Join Login COVID-19 Updates

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Updated: 3/27/2020, 5:48 p.m.

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The Chamber has launched a virtual portal for employers to submit questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business. Responses to several questions are already posted at

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

To learn more about resources available to small businesses, 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.

This afternoon, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package, hours after the U.S. House of Representatives passed it on a voice vote.

Key business provisions of the new law include:

Paycheck Protection Program

  • New $350 billion lending program, modeled on existing Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) program, with 100 percent government guarantee. Employers will be able to apply through current 7(a) lenders, and additional lenders will be approved for participation.
  • Eligibility:
    • Must be a small business as defined by the SBA (typically less than 500 employees, but varies by business sector).
    • 501 (c)(3) non-profits with fewer than 500 employees.
    • Sole proprietors, self-employed, and independent contractors.
  • The requirement that a borrower cannot find credit elsewhere is waived, and all lenders can provide loans. No personal guarantee or collateral is required. Lender would defer fees, principal and interest for at least 6 months, and up to 1 year.
  • Loan Terms: The loans could be made for an amount equal to 2.5 months of payroll costs, up to a maximum of $10 million. Payroll costs exclude compensation paid to individuals above $100,000 a year, meaning an employer can only apply $100,00 from a $120,000 salary.
  • Requirements: An employer must certify that the loan will be used to retain workers, maintain payroll, make mortgage or lease payments, or pay utilities.
  • Loan Forgiveness:
    • Borrowers are entitled to loan forgiveness for the portion of their loan that is used for payroll costs, interest payments on mortgages, rent payments, and utility payments made between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020.
    • The amount forgiven will be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees retained compared to the prior year and reduced by the reduction in pay of any employee beyond 25 percent of their prior year compensation.
    • To encourage employers to rehire any employees who have already been laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis, borrowers that re-hire workers previously laid off will not be penalized for having a reduced payroll at the beginning of the period.

  Changes to SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)

  • Loans can be based solely on credit scores.
  • Loans are now available to non-profit entities organized as a 501(c)(6).
  • Loans of less than $200,000 can be approved without a personal guarantee.
  • Borrowers can receive a $10,000 cash advance that is forgiven if spent on paid leave, maintaining payroll, increased costs due to supply chain disruption, mortgage or lease payments, or repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses.

Federal Reserve Loan Programs & Credit Facilities
The legislation makes $500 billion available for loans and loan subsidies for various Federal Reserve credit facilities.
Loan Eligibility: Businesses not otherwise receiving adequate relief under other provisions of the bill are eligible for these loans.
Loan Categories:

  1. $25 billion in loans and loan guarantees for air carriers, air maintenance, and ticket agents.
  2. $4 billion in loans and loan guarantees for cargo air carriers.
  3. $17 billion in loans and loan guarantees for businesses critical to maintaining national security.
  4. $454 billion for loans, loan guarantees and investments in support of facilities established by the Federal Reserve to support lending to eligible businesses, states, or municipalities.

 Loan Restrictions:

  • Loans described under categories (1), (2), or (3) above, must be secured for a term of not more than 5 years, and while the loan is outstanding plus an additional 1 year, prevents stock repurchases and dividend payments, and requires borrowers to maintain existing employment level as of March 24, 2020.
  • Loans through the Federal Reserve generally prevent the borrower from repurchasing stock and dividend payments while the loan is outstanding plus an additional year.

Special Loan Facility:
In addition to other loan facilities that might be created, the US Treasury Secretary will “endeavor to seek the implementation” of a Middle Market loan facility for banks to provide loans to businesses and eligible nonprofits with 500-10,000 employees as follows:

  • Interest rate of no more than 2 percent, with no principal or interest paid for the first 6 months.
  • Loan funds must be used to retain 90 percent of workforce at full wages and benefits through September 30, 2020.
  • No buybacks or dividend payments through the life of the loan.
  • No outsourcing or offshoring of jobs for the life of the loan and 2 years thereafter.
  • Loan recipient will not abrogate collective bargaining for term of the loan and two years.
  • Employer must also remain neutral in union organizing activities.

Main Street Lending Facility:
The legislation authorizes the Federal Reserve to create a Main Street lending facility for small and mid-size businesses using its authority under section 13(3) that does not require borrowers to meet conditions related to union organization neutrality.
Business Tax Changes

  • Creates an employee retention credit for employers subject to closure due to COVID-19 that permits fully refundable 50 percent tax credit applicable to the employer’s share of payroll taxes on wages up to $10,000 per employee (with special rules for small employers).
  • Allows delay of payment of employer payroll taxes (defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax due between now and January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 (50 percent due) and December 31, 2022 (remaining due).
  • Modifications for net operating losses (for 2018, 2019, 2020, loss can be carried back 5 years, temporarily suspends 80 percent limitation; extends to pass-throughs, sole proprietors).
  • Accelerates the ability of companies to recover Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) credits.
  • Modification of limitation on business interest (for 2019, 2020, increases 30 percent limitation to 50 percent).
  • Temporary exception from excise tax for alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer (for 2020).

