We continue our efforts to keep you informed of key legal developments relating to COVID-19. Today, we provide a few updates at the federal and local levels. For our previous updates, please see HERE.
SBA Paycheck Protection Program
Since many banks opened their online portals last Friday, the U.S. banking system has experienced a surge in loan applications for the nearly $350 billion SBA Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”).
Yesterday, Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin acknowledged the overwhelming demand and announced that the Administration would be requesting an additional $250 billion for the PPP from Congress. As of this writing, we have reports that such additional PPP funding may be through stand-alone legislation that would be voted on as early as Friday, rather than included in a larger “Phase IV” relief package. The situation remains fluid, and we continue to monitor these developments.
At the same time, official guidance on the PPP rollout evolves by the hour. We encourage you to visit the regularly updated FAQs on the website for the U.S. Department of the Treasury (the “Treasury”) HERE. In particular, we await further guidance from the SBA and/or Treasury for self-employed individuals and independent contractors who may begin submitting PPP applications this Friday, April 10th.
On April 4th, the FAA issued additional guidance for airport sponsors related to restrictions and accommodations during the COVID-19 public health emergency (see HERE). The FAA also issued FAQs regarding the $10 billion in grants for airports under the CARES Act (see HERE).
On Monday, a wrongful death lawsuit was brought in the Circuit Court of Cook County against Walmart, Inc. and J2M — Evergreen, LLC. The action centers on the recent deaths of two Walmart employees, Philip Thomas and Wando Evans, at Walmart’s Evergreen Park store.
The complaint (see HERE), filed by Evans’ family, alleges that Walmart’s actions and/or inactions – including its failure to adhere to the COVID-19 safety recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) – led to the untimely deaths of Evans and Thomas. The plaintiffs accuse Walmart of willful and wanton misconduct, reckless disregard and gross negligence. As alleged in the complaint, several employees at the Walmart store, including Evans, had exhibited COVID-19 symptoms but were ignored by management. The attorney for Evans’ estate claims that Evans had reported feeling ill to Walmart management two weeks prior to his death, but was only sent home two days before he died. Included in the complaint’s allegations against Walmart are that Walmart failed to: (1) notify store workers that colleagues had symptoms consistent with COVID-19; (2) provide its employees personal protective equipment such as masks and latex gloves; (3) implement social distancing; (4) clean and sanitize the store; (5) address the needs of employees displaying COVID-19 symptoms; and (6) send exposed employees home until cleared by medical professionals. Evans’ estate has also requested an OSHA investigation into the deaths.
The lawsuit appears to be the first of its kind in Illinois. Its outcome will be followed closely, and may inform employers across Illinois regarding their policies and protocols for COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.
Click HERE to visit OSHA’s webpage on COVID-19.
Suburban Cook County: Community Recovery Initiative
This week, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle signed an executive order to create an emergency relief fund for businesses and 1099 workers in suburban Cook County. Cook County will provide $10 million in initial seed funding. The “Community Recovery Initiative” fund will provide one-time zero-interest loans to suburban Cook County small businesses with 25 employees or less and suburban Cook County residents who make more than half their income through 1099 contract employment. The maximum loan amount will be $20,000 for businesses and $10,000 for individuals. The fund will be administered by the Chicago Community Loan Fund and disbursed by several community-based lenders. Applications are expected to open in mid-April. Click HERE to learn more.
City of Chicago: Department of Procurement Services
The City of Chicago has asked that vendors interested in providing goods and services to assist the City in its COVID-19 response go to the following links to offer their products to the City: (i) If you have goods or services for sale: COVID-19 Response: Supplier/Manufacturer Capabilities Form; (ii) If you have goods or services that you would like to donate: COVID-19 Response Goods Donation.
We will continue to send periodic updates on topics that may be helpful to your businesses. If you have a particular issue that you’d like us to address or if you’d like to be removed from the distribution list, please let us know.
Feel free to contact us with any questions.
Gery Chico and Jon Leach