AUGUST 6 – WEEKLY UPDATE
Happy August! It’s the official ‘back to school’ season. Though this year, it’s quite different. This week, the State published new guidance for reopening of elementary schools. Despite the fact that San Diego and many of other counties across the state remain on the COVID-19 watch list, elementary schools within counties with fewer than 200 cases per 100,000 people can now apply for a waiver to reopen for in-person learning. San Diego Unified, which announced last month that schools in the district will begin the school year with online-only learning, has not announced whether or not they will apply for waiver. Yesterday, Poway Unified School District announced the major decision to remain fully virtual through December. The county is currently working on a template for the waiver process and expects to release it by the end of the week. The waiver will first have to be submitted to our local public health officer for approval before going to the state Department of Public Health.
Last week, the Senate released its Phase Four coronavirus stimulus package. Called the “Heals Act,” it differs dramatically from the House-passed “Heroes Act.” The US Chamber published a side-by-side comparison between the two proposals, also highlighting the Chamber’s priorities. This week, Politico reported that the Trump administration is debating a series of executive orders related to COVID relief amidst the lack of congressional action.
Tomorrow is the last day to apply for a PPP Loan! If your business is qualified for the loan and has not yet applied, contact your banking institution and the San Diego and Imperial SBDC ASAP! The PPP Loan program will likely be extended in the Phase Four stimulus package, however, it is unknown when congress will come to an agreement.
The Mexican federal government announced that the school year will begin August 24 and take place remotely until further notice to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure. The instruction excludes higher education, with universities to determine when and how to resume studies based on local circumstances. The Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) signed a collaboration agreement with multiple television networks and radio stations which will broadcast educational programs nationwide. In addition, SEP will continue to provide free textbooks to students enrolled in public schools (grades K-9) and is developing a strategic plan to support working single parents.
In Baja, the Secretariat of Sustainable Economy and Tourism (SEST) signed a memorandum of understanding with Baja Health Cluster in an effort to reactivate medical tourism in the region. The agreement will facilitate data sharing; joint research to further understand the demand of health services across the state; specialized training for health professionals; and increased collaboration to promote medical tourism. In addition, SEST announced the reopening of public places including local pools and places of worship up to 25 and 30 percent of capacity respectively.
Health and safety checkpoints enforcing stay at home orders remain in place at the Ensenada and Mexicali city access points and those across the city in Ensenada. This includes the Calexico West, Calexico East, and Andrade/Algodones land ports of entry, where checkpoints will be operating from Friday, August 7 at 2:00pm to Sunday, August 9 at 8:00pm. Authorities will verify the use of face coverings, confirm that the trip’s purpose is essential, and conduct temperature checks for each passenger. Please note that there is also a limit of two passengers per vehicle crossing southbound through Mexicali’s land ports of entry.
The Senate is considering AB 685: Occupational Safety: COVID-19 exposure: notification, that would require employers to notify employees within a 24 hour period of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. If employers knowingly fail to notify employees it would result in a misdemeanor.
The bill passed the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee yesterday with a 4-1 vote and it has been re-referred to the Committee on Appropriations. Here’s a good overview.
Tomorrow, the Senate’s Public Safety Committee is set to take up several police reform measures, including a bill to ban chokeholds and carotid restraints, a bill disqualifying law enforcement officers who use excessive force, and a bill requiring the Department of Justice conduct independent investigations of police shootings.
Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted to allocate additional CARES Act funding and approved a plan to ramp up enforcement of the public health order. This includes $25 million for child care, $18.8 million for the Great Plates Delivered Program and other food service programs, and $5 million for testing, tracing, and treatment strategies for K-12 schools (if schools are permitted for in person instruction). The BOS also voted to add testing sites to the U.S./Mexico border, focusing on testing essential workers. Finally, the BOS allocated an additional $3.5 million for the small business stimulus grant program to specifically focus on restaurants (each supervisorial district will receive about $700,000). The county’s 24/7 Healthy Compliance Call Center is live and the public can report violations of the public health order. The BOS approved funding for additional compliance staff. The county will have 35 dedicated staff members for enforcement of the public health order (as opposed to law enforcement enforcing it).
Yesterday, the County BOS unanimously approved Supervisor Jacob’s proposal to allow places of worship, gyms, and other fitness-oriented businesses to operate in county parks. Permit fees will be waived and the County Department of Parks and Recreation will review applications. Also yesterday, the county reported case investigations are at 73% (the goal is 90% within a 24 hour period). This correlates to the county’s hiring of additional case investigators.
As reported in last week’s legislative update, the county now requires employers to notify employees of a COVID-19 outbreak that occurred at a physical work location when three or more cases occur within a 14 day period. Businesses are also required to report COVID-19 positive cases to the County Department of Public Health and cooperate with the county’s COVID-19 response team for contact tracing. The public health order can be viewed here and a helpful flowchart for what to do for a suspected or COVID-19 positive employee can be viewed here.
