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Coronavirus (COVID-19): What You Need to Know

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Baker Donelson's resource for legal guidance and information about the novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19.

Featured Videos

Addressing Employers' Concerns About Coronavirus March 26, 2020
Coronavirus and Financial Institutions: What Banks and Lenders Need to Know March 25, 2020
Your Questions Answered: What Does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Mean for Employers? March 24, 2020
Coronavirus in Long Term Care: Incorporating CMS Guidance into Response Strategies March 20, 2020
COVID-19: The Employment View March 19, 2020
Coronavirus in Long Term Care: Overview of FAQ for Employers March 18, 2020

Practice Overview

Overview

A new coronavirus, COVID-19, is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness that began in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since the outbreak began in early December 2019, it has spread around the globe and has had an increasing impact on businesses. Baker Donelson attorneys and advisors continue to monitor the outbreak and provide legal guidance for our clients' businesses. This site is being continuously updated to reflect the most current and relevant information, so please check the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates below for the latest articles and information about the outbreak.

Additionally, Baker Donelson has expanded its multi-disciplinary task force focused on providing essential counsel to clients navigating the growing impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

This team, which in January began monitoring the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on global supply chains and employees overseas, now brings together leading professionals across multiple Baker Donelson practice groups with a range of experience in the many operational, legal, regulatory and governmental issues that will be vital to ensuring businesses implement a comprehensive approach to preparing for and responding to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Baker Donelson Coronavirus Task Force is led by John M. Scannapieco, chair of Baker Donelson's Global Business Team; Martha L. Boyd, shareholder in the Firm's Labor & Employment Group; and Alisa L. Chestler, chair of the Firm's Data Protection, Privacy and Cybersecurity Team. In addition to other Firm leaders across multiple practices, including health care, construction, government contracts, and hospitality, members of the task force include the former first General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; a former Chief of Staff to the U.S. Senate Majority Leader; a former staff director of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee; former Chief Counsel and former Acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; and a former senior level member of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Baker Donelson Coronavirus Task Force

Download a printable PDF of Task Force members.

Cruise Industry

Robert M. Kritzman

Robert M. Kritzman
954.768.1621
rkritzman@bakerdonelson.com


DHS, Law Enforcement & Regulation

Joe D. Whitley

Joe D. Whitley
404.223.2209
jwhitley@bakerdonelson.com


Education Industry

Melissa M. Grand

Melissa M. Grand
225.381.7055
mgrand@bakerdonelson.com


Emergency Declarations/FEMA

Ernest B. Abbott

Ernest B. Abbott
202.508.3425
eabbott@bakerdonelson.com

Wendy Huff Ellard

Wendy Huff Ellard
601.969.4681
wellard@bakerdonelson.com


Financial Disclosures and SEC-Related Guidance

Lori B. Metrock

Lori B. Metrock
615.726.5768
lmetrock@bakerdonelson.com


Financial Institutions

Kristine L. Roberts

Kristine L. Roberts
901.577.8136
klroberts@bakerdonelson.com


Health Care Providers and Facilities

Stuart F. Miller

Stuart F. Miller
713.210.7447
stuartmiller@bakerdonelson.com


Health Care Regulatory

Kristin C. Carter

Kristin C. Carter
410.862.1109
kcarter@bakerdonelson.com

Julie E. Kass

Julie E. Kass
410.862.1114
jkass@bakerdonelson.com


HHS Grants for Construction and Upgrades

Sheila P. Burke

Sheila P. Burke
202.508.3457
sburke@bakerdonelson.com

Darwin A. Hindman III

Darwin A. Hindman III
615.726.7381
dhindman@bakerdonelson.com

Mark W. Mercante

Mark W. Mercante
985.819.8410
mmercante@bakerdonelson.com

Jennifer M. Summa

Jennifer M. Summa
202.508.3408
jsumma@bakerdonelson.com


HHS Spending Package and Appropriations

James W. Dyer

James W. Dyer
202.508.3416
jdyer@bakerdonelson.com


HIPAA, Data Protection and Cybersecurity Controls for Remote Workforce

Alisa L. Chestler, CIPP/US

Alisa L. Chestler, CIPP/US
615.726.5589
achestler@bakerdonelson.com


Hospital Operations

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams
404.443.6715
mawilliams@bakerdonelson.com


Hospitality Industry

Joel R. Buckberg

Joel R. Buckberg
615.726.5639
jbuckberg@bakerdonelson.com

Sara M. Turner

Sara M. Turner
205.250.8316
smturner@bakerdonelson.com


Immigration

Robert C. Divine

Robert C. Divine
423.752.4416
rdivine@bakerdonelson.com


Insurance Coverage, including Business Interruption

Mark A. Barber

Mark A. Barber
404.443.6713
mbarber@bakerdonelson.com

Steven F. Griffith Jr.

Steven F. Griffith Jr.
504.566.5225
sgriffith@bakerdonelson.com


L&E, including Business Travel

Martha L. Boyd

Martha L. Boyd
615.726.5652
mboyd@bakerdonelson.com


Long Term Care

Howard L. Sollins

Howard L. Sollins
410.862.1101
hsollins@bakerdonelson.com


Real Estate – Commercial and Industrial

Matthew T. Harris

Matthew T. Harris
615.726.5759
mharris@bakerdonelson.com

Christian Schuetz

Christian Schuetz
615.726.5673
cschuetz@bakerdonelson.com


Real Estate – Multi-Family/Apartments

Amanda Spain Wells

Amanda Spain Wells
225.381.7034
aspain@bakerdonelson.com


Real Estate – Retail

Jeffrey M. Pomeroy

Jeffrey M. Pomeroy
205.250.8317
jpomeroy@bakerdonelson.com


Supply Chain Disruption, Commercial Agreements and Force Majeure

John M. Scannapieco

John M. Scannapieco
615.726.5648
jscannapieco@bakerdonelson.com


Telehealth

Jeffrey I. Davis

Jeffrey I. Davis
202.508.3414
jeffdavis@bakerdonelson.com

Tracy E. Weir

Tracy E. Weir
202.508.3481
tweir@bakerdonelson.com

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

(This page will be updated often with new information.)

