Join Login COVID-19 Updates

Photo by Richard Hurd

COVID-19

Updated: 5/28/2020, 10:14 a.m.

To review Dane County’s Forward Dane business reopening strategy, click here.

The Chamber has a virtual portal for employers to submit questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business. Responses are posted at madisonbiz.com/covid19faq.

To submit or vote up questions, visit Slido.com and enter the event code #ASK4BIZ or simply click here to be directed to that page. Questions can also be submitted via email at ask@madisonbiz.com.

To view businesses’ reopening plans that have been shared through our new portal, click here.

To learn more about resources available to small businesses, click here.

To view the Chamber’s agenda for reopening the economy and accelerating our recovery, click here.

To view the first video in the Chamber’s “For You. For Us. Forward.” series, click here.

To learn more about community resources that Greater Madison businesses are offering, click here.

To sign up for regular COVID-19 updates, click here.

Jump to topics:
BUSINESS REOPENING BEST PRACTICES
CARES ACT
CITY LOOKING FOR PPE DONATIONS
COVID-19/RECOVERY UPDATE ARCHIVE
FEDERAL RESERVE ACTIONS
FEMA ASSISTANCE
FORWARD DANE REOPENING STRATEGY
GUIDANCE ON ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES
HERE TO HEAR
HELPFUL RESOURCES
HOW TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES
LUNCH(UP)DATE ARCHIVE
LUNCH(UP)DATE RE; FORWARD DANE REOPENING PLAN
NEW CITY WEBSITE AND RESOURCES
PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE
PARTNERSHIP TO INCREASE TESTING CAPACITY
PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM RESUMES
PAYING IT FORWARD TO HEALTH CARE HEROES
PUBLIC POLICY RESPONSE PLAN
SE NECESITA AYUDA (HELP WANTED)
SHARE YOUR STORY
SMALL BUSINESS PANDEMIC SUPPORT GRANT EXPANSION
STATE COVID-19 RELIEF
VIRTUAL INDUSTRY MEETING RECAP
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
WEDC PPE PORTAL
“WE’RE ALL IN” INITIATIVE

LUNCH(UP)DATE RE: FORWARD DANE REOPENING PLAN
With many businesses continuing to raise questions about the impact of the Forward Dane reopening plan, we welcomed Bonnie Koenig and Lynda Seeger from Public Health Madison & Dane County to this week’s Lunch(UP)date to share insights about requirements, recommendations and next steps.

Koenig and Seeger offered clarifications on several Forward Dane provisions, such as the fact that “approved capacity levels” and “approved capacity limits” mean the same thing and that employers are required to document receipt, acknowledgment or (not and) training on mandated policies. They also answered questions about mass gatherings, capacity for certain types of events and what qualifies as a commercial facility. Koenig said based on the current trajectory, we are still on target to enter Phase Two in two weeks, but we will know more after numbers are updated tomorrow (May 29).

Phase One of Forward Dane enables many businesses to open at 25 percent capacity, unless they were previously authorized to operate at higher levels during Safer at Home. The order also defines mass gatherings as planned events with a large number of people in attendance and requires physical distancing procedures to be implemented, among other provisions. View the Public Health requirements for reopening, along with best practices and templates, here.

Continue to follow the Chamber for insight, analysis and up-to-the-minute information throughout the Forward Dane process.

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HERE TO HEAR
With businesses facing unprecedented challenges and increasingly in need of support, the Chamber has created Here to Hear, a series designed to bring together Greater Madison business leaders to seek resiliency in the face of adversity.

These intimate, confidential, peer-based conversations will be facilitated by Darcy Luoma and are open to any business leader, owner or decision-maker looking for support from their peers to discuss the obstacles they are encountering during this time.

Sign up here for the session this Monday, June 1. Sign up here for the session on Tuesday, June 9.

If your preferred event is full, please add yourself to the waitlist and we will contact you if a space opens up at that time or at another time. Contact Director of Business Development Nikki Javurek with any questions.

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VIRTUAL INDUSTRY MEETING RECAP
Last week, the Chamber hosted the latest in our Virtual Industry Meeting (VIM) series, as hoteliers assessed current needs for their businesses and shared projections for the three phases of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak: relief, reopening and recovery.

