Coronavirus Flash Update: May 2020 #3

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Alston & Bird’s Coronavirus Flash provides updates on policy and regulatory actions under consideration across many important industries being monitored by our teams. Links to key government and legal resources are provided throughout the report.


UPDATED 9:00 AM ET ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 6, 2020

The Latest News

  • U.S. COVID-19 cases exceed 1,210,700 and 71,077 U.S. deaths. (Source: CDC) (Updated 5/6/20)
  • U.S. stock market: Tuesday ended with gains across the major U.S. benchmarks, with the Dow up 133 points, the S&P rising 25 points, and the Nasdaq gaining 98 points. (New)
  • The Department of Justice announced the first enforcement action regarding alleged PPP fraud. The DOJ alleged that two defendants falsely claimed to have dozens of employees at several locations to get more than $500,000 in forgivable loans. (5/5/20) (New)
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and its counterpart in the United Kingdom warned that they had exposed malicious cyber campaigns targeting organizations involved in the COVID-19 response. CISA issued an advisory for health care and medical research organizations recommending staff to change passwords and implement two-factor authentication. (5/5/20) (New)

COVID-19 Federal Legislation

  • Bill 4.0: Talks between the Administration and Congress, and between the Republicans and Democrats, continue but there was no indication of areas of agreement. Speculation grows that the crafting of 4.0 will be challenging and as evidence, Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) responded with “(R)right now, not much,” to a reporter’s question on what he thought of the President’s push for a payroll tax cut. The House of Representatives is closely watching the Senate’s move to reopening this week but remains closed until at least next week continuing with “virtual” hearings and meetings.
  • Bill 3.5: Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, (R. 266) enacted on April 24. Also available are a section-by-section summary and an overview of the health care provisions.
  • A&B detailed summaries are below:
    • A&B Summary5 Small Business Provisions
    • A&B Summary5 Health Care Enhancement Provisions
  • Bill 3.0: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, (R. 748) passed on March 27. A congressional section by section summary is available here.
  • A&B detailed summaries are below:
    • A&B Summary CARES Act Health Provisions
    • A&B Overview CARES Act Health Care Grants and Reimbursement Changes
    • A&B Overview CARES Act Key Health Care Appropriations
    • A&B AnalysisCARES Act Funding Sources
    • A&B Summary CARES Act Small Business Provisions
    • A&B Summary CARES Act Educational Provisions and Appropriations
    • A&B SummaryCARES Act Individual and Business Tax Provisions
    • A&B SummaryCARES Act Unemployment Provisions
    • A&B SummaryCARES Act Labor Provisions
    • A&B Guide – how the CARES Act refundable Employer Retention tax credit for employers works
    • A&B Hospital Provisions from all 4 bills tracker of COVID-19 (Updated 5/3/20)
    • A&B Provider Relief Fund disbursements tracker – Provider Relief Fund was established through the CARES Act, with additional funds from Bill 3.5. (Updated 5/3/20)
    • A&B Summary of oversight and enforcement provisions in the CARES Act
  • Congress has passed three coronavirus emergency response bills and the first two are below:
  • Bill 1.0: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental (CPPRS) (R. 6074) passed on March 5.
  • Bill 2.0: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (R. 6201) passed on March 18

COVID-19 State Legislation

  • New legislative resource to track how states and localities are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with emergency relief programs for small and medium-sized businesses. Follow our tracker here. (New – First Issue)

Transition to “Reopening”

  • State/Other Actions
    • For the latest information on state reopening decisions, see the A&B 50-State Openings Tracker - updated in each A&B Coronavirus Flash Update. (Updated 5/5/20)
    • A&B’s Labor & Employment Group identifies issues likely to arise as workers are invited to return to their jobs and that employers may confront in developing return-to-work action plans in this advisory. (4/22/20)
  • Administration Actions
  • The Department of Labor is seeking ideas from the public about the challenges facing businesses in the process of reopening. A dialogue page has been created to facilitate this input. (5/1/20)
  • The President stated that his social distancing guidance, which expired on April 30, will not be extended allowing the guidance to “be fad[ed] out, because now the governors will be doing it.” The President added that the governors would be making the reopening decisions and other guidance about social distancing. (4/30/20)
  • FEMA released guidance for ‘Planning Considerations for Organizations in Reconstituting Operations’ as states begin to unveil reopening plans. (4/30/20)
  • The EPA and the CDC jointly provided new re-opening guidance for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes. (4/29/20)
  • The White House released its COVID-19 testing overview and blueprint (4/27/20) as part of its Opening Up America Again initiative. The plans describe the partnership necessary between the private sector and the federal and state governments.
  • CMS announced recommendations to re-open health care facilities to provide non-emergent non-COVID-19 care, including elective surgeries. The recommendations state that non-COVID-19 care should be offered as clinically appropriate if the state, locality, or facility has the resources to provide such care and the ability to quickly respond to a surge in COVID-19 cases if necessary. (4/19/20)
  • During a meeting with governors, President Trump released “Opening Up America Againguidelines but left the decision of when his recommended phases should begin to state governments. (4/16/20)

