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ENERGY ASSOCIATION

COVID-19 Resources

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COVID-19 National Disaster Relief Declaration Paves Way for Tax-Advantaged Way for Employers to Provide Relief to Employees

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers are looking for ways to help their employees cope with the ongoing crisis. For example, many employers have offered free coverage of COVID-19 testing and treatment under their group health plans and are enhancing employee assistance program benefits to deal with the psychological toll. Of course, in these uncertain times, many employees are worried about the financial impact of the pandemic, not only with respect to potential lost wages, but also from the ancillary expenses, such as caring for impacted loved ones and daycare expenses now that many schools have closed. When President Trump declared that the COVID-19 pandemic constituted a national emergency on March 13, he opened the door for employers to take advantage of an often-overlooked provision in the tax code that would allow employers to make tax-free "qualified disaster relief payments" to employees.

Please click the button below to review this LEGALcurrents®.

Learn More

 

Protocol For Testing

May 4, 2020

New York State DOH Issues Guidance Regarding Testing For Essential Workers!

As New York State aggressively expands COVID-19 diagnostic testing capacity, the Department of Health has revised guidance to increase testing for frontline workers, including all first responders, health care workers, and essential employees who interact with the public, while continuing to prioritize resources. Testing for COVID-19 shall be authorized by a health care provider for individuals who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • An individual is symptomatic or has a history of symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, and/or trouble breathing), particularly if the individual is 70 years of age or older, the individual has a compromised immune system, or the individual has an underlying health condition; or
  • An individual has had close (i.e. within six feet) or proximate contact with a person known to be positive with COVID-19; or
  • An individual is subject to a precautionary or mandatory quarantine; or
  • An individual is employed as a health care worker, first responder, or other essential worker who directly interacts with the public while working; or
  • An individual presents with a case where the facts and circumstances – as determined by the treating clinician in consultation with state or local department of health officials – warrant testing.

For additional details, please refer to the NYSDOH website: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing.

 

Waivers

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted an RVP waiver to provide additional flexibility to the marketplace to transition from winter-grade, high volatility gasoline to summer-grade low vapor pressure gasoline. The waiver begins on May 1, 2020 and lasts through May 20, 2020. Nationwide Fuel Waiver Concerning Summertime Volatility Requirements for Gasoline.

  • PHMSA Issues Enforcement Waiver For CDL Hazmat Driver Reoccurring Training
    Please click here to read more.

  • FMSCA Suspends HOS Regulations for Those Aiding COVID-19 Relief. For a copy of the FMCSA waiver please click here.
    Use of this waiver is only applicable in the direct support of Emergency Relief. 

     

Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order

March 21, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order, which formally adopts the 100% workforce reduction for nonessential businesses.  This executive order also tolls until April 19, 2020 any specific time limit “for the commencement, filing or service of any legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding, as prescribed by the procedural laws of the state, including but limited to the criminal procedure law, the family court act, the civil practice law and rules, the court of claims act, the surrogate’s court procedure act, and the uniform court acts, or by any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rue, or regulation, or part thereof.”

Further, this executive order suspends the requirement that company boards hold in-person shareholder meetings, prohibits evictions/foreclosures for 90 days and extends driver’s license and vehicle registrations for the duration of the order.  The text of the executive order can be found here:

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2028-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency

Overnight, Empire State Development (ESD) updated the guidance for determining whether a business was essential or non-essential. We anticipate that this guidance will continue to be updated, and we will send you those updates as we receive them.  The guidance can be found here:

https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026

Fuel retailers/wholesalers are covered under the list Essential Infrastructure which includes fuel supply and gas stations are included under the list for Essential Retail, skilled trades, such as electricians, plumbers and other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes are included under Construction.

As a reminder, for businesses that are unclear regarding their classification as essential, ESD has established an online form that can be submitted to receive an individual designation.  The form can be found here:

https://esd.ny.gov/sites/default/files/Request%20for%20Designation%20Form_0.pdf.