March 27

  • Coronavirus: Significant Tax Provisions in the CARES Act for Businesses and Individuals
    President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) today, providing liquidity and other economic relief to individuals, families, and businesses facing the hardships of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As part of the legislation, there are important tax provisions, which are in addition to the previous actions taken by President Trump and Congress in response to COVID-19.
    Read More
     
  • Third Coronavirus Stimulus Package Includes Considerable Funding for Health Care Providers and Other Health Care Provisions
    The CARES Act appropriates significant funding to federal agencies, both to allow federal, state, and local governments to support COVID-19 treatment and prevention and to directly provide financial support to health care providers.
    Read More
     
  • CARES Act: Understanding SBA Loan Programs to Determine Eligibility and Best Fit for Your Company
    As a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), multiple avenues of relief will be available to small businesses through programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Notably, the size limits for consideration as a "small business concern" have been changed, making many more entities eligible for assistance through programs administered by the SBA.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Tips for Hospitals Navigating State Emergency Management and FEMA Funding
    As the COVID-19 outbreak response intensifies and the number of patients continues to grow, stakeholders are working hard to strengthen the health care community and ensure that sufficient capacity is available to meet the need. The President's unprecedented nation-wide national emergency declaration on March 13, 2020 notes that, "It is incumbent on hospitals and medical facilities throughout the country to assess their preparedness posture and be prepared to surge capacity and capability." This includes establishing additional intensive care unit (ICU) beds, procurement of additional personal protective equipment (PPE), and augmentation of professional staff.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Implications for EPA's Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program
    On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Memorandum entitled "COVID-19 Implications for EPA's Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program," in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an unprecedented action, the EPA essentially suspended all environmental enforcement action with certain limited exceptions. The policy is retroactive for any applicable noncompliance as of March 13, 2020.
    Read More

March 26

  • Coronavirus: What the Georgia Governor's Shelter-in-Place Order Means for Health Care Providers
    As Georgians continue to grapple with the effects of the consistently rising number of COVID-19 cases, Governor Brian Kemp issued two Executive Orders in an attempt to slow the impact of the highly contagious disease on the health care system and protect Georgia’s most vulnerable populations.
    Read More
     
  • WEBINAR - Addressing Employers' Concerns About Coronavirus
    How should employers prepare for what may be coming? Should certain policies be suspended or modified during this period, and if so, which ones? Should employers pay those employees not allowed to work because of exposure or contagion concerns? Should employers implement other changes now, or should employers wait and see what develops? This webinar explores these issues and other related concerns.
    Watch

March 25

  • Coronavirus: Managing Your Business Risk – Applicability of Force Majeure to COVID-19
    Do you have a contract where performance is likely an issue? Does it contain a force majeure clause? Is COVID-19 covered by your contract's force majeure clause? How does this affect your business? A force majeure clause in a contract excuses or delays a party's contractual obligations if a "Force Majeure Event" takes place. The definition of what constitutes a "Force Majeure Event" can vary widely from contract to contract.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: DOL Issues Initial Q&A Guidance and Fact Sheet on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
    Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor issued initial guidance in response to general questions posed by employers about the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Today, the DOL released a Fact Sheet for employers that also provides helpful information, as well as a model notice employers may use to notify employees about these laws. The DOL is expected to issue regulations in April 2020, but the Fact Sheet and Q&A guidance clarifies certain aspects of the EFMLEA and EPSLA. Below are highlights from the Q&A, which is available on the DOL's COVID-19 and the Workplace webpage.
    Read More
     
  • S.A.L.T. Select Developments – Tax Payment and Return Filing Responsibilities, Supplement #1
    Federal Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previously announced a 90-day deferral for individuals and many businesses in making certain tax payments to the IRS. Separately, recently published IRS Notice 2020-18 has advised that the April 15 due date for return filing purposes will be moved to July 15 to coincide with the 90-day payment deferral, and that there is no limitation on the amount of the payment that may be postponed to July 15. This special edition reviews similar reactions thus far by several states regarding short-term tax payment and return filing responsibilities implemented because of this pandemic.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Identifying Essential Activities and Businesses under Harris County Stay Home Order
    A large number of Texas' biggest urban cities and counties are ordering residents to stay indoors and work from home. On March 24, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, in a joint press conference with City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, issued a "Stay Home, Work Safe" Order requiring residents of Harris County (the largest county in the state) to remain in their homes in an attempt to flatten the spread of coronavirus. Specifically, residents of Harris County should stay at home, only leaving to perform Essential Activities or to provide or perform Essential Governmental Functions or to operate Essential Businesses.
    Read More
     
  • WEBINAR - Coronavirus and Financial Institutions: What Banks and Lenders Need to Know
    This complimentary webinar discusses how financial services firms can navigate through the challenges posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
    Watch

March 24

  • Coronavirus: FEMA Simplifying the Public Assistance Process to Expedite Payment
    While communities that regularly experience natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes are familiar with FEMA's Public Assistance process, the President's recent declaration of a nationwide emergency under the Stafford Act encompasses every state, including tens of thousands of eligible applicants (if not more) for disaster assistance, many of which are navigating unfamiliar territory. Recognizing the logistical and bureaucratic challenges this unprecedented response effort will bring, FEMA is actively working to develop a simplified application and funding process. In this alert, we provide an overview of the Public Assistance process for COVID-19 – for new and experienced applicants.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Resources Materials Available for Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans
    While Congress continues to debate stimulus bills and how best to assist small businesses, the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program is now available to small businesses in most if not all areas of the country – including all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The EIDL Program provides loans to small businesses in an amount of up to $2,000,000 per borrower that carry an interest rate of 3.75 percent and are repayable over a term of up to 30 years. Proceeds of the loans may be used to pay existing fixed debt, employee payroll, accounts payable and other expenses of operation.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Identifying Essential Activities and Essential Businesses under Atlanta's Stay at Home Order
    On March 23, 2020, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a "Stay at Home" order (the "Order") to curb the spread of COVID-19. The Order states that it "shall be effective at midnight" on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The Order directs all residents living within the jurisdictional limits of the City of Atlanta to stay at their place of residence and maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside. However, there are exemptions for Essential Activities, Health Care Operations, Essential Infrastructure, Essential Governmental Functions, and Essential Businesses.
    Read More
     
