First Draw Loan number is included in the Second Draw PPP Loan application
As part of the Second Draw Borrower application, Applicants must enter the SBA loan number of the First Draw PPP loan (i.e. the loan that was originated in 2020). SBA loan numbers have the following format to help borrowers identify the SBA loan number of their first PPP loan: XXXXXXXX-XX (i.e. eight numbers followed by a dash and then two more numbers). PPP lenders should make SBA loan numbers easily accessible to their borrowers.
Reminder – First Draw PPP Loans Under Review May Be Delayed Getting Second Draw PPP Loan number.
As described in SBA’s interim final rule on SBA Loan Review Procedures and Related Borrower and Lender Responsibilities, SBA may review any PPP loan, as the Administrator deems appropriate. If a borrower’s First Draw PPP Loan is under review by SBA and/or information in SBA’s possession indicates that the borrower may have been ineligible for the First Draw PPP Loan it received or for the loan amount it received, the lender will receive notification from SBA when the lender submits an application for a guaranty of a Second Draw PPP Loan and will not receive an SBA loan number until the issue related to the unresolved borrower’s First Draw PPP Loan is resolved. SBA will resolve issues related to unresolved borrowers expeditiously.
SBA Announces Reopening of PPP for Jan. 11, Outlines New Guidance
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will reopen the week of January 11 for new borrowers and January 13 for second draw borrowers. For companies interested in applying for a new PPP loan, we strongly urge you to promptly consult with your financial institution and tax advisor to ensure you have the latest information as elements are still evolving, and are prepared to act as the loan funds become available.
Key updates to this round of funding include:
Borrowers can set their loan covered period to be any length between eight and 24 weeks to best meet their needs.
Loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures.
Eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, direct marketing organizations, among other types of organizations.
Greater flexibility for seasonal employees.
Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount.
Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.
For more information on SBA’s assistance to small businesses, visit sba.gov/ppp or treasury.gov/cares.
The pandemic has impacted so many of our local businesses and the Chamber has worked very hard to identify any sources that can provide relief.
If you are in need of a special loan to help you get through this challenging time, The Van Buren County Economic Development Corporation and Board of Commissioners have approved 20 Working Capital Loans for small businesses in the amount of $20,000.00 with an Interest Rate of 2.00% (Interest Only in Year One). The term of the loan is 5 years and there are no application or early pay-off fees. The only requirement is that you retain one full-time or 40-hour part-time equivalent job(s). To apply Contact Zach Morris for more details: MorrisZ@MarketVanBuren.org
Small businesses in Michigan have been hit hard by COVID-19. The Michigan SBDC is here to help. NEW SERVICES have been added during this time to support your business. Whether you are implementing new processes or pivoting your strategy, you don’t have to face it alone. Contact the SBDC at Western Michigan University to learn how to apply for these no cost services — 269-387-6004 or email: email@example.com* *There are a limited number of packages available for some services. Requests are on a first come, first serve basis. Limit one service per SBDC client.
Businesses across the state can now schedule free COVID-19 safety consultations as a part of the new Ambassador program partnership with NSF International and MIOSHA. Ambassadors are conducting outreach to statewide businesses to offer education and support to implement regulations on workplace safety.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday announced alternatives to its two-week recommended quarantine for people who have been exposed to COVID-19.
SBA Provides Simplified Process for PPP Forgiveness for Loans $50,000 or Less The U.S. Small Business Administration released a simplified loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. This action streamlines the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to the more than 100,000 small businesses here in Michigan that have received PPP loans to date. Borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less are also now exempt from reductions in loan forgiveness amounts based on reductions in full-time equivalent (FTE) employees or in salaries or wages. Information on new instructions for PPP borrowers of $50,000 or less can be found here, with the new, simpler form for PPP forgiveness available here.
Small Business Association of Michigan Guide: "The Small Business Owner's Guide to Remote Work" https://sbam-impexium.informz.net/sbam-Impexium/data/images/Small%20Business%20Owner's%20Guide%20to%20Remote%20Work.pdf
Michigan.gov Futures for Frontliners Free Tuition Program for Essential Workers https://www.michigan.gov/frontliners/
Michigan Small Business Restart Program
In response to the economic impact of COVID-19, the State of Michigan has allocated $100 million of CARES Act funding to implement the Michigan Small Business Restart Program to support the needs of Michigan Businesses directly impacted by COVID-19.
Small Business Administration Announces New Application Deadline for Paycheck Protection Program
If you missed the initial round of PPP funding, there is still an opportunity for your business. The new deadline to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan is August 8, 2020. Details regarding the loan are included below and additional information can be found (here).
$15 Million in Agricultural Safety Grants Provide Critical Relief to Michigan’s Farms and Food Processors
In response to the economic impact of COVID-19, the State of Michigan has appropriated $15 million of federal CARES Act funding through PA 123 to implement the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant Program. These grants will provide critical funding to Michigan’s agricultural processors and farms to mitigate risks of the COVID-19 virus across the state’s food production industry. A total of $10 million in grants will be available to processors statewide, with $5 million going to farms statewide. Applications will go live beginning July 15, 2020 with funding awarded on a first come, first serve basis to eligible applicants.
