Today’s update will focus on recent developments and issues regarding COVID-19 and are as follows:
COVID-19 – Globally, there are 228,020 cases, 9,314 deaths and 85,985 recoveries. Nationally, 9,521 cases, 159 deaths and 108 recoveries. Texas, 1,907 cases, 2 deaths and 1,907 people tested. For Bexar County, 25 confirmed cases with eight being travel related, four by close-contact, 13 under investigation and no deaths. In San Antonio, total tested by Metro Health Lab – 135, 111 negatives and 24 positives. Listed below is information for the public per the City of San Antonio:
COVID-19 HOTLINE- 210.207.5779 OR EMAIL COVID-19@SANANTONIO.GOV
The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has opened a COVID-19 hotline for residents to ask questions about the virus. The hotline is available in English and Spanish. Residents can call 210.207.5779.
Hours of operation are Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 7:00 pm and Saturday & Sunday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Email questions or requests for presentations to COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org
INFORMATION FOR THE PUBLIC
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,
Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- Shortness of breath
The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus, which are similar to the precautions you take to avoid the flu. CDC always recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Mayor of San Antonio Emergency Declaration #4 & Texas Governor Executive Order: Yesterday, the Mayor announced additional restriction on all restaurants, while closing bars, lounges, nightclubs, taverns, gyms and health studios, bowling alleys, bingo parlors, and indoor commercial entertainment establishments, such as movie theaters. Beginning at midnight yesterday, March 18th, SA restaurants may only provide take out, delivery, drive-in or drive through services and must maintain a 6-ft social distance between customers at all times. Dine in service at restaurants is prohibited. For the full emergency declaration, click here –https://www.sanantonio.gov/Portals/0/Files/health/COVID19/Website%20Docs/Fourth%20Declaration%20of%20Public%20Health%20Emergency.pdf?ver=2020-03-18-180714-417 New update today, city council just voted to extend the closure from seven days to 30 days
I have received a couple of calls from manufacturers asking if this emergency declaration includes manufacturing plants. The answer is no. In a statement by a city spokesperson, it was clarified “to be clear, the measures apply to the types of businesses referenced in this declaration. If they are not mentioned, the measure does not apply. Exemptions are also listed in the order.” Per our legal representative on our governmental affairs committee, the gathering of 50 people is nothing new. If they had intended to apply it to manufacturing and construction, they would have been more explicit. The key to compliance (and public acceptance for staying open) is the social distancing component.” Businesses are to self-regulate. SAMA recommends following your COVID-19 prevention policies.
Texas Governor Executive Order: Today, the Governor had a press conference and declared a public health disaster in the State and unveiled a new executive order outlining new statewide requirements (which mirrors CDC guidance). Most importantly, Governor Abbott did not issue a statewide “shelter in place order.” It does not appear to restrict manufacturing operations, which, according to the Governor, should be limited to best practices (see below and many thanks to TAM for providing the update).
Here is a summary of the Governor’s Executive Order:
- Every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings that have more than 10 people.
- People shall avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts or visiting gyms. There will be no “dining in” at bars or restaurant dining rooms since they will be closed. Restaurants can still offer take-out and pickup options (which the Governor has encouraged).
- People shall not visit nursing homes, or retirement centers or long-term care facilities unless they’re providing critical care assistance.
- All Texas schools shall close temporarily. “This does not mean that education stops.” Superintendents will continue to work with the Texas Education Agency to continue online or additional educational options.
- The order goes into effect at midnight, Friday, March 20, and expires at midnight on April 3.
According to the Governor, “This executive order is not a ‘shelter in place’ order.” All critical infrastructure will remain open and operational. Additionally, the Governor stated that “Offices and workplaces remain open, but should only ask for essential employees to report to the place of work and, where feasible, allow and encourage employees to work from home or other remote sites. Also, employees who do go to work should also practice both good hygiene as well as best practices, in order to minimize exposure to, and transmission of, COVID-19.” For guidance on “best practices,” the CDC’s guidance for employers may be found here.
SAMA Operations – We will continue monitoring COVID-19 information and possible impacts to our industry. Additionally, we will keep our members informed on any new developments. Because we have the capability of working from home, we will have minimal office presence. I will be in the office most of the time however, some days I may work from home. This measure will allow us to take care of children, since school is out, take care of elderly parents and minimize public exposure to the virus. Having the technology with our new phone system, and ability to work remotely, our office will be up and operating. Our hours will be from 7 am to 4 pm, M-F. Phones will be answered during this time frame as well. I have also instituted a daily 10 am teleconference with my staff to review daily work projects, event planning and day-to-day office routines. This measure will coincide with the eight-week grace period to contain the coronavirus. Additionally, our executive committee and I will be in constant contact to address any SAMA and industry issues, monitor COVID-19 developments and answer any questions that may arise from our membership.
