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COVID-19 Resource Guide

New information is in red.  Last updated 04/03/2020.

Stronger Together

We know that this is an incredibly uncertain time for you, your employees, and our community. We are working hard to support you, offer information, and bolster resilience. 
 
We know that our community will be changed by this. That said, throughout this crisis we have seen our business community show their true colors amidst an unprecedented challenge. Businesses have donated their personal protective equipment to the state’s emergency response; others have set up charitable efforts to support our most needy, and time and time again, we’ve heard “we want to do what is best to help with the COVID-19 effort.” We have always been glad to represent our members, but you make us proud and you make us confident that we will, as a community, get through this and be stronger together. 
 

This page will be updated with new and relevant information and resources as they become available.  If you have information you would like to share with Vermont’s business community regarding COVID-19, please contact us.

Lake Champlain Chamber Legislative Update (April 3)
The legislative updates are typically reserved for members, but we are opening access to the general public to better inform the community during these unprecedented times.

Lake Champlain Chamber – Support These Small Businesses From Home
We are frequently updating this list of small businesses you can support right from your couch.

Lake Champlain Chamber Job Forms
Two forms have been created to help individuals in this uncertain time.  For job seekers, the job search form allows you to upload your resume and desired employment information. That information is then distributed to HR professionals and recruiters. For employers, the job openings form allows you to upload information on your current open positions. That information is then uploaded to our job board.

Read our Business Continuity Plan.
The Lake Champlain Chamber is committed to maintaining a healthy work environment for our employees while continuing to serve our members and mission.

Read the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Order
Read the Governor’s addendum to his 01-20 Executive Order effective Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Read our memo to Governor Scott.
Our suggestions were focused toward three ends; Reaction, Retention, and Recovery in that order of priority.

About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
The CDC offers information on how Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) spreads, symptoms, prevention and treatment, what to do if you are sick, and frequently asked questions, including printable fliers

Small Business Resources

Vermont ACCD’s COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center
Find helpful FAQs and guidance on Paycheck Protection Loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economy Injury Grants, the Small Business Debt Relief Program, and other resources available to businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Coronavirus Emergency Loans – Small Business Guide and Checklist 
A helpful infographic prepared by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help small business owners better understand the emergency loans available to them under the CARES Act.

Information on Paycheck Protection Program from SBA
SBA Lenders will be able to start taking applications as soon as April 3. Lenders in Vermont can be found here.

Information on Paycheck Protection Program from U.S. Treasury
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.  You can find the application here.

FAQ on Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Order
This frequently asked questions document provides more detail on the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order.

NAICS Code Guidance on Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Order
Businesses can review this list to determine, using their NAICS Code to determine which functions may be determine critical.

The CARES Act: What You Need to Know About Emergency Small Business Relief
A concise summary of key points and answers to FAQs about the Paycheck Protection Program by Venable, LLP (Mar 26, 2020).

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act
The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act One-Pager
An outline of notable sections in the CARES Act in respect to nonprofit organizations by ASAE (Mar 26, 2020).

Yelp Business Impact Survey
Coronavirus is quickly reshaping every corner of the U.S. local economy — and Yelp data is

reflecting the upheaval in real time.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources (SBA)
Health and government officials are working together to maintain the safety, security and health of the American people.  Small businesses are encouraged to do their part to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy.

National Small Business Association Small Business Impact Poll – COVID-19
The coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread in the U.S. creating widespread economic
turbulence. In an effort to illustrate the real-world implications of the virus and help policymakers
understand the likely long-term effects the pandemic is causing among America’s small businesses,
NSBA has compiled a poll of more than 950 small-business owners on how the virus is impacting
their small business.

Disaster Loan Assistance (SBA)
Businesses in the 10 counties in Vermont already declared may immediately apply for assistance. To apply online, visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. Please note SBA is experiencing significant volume. While they work to add additional customer service and processing capability, here are a couple of suggestions if you are trying to apply for disaster loan.

  • Consider applying after 5pm
  • Do not use the Chrome browser
  • Some applicants are having difficulty uploading the required documentation. If you are attempting to file after 5pm and not using Chrome, you can call SBA (1-800-659-2955) to work around uploading documents (hours 8am to 8pm)

SCORE Business Mentoring
Find a mentor or volunteer to support small businesses

Vermont Federal Credit Union Relief Program
VFCU is offering a number of financial programs to support businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19

Acceptable Continuation of Business Operations
Commercial entities, non-profits, employers and others with questions about the acceptable continuation of business operations should contact the Agency of Commerce and Community Development via this online form.

VtSBDC Disaster Recovery Guide
Information on how small businesses can navigate disasters.

