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Governor Hogan Announces Closure of All Non-Essential Businesses, $175 Million Relief Package for Workers and Small Businesses Affected By COVID-19
Activates Field Hospital at Baltimore Convention Center and Hilton Hotel

Establishes Pilot Assessment Location at FedEx Field
Laurel Hospital to Reopen as Part of Hospital Surge Plan
Issues Emergency Order to Prohibit Price Gouging
Signs Directive to Bring More Testing Capacity Online

By SHAREESE CHURCHILL
Office of the Governor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (March 23, 2020)—Governor Larry Hogan today ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses in the state and announced a $175 million relief package to assist employees, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The governor again urged Marylanders to help their neighbors by staying home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We are telling all Marylanders to follow all of the directives and to follow the state law against crowds of more than ten people,” said Governor Hogan. “And we are telling you, unless you have an essential reason to leave your house, stay in your home. Today’s actions of closing non-essential businesses are absolutely necessary to protect the health of Marylanders and to save lives.”

“To my fellow Marylanders, let me say that I know how difficult this is on each and every one of you,” continued the governor. “There is a great deal of fear and anxiety, and the truth is, none of us really know how bad this is going to get or how long it’s going to last. But I can promise you that there are a great many dedicated people doing tremendous things, working around the clock, and doing their very best to help keep Marylanders safe.”

Below is a list of the comprehensive actions Governor Hogan announced on Monday:

CLOSURE OF ALL NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES: Governor Hogan has enacted an emergency order to close all non-essential businesses across the state, effective at 5 p.m. Monday, March 23.

In addition to what is already closed by prior orders, this order requires the closure of anything that is not included in the new federal guidelines for critical infrastructure sectors (https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce).

While this is not a shelter-in-place order, all Marylanders are urged to remain home and adhere to the governor’s guidance for social distancing. The governor announced that beginning today, further enforcement actions will be taken to disperse any gatherings in violation of the governor’s orders.

ECONOMIC RELIEF PACKAGE: Governor Hogan announced more than $175 million to assist small businesses and workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. More information and resources about these programs is available at businessexpress.maryland.gov/coronavirus.

The Maryland Department of Commerce will offer up to $125 million in loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofits through the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. A $75 million loan fund and a $50 million grant fund, with $1 million in grants dedicated to non-profits, will provide working capital to be used for payroll, rent, fixed-debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs. Businesses and nonprofits with under 50 full- and part-time employees will be eligible, and loans will range up to $50,000 and grants up to $10,000. Additional eligibility requirements can be found at https://commerce.maryland.gov/fund/maryland-small-business-covid-19-emergency-relief-fund-programs.

Maryland Commerce is also working on creating a $5 million fund to incentivize businesses to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to satisfy the increasing needs of the healthcare industry.

The Department also has a number of existing financing programs, like Advantage Maryland, which provides conditional loans for new businesses or business expansions; the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority and Fund (MIDFA), which provides loan guarantees; the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA), which provides financial assistance to economically disadvantaged businesses; and the Non-Profit Interest-Free Micro-Bridge Loan Program, which provides loans to nonprofits to support ongoing operating costs while waiting on a future government grant or contract. A total of about $40 million is available through these existing programs.

Governor Hogan has allocated $5 million and the Maryland Department of Labor has allocated $2 million to collaboratively launch the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund. A total of $7 million in funds will be available to provide flexible rapid response services to proactively support businesses and workers undergoing economic stresses due to COVID-19. Funding can help Maryland’s workforce adhere to social distancing policies by purchasing remote access equipment and software to allow employees to work from home, providing on-site cleaning and sanitation services at businesses that have workers delivering essential services, and implementing other creative strategies to mitigate potential layoffs or closures in the business community.

AN ORDER TO PROHIBIT PRICE GOUGING: Governor Hogan has signed an emergency order to protect families from price gouging on everyday household items and essentials. Retailers who attempt to exploit this crisis for profit or personal gain will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

FIELD HOSPITAL AT BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER: As part of the state’s hospital surge plan, Governor Hogan has ordered the establishment of an Alternate Care site at Baltimore Convention Center and Hilton Hotel. This will be a joint partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and Johns Hopkins. The governor has asked FEMA to deliver 250 beds and 50 bed packages to support the initiative.

