Local COVID-19 Response

 

 

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause respiratory illness in mammals and birds. They are not uncommon; in fact, the last time that you had a cold, it was probably a strain of coronavirus. The virus can occasionally cause pneumonia or bronchitis in older adults or those with a weakened immunse system. The most common strains of coronavirus are 229E, NL643, OC43, and HKU1.

SARS-CoV-2 is the strain of virus that is commonly referred to in the news as the coronavirus. It is a previously unseen strain of coronavirus, and different from the strains that cause regular colds. The first outbreak was recorded in China in late 2019. As of March 3rd, 92,000+ cases have been confirmed; of those, only 8% have been classified as serious.

How does it spread, and who is at risk?

Coronaviruses as a whole are thought to spread mainly via the respiratory droplets in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can also survive for up to 36 hours on most surfaces. As of Marth 25th, there are 528 presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in N.C. Transylvania County has 2 positive cases.here

COVID-19 Task Force Business Survey #2: The second business-specific survey has been launched by our task force. Please take 10 minutes and complete. Individual business responses will not be shared. Information will only be distributed in aggregate form. To participate please click here

COVID-19 Task Force Webinar: Featured speakers in the recorded town hall event include SBA, Tax, Legal, Employment Benefit and other pertainent information related to resources which are available to businesses in Transylvania County.  

Transylvania County Business Resource Guide

 
Click image for download

What are the current recommendations for staying safe?

  1. Wash your hands frequently, and for at least 20 seconds. Sing the ABCs or happy birthday. 
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, or use your elbow. Avoid shaking hands and hugging. Don’t reuse tissues.
  4. Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched – think doorknobs, keyboards, faucets, etc.
  5. Protect your immune system – take zinc supplements, drink enough water, and get plenty of rest.
  6. Pick up a few extra non-perishables during each trip to the grocery store.

Should I buy masks or hand sanitizer?

Hand sanitizer, yes. Masks, YES. Masks are now recommended when in public settings.

Preparing for COVID-19 as a small business

Plan for the local economy to be affected by coronavirus. These affects will likely include decreases in consumer demand, less foot traffic and walk-in business if you are downtown, and increased employee absence. Our small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy; nearly half of the U.S. workforce is employed by small business owners.

Here are some recommendations:

Encourage employees who think they might be sick to stay home. Employees who have respiratory illness symptoms should not return to work until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours. Don’t require a doctor’s note for employee absence; healthcare providers and medical facilities will probably become busier in the coming weeks, and unable to produce documentation.

Maintain flexible policies. Employees may need to work from home more than usual to take care of kids and family members in addition to their own health needs.

Regularly sanitize the workplace. Focus on bathrooms, door handles, keyboards and mice, etc. Provide tissues and no-touch receptacles for employees, and make sure hand sanitizer is readily available in the office.

The CDC has created an Interim Guide for small businesses and employers with more detailed recommendations for how to prepare your workplace and formulate a plan for a potential local outbreak.

Disaster Relief Loans for Small Businesses

SBA Disaster Relief: Small businesses impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for recovery funding. The SBA is offering designated states and territories up to $2 million in low-interest Disaster Relief Loans to help businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19. According to the loan terms, the money can be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills businesses may be struggling to pay because of the virus’ impact. The interest rate varies depending on credit score and nonprofit status. The SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with state Governors to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance. For more information, call 1-800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

SBTDC: SBA Program financial overview here

NC Golden LEAF Foundation: The foundation will be delpoying $15M in funding to launch NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program. The fund will be used to enable loans to be made to eligible businesses for up to $50,000 with 0% interest and no payments for 6 months. The program will be managed by NC Rural Center. Small businesses can learn more about this program and apply for loans at http://ncrapidrecovery.org/ or to speak to someone businesses can call 800.228.8443 or visit the website of the organization managing the program here

SBTDC: An overview of the ne

Small Business Center, Recommendations 

Keep Cash Flowing: Encourage customers to purchase gift cards or future services from yours and other's small businesses to keep cash flowing in your local economy. Find ways to preserve on-hand cash to weather lean months in the near future; consider suspending expansion initiatives or larger investments until markets stabilize

Start a conversation with your bank: Early communication with your lender can present financing opportunities now, that can be taken advantage of later. Lines of Credit, SBA Disaster Assistance Loans, etc. can all be considerations. More information below.

Communication: Customers & employees will likely be exposed to conflicting information and feel anxious or confused. Be sure to communicate safety and general policies promptly, clearly, and in a balanced manner. Furthermore, communicate contextual information and the reasoning behind policies to deepen understanding and operational direction.

Inventory Management Practices: Evaluate your inventory to determine which products can be quickly turned over. Smaller margins may be more important in the short term in order to keep cash moving; this evaluation takes careful planning to not disadvantage your long term profit
Re-Evaluate Your Break-Even: Markets have shifted, demand has shifted similarly. Review to better gauge inventory and financing requirements
Allow for Remote Work Where Feasible: Set expectations and communicate requirements to employees. Encourage sick employees stay home and follow CDC/Federal/State recommendations for safety

Resources to learn more about Coronavirus and stay updated:

Transylvania County: COVID-19 Information and Latest Updates

Read more about COVID-19 on Transylvania County’s Health and Human Services website

NC Department of Health & Human Services: COVID-19: Business and Employers

CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers

SBA: Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

OSHA: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19



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