Webinars

Upcoming:

4/7: COVID-19 Policy Resources for Nonprofit
Join VBSR and Common Good VT for a webinar reviewing the latest federal policy changes impacting Vermont’s nonprofit sector including emergency loan assistance, expanded unemployment benefits, and other significant measures that will help your nonprofit organization navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

4/9: COVID-19: HR Considerations for Your Workplace
As all Vermonters struggle in this challenging time, NFP Vermont is committed to helping employers navigate the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and employees.

4/10: COVID-19 Legal Issues and Updates for Employers
Join VBSR and employment attorneys Jon Rose and Liz Kleinberg, as we discuss some common employment law questions and update small businesses and HR professionals on the latest state and federal legislative responses.

4/10: COVID-19 Crisis Cashflow Planning
Join serial CFO/Reconciled’s CEO Michael Ly as he shares some tips that can help your business last through one of this generations most complicated small business challenges.

4/14: Dealing with COVID-19 Anxiety and Hope: Options for Business Resiliency
This webinar will look at some best practices for balancing business needs with self-care, optimal team dynamics, and moving through uncertainty. We’ll discuss ways to honor the apprehension and anxiety, while at the same time extending empathy and compassion for ourselves and others.

Past Recordings:

4/2: Important Information for Businesses About New Laws in the Age of COVID-19 with Paul Frank + Collins
Paul, Frank + Collins joined us to discuss recent laws relating to employment matters, federal assistance to businesses, and business tax matters.

You can find the slides from this webinar here.  PLEASE NOTE: New information is becoming available very quickly and these materials may be outdated after April 1, 2020.

3/30: Congressional Update: Federal Stabilization Bill
The offices of Senators Leahy and Sanders and Congressman Welch will provide an update on the federal stabilization package and answer questions.

Communications in a Crisis

Ten Tips for Communicating During COVID-19 (VCET)
Ten takeaways that are relevant for any organization looking for some guidance.

Business Continuity Planning

Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist (HHS & CDC)
Planning for pandemic influenza is critical. To assist you in your efforts, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed the following checklist for large businesses. It identifies important, specific activities large businesses can do now to prepare, many of which will also help you in other emergencies.

Pandemic Preparedness Planning For U.S. Businesses With Overseas Operations (CDC)
The United States Government has created the following guide to help U.S. businesses with overseas operations prepare and implement pandemic business continuity. This is a list of suggestions and can serve as a starting point for developing a comprehensive plan. The checklist highlights actions applicable to businesses of all sizes, although each item does not necessarily apply to every overseas business.

COVID-19 Business Planning Checklist
The Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants has put together a COVID-19 Business Planning Checklist based on FEMA guidance and best practices.

Getting Ahead of the Coronavirus Outbreak: A Checklist for Multinational Employers
This is a suggested macro-checklist for multinational employers to help you prepare.

Sample Pandemic Threat Condition Levels
This is a sample of pandemic threat condition levels that could be implemented at your business.

Sample Pandemic Preparation Questions
This outlines questions to ask during an outbreak, questions to ask once an outbreak becomes a pandemic, and which actions your crisis management team should perform regularly afterward to stay prepared.

Vermont Essential Person’s List
Details on how the state continues to define “Essential Persons” for the COVID-19 response. Sign-up for childcare for essential persons here.

Healthcare Resources

Blue Cross Blue Shield benefit and policy changes in response to COVID-19
As COVID-19 evolves, BCBS are responding by making changes to ensure access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Temporary benefit and policy changes have been made to help support their members, providers and the Vermont community.

Why does staying home help save lives?
Hear from infectious disease expert Tim Lahey, MD, of UVM Medical Center as he advises you to stay home and practice social distancing during the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic.

Vermont Health Connect expanding access to health insurance
Due to the COVID-19 emergency, Vermont will be temporarily waiving financial verifications required for those seeking to enroll in health insurance; Extending out coverage periods until after the emergency ends; Suspending certain terminations of health insurance; Offering a Special Enrollment Period (1 month) for those who do not currently have health insurance to enroll in a qualified health plan and receive premium and cost-sharing assistance, if eligible. (Eligible Vermonters can continue to apply for, and enroll in, Medicaid at any time.)

UVM Medical Center Blog: Breathe In, Breathe Out: How to Deal with Stress Due to COVID-19
As we all practice social distancing, we need to find new and different ways to manage our stress. Below are a few tips we suggest to improve your well-being. 

