Gov Kemp issues Saturday declaration of 'State of Emergency

Gov. Brian Kemp announced this morning, March 14, that Georgia confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 22 between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Kemp's declaration of a Public Health State of Emergency clears the first hurdle for Stephens County Businesses to potentially be eligible for a part of $50 billion in SBA assistance announced Friday by President Trump.

At 10 a.m., Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced the official declaration of a public health state of emergency in Georgia. Kemp is expected to call a special session of the General Assembly on Monday, March 16, to ratify this action.

The announcement came on the heals of statistics that show 22 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning – the largest increase of cases in a 24-hour period yet recorded for the COVID disease in the US.

The state has appropriated $100 in million in emergency funding to address the spread of the disease. Currently, Georgia is processing 100 test specimens per day, with plans to increase that number to 200 per day after impending increases in staffing and equipment.

In addition to prompting the activation of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency state operation center, Kemp’s declaration of a state of emergency cleared the way for Georgia Counties to begin the submittal process that will allow businesses and non-profit organizations to apply for the $50 billion in SBA loans put in play by President Donald Trump during his address to the Nation yesterday, March 14.

Trump, during his address to the Nation on Wednesday, presented the Federal Government’s plan to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as well as sole proprietor businesses, during the disruptions caused by COVID-19. The two-pronged approach of the plan involves providing small business loans to those businesses and non-profits impacted by economic slowdown as a result of COVID-19, and to provide an immediate three-month tax holiday for businesses.

“I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus,” said the President his Friday-night address to the nation. “Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing loans in affected states and territories. These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus. To this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion.”

If Congress approves Trumps $50 billion funding request, those funds will more than double the amount of loans the SBA made in 2019.

Although Trump included the wording “effective immediately” regarding the loans, Congress has yet to approve the request for additional funding.

Legislators from both parties have initiated legislative efforts to accomplish the President’s directives, and quickly following Trumps Friday address, Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chairman Sen. Marc Rubio (Florida) introduced a bill to allocate the requested $50 billion.

“By increasing the SBA’s current 7(a) loan program by $50 billion, this program, which is offered by banks across our nation, will provide small businesses with access to much-needed capital to make payroll and provide paid sick leave for employees who miss work as a result of the coronavirus,” Rubio stated in the legislation forms. “Additionally, this proposal will waive all fees for 7(a) loans for one year for both lenders and borrowers, as well as increase loan guarantees.”

If funding is approved and the loans proposed by Trump move forward, the SBA will provide “working capital loans up to $2 million for economic support and help overcome temporary revenue loss during the outbreak” The actual loan amounts are determined by the business owner’s “economic injury and financial needs.

These loans are intended to help SMBs meet payroll, maintain solvency during customer demand drops and delayed payments, and deal with supply-chain emergencies, according to information posted by this morning on the SBA website.

The first step in qualification for those loans will be a state-declared “state of emergency” in response to the outbreak – a qualification that, following Kemp’s address this morning, Georgia businesses now meet.

Travel and hospitality industries such as hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, along with the businesses that supply these industries with goods and services, as well as small agricultural operations, are expected to be among the hardest-hit by the pandemic fallout, and are among those that will be eligible for SBA loans under this program once funding is available and all requirements are met.

In order to being the application process, according to information provided by the SBA, a county needs to be approved by the SBA for an Economic Loss Declaration, a request that must be submitted by the Governor. Once declared, economic injury assistance will be available to businesses in that county as well as contiguous counties. Once the declaration is made, application information for EIDL assistance will be made available within the declared communities, according to the SBA.

ConnectLocal.News will contact Stephens County officials Monday morning to determine whether the county has begun, or plans to begin, the process of submitting the required documentation for Stephens County to receive the necessary “Economic Loss Declaration.”

According to SBA documents, the SBA “will provide financial assistance only to businesses that are otherwise unable to secure loan funding.” EIDL loans are set at 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for non profits and terms can be set for up to 30 years, with specific terms determined on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to the potential of loans, Trump announced “tax holiday” will allow business owners to delay in paying taxes normally due on April 15 for 90 days without interest or penalties. Some cities and states are considering offering the same “tax holiday” according to online sources.

Trump also addressed relief proposals for individual citizens.

“To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action which is unprecedented to provide financial relief. This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to Coronavirus,” he said. “I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief. Hopefully, they will consider this very strongly,” he added.


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