SS+D COVID-19 Response Team: Weekend Federal and State Recap March 23, 2020
March 23, 2020 | Sebaly Shillito + Dyer
STATE UPDATE – OHIO ISSUES “STAY AT HOME” ORDER.
Yesterday (Sunday), the Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton issued a “Stay at Home” Order to all Ohioans. The order is mandatory and covers the entire state. It goes into effect today (3/23/20) at 11:59 p.m. Below is a link to the Order:
The Stay at Home Order is very detailed and contains many exceptions to the closure requirements. Among other things, the Order closes all businesses and operations that are not “Essential Businesses and Operations.” Many of our clients and friends are seeking guidance from us as to how this Order pertains to their specific business. We encourage you to reach out to us directly with any specific inquiry.
FEDERAL UPDATE – NO DEAL ON THE THIRD EMERGENCY STIMULUS PACKAGE
Congressional leaders have not reached a deal on the third emergency stimulus package related to coronavirus. The Senate Republicans’ draft of the bill calls for about $1.8 trillion in aid. The Republicans and Democrats continue to work on the matter, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that he is confident “we’ll get to yes.” We hope to have more on this later today or tomorrow.
FEDERAL UPDATE – ADMINISTRATION BEGINS USING PROVISIONS OF THE DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT
The Defense Production Act, invoked by President Trump on Wednesday, allows the administration to require and incentivize businesses to produce goods for the “national defense.” Manufacturers that receive orders (called “rated orders”) from the administration must prioritize those orders. If they don’t, they could face criminal penalties.
A White House official indicated that the President has begun using the Defense Production Act. The official added that the “private-sector’s response, to date, to [the President’s] direction has been overwhelming, fulfilling government-identified needs faster than anyone thought possible.” Vice President Pence added on Saturday that the Department of Health and Human Services “placed a [rated] order for hundreds of millions of N95 masks.”
FEDERAL UPDATE – RELIEF FOR STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS
According to the Department of Education, all loans owned by the Department of Education will automatically have interest payments waived for sixty days effective March 13, 2020; borrowers do not need to take any action at this time. However, not all student loans are owned by the Department of Education. Some are owned by commercial lenders or universities. If you have questions about whether your loans will qualify for a waiver, you can call the Department of Education at 800-433-3243.
STATE UPDATE – OHIO COURTS REMAIN OPEN
In an effort to avoid an “access to justice” issue, Ohio courts will remain open to address emergency and time-sensitive matters. There will not be an order from the Supreme Court tolling of the statute of limitations statewide; instead, Judges from each county are able to issue their own orders regarding their own dockets. During this time, the Ohio Chief Justice, Maureen O’Connor, encourages Judges to: minimize contact, delay non- essential proceeds, stay certain evictions and foreclosures, address hearings by video conference, and to extend speedy trial limits for criminal cases by issuing orders for a continuance. Each local county may receive up to $4 Million from the Supreme Court to obtain any necessary video conferencing equipment.
STATE UPDATE – OHIO DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE WILL ISSUE ORDER ALLOWING EMPLOYERS TO DEFER HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS
The Ohio Department of Insurance is issuing an order designed to help employees keep their health insurance. Under the proposed order, health insurers must allow employers to continue covering employees even if the employee would otherwise become ineligible for insurance because of a decrease in the hours worked a week. Further, premium payments may be deferred interest-free for up to 60 calendar days from the original premium due date.
The Ohio Department of Insurance has not yet issued this order. We will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available.
GENERAL STATUS UPDATE
The number of cases of coronavirus in the U.S. likely continues to rise, but the CDC does not update its published numbers on the weekends. As of Friday, there were 15,219 cases in the U.S. Of those, 201 people have died. The best way to stay healthy is to follow the guidance of the CDC and continue to wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing.
ABOUT THE SS+D COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM
The SS+D COVID-19 Response Team was formed to provide clients, colleagues, and friends of the Firm updates for the foreseeable future on COVID-19 issues facing businesses, executives, and employees. Please let us know if there are any items/issues you would like for us to track or summarize.