For hotels operating during the “Safer at Home” order, some experienced occupancy rates in the single digits. All agreed that guest safety and cleanliness is paramount and have taken many steps to expand cleaning procedures and reconfigure space to adapt to physical distancing guidelines. Attendees also expressed a desire and need to drive more business by amplifying that this work is being done.

While meeting and event business is limited, there is opportunity to reach leisure travelers. Participants showed strong support for Destination Madison and their destination marketing efforts, which are critical. At the same time, there is a need to prioritize business travel aimed at 2021 and beyond to help the industry recover, which will likely take many years.

The Chamber has also convened lenders, developers, commercial property owners, manufacturers, and insurance, biotech and healthtech leaders as part of our Virtual Industry Meeting series to help inform our advocacy. Please continue to share with us any policy ideas and recommendations.

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SHARE YOUR STORY
We have long said that Greater Madison is a place that solves global challenges. Now we are actively collecting stories of businesses that have taken extraordinary steps to solve the global challenge posed by COVID-19.

If you have a story to share, please contact Director of Business Development Nikki Javurek.

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FORWARD DANE PHASE ONE IN EFFECT
Phase One of Public Health Madison & Dane County’s Forward Dane reopening plan took effect at 8 a.m. on May 26. Based on our early analysis, we began encouraging businesses early last week to prepare for a May 26 reopening by developing plans that comply with Public Health requirements.

It’s important to note the Forward Dane plan requires businesses to document staff receipt and acknowledgement of new hygiene, cleaning and protective measure policies. Best practices and templates developed by Public Health can be found here.

Dane County has made significant progress during the Safer at Home and Prepare for Safe Reopen orders. In addition to meeting all of the metrics for Phase One, we currently meet all Phase Two metrics. If these hold or improve over the next two weeks, we could move to Phase Two as early as June 9. Similarly, the absence of a major regression could move us to Phase Three as early as June 23. Business owners will need to determine at what point it makes sense for them to reopen and scale up their operations.

At every step of this process, your insights have made a difference. Please continue to share with us your questions, concerns and ideas to help inform our advocacy.

The new order includes a number of developments that were not clear from the Forward Dane plan that was released on May 18. Many of these changes would not have been possible without your feedback and the Chamber’s direct advocacy.

Mass gatherings are now defined as planned events with a large number of people in attendance. Such gatherings inside commercial facilities are limited to 50 instead of 10, like gatherings in private residences and other private properties. Examples of commercial facilities include banquet rooms and event spaces. Outdoor events that take place under tents are subject to the 50-person outdoor mass gathering limit. Meetings, trainings and conferences are all considered mass gatherings.

Continuing education and higher education institutions may now determine their own policies and practices for safe operations, though strict policies must be adopted for dormitories and other group living situations.

Businesses may operate at no more than 25 percent of their capacity levels, unless they were previously authorized to operate at higher levels during Safer at Home. Businesses are trusted to define what 25 percent means and make adjustments to schedules and workplace configurations to ensure physical distancing.

Manufacturers previously deemed non-essential under the state’s “Safer at Home” order will now be treated as equals with all manufacturers and will be allowed to open at full capacity with physical distancing procedures in place.

On top of the 25 percent indoor capacity limit, restaurants and bars may extend service outdoors as long as physical distancing can be ensured. This will allow for additional economic activity during the warm months ahead, and the City of Madison is already examining policies to give establishments greater flexibility to extend their operations outside.

Please review the order for more details on requirements for your business, and note that as of this afternoon the matrix in the Forward Dane plan (pages 9-15) does not yet reflect many of the policy updates that were made after May 18.

As you develop your reopening plans, we encourage you to share them in our new Chamber portal here so we can amplify your efforts and build public confidence.

If you have additional questions related to Forward Dane, please submit them to us via Slido.com (enter event code #ASK4BIZ or click here) or email us at ask@madisonbiz.com and we will work diligently to answer them as quickly as possible.

Continue to follow the Chamber for insight, analysis and up-to-the-minute information throughout the Forward Dane process.

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BUSINESS REOPENING BEST PRACTICES
As we reopen our economy, we are committed to helping businesses take the steps necessary to ensure the health and safety of their workers and customers. To that end, we are launching a portal to aggregate reopening best practices by industry type, socialize them with businesses and the broader community, advocate on your behalf with local government officials and bolster public confidence in this reopening phase.

Some resources you can consult for examples of reopening procedures and protocols include guidelines from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (general and industry-specific), Wisconsin Safety Council (Returning to Work) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Reopening Guidance and Business FAQ).