Environmental Protection Agency

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is making $1 million in grant funding available to states to help local environmental justice communities address COVID-19 concerns faced by low-income and minority communities. (4/30/20)

Federal Communications Commission

  • The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issued an order waiving its requirement that certain broadcast stations engage in broad recruitment outreach for full-time job vacancies if they re-hire employees released due to COVID-19. (5/5/20) (New)
  • The FCC announced a waiver of certain requirements for individuals who have lost their employment during the coronavirus pandemic and who qualify for Lifeline benefits to enroll in the Lifeline program. The Lifeline program provides monthly discounts on broadband and voice services to qualifying low-income consumers. (4/29/20)
  • The FCC adopted a program appropriating $200 million in COVID-19 telehealth grants (the COVID-19 Telehealth Program) and $100 million in grants through the Connected Care Pilot Program to assist hospitals and other health care providers cover telehealth costs. (3/31/20)
  • As authorized by the CARES Act the FCC announced the fourth set of health care providers to receive telehealth grants. (4/29/20)

Department of Health and Human Services

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Coronavirus toolkit page has been updated. (Updated 5/5/20)
  • The HHS Office for Civil Rights announced that it was issuing guidance reminding covered health care providers that the HIPAA Privacy Rule requires that they obtain patient consent before media is given access to PHI. (5/5/20) (New)
  • The HHS Office of Minority Health announced a competitive funding opportunity to invest up to $40 million for the development and coordination of a strategic network of national, state, territorial, tribal, and local organizations to deliver COVID-19 information to racial and ethnic minority, rural, and socially vulnerable communities hardest hit by the pandemic. (5/1/20)
  • HHS has a tracking feature that allows public viewing of all COVID-19 HHS grant and cooperative agreement awards on its website. The grants were distributed through programs in the ACF, ACL, ASPR, CDC, DHHS/OS, HRSA, IHS, NIH, and SAMHSA. (Updated 4/30/20)
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced $15 million in supplemental grants awards for Tribal COVID-19 behavioral response. (5/1/20)
  • SAMHSA announced an additional $250 million in emergency COVID-19 funding to increase access to and to improve the quality of community mental and substance use disorder Information on the grants is available here. (4/27/20)

Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response

  • The Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Office of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA) announced it was expanding testing capacity by expanding its partnership with Hologic, Inc. for the development of a second high-throughput molecular assay for SARS-CoV-2. Starting later in May, the new test expects to begin producing at least one million Aptima® SARS-CoV-2 assays per week. (5/1/20)
  • ASPR and CMS jointly released a concept of operations for nursing home infection prevention and control. (4/30/20)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

HHS/CMS/HRSA CARES Act Provider Relief Funds

  • HHS announced it was disbursing another $22 billion in CARES Act Provider Relief Funds last Friday for hospitals in “hot spots” or COVID-19 high impact areas ($12 billion) and for rural providers ($10 billion). The CMS Provider Relief Fund webpage has been updated and additional portals opened: (5/2/20)
  • The initial announcement stated that high impact eligible facilities would be the 395 hospitals that provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10. $10 billion would be distributed based on a fixed amount per COVID-19 admission and $2 billion would be based on a hospital’s Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments.
  • The announcement stated that eligible entities for the rural payments are:
    • Rural acute care general hospitals
    • Critical access hospitals
    • Rural health clinics
    • Rural community health centers
  • The rural provider payments would be based on a minimum base payment plus a percent of annual expenses.
  • Attestation Portal (https://covid19.linkhealth.com/#/step/1) provides the initial steps to be completed for distribution to be followed by requirements in the revenue portion of the portal, which is required for both:
    • Providers eligible for funds which must be applied for; and
    • Providers who received an automatic payment terms and conditions for fund recipients are available here.
  • The Provider Relief Funds webpage has not been updated to reflect the $12 billion increase for high impact areas or the additional eligibility and distribution methodology information. In addition, the breakdown of the high impact distributions and rural distributions has been removed.
  • The state-by-state congressional district distribution totals for the initial $30 billion which began on April 10 has been posted. (5/1/20)
  • The CARES Provider Relief hotline is (866) 569-3522. Entities can also try contacting the Provider Hotline at the applicable MAC.
  • HHS through the Health Resources and Services Administration began distribution of another $20 billion from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund for the care of the uninsured, which augments the $30 billion which was released in the first tranche from the fund. (4/28/20)
    • HRSA launched the COVID Uninsured Portal allowing health care providers who have conducted COVID-19 testing or provided treatment for uninsured COVID-19 individuals on or after February 4, 2020 to request claims reimbursement.
  • HHS Provider Relief Fund first disbursements of $30 billion began on April 10 and the initial information outlined five allocation categories for the remaining $70 billion (the CARES Act authorized $100 billion – bill 3.5 has authorized an additional $75 billion).

