Here at H&M Capital Solutions, we are tracking the newly forming task force by President Trump that is being put together to reopen the economy and thereby starting your small business up again. The task force will be made up of government officials and business people alike.
The task force, according to sources, will also include members of President Trump’s Cabinet, including:
- Treasury Secretary – Steven Mnuchin
- Commerce Secretary – Wilbur Ross
- Agriculture Secretary – Sonny Purdue
- Transportation Secretary – Elaine Chao
- Energy Secretary – Dan Brouillette
- Labor Secretary – Gene Scalia
- Housing and Urban Development Secretary – Ben Carson
- U.S. Trade Representative – Robert Lighthizer
- Acting director of the Office of Management and Budget – Russ Vought
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has put together a list of items that can smooth the transition back to business. Having a game plan ahead of time that includes the following items may prove to be very valuable.
General Health Screening
The CDC has recommended that critical infrastructure employers screen certain exposed employees for temperature, ideally before entering the facility. If this recommendation is expanded to cover all employees and potentially customers, employers will have to acquire temperature checking equipment and develop a process to screen individuals. Early and federally consistent guidance as to what will be expected is critical because it will take time to acquire equipment and establish protocols.
To the extent that return to work is based on the testing of employees either for the COVID-19 virus or antibodies to COVID-19, there will have to be sufficient testing capacity, as well as clear resolution on who is responsible for administering the tests, paying for the tests, and checking test results. Most employers are not well-positioned to administer these medical tests, so there must be widely accessible third-party providers. There also will need to be standardization as to when employees need to be tested, the frequency of tests (especially important if testing for infection, rather than antibodies), and the documentation employees will provide to employers. Frequent testing could be especially costly, and it should be determined who will bear those cost.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
If public health professionals recommend widespread use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as masks, it will require clarity as to what is needed and who is responsible for providing such equipment, especially if shortages persist. For example, with respect to certain employees in critical infrastructure, the CDC has said: “Employers can issue face masks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.” However, the purpose of these masks should be made clear as many are not rated for protecting the wearer and employers asking employees to wear them should not be held liable if an employee contracts COVID-19 while wearing such a mask
Approximately eight million Americans rely on public transportation such as city buses, trolleybuses, trams (or light rail) and passenger trains, rapid transit (metro/subway/underground, etc.) and ferries to get to and from work each day. Public transportation is most efficient when it maximizes density, which needs to be avoided to preserve social distancing. While staggered work-times can help spread out the rush hour, transit systems likely will need to operate at what would normally be excess capacity in order to support public health. Transit systems will likely require some form of financial assistance to support a safe return to work.
Throughout the United States, many childcare providers that are still operating are primarily only caring for the children of essential workers. They also have implemented various public health recommendations to increase social distancing, such as lowering teacher-child ratios. In order to allow other parents to return to work, childcare providers will need to presumably operate under sub-optimal financial conditions: below previous capacity levels (as not all employees will return to work at once) and with increased costs (to maintain social distancing and accommodate staggered work times). Childcare providers will likely require some form of temporary financial assistance in recognition that they will need to operate at a loss in order to allow parents to return to work.