  • WEBINAR – Your Questions Answered: What Does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Mean for Employers?
    Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting businesses across industries, sizes and locations. There are numerous developments in federal, state and local leave laws impacting employers. On Wednesday, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act), creating paid family and sick leave benefits for eligible employees who require leave due to covered needs relating to COVID-19.
    Watch

March 23

  • Coronavirus: Significant HIPAA Relief in Telehealth Context Due to COVID-19 Response
    There is no question that COVID-19 has brought unprecedented change to our world. The temporary relaxation of HIPAA's requirements is one of many examples of the government's efforts to address the public's health care needs during this crisis. Over the last month, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued temporary waivers and associated guidance regarding HIPAA and telehealth services rendered during the public health emergency. The most recent guidance was released on Friday, March 20, 2020 (the Enforcement FAQs and OCR Press Release), and it confirms the loosening of the HIPAA requirements first described in the Notification of Enforcement Discretion issued on March 17, 2020 (the Notification). These temporary measures are intended to encourage the use of telehealth services and enable social distancing.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: What Lenders Should Do Now
    With cash flow, liquidity, and credit tightening drastically across industries, and in the face of historically low interest rates, lenders will face several new and unique challenges over the coming months as the full effects of the coronavirus pandemic are felt throughout the economy. Baker Donelson's Commercial Restructuring and Bankruptcy Group is monitoring and responding to the challenges of this changing environment for the benefit of our clients.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Executive Order Relaxes Regulatory Requirements on Health Care Facilities, Physicians, and Pharmacists in Georgia
    On March 20, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an Executive Order "Reducing Regulations to Assist the State's Response to the Spread of COVID-19" (the Order). The purpose of the Order is to reduce "certain restrictions on the State's health care system." In the Order, the Governor exercised his power under the "Emergency powers of Governor" statute (O.C.G.A. § 38-3-51(d)(1)) to suspend any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business, or the orders, rules, and regulations of any state agency, if strict compliance would interfere with necessary action in addressing the Public Health Emergency presented by COVID-19. This Order directs three important Georgia health care agencies in the state (the Georgia Composite Medical Board, the Georgia Board of Pharmacy, and the Georgia Department of Community Health) to relax and/or eliminate a variety of requirements related to the provision of health care during the emergency.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Identifying Essential Workers under Louisiana's Stay-at-Home Order
    On March 22, 2020, Governor John Bel Edwards issued a "Stay at Home" order that will take effect at 5:00 PM on Monday, March 23, 2020. The Order directs residents to shelter at home and intends to limit unnecessary movement to non-essential services. Essential workers are permitted to continue to work, and are identified in this article.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Important OMB Guidance About Government Contract Performance Issues During COVID-19 Crisis
    On March 20, 2020, the Deputy Director for Management at the U.S. Office of Management Budget (OMB) issued important guidance to federal government agencies about how they should handle various contract performance issues resulting from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: CISA Issues Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19 Response
    As state governors in California, New York, and Illinois issued "Stay at Home" Orders and limited activity to essential activities, services, and businesses, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a Guidance on March 19, 2020 intended to assist state and local officials in ensuring continuity of critical functions, while safeguarding economic and national security during the COVID-19 response. Under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, CISA is responsible for providing strategic guidance and coordination of federal effort to ensure the security and resilience of U.S. critical infrastructure.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: How Louisiana's Stay-at-Home Order May Affect the Construction Industry
    On March 22, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Edwards issued Proclamation Number 33 placing all individuals within the State of Louisiana, with limited exceptions, under a general stay-at-home order. Individuals are directed to stay home unless they are performing certain essential activities, like obtaining food, medicine, or medical care. Individuals whose job functions are deemed essential are also excepted and may continue to work. The Governor's order takes effect Monday, March 23, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. and runs through Monday, April 13, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Maryland's COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020 Establishes Protections for Employees and Businesses
    Maryland's Emergency Management Agency Act grants the Governor the authority to establish protections for the people of Maryland during a state of emergency.1 Accordingly, Governor Larry Hogan signed the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020 (COVID-19 Act) into law on March 19, 2020. The COVID-19 Act contains three key provisions that address (1) employees' access to unemployment insurance benefits, (2) the termination of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (3) alternative workweeks for employees of State-owned or operated health care facilities.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: D.C. Council Passes Emergency Legislation to Amend the D.C. Unemployment Compensation Act and D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
    On March 17, 2020, the Council of the District of Columbia (the Council) unanimously passed the COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (the Act) to expand existing protections for workers and businesses in the District that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This emergency legislation was signed into law by Mayor Muriel Bowser on March 17, 2020 and will remain in effect until June 15, 2020. The Act will require a second vote by the Council to ensure that it remains in effect for an additional 270 days.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Lenders Navigate Providing Relief to Borrowers and Acting Prudently to Manage Lending Risk
    We've heard from representatives of both federal and state banking regulators that they intend to work with banks as banks work with their customers in addressing the potential business impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The regulators are encouraging financial institutions to take prudent steps to assist customers and communities affected by the global health pandemic. For example, banks can receive credit under the Community Reinvestment Act for lending to low- and moderate- income borrowers and small businesses. In addition, lenders – banks and unregulated financial institutions – are receiving numerous requests from borrowers for payment and other relief from commercial loan obligations. It is important that lenders carefully consider the position they will take in response to these requests.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: HRSA Issues Guidance Outlining Flexibility to 340B Providers
    The Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Office of Pharmacy Affairs (OPA) has created a COVID-19 Resources page on its website providing information for 340B drug pricing program stakeholders. In particular, the guidance addresses flexibility that HRSA may afford to providers participating in the 340B program (covered entities) related to program compliance, eligibility, and registration during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Interim CDC Guidance on Preventing Spread in Retirement Communities and Independent Living Facilities
    Very late last week, the CDC issued interim guidance titled "Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in Retirement Communities and Independent Living Facilities" aimed at owners, administrators, operators, workers, volunteers, visitors, and residents of retirement communities and independent living facilities (ILFs) that are not health care facilities. This guidance was last reviewed by the CDC on March 20, 2020. Below is a summary of the CDC interim guidance as well as suggested best practices for senior housing providers as they navigate COVID-19 issues in their communities.
    Read More
     