Food and Drug Administration (Drugs and Devices)

  • FDA provides a daily roundup on COVID-19 related actions. The latest update is here, (updated 5/5/20), and here is a listing of all announcements.
    • FDA maintains its COVID-19 FAQs for the general public. (Updated 5/1/20)
    • The agency also maintains a public database of drug shortages. (Updated 5/1/20)
  • The FDA announced that it was updating its guidance to improve antibody testing quality. The document explains FDA’s policy for laboratories and commercial manufacturers to help accelerate the use of tests they develop in order to achieve more rapid and widespread testing capacity in the United States. The FDA also updated its fact sheet on antibody tests and provided insight on its revised policy (Updated 5/4/20)
  • The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the investigational antiviral drug Remdesivir for the treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease. (5/1/20)
  • FDA issued guidance to clarify the scope of the public health emergency exemption and exclusion under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act to help ensure adequate distribution of finished prescription drug products throughout the supply chain to combat COVID-19. (4/30/20)
    • Review this A&B advisory for more information about the FDA’s new guidance. (5/5/20) (New)
  • FDA added, under the ventilator emergency use authorization (EUA) rules, a ventilator developed by NASA that is tailored to treat patients with COVID-19. (4/30/20)

Food and Drug Administration and United States Department of Agriculture (Food-Related)

  • The White House issued an executive order to keep meat and poultry processors open under the Defense Production Act. The White House also issued a fact sheet on efforts related to ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply chain. (4/28/20)

National Institutes of Health

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new initiative aimed at speeding innovation, development and commercialization of COVID-19 testing technologies. As part of this initiative, NIH is urging all scientists and inventors with a rapid testing technology to compete in a national COVID-19 testing challenge for a share of up to $500 million over all phases of development. (4/29/20)
  • NIH announced that a clinical trial shows that Remdesivir, an investigational broad-spectrum antiviral treatment, accelerates recovery in hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19. (4/29/20)

Health Resources and Services Administration

  • The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched its new COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal. The portal will provide guidance to health care providers to request reimbursement for the testing and treatment for uninsured COVID-19 patients. (4/27/20)
  • HRSA awarded $20 million to increase telehealth access and infrastructure to providers and families. (4/30/20)
    • HRSA previously launched a website to help health care providers use telehealth and educate patients on it. (4/22/20)
  • HRSA provides COVID-19-related FAQs here. (Updated 5/4/20)

Department of Homeland Security/FEMA

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues a weekly roundup of its response to COVID-19. (Updated 5/4/20).
  • FEMA issued a fact sheet describing the federal support being provided to expand national testing capabilities. (5/5/20) (New)
  • FEMA announced $200 million in supplemental funding under the CARES Act for local jurisdictions to help service organizations that provide critical resources. (5/4/20) (New)
  • FEMA released a fact sheet on using the Critical Care Decontamination System. The FDA has issued emergency use authorizations for vaporized hydrogen sterilizer systems to be used in the decontamination of N95 respirators. (4/30/20)
  • FEMA announced that it will coordinate two shipments totaling a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to more than 15,400 Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes across the nation, including all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. By the beginning of July, each facility will receive two separate packages containing a seven-day supply of eye protection, surgical masks, gowns, and gloves. Each package will be individualized for each nursing home based upon their level of staffing. (4/30/20)
  • FEMA issued a fact sheet on best practices to preserve personal protective equipment. (4/28/20)
  • President Trump signed an executive order temporarily “pausing,” for period of 60 days, certain U.S. immigration processes. The President noted he would revisit the issue after 60 days and depending on the economy may choose to extend the suspension. (4/22/20)
  • Review this A&B advisory for more information on the order, who it applies to, who is exempted, and what employment-based visas are affected. (4/28/20)
  • FEMA refines scope of medical supply export ban. The FEMA offered more details on its plans for exemptions to a temporary rule banning some medical supplies from being shipped overseas. In an April 21 Federal Register notice, FEMA codified and tailored the exemptions, which provide a path for some exporters to make sales of medical products not in high demand in the U.S. See A&B advisory about it here. (4/23/20)