REOPENING OF LAUREL HOSPITAL: As part of the state’s hospital surge plan, UMMS has agreed to reopen Laurel Hospital, which will make another 135 beds available.

PILOT ASSESSMENT LOCATION AT FEDEX FIELD: Governor Hogan has directed the Maryland National Guard and the Maryland Department of Health to collaborate with Prince George’s County and UMMS on a pilot assessment location at FedEx Field in Landover.

FAST-TRACK PROCESS FOR TESTS: The governor has enacted an emergency order to authorize a fast-track process to bring more testing capacity online without FDA approval—dramatically shortening a process that would ordinarily take several months. Read the governor’s order.

NEW HEALTH TESTING ORDERS: The Maryland Department of Health is issuing an order requiring health care providers to prioritize tests for hospitalized and chronic care patients, symptomatic first responders, and symptomatic nursing home patients; and requiring all health care facilities to cease elective or non-urgent medical procedures at 5 p.m. tomorrow. Read the Health Department’s order.

State of Emergency. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. The State of Maryland is continuing to operate under a state of emergency, and all levels of government are taking a comprehensive, collaborative approach to keep Marylanders safe. The list of ongoing state actions is available at governor.maryland.gov/coronavirus.

For health resources regarding COVID-19, including case counts and clinician guidance, Marylanders should visit coronavirus.maryland.gov.

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SBA Offers Disaster Assistance to Maryland Small Businesses Economically Impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

By MICHAEL LAMPTON
U.S. Small Business Administration

ATLANTA, Ga. (March 19, 2020)—The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Maryland small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza announced today. SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, to declare a disaster following a request received from Gov. Larry Hogan on March 18, 2020.

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in the entire state of Maryland; District of Columbia and the contiguous counties of Kent, New Castle, and Sussex in Delaware; Adams, Bedford, Chester, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Lancaster, Somerset, and York in Pennsylvania; Accomack, Alexandria (City), Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun in Virginia; and Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Jefferson, Mineral, Morgan and Preston in West Virginia.

“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist Maryland small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19),” said Administrator Carranza. SBA Customer Service Representatives will be available to answer questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and explain the application process. “Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred,” said Carranza.

“These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,” Carranza added.

Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 21 2020.

For more information about Coronavirus, please visit: Coronavirus.gov.

For more information about available SBA resources and services, please visit: SBA.gov/coronavirus.

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Effective March 17, 2020, Social Security Offices Will Only Offer Phone Service Online Services Remain Available

By MARK HINKLE
Social Security Administration

All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  However, we are still able to provide critical services.

Our secure and convenient online services remain available at www.socialsecurity.gov.  Local offices will also continue to provide critical services over the phone.  We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local governments, and other experts to monitor COVID-19 and will let you know as soon as we can resume in-person service. 

If you need help from Social Security:

• First, please use our secure and convenient online services available at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter, and much more—from anywhere and from any of your devices.  We also have a wealth of information to answer most of your Social Security questions online, without having to speak with a Social Security representative in person or by phone. Please visit our online Frequently Asked Questions at www.socialsecurity.gov/ask.

• If you cannot conduct your Social Security business online, please check our online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact your local office.  Your local office still will be able to provide critical services to help you apply for benefits, answer your questions, and provide other services over the phone.

• If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, we will call you to handle your appointment over the phone instead.  If you have a hearing scheduled, we will call you to discuss alternatives for continuing with your hearing, including offering a telephonic hearing.  Our call may come from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. Government phone.  Please remember that our employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment. 

• If you cannot complete your Social Security business online, please call our National 800 Number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).  Our National 800 Number has many automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative.  A list of automated telephone services is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/contact/phone.html.

To get more Social Security news, follow the Press Office on Twitter @SSAPress.

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