Legal Guidance

Legal Guidance on Workplace Pandemic Planning (EEOC)
This technical assistance document provides information about Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and pandemic planning in the workplace. It identifies established ADA principles that are relevant to questions frequently asked about workplace pandemic planning such as:

  • How much information may an employer request from an employee who calls in sick, in order to protect the rest of its workforce when an influenza pandemic appears imminent?
  • When may an ADA-covered employer take the body temperature of employees during a pandemic?
  • Does the ADA allow employers to require employees to stay home if they have symptoms of the pandemic influenza virus?
  • When employees return to work, does the ADA allow employers to require doctors’ notes certifying their fitness for duty?

Coronavirus Update for Vermont Employers & HR Professionals: Answers to 7 FAQs (Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC)
Today, many employers and human resources professionals are finding themselves in uncharted territory as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been declared a national emergency and continues to impact communities around the world. Employment Attorney, Alexandra Clauss, is actively counseling businesses on legal best practices for responding to the virus and promoting a safe and healthy work environment.

Coronavirus Scams (FTC)
The FTC and FDA have jointly issued warning letters to seven sellers of unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent the Coronavirus. The companies’ products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver.

Tax Guidance

Coronavirus Tax Relief (IRS)
The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus.

Meals and Rooms/Sales and Use Tax Relief
The Governor has directed the Commissioner of Taxes to exercise his authority to provide relief to Vermont businesses who owe Meals and Rooms Tax or Sales and Use Tax until further notice. Many of our local businesses find themselves unable to meet the March 25 and April 25 filing deadlines due to the implementation of mitigation steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Taxpayers who are unable to meet the deadlines will not be charged any penalty or interest on these taxes for late submissions.   

Remote Work Guidance

25 Remote Work Tips
Brief bullet points on how to maximize productivity while working remotely.

Vermont Department of Public Service Announces Public Internet Hotspot Maps
Broadband Internet access is an important resource for remote learning and working from home but may not be readily available to all residents. The Public Service Department has prepared a map of public buildings in Vermont where WiFi with access to the internet is publicly available. These sites are accessible at all hours from a parked vehicle on the road or parking lot. 

Free Webinar: How to Be an Effective Employee While Working from Home
Tech Group is offering a free training webinar to share best practices for being productive and professional when working from home.

Coronavirus: How to work from home, the right way (BBC)
Companies around the globe have rolled our mandatory remote work.  Whether you’re a newbie or WFH veteran, here’s what you need to do to stay productive.

Telework Guidelines During COVID-19 Pandemic (State of Vermont)
The State of Vermont is strongly encouraging telework for its state workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  State Departments and Agencies should be exploring all possible options for teleworking for state employees applying this approach liberally including flexible hours.

5 Tools You Need to Become Remote-Work-Ready
Monday.com has put together a list of five essential resources for a remote work situation.

Comcast Announces Comprehensive COVID-19 Response to Help Keep Americans Connected to the Internet
Company opens Xfinity WiFi network nationally for free, offers unlimited data for free, confirms its commitment to connecting low-income families.

5 big tech companies making remote-work tools free during the coronavirus outbreak, including Google and Microsoft (Business Insider)
Here are five tech companies that are making it easier to work remotely, and are making their services more accessible to small businesses and organizations.

6 ways to deal with conflict and disagreement when you work remotely
Even if it’s not well received—and even if you’re wrong—disagreement is productive. Here’s how to make the most of it in a remote work situation.

Tips on cyber safety during the COVID-19 crisis by Tech Group.
Tech Group, Inc. is fully operational, available and prepared to help you stay productive and navigate potential business challenges.

Manufacturing Industry Resources

National Association of Manufacturers: Coronavirus Resources
The NAM is in contact with federal officials who are overseeing the response to the coronavirus and they are working to share additional available information.

Food Service Industry Resources

Restaurant Employee Relief Fund
Through this Fund, grants will be made to restaurant industry employees who have been impacted by COVID-19, including a decrease in wages or loss of employment.

Frontline Foods – Feed Our Frontline Workers
This organization is feeding frontline workers by collecting donations and passing them through directly to local restaurants to provide meals, helping both the restaurant and healthcare industries.

Good To-Go Vermont: A Directory of Takeout Options During the Coronavirus Era
Seven Days has compiled Good To-Go Vermont as a new resource to help you find out what your favorite eateries are serving up via takeout, delivery or curbside pickup. Add your business if you are currently offering any of these services!

Coronavirus Information and Resources (National Restaurant Association)
To ensure that restaurants have the latest information about coronavirus, the National Restaurant Association created this industry-specific guidance for owners and operators.

VT Department of Liquor Control COVID-19 FAQS
VTDLC’s COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Plan.

Resources Provided by Members

VTDigger Business Directory
VTDigger is collecting information on what businesses are offering delivery/curbside pickup.