Department of Justice/Federal Trade Commission/Litigation Consumer Protection/Anti-fraud

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interpretative rule to provide guidance to creditors and other covered persons involved in the mortgage origination process. (4/29/20)
  • The FTC provided guidance for businesses to avoid scams while applying for loans through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program. FTC advises businesses to get information directly from the SBA’s website (sba.gov/coronavirus) and not apply for a loan before verifying the lender. If businesses identify scams, they are asked to submit a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint. (4/29/20)

Litigation Issues

  • Higher education protected students’ and employees’ health by closing their campuses and moving – virtually overnight – to online learning. Now they face high-risk class actions from students and their parents. A&B’s Colleges & Universities Team provides insight into current litigation in this advisory. (4/30/20)
  • In response to COVID-19, individual courts have often made their own rules on how to proceed, and businesses are caught in the gridlock. For a deeper understanding of how individual states are treating statutes of limitations and some key takeaways, read this A&B advisory. (4/24/20)

Department of Labor/OSHA

  • Department of Labor (DOL) announced that states and territories can use Dislocated Worker Grant funding for contact tracing. (5/5/20) (New)
  • DOL announced that it was issuing additional guidance about the short-time compensation program under the CARES Act. (5/4/20) (New)
  • DOL announced that it was issuing additional guidance to state unemployment insurance programs regarding reporting requirements for administrative grants and sharing commonly asked questions about unemployment insurance. (5/4/20) (New)
  • DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued FAQs under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and revised COBRA model notices. Plan administrators can use these model notices to notify plan participants and beneficiaries of their rights under COBRA and qualified beneficiaries of their rights to elect COBRA. (5/1/20)
  • DOL and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a safety alert for restaurants, food, and beverage businesses providing curbside pickup and takeout service. (5/1/20)

Small Business Administration

  • Small Business Administration (SBA) – In response to the CARES Act requirements, the SBA formally launched its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses. (4/3/20)
    • The SBA issued a new PPP interim final rule that: (4/30/20)
      • (1) Created a limit of $20 million for all PPP loans issued to a corporate family. As a result, effective immediately, the total amount of PPP funds granted to a “corporate family” (businesses that are majority owned by a common parent) cannot exceed $20 million.
      • (2) Expanded the criteria for certain non-bank institutions to become eligible to make PPP loans.
        • Any non-bank or non-insured depository institution that has performed any one of—as opposed to all of—originating, maintaining, or servicing more than $50 million in business loans or other commercial financial receivables during a 12 month period in the past 36 months can now be a lender in the PPP.
        • In addition, non-bank lenders that are either (1) a community development financial institution (other than a federally insured bank or federally insured credit union) or (2) a majority minority-, women-, or veteran/military-owned lender, can now be a lender in the PPP if such lender has originated, maintained, or serviced more than $10 million in business loans or other commercial financial receivables during a 12 month period in the past 36 months.
      • The SBA and Treasury updated their FAQs on the Paycheck Protection Program. The FAQs clarify that employers will not be penalized if they are unable to rehire a worker despite good faith efforts. The FAQs also extend the safe harbor to repay PPP loans until May 14. (Updated 5/5/20)
      • Review this A&B advisory for information on relief under the CARES Act for fund managers. (5/5/20) (New)
      • The SBA announced that agricultural businesses are now eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EDIL) and EDIL Advance programs under the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enforcement Act. (5/4/20) (New)
      • The SBA and Treasury announced making 2.2 million loans in Round 2 of the Paycheck Protection Program totaling more than $175 billion. Summary information on Round 2 is available here. (5/3/20)
      • The SBA and Treasury announced that they would review all PPP loans over $2 million, in addition to other loans as appropriate, to ensure that applicants meet eligibility criteria. (4/28/20)
        • A&B’s White Collar, Government & Internal Investigations Team summarizes the latest stimulus addition and emerging enforcement developments related to the certification, receipt, and use of PPP funds, including for banks processing the related loans, in this advisory. (4/30/20)
      • The SBA issued two interim final rules, one announcing additional criterion for seasonal employers under PPP and the other on disbursements. (4/28/20)
      • The SBA resources for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program has been updated. (4/26/20)
        • The SBA and Treasury updated their FAQs on PPP, adding new Questions 38 and 39. (Updated 4/29/20)
      • The SBA has guidance for loans under the Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program for qualified entities that are impacted by COVID-19.

