Weekly Policy Update: CBSA Supports Life Sciences Ecosystem in the Fight Against COVID-19
By: Colorado BioScience Association Date: 03/20/2020
During these challenging times, CBSA is focused on supporting our ecosystem and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to engage with our local, state, and federal elected officials to ensure that support programs and policy solutions are put in place that will help our community navigate through this time.
Industry Exemptions for Shelter-in-Place Orders
As state and local governments increasingly consider and issue shelter-in-place orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, CBSA has worked closely with other industry groups at the state and national level to develop exemption language for employees in the life sciences. It is critical that biopharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics companies and distributors are allowed to continue operating so that life-saving medicines, technologies, and supplies remain accessible for those who need them.
This week, CBSA has engaged with the Governor’s team and county and local government officials to underscore the importance of exempting the life sciences sector from any shelter-in-place order. The industry exemption language that has been shared with government authorities is included below.
For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence to work for or obtain services at any “Healthcare Operations” including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, companies and institutions involved in the research and development, manufacture, distribution, warehousing, and supplying of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology therapies, consumer health products, and medical devices, diagnostics, equipment, services and any other healthcare related supplies or services . This shall be broadly construed to include all other activities, supplies, and services required to maintain supply chain operations without disruption. “Healthcare Operations” does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loans Available in Colorado
On March 19, the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program approved Colorado’s application for federal disaster area designation. Now small businesses throughout all 64 counties in Colorado can seek SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
Through the program, the SBA provides targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and private non-profit organizations that have been severely impacted as a direct result of COVID-19. The EIDL program provides working capital loans of up to $2 million, with interest rates no higher than 3.75%.
You can find more information about the SBA Disaster Lending Program, including eligibility and application information here.
Additional resources for Colorado businesses can be found on the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) website here.
Federal Legislation to Support the COVID-19 Response
On Wednesday, President Trump signed into law H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act. The bill is a broad response to many of the challenges caused by the current and impending spread of COVID-19 and includes provisions that will:
- Provide emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave
- Expand unemployment insurance benefits
- Increase federal funding for Medicaid
- Increase funding for nutritional assistance
- Require private health insurers to cover testing and most out-of-pocket costs associated with the initial testing for COVID-19
The law includes two employment provisions that create additional paid leave requirements for employers with fewer than 500 employees — the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.
It’s important to note that these provisions include certain exemptions for small businesses, including authority given to the Secretary of Labor to exclude employers with fewer than 50 employees if imposing such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the employer’s business. The law also provides refundable tax credits for employers to offset the costs of these required leave programs.
To learn more about the requirements in the law and the tax credits available to employers, please see our detailed summary.
Other Federal Legislative Efforts on COVID-19
Earlier this month, the President also signed into law H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provided $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the pandemic. You can read more about the specific activities funded through the law here.
Currently negotiations are underway between the White House and Congress for a third coronavirus relief package. While the proposal is still in development, it could be finalized as early as next week for consideration in the U.S. Senate. CBSA will provide additional updates on those efforts as the third economic stimulus package comes together.
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