 Pension and Employee Benefit Requirements

  • Allows the Department of Labor to delay employee benefit related deadlines because of a public health emergency the same as declared national disasters.
  • Delays any required minimum pension contributions due in 2020 until January 1, 2021 (plus interest).
  • For benefit restrictions, allows a plan sponsor to use the adjusted funding target attainment percentage for the last plan year ending before January 1, 2020 for plan years including calendar year 2020.

 Mortgage Forbearance and Credit Reporting

  • During the “covered period,” a borrower with a Federally backed mortgage loan experiencing a financial hardship due to the COVID–19 emergency may request forbearance, regardless of delinquency status.
    • The “covered period” is 60 days (2 months) and allowable extensions of up to 4 periods of 30 days each (4 months).
  • Requires creditors who agree to account forbearance, or agree to modified payments for a consumer that has been impacted by COVID-19, report such obligation or account as “current” or as the status reported prior to the accommodation during the period of accommodation unless the consumer becomes current.
    • This applies only to accounts for which the consumer has fulfilled requirements pursuant to the forbearance or modified agreement.
    • This credit protection is available beginning January 31, 2020 and ends at the later of 120 days after enactment or 120 days after the date the national coronavirus emergency declaration is terminated.

 Payments and Relief to Individuals

  • Direct payments to taxpayers equal to $1,200 per individual ($2,400 joint return) plus $500 per child, with the payment amount gradually phased-out for incomes above $75,000 or $150,000 if filing jointly.
  • Penalty-free COVID-19-related withdrawals of up to $100,000 from tax-favored retirement plans.
  • Waiver of required minimum withdrawals from retirement plans and IRAs for 2020.
  • Tax exclusion for people who are receiving student loan repayment from their employer.

 Unemployment Benefits

  • Unemployment benefits would be extended by 13 weeks – current maximum in Wisconsin is 26 weeks – for a total of 39 weeks.
  • Unemployment compensation is available for those not eligible for regular UI, including those who may have exhausted benefits.
  • An individual must provide certification that he or she is able and available to work, but is unemployed or underemployed due to one of the following:
    • COVID-19 diagnosis or presentation of symptoms and seeking medical attention.
    • A household member with coronavirus diagnosis.
    • Caring for a family member who has been diagnosed.
    • School or daycare closures and the individual is the primary child caregiver.
    • Workplace lock-down.
    • Advice from health care provider to self-quarantine.
    • The individual was about to start a job that is no longer available because of coronavirus.
    • The individual is now the breadwinner of a household because someone has died from coronavirus.
    • The individual had to quit because of a circumstance resulting from coronavirus.
    • The individual’s place of work is closed because of coronavirus.
  • Benefits are not available to employees who can telework with pay.
  • Employees being paid with sick pay or paid family leave are ineligible for benefits.
  • No one week waiting period – federal government will pay the cost for any state that waives the one-week waiting period until December 31, 2020.
  • Upon agreement between a state, an additional $600 per worker per week unemployment compensation payment is available. This additional compensation is 100 percent covered by the federal government, but sunsets on July 31, 2020.

Work Sharing Benefits
Work sharing allows employers to reduce an employee’s hours, instead of laying him or her off, while allowing the employee to collect unemployment benefits to supplement reduced income.

  • States like Wisconsin that have an existing short-term compensation program can get 100 percent federal reimbursement for their costs related to that program.
  • Employers participating in a short-term compensation program will pay half the cost to the state.
  • $100 million in grants are made available for states to develop short-term compensation programs, and the Secretary of Labor will develop model legislation.

Paid Leave Changes
The legislation made a number of changes to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), that relate specifically to paid leave for employees:

  • Paid FMLA leave under FFCRA is capped at $200 per day and $10k in aggregate.
  • Paid sick leave under the FFCRA is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in aggregate; this amount drops to $200 per day and $2000 in aggregate for sick leave taken to care for a family member or because of a school closure.
  • Workers who are laid off after March 1 but then rehired are eligible for paid FMLA leave.
  • Employers can keep money they would have deposited for payroll taxes in anticipation of refunds from the Treasury for paid sick and paid FMLA leave provided to employees, including amounts that would have been refunded.

For questions about the CARES Act and what it means for you and your business, visit and enter the event code #ASKBIZ (or simply click here to go directly to the page). You can also email questions to

Today, the Mayor of Madison and Dane County Executive issued a release encouraging all residents to isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is a public health statement and does not supersede the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order that allows essential businesses to continue to operate, as well as allowing all businesses to conduct minimum basic operations.

For more details about the “Safer at Home” order and what it means for residents and businesses, click here.