  • COVID-19 Pandemic – Regulatory Guidance for the Ocean, Inland and Offshore Maritime Sectors
    All aspects of the maritime industry, from global ocean-going shipping to domestic inland brown water transportation and offshore energy, have been and will continue to be profoundly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, perhaps even more than other industries given that mobility and inter/trans-national movement of people and goods are their very lifeblood. Unsurprisingly, the regulatory response from the myriad federal agencies has been, and will continue to be, dynamic and evolving.
    Read More

March 22

  • Coronavirus: Oil and Gas Industry – Essential Workers under Louisiana's Stay-at-Home Order
    On March 22, 2020, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a proclamation declaring that "all individuals within the state of Louisiana are under a general stay-at-home order and are directed to stay home unless performing an essential activity." Essential oilfield workers appear exempt from the proclamation, which can be accessed here. Section 3(C) of the proclamation lists various essential worker activities, but does not expressly reference the oil and gas industry. However, the proclamation also refers to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) for an outline of other essential workers not listed.
    Read More

March 20

  • Coronavirus: FEMA Guidance on Eligible "Emergency Protective Measures" and Sheltering
    Building upon our prior alert summarizing the effects of the President's March 13 nationwide emergency declaration, we now provide an update on the type of assistance potentially available pursuant to FEMA's Public Assistance Program. States and local governmental entities and certain private non-profits can now apply for funding for "eligible emergency protective measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 emergency at the direction or guidance of public health officials." FEMA has now published a Fact Sheet providing guidance as to what emergency protective measures may be considered eligible and a separate Fact Sheet on eligible sheltering costs.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Latest Tax Provisions Implemented in Coronavirus Pandemic Resource Response as of Friday Morning, March 20, 2020
    The President and Congress are taking emergency actions to provide liquidity and other financial relief to taxpayers in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Tax relief has played, and will continue to play, a substantial role in such actions. In fact, a third stimulus bill is being developed which is anticipated to provide even more immediate relief.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Health Care Provisions in The CARES Act
    On Thursday, March 19, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), which contains provisions to provide emergency assistance for individuals, families and businesses. Senator McConnell has begun discussions with Democrat Leader Schumer and is hopeful an agreement can be reached on a final package to be considered by the U.S. Senate within the coming days. While the legislation covers a variety of issues, what follows is a summary of some of the key health care provisions along with links to the more detailed lists prepared by the committees of jurisdiction. Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to let us know. We fully expect this will not be the final action related to the current crisis.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Relief for Behavioral Health Providers in Agency Waivers, Guidance
    As federal agencies scramble to provide regulatory relief from the fall-out of the coronavirus pandemic taking hold in the United States, several waivers and bulletins provide guidance specifically applicable to substance use disorder and mental health treatment providers. Here is a round-up of the agency activity relevant to the behavioral health industry that we've seen so far.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Review Your Business Interruption Insurance Policy Now
    As our nation deals with the far-reaching consequences of the coronavirus (COVID 19), the impact will range from grocery store shortages, school closings, and many businesses closing or reducing hours or services, to casinos closing in many jurisdictions, all for the benefit and safety of their employees, customers, and the general public. As closures increase, we will see many of these impacted businesses pursuing claims on their business interruption policies, which protect businesses from interruptions in their respective operations.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: DEA Allows Delivery of Medication-Assisted Treatment Drugs to Quarantined Patients
    A waiver granted by the Drug Enforcement Administration may provide a solution for long term care providers with opioid-addicted residents who are unable to access medication-assisted treatment due to coronavirus-induced quarantine.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Florida Small Business COVID-19 Bridge Loans
    On March 17, 2020, on the heels of ordering a month-long shutdown of bars and nightclubs designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the activation of the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program. Administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the program offers emergency bridge loans to small businesses impacted by the virus. Perhaps most critically in this time of uncertainty, the program does not (at least as of March 20) contain any requirement for a personal guaranty or collateral.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Georgia Governor Declares Public Health Emergency to Combat COVID-19
    On March 13, with uncertainty as to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the United States, President Trump declared a national emergency citing the need to open access to as much as $50 billion in aid and lower legal barriers in an attempt to respond to the pandemic. The move comes as the U.S. Surgeon General and American College of Surgeons issued guidelines as a further means of insulating hospitals against an expected surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Texas Governor Issues Executive Orders to Combat COVID-19
    Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-08 related to COVID-19 on March 19, 2020 at 11:50 a.m. local time. The Executive Order includes four orders that are in accordance with the federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and President Trump and serve to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Texas. The executive orders are effective as of March 20, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. and remain in effect until April 3, 2020.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Impact on Water Treatment
    The rapid and intense escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted business operations on a global scale. We have been repeatedly advised by the CDC, World Health Organization and others to practice "social distancing" and to work remotely where possible. Over the past 48 hours, several counties have gone beyond mere advisories and issued "shelter in place" edicts via Public Health Orders. These Orders limit activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs. The term "shelter in place" means to stay in your home and not leave unless necessary for an expressly defined "essential activity" or to work for an "essential business."
    Read More
     
  • WEBINAR – Coronavirus in Long Term Care: Incorporating CMS Guidance into Response Strategies
    With new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) identified daily and seniors being at high risk of infection and adverse outcomes, long term care providers play an important role in responding to the pandemic and remain a highly regulated part of the health care delivery system.
    Watch

March 19

  • Coronavirus Legislative Recap
    As we have noted in prior Alerts, Congress has passed several pieces of legislation designed to provide important relief around various aspects of the coronavirus health crisis in the past two weeks. See below for a brief recap of these bills.
    Read More
     
  • HHS Authorized to Direct Production and Distribution of National Health Supply Chain
    After invoking the Defense Production Act for the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump issued an "Executive Order on Prioritizing and Allocating Health and Medical Resources to Respond to the Spread of Covid-19" on March 18, 2020. The Executive Order includes the finding that personal protective equipment and ventilators meet criteria to be considered "scarce and critical material essential to the national defense" under the DPA, which has previously been applied to emergencies and critical infrastructure matters.
    Read More
     
