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”:
Washington Gas announced in a press release on April 13 that they are donating $150,000 “in a first round of ongoing funding that will be distributed among eight local non-profit organizations to support their efforts in providing essential services to those in need” during the COVID-19 pandemic. The donation will be dispersed to United Way National Capital Region, Greater Washington Community Foundation, Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, DC Central Kitchen, Mary’s Center, Shepherd’s Table, United Communities Against Poverty, and AARP (DC region). Additionally, Washington Gas is suspending disconnections, waiving late fees, and offering payment plans for customers during this public health crisis.
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
At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Governor Hogan provided updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and announced an executive order that will require face masks or face coverings to be worn inside retail establishments like grocery stores, or when riding public transportation in the state. The order also requires all staff to wear face coverings and all businesses to put social distancing measures into place. The order will go into effect at 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 18.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Maryland had over 10,000 confirmed cases, with 349 deaths, 87 of which had occurred in the last 48 hours. In better news, 607 Marylanders have recovered and been released from isolation.
While our case numbers are still rising, Hogan said that we are beginning to see positive signs that early and aggressive actions by the state are working. The governor announced that we are now in a position to move from containment and mitigation to planning the “gradual rollout of our recovery phase.”
He said that there are four building blocks of the state’s recovery plan: 1) expanding testing capacity, 2) increasing hospital surge capacity by 6,000 beds, 3) ramping up supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and 4) building a robust contact tracing operation. According to Maryland’s Deputy Health Secretary Frances Phillips, contact tracing is the process of finding and reaching out to infected people.
2. MDCC Business Coalition letter to state leaders: Principles for reopening the economy
Yesterday a coalition of business organizations, led by the Maryland Chamber, NFIB and the Maryland Retailers Association, sent a letter to Governor Hogan and leaders of the General Assembly laying out the coalition’s four principles or considerations for reopening the state’s economy. Read the letter here.
3. MDCC Business Coalition letter to Congressional Delegation: Replenish the PPP
Yesterday, the Small Business Administration’s rescue loan program for small businesses– the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)–hit its $349 billion cap. The speed at which small businesses drained the initial $350 billion program (it was exhausted in less than two weeks) highlights the severe impact that state-imposed closures are having on small businesses across the country.
In response to the news, the Maryland Chamber, working with a broader business coalition led by the Maryland Bankers Association, signed on to a joint letter to Maryland’s congressional delegation urging immediate new funds for the PPP and action to protect businesses that have already submitted loan applications. Read the letter here.
The Maryland Chamber has been a close partner of the Maryland Bankers Association on issues pertaining to the SBA and PPP, and we were pleased to partner with them on this effort.
4. Leadership conversation with U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen
This week, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors and other Chamber leaders had the honor of participating in a conversation with U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen on the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic thus far.
We’d like to thank Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen for their steadfast leadership throughout the crisis, and for taking time out of their busy schedules to give us an overview of the first three federal emergency relief packages, including the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program; what we can expect from a fourth relief package; their thoughts on any additional future stimulus packages; and what the business community can expect moving forward. The senators also answered questions from the participants.
In order for all of our members to have the opportunity to listen to and benefit from this important discussion, we have provided a link to a full recording of the conversation, available here and on our MDCC resources page.
5. Taking care of yourself during COVID-19
Next week the Maryland Chamber will host a webinar entitled COVID-19: Taking Care of Yourself and Your Team. Representatives from Kaiser Permanente will join us to discuss practicing mental well-being in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include practicing gratitude, caring for yourself and caring for your employees.
The webinar will take place on Tuesday, April 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. You can register here.
Interview with Liz Porter of Leidos
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 Elizabeth (Liz) Porter, acting president of the Health Group at Leidos.
Ms. Porter leads an organization of several thousand employees providing services and solutions in health information technology, population health risk management and case management, health analytics, life sciences, and public health—all pertinent issues as we battle the COVID-19 epidemic.
Listen to the interview here.
Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.