SAMA COVID-19 Preparedness and Assistance Survey – On Tuesday, March 17th, we sent out this survey to our members stating “we value your membership and appreciate the loyalty and trust you place in us every day. As we progress through a difficult time with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we want you to know that WE ARE HERE FOR YOU. The safety and health of our members, their families and our regional community is our #1 priority. We will provide the latest information on the virus and be a resource for you and your company. Specifically, should you have questions about the coronavirus or concerns on its impact to your company, please let us know. We are available to assist you and guide you through this stressful time. We are working to ensure our events are carefully reviewed for postponement or cancellation. Additionally, we are providing answers and/or connections to members who have questions on a multitude of issues stemming from the coronavirus, such as information on how to set up telecommuting for office employees, information on SBA regarding Disaster Loan Assistance, etc. Being proactive, we would like to know from you your concerns, issues and business impacts. Please click on the link below to complete a quick survey to help us better understand your needs.” I just would like to reiterate, please take the survey. Click the link below:
Bexar County & Federal Assistance to Businesses and other Federal News – Currently, there is a lot of assistance being offered and are:
- Bexar County Commissioner Court approves Liftfund loan initiative to proactively help with the Bexar County Small Business economy during the COVID-19 health crisis. $5 million in low interest loans are available for any business in need during this time. If you’d like more information about the Liftfund Loan program, please call: (210) 507-4289 or click the link below:
The SBA is providing Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus. For more details, click this link: https://www.bexar.org/DocumentCenter/View/26062/SBA-Disaster-Assistance-Resources-for-Businesses Additionally, the IRS has issued guidance on a 90-Day extension for Tax Payments. Specifically, the coronavirus has affected all areas of the country. In response to this crisis, the federal government is instituting changes to the tax payment deadline. However, the IRS did not extend the deadline to submit your tax return. Click here the link below to read the article:
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act – Yesterday, the US Senate passed the Act and it contains several provisions affecting employers, because it requires small and midsize employers to provide paid sick leave benefits and expanded FMA leave to employees affected by coronavirus. The Act takes affect on April 20, 2020 and expires on December 31, 2020. For more information, see attached pdf.
I would like to say many thanks to the following SAMA member law firms who have been helping me, and SAMA as a whole, on employment law issues and the coronavirus:
- Gardner Law Firm – Bob Kilgore, www.gardnertx.com
- Dykema – Dan Stern, and their Coronavirus Resources Center – https://www.dykema.com/services-practices-Coronavirus-COVID-19-Resource-Center.html
- Caldwell East & Finlayson PLLC Attorneys at Law – Dawn Finlayson, www.ceflegalsa.com (provided legislation info sheet)
A call to action to help local manufacturers – At the national, state and regional area, manufacturers are being asked to help in any capacity other manufacturers and/or their communities. SAMA is compiling local requests for assistance. If you can or want to assist, or need assistance, please contact me and I’ll get you touch with manufacturers. Some requests are for fabrication, tool & die assistance, plastic mold injection and medical device components. Additionally, there is a need for sanitation supplies (sanitizers, wipes, etc.). If you have extra supplies and can share, please let me know.
SAMA Events & Updates:
- May 21st Attracting, Retaining and Growing Talent Seminar with Bank of America (4 hour). Location: TBD
- April 7th luncheon is canceled. The Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times Panel Discussion will move to the June 2nd luncheon
- April 14th SAMA Trade Show Exhibitor training is postponed. New date TBD
- April 23rd SAMA Safety Seminar postponed to May 28th. Location TBD
- April 17th Annual SAMA Spring Fling rescheduled to June 12th. Same time and location
- May 6th Trade Show and Conference – in review for postponement to Sept. Details to follow shortly
SAMA is committed to help everyone get through this dilemma and encourages all to stay informed. Stay strong, follow your policies and guidelines on coronavirus prevention. Keep the faith, keep yourselves, families and employees safe and healthy.
To keep abreast of the latest developments, here are some resources for you to use:
- Center for Disease Control (CDC) What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides an interim guidance for employers. Recommendations for an Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) resources include Key OSHA standards for COVID-19
- NAM – www.nam.org/coronavirus/
- City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District – www.sanantonio.gov/Health/News/Alerts/Coronavirus
- Covid19 Updates Live – www.worldmeters.info/coronavirus
- Coronavirus symptoms – https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/11/health/coronavirus-cold-allergies-flu-difference-symptoms-wellness-trnd/index.html
- Bexar County – www.bexar.org/3234/COVID-19
- US SBA Guidance for Business and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 – https://www.sba.gov/page/guidance-businesses-employers-plan-respond-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19