Share your reopening plans here.

With our economy on the cusp of reopening, your participation is important as we work to meet this unprecedented challenge. Please contact us with any questions.

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“WE’RE ALL IN” INITIATIVE
Gov. Tony Evers has announced $75 million in direct assistance for small businesses as part of “We’re All In,” a new Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) initiative designed to help small businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Funded largely through the CARES Act, these $2,500 cash grants will assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages and inventory.

Grant recipients must have 20 or fewer full-time employees, not have already received WEDC COVID-19 assistance and must commit to certain safety protocols in their workplaces to protect customers, employees and communities. More program details will be released later this month, and businesses can start applying for grant assistance in early June.

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WEDC PPE PORTAL
As part of the Wisconsin Ready plan, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is working to identify manufacturers to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other materials to businesses as they reopen. 

Businesses looking for PPE can search for masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and shields. Manufacturers of PPE can list themselves as a supplier by filling out a profile on the site.

Learn more here.

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SMALL BUSINESS PANDEMIC SUPPORT GRANT EXPANSION
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi has announced an additional $10 million in funding for the county’s Small Business Pandemic Support Grant Program, bringing total program funding to $10.8 million.

Through the program administered by Dane Buy Local, Dane County small businesses can receive assistance with retaining employees and mitigating losses experienced as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the program was announced on April 1, 297 local businesses have received awards totaling more than $890,000.

Business owners can get information and apply for a grant here. Grants as small as $1,000 will be awarded, and applications will be accepted through June 15, 2020.

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PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM UPDATE
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, has released new guidance to help businesses calculate payroll costs for determining their potential loan amount through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). You can read the document here.

The PPP is designed to incentivize small businesses to keep their workers on payroll. Don’t wait to apply – reach out to your preferred lender right away to start the conversation.

For a current list of all Wisconsin SBA lenders and their contact information, click here. Additional SBA information about the PPP can be found here.

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PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a new temporary federal program, is now available for self-employed individuals, independent contractors and others who are otherwise ineligible for regular unemployment insurance. Benefits are retroactive to Feb. 8 and payable for up to 39 weeks.

An overview of the PUA program can be found here. For more on PUA eligibility criteria, click here.

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PARTNERSHIP TO INCREASE TESTING CAPACITY
There has been a significant increase in the state’s lab testing capacity for COVID-19 through a public-private partnership announced by Gov. Tony Evers in late March. Working with the Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network, the state grew the number of labs performing COVID-19 tests from eight to 36 in the first month.

The partnership includes lab support, test processing and equipment sharing from organizations including EpicExact SciencesPromega and UW Health, who all work with the Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network to share knowledge, resources and technology to bolster Wisconsin’s testing capacity.

For more information on the statewide COVID-19 response, click here or here.

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STATE COVID-19 RELIEF
On April 15, 2020, Gov. Tony Evers signed into law AB 1038, a bill that was negotiated by Democratic and Republican legislators for weeks. The primary goals of the bill were to enable the state to receive more federal funding, remove penalties for the late payment of taxes and fees and remove regulatory barriers to the delivery of health care during the public health emergency.

Some notable items include:

–A temporary waiver of the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment benefits, retroactive to March 12. This was a requirement for states to be eligible for expanded Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.

–UI benefit claims that are due to the public health emergency will not be counted against the employer.

–Expansion of the Work-Share program to include companies as small as two employees and other tweaks that improve the flexibility of the program.

–Allow the Secretary of Revenue to waive interest and penalties on a case-by-case basis for anyone that fails to pay income, sales or gas taxes on time due to the public health emergency.

–All April tax return and estimated tax deadlines are deferred until July 15.

–Taxing jurisdictions are allowed to waive interest and penalties on late property tax payments that are due between April 2 and Oct. 1, as long as the full payment is made by Oct. 1. The county and taxing jurisdiction must first adopt resolutions authorizing the waiver and setting the terms for establishing hardship.

–Requires WEDC to issue a plan by June 30 for providing support to the hardest-hit industries. Those industries include tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, forest products, construction, retail and services.

Many of the fiscal provisions of the Governor’s legislative packages (LRB 5920LRB 6105) will be funded by the $1.9 billion the CARES Act authorized to the state’s general fund. These funds will arrive no later than April 24 and may be allocated at the Governor’s discretion without legislative approval.