Reconciled‘s Michael Ly has offered to present a webinar on working with remote teams and keeping engagement rhythm to Chamber members at no cost.  Contact Billy Connelly, Member Engagement Manager, if you are interested.

Reconciled is offering a free 15 minute consultation with their accountants on cashflow/planning.  Contact [email protected] if you are interested.

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development wants to hear from Vermont businesses impacted by the response to COVID-19.  Please share your experience and send it to [email protected].

GMT to offer free bus service, alter routes
Due to the rapidly changing COVID-19 pandemic, the Burlington area public bus system, GMT, is offering the following updates to its passengers.

Coronavirus Resource Guide (VRGA)
A well-organized resource guide from our friends at the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association.

Comcast Opens Xfinity WiFi Network Nationally for Free
Comcast announced additional steps to help ensure people stay connected to the internet as more schools suspend classes and companies encourage employees to work from home due to COVID-19.

Hunger Free Vermont
Covers all the different nutrition programs people could become eligible for quickly if they have had a change in income. This could be helpful for employers to know if they have had to reduce employee hours, for example.

Monitoring the Situation

Situation Summary (CDC)
This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance.

Monitoring the COVID-19 in Vermont (VT Department of Health)
Stay informed about COVID-19.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel (CDC)
This page offers the current travel warning, alert and watches, as well as destinations with risk of community spread.  Burlington International Airport has stepped up its sanitation efforts in response to the spread of Coronavirus.

Responding to a Pandemic

Pandemic Guidance 
A brief outline of how to prepare before and respond during a pandemic by Ready.gov, official website of the Department of Homeland Security.

Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
CDC recommended guidance for employers, including advice for developing a response plan and steps that all employers can implement now. Based on what is currently known about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Feb 2020)

Best Practice: Establish a Cross-Functional Team to Manage Preparation and Response
Establishing a team to manage your assessment, preparation and response is an important best practice.  Learn more about why and who that team should include.

How a Severe Pandemic Could Affect Workplaces (OSHA)
Unlike natural disasters or terrorist events, an influenza pandemic will be widespread, affecting multiple areas of the United States and other countries at the same time.

Additional Resources

City of Burlington Resource & Recovery Center
Questions on how the Resource & Recovery Center can help can be sent to [email protected]
or call 802-775-7239.

Spherion Job Board
Spherion has information on open positions in the area.

Vermont Department of Health Public Health Response to 2019 Novel Coronavirus
The Health Department is closely monitoring the rapid developments in the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, COVID-19.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Updates from UVM Medical Center
The UVM Health Network is working with the Vermont Department of Health and New York State Department of Health to coordinate preparedness efforts based upon guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

World Health Organization: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
Information and guidance from WHO regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease, including daily updates.

World Health Organization: Video Explainer
Video from WHO explaining what’s currently known about the virus.

Unemployment Insurance – Mass Claims Program (VTDOL)
The Mass Claims Program allows employers who are experiencing a slowdown in business, or a temporary/permanent layoff for a group of 10 or more employees, to open claims for the affected employees. REMINDER: If your business is laying off ten (10) or more employees, there is a specific “mass layoff” process.

PRESS RELEASE – VTDOL announces electronic option, staff increases for Unemployment Insurance claims
In an effort to facilitate increased applications to its Unemployment Insurance Claims Center, the Vermont Department of Labor has announced the creation of an electronic form and staffing increases to assist those individuals impacted as a result of COVID-19.

Vermont Distilleries Offer Free, Homemade Hand Sanitizer
Amid heightened precautions around COVID-19, stores are running out of cleaning wipes, sterile gloves, face masks and hand sanitizers. But across Vermont, local distillers are taking care of one of those needs.

Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis
Based on their ongoing analysis and support for our clients around the world, the Harvard Business Review has distilled the following 12 lessons for responding to unfolding events, communicating, and extracting and applying learnings.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Aid Tracker
The business community is mobilizing its expertise, capabilities, and community resources to assist with the relief and containment efforts. Learn more.

American Chamber of Commerce in China: Flash Survey Results on COVID-19 Impact Revealed (2/27/20)
On Feb. 27, the American Chamber of Commerce in China (“AmCham China”) released the results of a flash survey that measures the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on its member companies.

Coronavirus Resource Page
A resource page by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, including links to Resilience in a Box and Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Quick Guides.

COVID Business Update from the Church Street Marketplace
Details on what businesses are operating, have online or social media shopping options, offer gift cards, or have delivery/take out.

Finding Work During COVID-19
Recently displaced workers can find information on how they can find remote work during and after the pandemic.

Student Loan Debt During COVID-19
Helpful information one what opportunities there are to mitigate the burden of student loan debt.