Across the region, enforcement actions have been mounting on parties and persons who fail to comply with the state’s shutdown orders. San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan brought forward five misdemeanor charges against a business owner in Ramona for violating the county’s public health order.
Meanwhile, in Del Mar, there is a new pilot program coming online following a 4-1 vote on Tuesday in favor of a proposal brought forward by council member Dwight Worden and Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland. The proposal calls for sheriff’s deputies to patrol the city, engage in education efforts and issue citations for those not in compliance with rules and best practices designed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
On Tuesday, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved two measures to provide additional relief to small and underserved businesses. The council voted to finalize Mayor Faulconer’s previous executive order, allowing businesses to operate on private parking lots, sidewalks, and street parking and specified that $700,000 of the City’s Small Business Relief Fund will be granted to businesses in historically underserved communities.
San Diego City Council also approved a middle-income density bonus in an attempt to spur the construction of homes designed to be affordable for San Diegans who qualify as “middle income”. Middle income is defined as 80% to 120% of an area’s median income, which rose to $92,700 in San Diego this spring.
Capital Opportunities & Resources:
- The City of Escondido has partnered with the San Diego North Economic Development Council to administer the Small Business Grant Program to Escondido small businesses. Learn more here.
- City of San Diego Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permit – Businesses (restaurants, retail stores, gyms, hair salons, nail salons) can now expand into the public right-of-way, parking lots, and public spaces. Information on how to apply for a Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permit can be found here.
- City of San Diego’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program is accepting applications through August 7. More information on how to apply can be found here.
- San Diego County Small Business Stimulus Grant – Businesses must have fewer than 100 employees, be headquartered in San Diego County, have 1-year operating history, and have experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to be eligible. Apply here.
o Applications are due on the following dates:
- District 1 – August 14
- District 2- August 15
- District 5 – August 7
- Districts 3 & 4 – October 16
- Supervisor Fletcher (District 3) is working with Black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific Islander business organizations to encourage small businesses in those communities to apply.
- Calling All Californians: #ShopSafeShopLocal – A new state-wide website with resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs, including a digital medial toolkit, quick links to industry guidance, direct access to PPE, and free business consulting through the Small Business Development Center network.
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – PPP funds are still available. The deadline to apply for a PPP Loan was extended to August 8. Find a financial lender to apply for funds here.
o The San Diego and Imperial SBDC has developed a webinar on PPP Loan Forgiveness. Watch it on-demandhere.
- Businesses can also reach out to their nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which has developed the Small Business Survival Resources Guide to help business owners navigate through the chaos COVID-19 is having on our communities. SBDC can help with applying for relief, guiding you through available resources and assisting with cash flow concerns, supply-chain interruptions, workforce capacity, insurance coverage, and more–all at no cost.
- The State Treasurer’s Office has published this list of Federal, State, Local, Private, and Non-profit resources available to small businesses.
- Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce Relief Fund – Black-owned businesses can apply for funding and technical assistance here. Email questions and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org
International Business Affairs:
In partnership with the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. and PCM Corporativo, the Chamber hosted a webinar focused on trade and exporting tools and how to navigate the cross-border landscape. To learn more about how trade finance solutions can help mitigate risk in today’s business climate, expand sales in new or existing markets, and leverage complementing resources available in our Cali-Baja region, click here for a recording of the webinar and here to download the presentation.
This month’s Forum will feature a discussion on the economic impact of the immigrant population in San Diego and efforts to advance their civic, social, and economic integration. The meeting will take place virtually on Thursday, August 20 at 10:00am. For more information, or to register, please visit our website.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy changes
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the following changes to DACA effective immediately: rejection of all new DACA applications including employment authorizations and renewed applications and employment authorization documents are now only approved for one year instead of the two-year period previously granted.
DHS is currently undertaking a review regarding the future of DACA and released a memorandum outlining areas of concern. However, across the nation, there is great support for the DACA program including from the business community. Nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, are a vital part of the U.S. economy and 45,000 of them call San Diego their home. Nearly a third of all DACA recipients are essential workers helping communities through this pandemic and 29,000 are health care professionals working on the front lines.
The Chamber has issued letters in support of the DACA program and urges Congress to take up legislation to make this program permanent and prevent future uncertainty for our communities and economy.
SANDAG released a Cycle 11 Call for Projects through the Specialized Transportation Grant Program. Applicants who provide transportation services for seniors and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. “Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, purchase of accessible vans and buses, coordinated volunteer driver programs, shopping shuttle services, non-emergency medical trips, and transit travel training classes. The call for projects is open for a 90-day period. Applications are due by 4 p.m. on October 30, 2020.” More information can be found here.