  • S.A.L.T. Select Developments – Tax Payment and Return Filing Responsibilities
    Federal Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has recently announced a 90-day deferral for individuals and many businesses in making certain tax payments to the IRS. However, it appears that the IRS will not be changing return due dates, although extensions are still available. This update reviews similar reactions thus far by several states regarding short-term tax payment and return filing responsibilities implemented because of this pandemic virus.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: What Public Companies Should Consider Doing Now
    Public companies are grappling with a myriad of current and potential future issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic relating to their financial reporting requirements, disclosure obligations and holding their annual meetings of stockholders, among other challenges. In light of these issues, public companies should consider the following.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: What Government Contractors Should Do Now to Address Possible Delays or Suspensions of Work
    The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has caused business disruption across the globe and government contractors are not immune. The U.S. Government and the medical community's fight to contain COVID-19 requires a broad-based commitment to social distancing and self-quarantines, which directly impacts contract completion times and employee productivity. Contractors should now review the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clauses included in their contracts related to delays, suspensions, and changes to ensure that they know their rights and how to protect their rights by providing the required written notice and adequate documentation.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: How Louisiana Businesses Can Apply For SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
    On March 17, 2020, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards officially requested the Small Business Administration to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans to all Louisiana parishes. Effective immediately, Louisiana businesses may now apply for these loans.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: FDA Offers Guidance for Food Industry Stakeholders
    On March 18, 2020, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) held a call to answer questions from food industry stakeholders related to the impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), with an emphasis on food safety and food supply.
    Read More
     
  • S.A.L.T. Select Developments – Tax Payment and Return Filing Responsibilities
    Federal Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has recently announced a 90-day deferral for individuals and many businesses in making certain tax payments to the IRS. However, it appears that the IRS will not be changing return due dates, although extensions are still available. This special edition reviews similar reactions thus far by several states regarding short-term tax payment and return filing responsibilities implemented because of this pandemic virus.
    Read More
     
  • Watch – COVID-19: The Employment View
    COVID-19 is on everyone's mind – employers should implement the common sense steps recommended by the CDC and medical experts, while staying vigilant of the need to regularly evaluate their workplaces to protect employees and their business interests. Many employers have questions about leave, remote work, wage and hour issues, unemployment eligibility, and recent federal and state law COVID-19 developments.
    Watch

March 18

  • President Signs the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into Law
    On March 14, 2020, the House passed HR 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Act, among other things, would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide paid emergency leave to eligible employees and would require covered employers to provide paid sick leave to employees in need of such leave due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Act also provides reimbursable tax credits to covered employers for the costs associated with providing this paid leave and sick time.
    Read More
     
  • Defense Production Act is Invoked by President Trump
    On March 18, 2020, President Donald Trump announced his invocation of the Defense Production Act (DPA), which authorizes the President to direct industries to produce critical equipment. The Trump Administration has not yet provided details as of the time of this alert on how the DPA will be applied specifically within the context of COVID-19, but it was invoked presumably to address shortfalls in health care supplies in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Privacy and Cybersecurity Considerations for Financial Institutions
    Financial institutions are continuing to address the immense business impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Counsel (FFIEC) has issued its updated guidance on pandemic planning and regulators have encouraged financial institutions to work with customers affected by COVID-19. However, special attention must be paid to privacy and cybersecurity implications as financial institutions refine business continuity plans. The following is a brief overview of some of the key privacy and cybersecurity issues financial institutions should be considering in managing the increased risk created by COVID-19.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Expanded Coverage of Medicare Telehealth Services During Pandemic
    The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was enacted on March 6, 2020, allows the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive certain restrictions on Medicare coverage for telehealth services. On March 17, 2020, the Secretary issued waivers that will apply retroactively from March 6, 2020 until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The new expanded coverage allows beneficiaries to receive telehealth services without having to travel to a health care facility.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Construction Industry Impacts
    In early March, COVID-19 seemed like a distant threat, but we are now all too well aware of its rapid intercontinental spread. In the less than three months since the first case out of Wuhan, China was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019, COVID-19 has spread to every continent, except Antarctica, and has been declared a pandemic and national, state, and local emergency. To date, more than 205,000 cases have been reported worldwide, with approximately 6,500 of those in the United States. Concerns about COVID-19 have impacted multiple facets of our day-to-day lives, from business and school closings and restrictions on travel and public gatherings, to stock market volatility.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Temporary Child Care Solutions Could be Subject to Extensive State Regulations
    The ultimate impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) cannot be predicted at this time; however, the disruption of commerce and family life has commenced in the United States. The sudden lack of reliable child care providers such as grandparents and daycare facilities has thrown carefully orchestrated family plans out the window. While the federal government has taken financial action such as making low-interest loans available to small businesses affected by the pandemic, it has yet to provide a solution for child care as schools and daycare facilities close their doors across the nation. There is no national mandate or consensus on daycare facility closures. For example, in Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp has suggested daycare facilities close if they feel it is prudent, but has not mandated closure. News reports have noted that in Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine plans to eventually close all daycare facilities in the state. Kentucky's governor, Andrew Beshear, has alerted residents that all daycare centers in the state must close on Friday, March 20.
    Read More
     
  • Insights from First Securities Fraud Class Action Suit Against a Drug Manufacturer Developing a COVID-19 Vaccine
    The claims made in McDermid, et al. v. Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., et al., No. 2:20-cv-01402-GJP (E.D. Pa., filed March 12, 2020), a securities fraud class action, illustrate why publicly traded companies, and particularly drug manufacturers, must exercise great care when publicizing their activities, as their statements may be used against them by investors seeking damages who contend they were misled into buying stock. McDermid, who invested in Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Inovio), now seeks to represent a class of investors who bought or acquired Inovio common stock (NASDAQ: INO) between February 14, 2020, and March 9, 2020, at purportedly artificially inflated prices that resulted from public statements made on behalf of Inovio. He names Inovio and its CEO as defendants, claiming they are liable for having made false and misleading statements in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and SEC Rule 10b-5. While McDermid is making his claims through private litigation, claims of this nature often spawn investigations by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and can lead to parallel administrative, civil, and even criminal proceedings, along with significant fines, penalties, and restitution orders
    Read More
     
  • WEBINAR – Coronavirus in Long Term Care: Overview of FAQ for Employers
    Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread across the country and may be in our communities for months to come. Long term care, post-acute care, and senior living (collectively, LTC) facilities care for the most vulnerable among us, and must therefore be prepared to protect their residents, patients, and employees from this threat.
    Watch
     
  • Online Security Tips for Working from Home
    Read the Federal Trade Commission's blog posting on this important topic, that businesses should be on top of, for all those working remotely.