Department of Treasury/IRS/Federal Reserve

  • The Department of Treasury website for CARES Act programs, including specific sections on assistance for American workers and families, small businesses, state and local governments, and preserving jobs for American industry.
  • Treasury and the Department of the Interior announced an agreement to begin making $4.8 billion in funds available to Tribal governments under the CARES Act. (5/5/20) (New)
  • The Federal Reserve announced that it was modifying its liquidity coverage ratio for banks participating in the Money Market Mutual Fund and Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facilities. (5/5/20) (New)
  • The Federal Reserve expanded access to its Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF) to additional lenders and expands the collateral that can be pledged. (4/30/20)
  • The Federal Reserve announced an expansion of the scope and eligibility for the Main Street Lending Program to help credit flow to small and medium-sized businesses. (4/30/20)
    • FAQs regarding the Main Street Lending Program were released. (4/30/20)
    • For more information about the Main Street programs, review this A&B advisory. (4/14/20)
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided answers to common questions on the Economic Impact Payment Program and stated that checks continue to be sent. (4/30/20)
  • IRS provided guidance clarifying that no deduction is allowed under the Internal Revenue Code for an expense that is otherwise deductible if the payment of the expense results in forgiveness of a covered PPP loan. (4/30/20)
  • The IRS updated its FAQs related to the employee retention credit under the CARES Act. (4/29/20)
  • The IRS released state-by-state data for the Economic Impact Payments with 88 million individuals receiving payments worth nearly $158 billion. (Updated 4/28/20)

Other Agencies

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it was issuing a temporary final rule providing temporary relief to certain companies to meet urgent needs through regulation crowdfunding offerings. (5/4/20) (New)
  • The United States Patent and Trademark Office announced (4/28/2020) that it would further extend certain patent and trademark deadlines to June 1, 2020, given the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These extended deadlines apply to those situations identified in the USPTO’s March 31, 2020, guidance, such as responses to Office Actions.
    • For more detail, read Alston & Bird’s advisory explaining how and when to claim these extensions. (4/2/20)
  • The Department of Education announced today that nearly $1.4 billion in additional funding will be directed to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), as well as institutions serving low-income students to help ensure learning continues during the coronavirus national emergency, as authorized by the CARES Act. (4/30/20)
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it was extending loan processing flexibilities for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac customers through June 30 to allow alternative appraisals, alternative methods of verifying employment, flexibility for documentation requirements to allow renovation disbursements, and expanding the use of power of attorney and online notarizations. (5/5/20) (New)
  • FHFA announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac created online property lookup tools to allow renters to see if they live in a property that is covered by the temporary eviction moratorium. (5/4/20) (New)
  • On April 21, the FHFA announced that it was aligning Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s policies so that servicers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac single-family mortgage loans that are in forbearance as a result of COVID-19 will only have an obligation to advance four months of missed principal and interest payments.
    • For a deeper dive on this topic, see this advisory from A&B’s Finance Group. (4/22/20)
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on May 1 announced the allocation of $685 million in funding for public housing authorities to assist low-income Americans living in public housing. (5/1/20)
  • HUD issued a brochure for tenants having problems paying rent including state contacts. (4/27/20)
  • HUD also provided COVID-19 FAQs for Public Housing Agencies. (updated 4/22/20)
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced exemptions under the CARES Act for Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airlines to stop providing service at certain large hubs and focus city airports. (5/5/20) (New)
  • The DOT announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award $1.187 billion in airport safety and infrastructure grants under the CARES Act. (4/30/20)
  • The FAA granted an exemption to the timeframes for completing recurrent training and testing requirements for certain air ambulance personnel. (4/30/20)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Board of Veterans’ Appeals announced it was expanding access to virtual hearings to all veterans awaiting their board hearing. (5/1/20)
  • The VA announced it is participating in the plasma from COVID-19 patients clinical trials aimed at finding ways to potentially prevent symptoms of the coronavirus disease. (5/1/20)
  • The VA announced it was providing supplies and clinical personnel to non-VA facilities in 38 states to care for COVID-19 patients. (5/1/20)