Today, Gov. Tony Evers issued a statewide suspension of evictions and foreclosures. The order takes effect immediately and remains in place for 60 days.

The order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants unless failure to do so will result in an imminent threat of serious physical harm to another person. The order also prevents mortgagees from commencing civil action to foreclose on real estate. However, Wisconsinites who are able to continue to pay are urged to do so, and the order does not relieve a person’s obligation to pay their rent or mortgages.

Read the full order here.

Over the past several days, we have heard from many business leaders and community members looking for additional ways to pitch in during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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.

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.

Chamber President Zach Brandon sat down on Thursday (March 26) with Madison365 CEO Henry Sanders Jr. to record a special daily edition of Real Talk, Madison365’s video show and audio podcast featuring interviews with community and state leaders. During the interview, Zach discussed what the Chamber is doing to help local small businesses, what the federal stimulus might mean for businesses here and more. See the full interview here.

Also on Thursday, Chamber Vice President Kevin Little joined leaders from the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at UW–Madison and Dane Buy Local for a local business resource panel (hosted by Mid-West Family Broadcasting) to discuss tips and resources for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as Chamber initiatives and collaboration with government, business and community partners. View the full Mid-West Family webinar here.

On Wednesday, Chamber Director of Business Development Nikki Javurek joined state and local officials, business leaders representing gener8torStartingBlock MadisonRock River Capital Partners and Fine Point Consulting, and other experts for a webinar co-hosted by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) to address emerging initiatives, mechanisms for funding relief measures and more. You can watch the full WARF webinar here and access resources mentioned during the webinar here.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has announced its first round of published guidance relating to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which was signed into law last week and takes effect on April 1, 2020. The guidance includes a Fact Sheet for EmployeesFact Sheet for Employers and Q&A document.

Under the FFCRA, employees of covered employers are eligible for:

–Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick time at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
Two weeks (up to 80 hours)of paid sick time at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Department of Health and Human Services; and
Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable.

Anyone interested in learning more about their rights and responsibilities under the FFCRA can participate in the Department of Labor’s national online dialogue through Sunday, March 29 by registering here.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently made available Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to assist businesses in Wisconsin affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, following a request from Gov. Tony Evers. The loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills. These loans are not intended to make up for lost profits or to be used for expansion.

For eligibility guidelines, application guidance, options for application assistance and answers to frequently asked questions, see this document from Wisconsin’s SBA Office.

You may apply online, receive additional information and download applications here. For a list of recommended documents and required forms as part of the application process, click here.

For additional assistance, contact the SBA’s helpline at 800-659-2955 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT seven days a week or by email at You can also visit their website at

In addition, the state Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has made available a public information page for questions related to COVID-19 and unemployment insurance. Visit the page here.

As of 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25, a “Safer at Home” order from Gov. Tony Evers is in effect until 8 a.m. on Friday, April 24, or until a superseding order is issued. The order defines what is considered to be essential business and essential travel. See the full order here.

Individuals are still allowed to leave their homes to perform tasks essential to maintain health and safety such as seeing a doctor or obtaining medicine, get food or other supplies necessary for staying at home, care for family members or others in another household or perform work for essential businesses and operations.

Essential businesses under the order include, but are not limited to:

–Any business or worker identified by U.S. Homeland Security as critical infrastructure workers
–Health care operations, including home health workers
–Critical infrastructure
–Fresh and non-perishable food retailers, including grocery and convenience stores
–Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food and goods
–Restaurants, for takeout and delivery
–Bars, for carryout sales
–Pharmacies and healthcare facilities
–Child care facilities, with some limitations
–Gas stations and auto repair facilities
–Financial institutions
–Professional services such as legal and accounting, insurance and real estate
–Manufacturing, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries
–Building and construction trades
–Transportation providers
–Shipping, logistics and delivery services
–Retailers of office supplies and other supplies needed to work from home
–Laundry businesses, dry cleaners and services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence
–Hardware stores
–Hotels and motels
–Educational institutions, for distance learning only
–WEDC-designated businesses (see below)

The order stipulates that businesses may 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.

Businesses explicitly closed include:
–Salons and spas
–Places of amusements such as museums, bowling alleys, playgrounds and movie theaters

Businesses may not engage in door-to-door solicitation and, to the extent possible, should telework and conduct virtual meetings. Gatherings of people that aren’t part of your household are prohibited, unless explicitly permitted.

If you believe your business is essential and has not been included in the order, you may request a designation as essential by submitting this form (Note: If you have troubled loading the form, you may need to exempt WEDC’s website in your pop-up blocker).

We understand that not every business is defined by a clear, bright line. If you are unable to get answers from the order or other resources listed above, submit your questions to us via (enter event code #ASK4BIZ or click here) or email us at so we can advocate on your behalf.

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.

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: 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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