March 17

  • Coronavirus: Nationwide Emergency Declaration – Access to Disaster Relief Fund
    On Friday, March 13, 2020, President Donald J. Trump declared a nationwide emergency under the Stafford Act. This unprecedented action allows Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide funding to state and local governments and eligible non-profit entities in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). These entities, including non-profit hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes (among others), may receive Disaster Relief Funds appropriated by Congress to reimburse the cost of emergency measures to protect the public health and safety. Congress will enact, and the President will direct, additional measures within the next week. This article provides a summary of what we know to date as to what the emergency declaration means for eligible entities.
    Read More
     
  • Supplemental Coronavirus Legislation H.R. 6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act
    On March 14, 2020, the House passed H.R. 6201, known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. An issue arose regarding a needed "technical amendment" that required further action by the House. That work was completed last night, and the bill was finally sent to the Senate. Today the Senate Majority Leader announced the Senate would stay in session to consider the House passed Second Stimulus. It is expected the Senate will pass the House bill as is and initiate work on a far broader and more comprehensive stimulus.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Small Business Administration to Make Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available in Response to Pandemic
    Although the ultimate impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) cannot be predicted, the pandemic has and will continue to affect commerce in the United States as well as abroad. Disruptions to the supply chain for imported goods, diminished customer demand and increased costs for operation are all affecting businesses in the United States. Among the hardest hit will be small businesses which have the least cushion for absorbing the economic consequences of the pandemic.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: HHS Announces Limited Waivers of HIPAA Penalties and Sanctions
    On March 16 and 17, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced limited waivers of penalties and sanctions with respect to certain HIPAA requirements due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The waivers provide some relief to hospitals with respect to certain aspects of the Privacy Rule and to all health care providers seeking to provide telehealth services.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Impact on Moving People and Immigration
    As governments around the world react with increasing vigor to flatten coronavirus curves, employers must urgently re-evaluate travel plans and immigration maintenance. While the absolute number of infections and deaths worldwide so far appears less than those imposed by other influenzas, government policymakers are anticipating the prospect of quickly spiraling real numbers of very sick people overwhelming medical capabilities with drastic scenarios they desperately want to avoid. This is leading governments to impose limitations on travel and services, especially internationally, that are unprecedented in modern times.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Implications for Business Interruption Insurance Coverage
    Bars and restaurants are closing. Airline travel is discouraged. Supply chains are interrupted. Hotels and motels are empty. Because of its impact on every segment of the economy, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic undoubtedly will spawn coverage disputes and litigation over the availability of insurance coverage for resulting economic loss. With regard to business interruption coverage, two issues likely will be front and center.
    Read More
     
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) through their Cybersecurity Insights blog posted about "Preventing Eavesdropping and Protecting Privacy on Virtual Meetings". They provide us a great reminder, during this time of increased remote work, to become more security-conscious in our online interactions. https://www.nist.gov/blogs/cybersecurity-insights/preventing-eavesdropping-and-protecting-privacy-virtual-meetings

March 16

  • Coronavirus: Regulators Encourage Banks to "Work with Customers"
    Both the FDIC and the OCC issued letters on Friday responding to bankers' requests to acknowledge that the regulators will provide some leniency to banks as they work with their customers in addressing the potential business impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus). More specifically, the regulators are encouraging financial institutions to take prudent steps to assist customers and communities affected. They recognize that efforts to work with customers and communities affected by the coronavirus can be consistent with safe and sound banking practices and in the public interest.
    Read More
     
  • Coronavirus: Impact on Office, Retail and Industrial Leases
    The intensity with which the COVID-19 outbreak and the response to it has escalated continues to impact both landlords and tenants under commercial leases. It is safe to say that landlords and tenants will be viewing certain routine boilerplate language in leases differently in the future. Right now though, the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on businesses and business operations is raising uncertainty under commercial leases about issues best addressed with proactive assessment from tenants and landlords regarding their lease obligations, with a particular eye toward the following lease provisions.
    Read More
     
  • House Passes Coronavirus Bill with Immediate Impact on Employers Upon Enactment
    On March 14, 2020, the House passed H.R. 6201 known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act). While there are reported talks about potential "technical corrections" to the Act that may warrant a second vote by the House, it is anticipated that any such changes will be addressed and that the Act will be considered by the Senate and possibly signed into law soon. The current version of the legislation provides paid leave, establishes free testing for the coronavirus, protects public health workers, and provides benefits to children and families. Employers should watch the Act closely because the provisions contained therein, including three key provisions relating to the workplace, would take effect immediately upon enactment. This alert will provide a brief overview of the current version of these key provisions.
    Read More

March 15

  • The UK Government has updated its foreign travel advice with respect to travel to the United States by UK citizens. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to the United States due to the travel restrictions imposed by the United States that will go into effect at midnight on March 17 in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). A link to the full advisory and other information to assist UK citizens traveling to the United States, including services that are offered, may be found here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa

March 14

  • Health Care Providers: President's Emergency Declaration Paves Way for Additional Regulatory Flexibility
    With the emergency declaration under the National Emergencies Act related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 13, 2020, President Trump paved the way for CMS to temporarily waive certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements. The President's declaration is intended to provide much needed regulatory relief to our nation's hospitals and other care providers who treat government program beneficiaries. These actions are authorized under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act, which allows the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet the needs of government program beneficiaries (Section 1135 Waivers).
    Read More