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PAYING IT FORWARD TO HEALTH CARE HEROES
A coalition of community partners – led by UW HealthUnityPoint Health – MeriterThomas Bradley InsuranceFood FightFearing’s Audio Video Security and Madison Originals – has started Paying it Forward to Health Care Heroes, a new initiative designed to assist restaurants and health care workers impacted by the outbreak.

The initiative enables you to:

–Make a donation to your favorite restaurant and identify that you want your contribution to go toward Health Care Heroes.

–The restaurant will turn your donation into $15 gift certificates, the approximate price of a meal.

–These gift cards will be delivered to UW Health and UnityPoint Health – Meriter, who will then distribute the gift cards to Health Care Heroes as their shift ends.

Donate here.

You can read more coverage about the initiative from the Wisconsin State Journal and In Business magazine.

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CITY LOOKING FOR PPE DONATIONS
In March, at the request of Dane County Emergency Management and Public Health Madison & Dane County, the Chamber reached out to Greater Madison bio companies to request an inventory of donatable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). That includes masks, face shields, paper gowns and cloth gowns that can be used by healthcare providers and first responders.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has made an appeal to local businesses and residents to help provide cloth face coverings for essential City of Madison staff, including workers in StreetsParks and the Water Utility. That includes asking businesses to manufacture cloth face coverings and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), if they have the capacity to do so.

Read here for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on how to wear, remove and make your own cloth face covering, as well as proper cleaning and sterilization procedures.

Donations of cloth face coverings will be accepted at Fire Station #2 (421 Grand Canyon Drive) and #8 (3945 Lien Road). Contact the city’s Office of Business Resources to learn more.

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FEDERAL RESERVE ACTIONS
The Chamber recently convened nearly 20 banking and finance leaders for the first in a series of Virtual Industry Meetings, with liquidity challenges a top concern expressed by some participants. Now the Federal Reserve has taken several actions to provide additional liquidity in the form of up to $2.3 trillion in loans.

The Federal Reserve is looking to bolster the effectiveness of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by supplying liquidity to participating financial institutions through term financing backed by PPP loans to small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF) will extend credit to eligible financial institutions that originate PPP loans by taking the loans as collateral at face value. While this is not a new lending program for small businesses, it should give lending institutions the flexibility to extend more loans to businesses.

For a term sheet about the PPPLF, click here. An FAQ can be found here.

The Federal Reserve is also establishing a Main Street New Loan Facility (MSNLF) and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility (MSELF) to facilitate lending to small and medium-sized businesses by eligible lenders. The U.S. Treasury Department will provide an equity investment of $75 billion to the combined facilities to augment the Federal Reserve’s purchase of up to $600 billion of loans.

The Main Street Lending Program will allow eligible lenders to offer four-year loans to businesses with up to 10,000 employees or revenues of less than $2.5 billion in 2019. All principal and interest payments will be deferred for one year.

Firms seeking the Main Street loans must commit to maintain payroll, retain workers and abide by certain restrictions outlined in the CARES Act. Firms that have taken PPP loans are still eligible for Main Street loans.

A term sheet for the MSNLF is here. A term sheet for the MSELF is here.

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NEW CITY WEBSITE AND RESOURCES
The City of Madison has redesigned its website to focus on information about city services impacted by COVID-19, including prominently featuring office openings and closings, direct links to health and community resources, and the latest news and information from city agencies.

In addition, residents are now able to sign up for text and email alerts to stay informed on timely developments related to the COVID-19 response. You can also sign up for the city’s new weekly e-newsletter to receive a compilation of the week’s news and resources, including links to press conferences. Those who subscribe to email alerts will also receive the weekly e-newsletter.

The City’s website, newsletter, email alerts and text alerts are also available in Spanish.

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GUIDANCE ON ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES
Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) has developed a document listing businesses and other places in Dane County they have deemed opened or closed, in accordance with Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order.

PHMDC and local law enforcement are following up on complaint reports of non-essential businesses still operating. If the business continues to believe they are essential following initial outreach, city and county attorneys will work with them directly. PHMDC may allow a business to remain open while awaiting legal guidance, although some may choose to close while waiting for a legal answer.

Under the order, businesses determined to be non-essential may still carry out the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits and other related functions, as well as minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees being able to work remotely from their residences.

For additional information from PHMDC, check out their Best Practices for Businesses document and Preparing your Business for Coronavirus factsheet. For an FAQ about the Governor’s order, click here.