Trade and International Business Issues COVID-19: global supply chains to expect major reshuffle COVID-19: global supply chains to expect major reshuffle COVID-19: global supply chains to expect major reshuffle COVID-19: global supply chains to expect major reshuffle COVID-19: global supply chains to expect major reshuffle

  • Neal Calls for 90-Day Suspension of All Tariffs on Goods Necessary to Combat COVID-19 Public Health Crisis. The U.S. should lift tariffs on all medical goods being used to combat the coronavirus pandemic for 90 days, House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) said on Monday after reviewing a U.S. International Trade Commission report on COVID-19-related products. Neal and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) last month asked the ITC to compile a report identifying which imported goods are relevant to responding to the coronavirus as well as the tariff lines, duty rates, import levels and sources of those goods. The USITC report was made public on Monday and is available here. (New)
  • CTPAT Validations Stopped. CBP has stopped its validations of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CTPAT Director Manuel Garza said in a May 1 post on the CBP website. CBP recently said it wouldn’t be delaying dates around implementation of the updated Minimum Security Criteria, but it will allow for more discretion in the validations. Garza said CBP “understands the unique situations your company may be dealing with and how it may affect your participation in the CTAT program.” As a result, “various program deadlines will be taken into consideration and adjusted on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “However, it is imperative that you contact your assigned [supply chain security specialist] before they become significant.” There will also be a new “process that now provides the submission of suspension/removal appeals via email, (ctpatappeals@cbp.dhs.gov) not just through postal mail.” (New)
  • EXIM Increases U.S. Exporter Access to Capital and Supply Chain Financing During COVID-19 by Raising Lender Guarantee Coverage Option to 95 Percent. The US Export-Import Bank announced on Monday that it has raised to 95 percent its guarantee coverage option for the Supply Chain Finance Program and Working Capital Guarantee Program in order to provide further relief to US exporters. The increase is effective through April 30, 2021. (New)
  • With everyone focused on COVID-19, this A&B advisory analyzes the implications of Brexit on cross-border litigation in Europe. (5/5/20) (New)
  • A&B European Antitrust, Mergers & Acquisitions, and International Trade & Regulatory Groups examines (4/21/20) changes in the way European competition authorities will review foreign direct investment during (and potentially long after) the coronavirus pandemic and reviews what COVID-19 may mean for European commercial mortgage-backed securities servicers.

Insurance Issues

  • For a 50-state review of business interruption insurance related issues see this new COVID-19 Insurance litigation and Regulatory Issues tracker. The tracker is updated weekly. (last update 5/3/20)
  • S&P Global Ratings has weighed in on state legislative efforts to retroactively alter insurance policy language to cover business income losses relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. S&P opines that any “such efforts in any state would be largely unsuccessful” and would likely come up against “a host of constitutional and legal challenges.” (New)
  • On April 30, the Council of the District of Columbia issued a Memorandum requesting to place certain measures on the agenda for the May 5th Legislative Meeting, including changes to the law that would impose “new requirements for business interruption insurance to pay for certain business closures during the pandemic.” On May 5, the D.C. Council reportedly decided not to push the proposal forward. (New)
  • On April 30, the Council of the District of Columbia issued a Memorandum requesting to place certain measures on the agenda for the May 5th Legislative Meeting, including changes to the law that would impose “new requirements for business interruption insurance to pay for certain business closures during the pandemic.”
  • The pace of new business income coverage claims flooding state and federal courts nationwide has continued at break-neck pace over the last few weeks. Notably, plaintiffs firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP has joined the fray, reportedly indicating that they intend to file many lawsuits on behalf of restaurant owners going forward. They filed the first such suit on April 30 on behalf of San Francisco’s Michelin-starred Coi Restaurant and Los Angeles’ Alta Adams against insurers Farmers’ Group and Mid-Century Insurance Company. The suit was filed in San Francisco Superior Court and alleges breach of contract, bad faith, and fraud claims.

For background and the most up-to-date information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Disease 2019 website: HERE. The additional federal agency links are provided by the White House Coronavirus Task Force: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

What you should know:

Situation Updates:

Information for Businesses:

Information for Travel and Transportation:

Information for Health Care Providers, First Responders, and Research Facilities:

Information for Law Enforcement:

Information for Families and Households:

Information for Schools and Childcare Providers:

Information for Community Events and Gatherings:

Agency Resources and Information:

Download PDF of the Flash Update

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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