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Congress Passes More Small Business Funding
The PPP will get a $310 billion infusion for loans, and the EIDL program will get $60 billion.

We suggest that you contact your local lender regarding any previous application you may have made or to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration loan. The SBA loan application can be found here and SBA-approved lenders can be found here.

USDA Increases SNAP Benefits by 40%
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program recipients will receive a temporary 40% increase in monthly benefits to provide relief from the pandemic-related economic slowdown. The boost lets families obtaining less than their maximum benefit get the greatest amount per their household size for as long as two months. The extra SNAP money comes as the spread of COVID-19 continues to push the unemployment rate to levels not seen since the Great Depression. School shutdowns are also forcing parents to provide meals for their children that would otherwise have been provided by their school. “USDA is providing a 40% increase in SNAP benefits to ensure that low-income individuals have enough food to feed themselves and their families during this national emergency,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement.

Bill Seeks Tax Relief for C-Store, Grocery Workers
Up to $25,000 of employees' income would be exempt from 2020 federal taxes.

Amazon, Walmart Enable SNAP Online Orders
The retail giants expand order and payment options for food stamp recipients in several states.

Long-Term Changes Coming to Grocers
Research predicts shifting dynamics may mean permanent shifts for brands, retailers.

Virginia Seeks to Delay Diesel Tax Increase
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam amended the state’s transportation bill to  increase the gasoline tax but delay a planned diesel tax increase.

U.S. Retail Sales Fall at Record Rate
Retail sales in March fell 8.7 percent, marking the biggest one-month drop in three decades of record keeping.

National Tank Truck Carriers Urge Congress to Give Hazard Pay for Their Workers
The National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) and The International Liquid Terminals Association (ILTA) urged Congress on Wednesday to include a proposed “heroes fund” that would give essential workers making less than $200,000 up to $25,000 per year in hazard pay in the next COVID19 stimulus package. “Without the continued work performed by these operations professionals, the fuel required to move critical supplies and people – including essential workers in other industries – would become unavailable,” wrote the groups. The proposed fund would give funding to eligible employers who could then give payment to workers.

USDA Approves Several States’ SNAP Requests
Over the weekend, USDA approved West Virginia’s request to participate in SNAP Online. The State plans to launch on May 25. Additionally, Arizona, Illinois, North Carolina and Massachusetts have been approved to participate in Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT), a program that provides EBT for children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. SNAP waivers and approval status for individual States can be found on USDA’s COVID-19 website.  In West Virginia, the only approved retailers at this time are Amazon and Walmart.  The system is using the FNS Online Purchasing Pilot model that has been approved for nine other states. FNS is entertaining the addition of other merchants for this project.

SNAP Hot Foods Waiver Request
Below is a draft of the language that will be submitted by the WV DHHR to FNS requesting a hot foods option for all SNAP recipients in the State of West Virginia. Eligible EBT cardholders would be able to purchase hot foods using their current benefits. While this waiver will need to be reviewed by FNS for comment and approval, DHHR wanted to make OMEGA members aware so that they can contact their processors to make adjustments to their Point of Sale processing to accept this change if and when approved.

SBA Updates FAQ for Paycheck Protection Act, Potentially Expanding Eligibility
The SBA recently provided an updated FAQ document and included a comment under the Q&A that may allow companies with more than 500 employees who can certify they have been harmed by the current crisis. Companies should consult with their accountant to better understand their standing.
 
We specifying draw your attention to the below Q&A in the linked document.
 
2. Question: Are small business concerns (as defined in section 3 of the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 632) required to have 500 or fewer employees to be eligible borrowers in the PPP?

How Can My Company Acquire PPE & Testing for Essential Personnel?
Energy sector companies are monitoring the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for essential workers. Currently the first priority is to ensure PPE is available to healthcare workers and first responders. CESER and the ESF#12 team will continue to highlight the PPE needs for energy critical infrastructure personnel.  CESER is coordinating with the DHS Emergency Support Function #14 and the FEMA Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force to identify a path forward to address the energy sectors PPE needs once the Public Health PPE supply chain begins to stabilize. In addition to this effort the FEMA National Resource Prioritization Cell (NRPC) at the NRCC recently stood up to support supply chain efforts regarding distribution of PPE to healthcare workers and first responders. FEMA is expediting movement of critical supplies including PPE from the global market to medical distributors in various locations across the U.S.    

In the jurisdictions in which they operate, energy sector companies can connect with local or state energy officials and emergency operations centers to identify prioritization of any future needs for PPE, testing, or other unmet needs. CDC has issued guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians. CESER is working with multiple FEMA task forces and federal, industry and state partners to identify new testing options and best practices as they become available.

Energy industry suppliers and infrastructure operators are identifying “essential” and "mission essential" employees for prioritized COVID-19 testing. More information regarding prioritized testing requests can be found in this industry letter to national organizations representing state and local government leaders. The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council also updated Testing and Protecting Mission Essential Control Center and Generation Facility Personnel.

Pandemic Takes Toll on Mental Health
Social distancing, intensive cleaning regimens and the stress of working in customer-facing jobs is taking a toll on the mental health of employees worldwide during the coronavirus pandemic.

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