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PUBLIC POLICY RESPONSE PLAN
The Chamber is continuing to advise all levels of government on the development of a public policy response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We’re looking for immediate needs that will help employers and workers. Ideas have ranged from helping the newly unemployed with emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits; specific ways to help shuttered businesses; ways to help businesses with HR issues or health and safety concerns; or any additional challenges you are facing from COVID-19.

Ideas can be related to issues including funding, taxes, licensure, temporary loosening of some agency rules and more. Proposals will be shared with policymakers on an ongoing basis.

Fill out the form here.

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SE NECESITA AYUDA (HELP WANTED)
With regular updates and resources being provided for businesses relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, we want to ensure these communications are accessible to all.

If you have experience in language translation around business and government and would be able to assist with this need, please contact Director of Business Development Nikki Javurek.

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CARES ACT
On March 27, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. For questions about the CARES Act and what it means for you and your business, visit Slido.com and enter the event code #ASKBIZ (or simply click here to go directly to the page). You can also email questions to ask@madisonbiz.com.

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VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
United Way of Dane County has set up a webpage devoted to providing information about opportunities to volunteer safely during this time of need. Opportunities include food deliveries, child care, serving meals, transporting needed supplies and much more.

Check out a list of volunteer options here.

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FEMA ASSISTANCE
To help match businesses’ many offers of assistance to the right place, at the right time and in the right quantity, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sharing information about the best ways to connect. That can include selling medical supplies or equipment to the federal government (submit a price quote here and see full details in the solicitation here), donating medical supplies or equipment and submitting an inquiry about supporting the response with non-medical goods and/or services.

In addition, licensed healthcare professionals who want to volunteer can get information and register here. Hospitals and healthcare providers in need of medical supplies should contact their state, local, tribal or territory department of public health and/or emergency management agency.

Additional ways to help can be found here.

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HOW TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES
It is important that we continue to support local businesses to strengthen our economy and be there for our friends and neighbors. Here are just a few ways you can do so:

Tip well. Tip more if you are able to do so. Service workers make much of their living on tips, and your generosity can help make up for fewer people ordering food or buying services.

Keep those tickets. If you bought tickets for a local charitable or arts event that was later canceled, consider not asking for a refund, or tell the organization to keep the money you paid for your ticket as a donation.

Buy gift cards. Purchasing gift cards and gift certificates for yourself and others is a great way to support local businesses now while frequenting them at a later date.

Seek virtual options. You can browse and order items from local businesses, including many retailers, online as an alternative to in-person shopping.

Shop for friends, family and neighbors. When shopping, consider asking those who are vulnerable or less mobile if you can purchase anything for them.

Get delivery or takeout. Call restaurants directly or use an aggregated order and delivery service like Madison’s own EatStreet.

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HELPFUL RESOURCES
We strongly encourage you to consult these helpful, regularly updated resources as you implement your business’s infectious disease emergency response (IDER) plans:

CDC: COVID-19 Main Page
CDC: Situation Summary
CDC: Resources for Businesses and Employers
CDC: General Business Frequently Asked Questions
CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
CDC: Preventing Spread in Communities
CDC: Print Resources
DHS: COVID-19 Information
PHMDC: COVID-19 Main Page

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LUNCH(UP)DATE ARCHIVE
May 19, 2020 – County Executive Joe Parisi and Public Health Director Janel Heinrich
May 6, 2020 – MMAC President Tim Sheehy
April 29, 2020 – WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes
April 24, 2020 – UW Health CEO Dr. Alan Kaplan
April 17, 2020 – U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
April 9, 2020 – SBA Wisconsin Director Eric Ness
April 2, 2020 – Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

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COVID-19/RECOVERY UPDATE ARCHIVE
May 26, 2020
May 18, 2020
May 11, 2020
May 4, 2020
April 29, 2020
April 27, 2020
April 23, 2020
April 21, 2020
April 16, 2020
April 14, 2020
April 10, 2020
April 9, 2020
April 8, 2020
April 7, 2020
April 6, 2020
April 3, 2020
April 2, 2020
April 1, 2020
March 31, 2020
March 30, 2020
March 27, 2020
March 26, 2020
March 25, 2020
March 24, 2020
March 23, 2020
March 20, 2020
March 19, 2020
March 18, 2020
March 17, 2020
March 13, 2020

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