The form must be submitted by an individual business and cannot be submitted by an Association on behalf of a particular industry.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

NYS Paid Sick Leave Legislation

  • Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million will provide job protection for the duration of the quarantine order and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

  • Employers with 11-99 employees and employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave, job protection for the duration of the quarantine order, and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

  • Employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employers (regardless of number of employees), will provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection for the duration of the quarantine order.

It also directs the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to implement a risk adjustment pool to help stabilize the DBL/PFL insurance carrier industry. Also, if federal COVID-19 benefits are approved, these state benefits would only apply if they would provide employee benefits in excess of what is available under federal law.

NYS Resources

REMINDER: To help keep up with the quickly changing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, below are some important resources related to the economic impacts for businesses and workers ...

  • ESD has set up a web portal and FAQ page for individuals and businesses with business-related COVID-19 issues and questions on this website with all COVID-19 info: https://esd.ny.gov/esd-covid-19-related-resources

  • NYS page for all COVID-19 information: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home

  • NEW: SBA has approved a statewide disaster declaration for New York. Eligible small businesses may now apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) online at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

  • Many businesses and organizations have expressed a desire to support New York State as it responds to the virus outbreak. Individuals or groups looking to volunteer or contribute to the State’s effort should contact the Governor’s Office at covid19assistance@exec.ny.gov.

  • DOL has been working hard to keep up with the new demand for Unemployment Insurance and has institute new rules that include extended ours and restrictions about when to file based on your last name: https://labor.ny.gov/pressreleases/2020/march-17-2020-1.shtm

  • DOL is also reminding businesses of its Shared Work Program that can provide an alternative to laying off employees during business downturns by allowing workers to work a reduced work schedule and collect partial unemployment insurance benefits for up to 26 weeks. Instead of cutting staff, you able to reduce the number of hours of all employees or just a certain group: https://www.labor.ny.gov/ui/employerinfo/shared-work-program.shtm

  • The NY State of Health insurance marketplace is reopening enrollment in Qualified Health Plans in response to the outbreak of Covid-19, so that more people might seek out testing and medical care. People can purchase coverage on the exchange or directly from insurers through April 15 with policies effective April 1.

  • The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs has published an Emergency Rule on price gouging. The rule prohibits price gouging with regard to personal and household goods and services that either: (a) consumers reasonably believe aid in diagnosing or monitoring disease symptoms, prevent the spread of disease, or treat disease, under certain circumstances; or (b) merchants market as aiding in diagnosing or monitoring disease symptoms, preventing the spread of disease, or treating disease, under certain circumstances.

  • New York City: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/sbs/businesses/covid19-business-outreach.page

 

Information for Businesses:

Related Organization Resources

Government Resources

Personal Protective Equipment Resources

ESEA emailed a notice to members regarding the ordering of cloth face masks through PMAA/FEMA/DOE offer. Forty companies took advantage of this offer and a total 3,400 masks were ordered. Orders to be shipped today. From what we know, there should be another ordering period - Date Still To Be Determined. We will update you once we know more.

ESEA has been able to locate a few other sources for face coverings. Please see below:

Personal Protection Equipment of Texas - can handle orders of any size, for both 3 ply surgical masks, as well as KN95 respirator masks (recently FDA approved). https://ppetexas.com/order-ppe

SC Health SPV - Contact Lance Brown at lance@schealthspv.com or 803-297-799 https://www.schealthspv.com

Click here to download the SC Health Personal Protective Equipment Brochure.

Orange Packaging - a family owned and operated business in Newburgh, NY. are currently producing between 30,000 to 50,000 face shields per week. You can order by contacting Mike Esposito at 845-742-9766 or through the order link.

NARFA N95-Compliant Masks - Contact Josie Gelfin - josie@narfa.com for all orders.

Click here to download the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Order Form.

In addition to PPE face masks and shields, Fuel Management Services is now offering FDA/CDC compliant Kwik-Kleenz Hand Sanitizer and Multi-Purpose Cleaner. For more information click on the links above, see write up below or call 732-929-1964 or email markstellar@verizon.net for price quotes and other inquiries.

If you or your company can offer PPE equipment or has contacts that can help, please contact ESEA.

 

Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Disease 2019 website for latest information: HERE

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus 2019 Map: (here)