New State of California Grants: Last month, the state announced the creation of a $500 million Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program (link) to provide grants up to $25,000 to eligible small businesses and nonprofits to help cover expenses during the pandemic. Last week, the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development through the Office of the Small Business Advocate launched its portal & website: www.CAReliefGrant.com.
There will be two rounds of grants. During Round 1, applications will open on Wednesday, December 30th, 2020 and will close on Friday, January 8th, 2021. Notifications on Round 1 awards will begin as soon as January 13, 2021. Round 2 will be announced at a later date. However, one complete application will qualify the small business or nonprofit for both rounds so applicants should only apply once.
Small businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to visit CAReliefGrant.com before the application opens to learn more about their eligibility, the business documents required for the application, and other resources on how to apply.
Depending on the size of the business, grant awards will be between $5,000 to $25,000. For more information, visit CAReliefGrant.com
The Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program will be providing daily webinars in multiple languages on the application process, and will be working with different partners throughout the State to provide assistance to applicants. Once applications open, small businesses and nonprofits may apply directly through CAReliefGrant.com or through one of the partners. For webinar information, visit bit.ly/38tKcPp. To find partners, visit https://careliefgrant.com/partners/county/.
PPP renewal by the Federal Government: Lawmakers have agreed to revive the signature small-business relief effort established last spring, committing $285 billion for additional loans under the Paycheck Protection Program and allowing particularly hard-hit companies to get a second loan. As of Saturday, President Trump has not signed the bll and is indicating he will veto it, jeopardiing additional unemployment insurance payments and delaying stimulus checks to Americans.
The $900 billion assistance package would restart the P.P.P. — the government’s small-business program created under the CARES Act — through March 31, while doing away with the restriction that left more than $100 billion unspent over the summer. Hotels and food-service businesses would be eligible for bigger loans this time, up to 3.5 times their average monthly payroll. Other borrowers would again be limited to 2.5 times their payroll. Publicly traded companies would be ineligible for the new loans, eliminating a provision that provoked a public outcry as deep-pocketed restaurant chains, software companies and drug makers, among others, collected taxpayer-funded loans. The new bill would also expand the list of expenses that a loan could be used to pay, which previously were limited mostly to payroll, rent and utilities. Businesses could now use the money to buy supplies from their vendors, buy protective equipment for their staff or fix property damage “due to public disturbances.”But the biggest change would reopen the program to some businesses that had already received help. When the Paycheck Protection Program expired in August, about $138 billion had not been spent. Many business owners who had received money said they would gladly take another loan, but the program’s rules prevented them from getting a second helping. The new relief bill offers a second cash infusion for those who meet stricter terms: Borrowers with fewer than 300 employees that had a 25 percent drop in sales from a year earlier in at least one quarter could qualify for an additional loan of up to $2 million.
The bill would also allocate $50 million to the Small Business Administration for audits and other efforts to address fraud in the program, which was a significant problem in the first round of funding. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said it had identified more than $4 billion in potentially improper loans, and some bankers believe the total was much higher.
Many lenders said the rash of fraud was partly a result of the program’s hasty rollout, when complicated and shifting terms bedeviled banks and borrowers. In the months after the program started, the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration issued dozens of technical fixes and clarifications, and Congress piled another batch of them into the stimulus package.
Most prominently, the plan would allow business owners who received loans in the program, which are tax-free, to claim deductions for expenses they paid for with loan proceeds. That change, which would cost the government hundreds of billions of dollars in forgone tax revenue, was made over the objections of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who previously described the maneuver as a way for business owners to “double dip” and collect both tax-free funds and an additional deduction. Tax researchers said such a break would disproportionately benefit wealthy taxpayers.
For a detailed guide on the latest updates to PPP loans, visit: www.uschamber.com/sbloans.
Here is other info (from The New York Times):
And track the state’s alternate care sites. [CA.gov]
California public health officials on Tuesday renewed the statewide stay-at-home order, which was due to expire the same day, as the spike in COVID-19 infections that began early this month continued, as evidenced by 84 new infections and one new death reported in Pasadena. The order, which includes restrictions such as a curfew for essential businesses between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., had been scheduled to expire on Tuesday, a month after it was enacted on Nov. 21. However, Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated Monday that it would likely be extended as the viral surge showed little sign of slowing down. It coincides with a more stringent Regional Stay-at-Home order issued on Dec. 3, which, among other restrictions, precludes outdoor dining statewide.
The regional mandate was triggered when the intensive care unit availability rate for the 11-county Southern California region including L.A. County dropped below 15 percent. The regional rate stood at 0 percent Tuesday, where it has remained since last week. “The Limited Stay at Home Order applies to all counties that are currently under the Regional Stay at Home Order and those in Tier One (Purple) of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” the California Department of Public Health said in a written statement. The Limited Stay at Home Order will expire after the Regional Stay At Home Order has been terminated in all regions of the state. In order to exit the state order, barring all non-essential travel and activities, the projected ICU availability rate for the region must be above 15 percent, officials said. While Pasadena is not required to abide by mandates from the L.A. County Department of Public Health, since the city has its own independent health department, it is required to follow the direction of the state.