March 13

  • CMS and CDC Guidance for Addressing Coronavirus Risk in Long Term Care: Practical Considerations for Implementation
    As new confirmed COVID-19 cases emerge daily in the United States and countries around the world, the various federal agencies tasked with overseeing health care have issued a steady stream of guidance that aims to assist health care providers in managing risks related to the outbreak. Increasingly, the available evidence shows that the elderly are among those most likely to be affected by severe forms of the disease. Thus, providers that serve this vulnerable population – including, most particularly, nursing facilities, but also including assisted living facilities and home-based providers – are well-advised to ensure that they are taking all necessary and appropriate steps to protect their residents and patients.
    Read More
  • The Coronavirus Challenge: What Hospitality Businesses Should Consider Doing Now
    As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, the landscape is constantly changing. New information is coming to light faster than it can be internalized and the economy, at the moment, is in constant flux. To date, the hospitality industry has borne the brunt of this upheaval. In these trying circumstances, it is important for hotels, restaurants, transportation servicers and travel companies to focus on implementing sensible policies to limit not only the spread of the virus, but also mitigate the risk of any potential legal liability.
    Read More
  • Coronavirus: What Multi-Family Housing Complexes Need to Do Now
    If you own or operate a multi-family housing complex, addressing the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus is crucial. Baker Donelson is staying up-to-date on the latest advice for the sector from the CDC and national housing groups and we have highlighted the following actions for our multi-family clients. Avoid "failure to prepare" liability by acting now!
    Read More
  • Coronavirus: Small Business Administration to Make Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available in Response to Pandemic
    Although the ultimate impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) cannot be predicted, the pandemic has and will continue to affect commerce in the United States as well as abroad. Disruptions to the supply chain for imported goods, diminished customer demand and increased costs for operation are all affecting businesses in the United States. Among the hardest hit will be small businesses which have the least cushion for absorbing the economic consequences of the pandemic.
    Read More

March 11

  • Coronavirus: Implications of an Emergency Declaration
    As the situation continues to unfold, the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States is prompting increased federal and state action. There is much confusion regarding the implications of an emergency declaration and the significance of individual state emergency declarations. This article provides a summary of the current landscape and general recommendations that affected entities should consider in the event they may be eligible for federal or state reimbursement funding for costs incurred related to this outbreak.
    Read More
  • Coronavirus: Key Aspects of $8.3 Billion Spending Package
    The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act was signed by the President on March 6 and provides $8.3 billion in multi-year funds to combat the growing public health threat. The Act funds a comprehensive response to COVID-19, which includes funding for federal, international, and local preparedness and response capabilities.
    Read More
  • Coronavirus: New Guidance for Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans
    On Monday, March 9, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) released information on permissible flexibilities and obligations that are in effect during a disaster and emergency resulting from COVID-19.
    Read More

March 10

  • Coronavirus: What K-12 Schools Should Do Now
    The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States is prompting leaders to shut down schools from Washington State to New York City after parents or students tested positive for the virus. Many schools in all parts of the country are watching information on the spread of the coronavirus closely to determine how to navigate this evolving situation. This article provides action items for schools to think through and implement now.
    Read More

March 9

  • Coronavirus and Financial Institutions Preparedness: What Banks Should Do Now
    All financial institutions should regularly review and update their business continuity plans (BCPs), but with the increased possibility of business disruption caused by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), financial institutions should ensure adequate pandemic planning is in place as a supplement to a BCP.
    Read More

March 5

  • WEBINAR: Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Your Business Should Do Right Now
    Join Baker Donelson for a complimentary webinar on March 11 to learn about how you can safeguard your business from the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
    Register Here

March 3

  • Don't Forget About Cyber Hygiene During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak
    As organizations prepare for certain contingency work arrangements in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, companies must also focus attention on ensuring appropriate cyber hygiene. Companies are anticipating more individuals working remotely from the safety of their own homes to avoid contracting the virus and other companies are planning for potential quarantines and school closings. The flexibility of working remotely, however, involves real cybersecurity risks that companies should be aware of and work to mitigate in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. With increased remote work, there is increased risk of employees accessing data through unsecured and unsafe Wi-Fi networks, using personal devices to perform work, and not following general security protocols established by the company. As individuals are approved or otherwise authorized to work remotely, there must be a multi-departmental focus on maintaining proper controls. Management should be coordinating with the Human Resources (HR) and Information Technology (IT) departments to establish security controls and ensure employees are properly trained on those controls in the remote work context.
    Read More

February 28

  • Legal Implications of the Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Business in Italy, including labor and employment, privacy, commercial contracts, and other business transactions
    provided by Rodl & Partner Italy.
    Read More. For updated information click here: https://www.roedl.com/insights/.

February 25

  • UPDATE – New CDC Travel Restrictions for South Korea, Italy and Japan
    Recently, the CDC raised its travel advisory for travel to South Korea to Level 3, its highest level, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea. The CDC also raised its travel advisory for travel to Italy and to Japan to a Level 2. Under a Level 2 advisory, the CDC has confirmed that both Italy and Japan are experiencing sustained community spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the CDC recommends that high risk travelers (i.e., elderly, immunocompromised, or pregnant) should consider postponing nonessential travel. Others should take special precautions when traveling to these countries, including avoiding contact with sick people and exercising good hygiene practices (washing hands frequently and avoiding touching your face/eyes with your hands). The CDC also has noted that other countries in Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, also are experiencing "apparent community spread" of the virus. However, because the virus spread is not sustained or widespread enough, the CDC has not issued a travel notice yet.

February 24

  • UPDATED Factory Reopening Schedule
    The Hubei provincial government announced late last week that the date for businesses to reopen throughout the province has been pushed back until March 11 (originally February 21). While most provinces have allowed businesses to reopen, some are still struggling to return to 100% capacity due to difficulties in obtaining raw materials and components due to issues with their upstream suppliers returning to full capacity and some employees from Hubei are unable to return to work due to continuing travel restrictions. The closer the factory to Hubei, the more likely it is experiencing extended downtime and delays in returning to full capacity. We recommend that you communicate with your suppliers to determine capacity and ability to comply with contractual obligations, including quantity and time for delivery. Be prepared to compromise in the short term in order to receive some, if not all, of your orders in a reasonably timely manner. The virus outbreak has pushed many Chinese companies, already suffering from the US/China trade war, to the breaking point. Therefore, take the time to verify that your supplier can perform before sending payment/deposits.

