Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: States Facing Pressure to Relax COVID-19 Restrictions
EDM Friday Briefing: States Facing Pressure to Relax COVID-19 Restrictions

EDM Friday Briefing: States Facing Pressure to Relax COVID-19 Restrictions

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 1, 2020: States across the country are facing pressure to relax COVID-19 restrictions and reopen businesses; the USDA has declared counties in Colorado and Kansas as primary natural disaster areas; a new study points to major gaps in the use of social media by emergency service agencies; forgiven PPP loans are not eligible for tax deductions; disaster relief teams respond to tornado-stricken Onalaska, Texas; tornado debris clean up will begin in phases in Bradley County, Tennessee; small family farms and ranchers are now eligible for SBA EIDL grant and loan assistance; and 87 people, including 58 patients and 29 employees, have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Life Care Center of Athens, Tennessee.

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1) Across the nation, states are facing enormous pressure to reopen as economic impacts reach new levels. President Trump has left the reopening of states to each respective governor, whose plans have varied across the country. In the South, the Midwest and the mountain West, many are following Georgia's lead. Georgia was the first state to announce it was relaxing restrictions and allowing businesses to reopen.

2) Several counties in Colorado and Kansas have been declared primary natural disaster areas by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The declaration, which was given in response to a recent drought, will allow producers who have suffered loses to apply for emergency assistance. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) can now extend emergency credit through FSA loans and the deadline to apply for assistance is December 9, 2020.

3) A new study looked at the use of social media during recent disasters in Australia. The study found that emergency services underutilized social media platforms and highlighted the fact that some platforms, such as Facebook, are more popular with the public. Other key findings included the lack of legal framework for the use of social media by emergency service operations and the questionable credibility of public-generated information.

4) New guidance released regarding Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans notes that expenses will be ineligible for tax deductions if the loan is forgiven. The forgiven loans will not be taxed, but otherwise deductible expenses, such as salaries, will not be tax-exempt in order to prevent companies from receiving a double tax benefit. The PPP loans were part of the stimulus package passed due to COVID-19. They can be completely forgiven if companies keep staffing levels and salaries consistent, as long as other requirements are also met.

5) Residents recovering from an EF-3 tornado that touched down in Onalaska, Texas, on April 22 are receiving much- needed assistance from disaster relief teams from across the country. Samaritan's Purse is just one of the nonprofit groups that has deployed truckloads of supplies and recruited hundreds of volunteers to assist in the town's recovery efforts. The deadly twister stayed on the ground for 32 miles, was 1,100 yards wide and packed winds of 140 mph. It killed three people, injured 33 others, destroyed 173 homes and damaged another 306 homes.

6) Approval has been given to sign contracts for debris removal for Bradley County, Tennessee, in the aftermath of the tornado on Easter Sunday that swept through parts of the county. According to reports, the debris removal will occur in four phases. The first phase will be to pick up whatever is on the right of way now, including brush and trees. That phase will be followed by a household debris pass, a white-goods pass (household appliances) and a household hazardous waste-type pass, which includes things such as televisions.

7) Farmers are now included in coronavirus disaster emergency grants program offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Farmers across the nation are now explicitly eligible to receive emergency aid assistance under the SBAs Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Many small family farmers and ranchers lost contracts to schools and restaurants, and their eligibility means they have can access up to $10,000 in grants and $2 million in very low-interest loans.

8) Two residents have died from complications related to the coronavirus at a senior living facility in Athens, Tennessee. Life Care Center of Athens confirmed on Thursday that a total of 58 patients and 29 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. The infected residents are being cared for by a dedicated staff in an isolated location within the facility, with two residents currently hospitalized.

 

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.