Resuming Business Toolkit
The Resuming Business Toolkit is designed to assist employers in slowing the spread of COVID-19  and lowering the impact in their workplace when reintegrating employees into non-healthcare business settings. Not sure whether you’re ready to resume business? Use CDC’s decision tools [2-3] as a start.
Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act
On June 3, the Senate passed the House version of the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, which will:
Give businesses 24 weeks to spend their PPP loan proceeds instead of 8 weeks.
Require that only 60% of proceeds be spent on payroll expenses, versus the previous 75% constraint.
Extend the deadline that businesses must rehire workers, from June 30 to December 31.
Provide a loan repayment term of five years instead of two years for any loan dollars not forgiven.
Allow borrowers to defer the employer share of Social Security taxes (6.2%), regardless of whether the borrower receives forgiveness or not. 50% of deferred Social Security tax would be due in 2021, with the other 50% due in 2022.
Congress Agrees On Favorable Changes To Paycheck Protection Loans: What Does It Mean For Borrowers?
The Senate unanimously approved H.R. 7010, a bill that will dramatically alter several critical terms of the recently-enacted Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The bill, which passed the House last week and now heads to the President’s desk for signature, will provide much needed relief for borrowers as they seek forgiveness of their loan amounts.
Solicitation of Services
The Michigan SBDC, through U.S. SBA CARES Act funding, is requesting proposals from service providers to perform activities to address the needs of small businesses impacted by COVID-19
Four Steps to Sustain Your Restaurant During COVID-19
Right now, there are relief programs being launched daily to help small businesses like yours recover from the pandemic disaster. Explore the options, but do not make any reactive decisions. Take some time to assess your situation and try to find the best course of action.
New online dashboard provides COVID-19 risk and trend data, helps inform MI Safe Start plan
A new, online dashboard launched today that visually illustrates COVID-19 risks and trends in Michigan, providing residents with important information about the pandemic status where they live and work.
Statewide Platform to Connect Michigan Employers with PPE Producers, Suppliers as Non-essential Businesses Begin to Re-open
With efforts to re-engage Michigan’s economy underway through recent executive orders signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Pure Michigan Business Connect program through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has developed a portal specifically designed to support the personal protective equipment (PPE) needs of Michigan businesses as they start the process of re-opening.
COVID-19 Workplace Checklist
Van Buren and Cass County businesses and entities may need this guidance to reopen or expand current services. Under the recent guidance, Van Buren/Cass District Health Department strongly encourages these businesses and entities to take the following actions to ensure the safety of employees and customers. This guidance covers universal screening, social distancing practices, and what to do if an employee tests positive. This is basic guidance. The Governor’s Office along with the Michigan Economic Recovery Council (MERC) may provide additional, more detailed and industry-specific guidance on reopening.
Guidance For Businesses Reopening
As the curve continues to flatten and many businesses reopen their doors, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) within the Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) issued workplace guidelines for employers and employees and created a new hotline, 855-SAFEC19 (855-723-3219), to answer guideline questions and further protect Michigan’s workforce from the spread of COVID-19.
MI Safe Start Plan
Outlines how we will begin to re-engage while continuing to keep our communities safe. Re-engagement will happen in phases. Those businesses that are necessary to protect and sustain life are already open. As we move into lower-risk phases, additional business categories will re-open and the restrictions on public gatherings and social interactions will ease.
Expanded Work Share Program Helps Employers Bring Back Workers from Unemployment and Restart Their Operations
As Michigan businesses begin to reopen, employers are urged to utilize the State’s Work Share program which helps employers experiencing economic pain due to COVID-19 retain their workforce and bring back employees from lay-off as they restart their businesses.
MIOSHA: MIWISH Grants Available for Small Employers
The MIOSHA Workplace Improvement to Safety and Health (MIWISH) Grant Program awards qualifying employers a dollar-for-dollar match – up to $5,000 – to purchase safety and health-related equipment and equipment-related training. The goal of the program is to create a safer and healthier work environment and reduce the risk of injury and illness to workers in Michigan. Complete the MIWISH application at michigan.gov/mioshagrants. If you have any questions regarding the MIWISH grant or application, please contact (517) 284-7811 or Email: BirsenS@michigan.gov.
Grants to Manufacturers Looking to Retool and Produce Critical Health and Human Service Supplies
PMBC COVID-19 Emergency Access and Retooling Grants program will provide a total of $1 million in grants to Michigan small businesses and nonprofits. Immediate funding up to $150,000 will be awarded to qualified manufacturers looking to produce supplies needed in response to COVID-19. If you are producing PPE and want to be listed as a vendor, click here.
SCORE Remote Mentoring is Available
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, SCORE mentors will meet with clients remotely. Mentors are available to participate in remote mentoring sessions via phone, email, and video. If you already have a SCORE mentor, ask them if you can use a remote mentoring method for your sessions.
Free, Confidential Business Advice from Michigan SBDC
Access small business consulting, training and market research at no-cost through the Michigan SBDC. To get started, please select your county from the list below and follow the prompts to complete the online request for business services.
There is currently a mandatory update to federal posters in response to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. During the stay at home order, employers should post it in an intranet or email it to all employees. Once the order is lifted it must be posted through December 31.
The Michigan Chamber continues to update its toolkit with resources for chamber members.