February 20

  • Handling Packages and Raw Materials from China
    A recent article published by a major news outlet suggests that the COVID-19 virus may live on certain untreated surfaces for many days. This has prompted questions regarding the safety of handling products and raw materials arriving from China now that factories and companies are returning to work.

    An expert health care professional with whom we have consulted on the medical aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak indicated that the article we cited references data for SARS and MERS – not the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19.  She also instructed us to be very cautious in how we apply data from these other viruses to this current situation, as these are unique pathogens with their own characteristics. In addition, she indicated that an article identified within the news story specifically provides that "data on the transmissibility of coronaviruses from contaminated surfaces to hands were not found".  The health care professional also indicated that to her knowledge, there is currently no evidence that spread of the virus from surfaces/objects to humans is a driver of the ongoing epidemic in China.   
     
    The Center for Disease Control FAQ page also includes helpful information:

    Q: Am I at risk for COVID-19 from a package or products shipping from China?

    A: There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. Two other coronaviruses have emerged previously to cause severe illness in people (MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV). The virus that causes COVID-19 is more genetically related to SARS-CoV than MERS-CoV, but both are betacoronaviruses with their origins in bats. While we don’t know for sure that this virus will behave the same way as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, we can use the information gained from both of these earlier coronaviruses to guide us. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods. Information will be provided on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website as it becomes available.

    If you have medical questions related to COVID-19, the CDC FAQ page is an excellent resource for current health related information regarding the COVID-19 virus and should help dispel many of the myths that tend to be propagated during times of outbreak.

    With that in mind, we reiterate the importance of continuing to educate your employees by providing them with correct, updated information regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. If any of your employees continue to express concerns regarding handling products or raw materials arriving from China, consider offering them gloves and encouraging them to wash their hands after handling products and before touching their eyes and noses. If the employees expressing concerns are immunocompromised or pregnant, you could try to find other work for them to do on a temporary basis, or allow them to take an unpaid leave of absence until this situation resolves. There is no legal requirement for doing so at this juncture (and you would never want to force an employee in this situation to take leave), but this may be a better for your business than having an employee in this situation disrupting operations or unduly stressed by the fear of contracting the illness, unfounded as that fear may be.

February 19

  • An online tracker developed by Johns Hopkins University delivers information and tracks cases of COVID-19 in real-time. The tracker pulls data from a variety of sources, including the WHO, CDC and China’s National Health Commission

February 17

  • Verify that China Business has Reopened and is Operating at Full Capacity
    Most provinces in China have allowed companies to reopen since the Lunar New Year holiday. The city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province will permit businesses to reopen beginning February 17, 2020. Beijing, Hainan, and Sichuan Province are permitting companies to have flexibility concerning when to reopen. The port city of Tianjin has not announced a date when companies will be permitted to reopen. Hubei Province has announced that businesses will be able to reopen on February 21, 2020. However, we believe this date is fluid and should be confirmed closer to February 21. It also is important to note that there are still a number of regional travel restrictions in place that will prevent some number of employees from returning to work. In addition, companies may be required to satisfy certain requirements/obtain approvals from provincial and/or local governments and landlords before they are allowed to reopen. Also, many companies have run short of raw materials/components as a result of the extended holiday. Due to the sheer number of companies trying to reopen, missing employees, and a lack of raw materials/components, your supplier or customer may not be able to reopen or return to full capacity for several weeks after the date announced by the government. Due to this lag in obtaining approval to reopen and the economic hardships experienced by companies as a result of the virus, we are hearing about an increase in fraud by suppliers claiming that they are open and requesting deposits for orders when, in fact, the suppliers remain closed or have shut down permanently. As we have said many times before, "trust but verify" before sending deposits to your suppliers.
     
  • Update on Ocean Cargo Delivery from China
    While cargo is beginning to move again from China, delivery times are being impacted. Due to a major decrease in demand for shipping (because China factories are slow to return to business), ocean carriers are removing vessels out of rotation or diverting vessels from Southern China to other ports located in Southeast Asia. Verify shipping times in advance and modify your supply agreements accordingly.

February 16

  • Application of Force Majeure and COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
    Expect claims to excuse performance by your Chinese supplier or customer under the force majeure provision of your contracts. The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade has established an application process by which a Chinese party may obtain a force majeure certificate. While persuasive, the certificate, alone, is not sufficient to excuse performance. The supplier or customer must still demonstrate that the facts of the particular case warrant application of force majeure under applicable governing law or applicable contract. If your contract is governed by Chinese law or must be adjudicated in China, overriding state interest it is unlikely that a Chinese court or arbitrator will sanction a Chinese supplier or customer that is unable to perform in accordance with the terms of any contract. Even if your contract is governed by non-Chinese law or may be adjudicated outside of China, it also is unlikely that any judgment against a Chinese supplier or customer will be enforced in China under the current circumstances. In the short term, you should consider reaching some sort of settlement of the dispute and/or find alternative sources of supply outside of China.
     
  • Cybersecurity Attacks using COVID-19 to steal data are on the increase
    Attackers are exploiting the COVID-19 outbreak by sending malicious e-mails aimed at various groups, including businesses located in geographic areas impacted by the virus and industries that may be impacted by shipping disruptions. Based on recent reports, the attack includes a malicious Microsoft Word document that exploits an old vulnerability and installs AZORult, an information stealing malware. Security experts are advising that recipients of COVID-19 related e-mails treat such e-mails with extreme caution before opening the e-mails or attachments.
     
  • Current Travel Restrictions Between China and U.S.
    Effective February 5, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order suspending entry into the US of all foreign nationals who have visited China at any time during the 14 days prior to arrival in the US, except immediate family members of US citizens. In addition, all US citizens entering the US after visiting Hubei Province in China at any time during the 14 days prior to their arrival in the US are subject to a mandatory quarantine of up to two weeks.
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