Pasadena reported 149 new cases and no fatalities on Saturday, December 26th. We have seen a total of 6,170 cases and 151 deaths due to COVID-19.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 13,185 new cases on Saturday and 15,538 new cases on Friday. So far, LA County has seen 706,448 total cases and 9,438 deaths. 131 fatalities were reported on Friday and five on Saturday though the low count may be ther result of an internet outage that resulted in a severe undercount.
California reported 65,167 new cases on Saturday and 257 fatalities. So far, the state has experienced 2,047,185 cases and 23,982 deaths since the pandemic was first identified. 19,797 Calfiornians are hospitalized as of Saturday.
Los Angeles County scientists have begun to test samples of the coronavirus from local patients to determine if a new, potentially more contagious strain that is circulating in Britain has arrived, as some officials believe is likely amid a major surge of infections.
The variant is a concern because it may make the virus easier to be transmitted from one person to another, officials said. But once a person has the virus, the variant doesn’t appear to make the person more likely to die.
L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said a public health laboratory has begun to conduct gene sequencing to test virus samples collected in L.A. County, but it will take about a week to finish the process.
COVID-19 cases have been surging out of control in Los Angeles County and other parts of California, overwhelming hospitals and killing more people each day. On Thursday, L.A. County saw its highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day: 140.
The spread has been so rapid since Thanksgiving, when many families defied public health guidelines and gathered in large groups, that some have wondered if something about the virus has changed. Officials believe the surge has been worsened by holiday gatherings but are also concerned about other factors, including people going out to shop.
A memo issued by the L.A. County Department of Public Health on Christmas Eve asked labs to review recent data from positive coronavirus tests to be on the lookout for a specific genetic pattern, as well as any unusual molecular patterns.
Scientists have detected this new coronavirus strain in Europe and South Africa, a discovery that caused a number of countries around the world to announce bans on incoming flights from Britain.
The United States stopped short of a ban, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said airline passengers from Britain will need to get a negative coronavirus test before their flight.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said that California is testing thousands of virus samples regularly to identify any changes in the virus’ genome.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, said Monday that the newly identified strain circulating in Britain is essentially “a little bit more sticky than the COVID virus that we’ve been seeing to date.”
Both Ghaly and officials in England said the changes make the virus more likely to infect people who are exposed to it. But many other scientists have said that there is not yet enough evidence to support this conclusion and that other factors could just as easily explain the strain’s rapid spread.
The new strain has not shown itself to be more virulent than the conventional version, meaning that it doesn’t necessarily make people sicker.
A big concern is that its genetic changes could, in theory, reduce the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna — both of which are being rolled out in the U.S. — as well as three others close behind them.
However, a report last week by British researchers found “no evidence that this variant ... will render vaccines less effective.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert, told ABC News on Tuesday he would not be surprised if the strain sparking so much worry in Britain had already arrived in the U.S.
Each day in California, which this week became the first state to reach two million recorded virus cases, brings a mind-numbing new accounting of the tragedy underway — more cases, more sickness, more death. Southern California, the most populous area of the most populous state, is on the edge of catastrophe. In Los Angeles County, a vast region whose population is roughly the size of Michigan’s, there are roughly 6,500 people hospitalized with Covid-19, a fourfold increase over the last month. The number of patients in intensive care units is close to 1,300, double what it was a month ago.
And the county on Thursday reported 146 new deaths, according to a New York Times database, the equivalent of about one every 10 minutes and its highest total of the pandemic. Nearly every hospital has surged past its capacity, putting new beds in any space it can find, and preparing for the possibility it will have to ration care — essentially making wrenchingly difficult decisions about who dies and who lives.
But the availability of beds is not even the most urgent concern. With so many employees falling sick or taking leave after months of treating coronavirus patients, hospitals are struggling to find enough workers.
As the holiday season has collided with the height of the pandemic in Southern California, there is little joy for the health care workers on the front lines, who are bracing for the near certainty that things will only get worse. California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has projected that hospitalizations would reach close to 100,000 in January if residents do not lock down for the holidays. On Thursday, California reported 351 deaths.
The United States will require all airline passengers arriving from Britain to test negative for the coronavirus within 72 hours of their departure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.
The move comes as a new highly transmissible variant of the virus, which first appeared in Britain, has led more than 50 countries to seal their borders to travelers from there or to impose restrictions on their arrival.
The new rule, which takes effect on Monday, will apply to Americans as well as foreign citizens, and will require passengers to show proof of a negative result on a genetic test, known as a P.C.R., or an antigen test.