We hope all of our members are staying safe and healthy and as productive as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of the health crisis, the content of our Friday Five emails has shifted to feature the top five COVID-19 news items and resources of the week.
Acts of COVID kindness
As we all band together to get through these challenging times, the Maryland Chamber would like to highlight the good deeds being done in our communities. Here’s another great example of an act of “COVID kindness”:
In an April 3 press release, BGE, Constellation and the Exelon Foundation announced they will be donating $1 million to assist Maryland relief organizations and small businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The donations will benefit organizations including United Way of Central Maryland, Maryland Food Bank, Baltimore Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund, and the Feeding America network.
In addition, BGE, all Exelon utilities, and Constellation have suspended service disconnections and late payment charges until May 1. BGE states: “As a provider of the critical infrastructure that powers hospitals and health care facilities, federal, state and local response centers, and the millions of homes and businesses where people live and work, BGE recognizes its foundational role in crisis response plans for the communities it serves.”
If you know of a Marylander or Maryland business or organization that is stepping up in the face of adversity to help others during the pandemic, please reach out to Kimberly Reach at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.
1. Governor Hogan Update on COVID-19
This afternoon, Governor Hogan held a press conference to provide updates on his administration’s response to COVID-19 in Maryland. There are now 6,968 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland, up 24 percent since yesterday, and there have been 171 deaths.
A total of 397 Marylanders have completely recovered from the virus and, today, the governor announced a new registry called “COVID Connect” for those individuals to share their stories of recovery. “The registry will serve as a community platform to share experiences and lend support to others who are coping with the recovery process. We will also provide opportunities for these recovered patients to learn about potential research and clinical study opportunities which may contribute to scientific progress in the treatment of COVID-19 through vaccine testing or medication trials,” he said. To become part of the new registry, recovered coronavirus patients can visit health.maryland.gov/COVIDconnect.
In other state news, Comptroller Franchot held a virtual briefing with state fiscal leaders this morning to provide them with an assessment of the state’s current revenue forecast due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Comptroller Peter Franchot and Bureau of Revenue Estimates (BRE) Director Andrew Schaufele outlined a potential shortfall of approximately $2.8 billion during the final quarter of Fiscal Year 2020, which ends June 30. The economic impact to the state’s business community and working families represents a loss of nearly 15 percent to the state’s annual general fund.
To learn more, you can access the briefing on the Comptroller of Maryland’s Facebook Page. It can also be directly accessed without a Facebook account, here.
If you are interested in receiving the latest news, advisories and updates from the Comptroller’s office, you can subscribe here.
2. Resources from Maryland Health Connection and Maryland Small Business Development Center
This past week, the Chamber hosted two more COVID-19 webinars. The first one—Resources from Maryland Health Connection—was held on Tuesday. As part of the state’s overall response to the coronavirus, and in an effort to prioritize health and safety, Maryland Health Connection (MHC) has opened a new special enrollment period for uninsured Marylanders. The deadline to apply is June 15. All eligible, uninsured Marylanders may qualify for this emergency enrollment period even if they are not sick from the coronavirus.
We’d like to thank Andrew Ratner, chief of staff at MHC, and Johanna Fabian-Marks, director of policy and plan management at MHC, for joining us on the webinar to give our members an overview of the special enrollment period. For more information and instructions on how to enroll, please visit https://www.marylandhealthconnection.gov/coronavirus-sep/.
The second webinar—Resources from Maryland Small Business Development Center—was held earlier today. We’d like to thank Lora Brown, deputy director of the SBDC, and SBDC consultant Grier Melick for joining us on the webinar to discuss the resources and programs it is offering to support small business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, please visit www.marylandsbdc.org. Please also check out the Maryland SBDC Survival Guide, which is continually being updated and can be accessed here.
3. Maryland Business Relief Wizard
MDCC has partnered with business leaders and statewide organizations to help launch the Maryland Business Relief Wizard for businesses to navigate federal and state financial relief programs in response to COVID-19. The “wizard” is an online tool that serves as an up-to-date, one-stop destination for businesses as they seek to navigate the many resources available to them.
By visiting the wizard and answering a short series of questions, businesses will be able to quickly identify which state and federal programs they are eligible for and get directions to apply.
In addition to MDCC, partners and contributors include Howard County Economic Development Authority, Mindgrub, BTS Software Solutions, Maryland Department of Commerce, Howard County Chamber of Commerce, Maryland Tech Council, IBM and various industry subject-matter experts, including KatzAbosch, Capital Services and Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law.
This team will continue to monitor federal and state resources and update the wizard as new programs become available, or as existing programs change in availability. To get started, visit reliefwizard.net. To read more, check out this story in the Baltimore Business Journal.
4. MDCC COVID-19 Working Group holds its third meeting
Established two weeks ago, the COVID-19 Working Group consists of about 60 Chamber members—concerned business owners and employees—who want to play an important role in addressing specific economic, labor and employment issues and, ultimately, helping our business community recover from effects of the pandemic.
The group held its third meeting yesterday. Members of the group are presently considering policy recommendations that could be offered at the federal and state levels to support economic resilience and recovery through the COVID-19 crisis.
The group also discussed the federal proposal to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by increasing small business loan funding from $350 billion to $600 billion.
More information can be found here.
5. Continuing to advocate for 501(c)(6) and 501(c)(5) organizations
Yesterday, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce joined a coalition of business and professional associations to sign on to a letter sent to members of Maryland’s congressional delegation. In the letter, the coalition expresses its concern that Section 501(c)(6) and 501(c)(5) organizations like them were not included in the Paycheck Protection Program put forth by the CARES Act, and requests financial support for these organizations in any future stimulus packages being considered by Congress.
To read the letter in its entirety, please click here.
Read more about what MDCC is doing to advocate for 501(c)6 organizations–and what you can do to help.
Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.
Also read about our interview with Sean Kirk, executive vice president of manufacturing and technical operations at Emergent BioSolutions: As part of our Member Spotlight series, our vice president of membership and development, Whitney Harmel, is interviewing members of the Chamber who are emerging as leaders in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. She recently interviewed Sean Kirk, executive vice president of manufacturing and technical operations at Emergent BioSolutions, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that develops vaccines and antibody therapeutics for infectious diseases, and provides medical devices for biodefense purposes. Listen to the interview here.