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5/15 - COVID-19 Highlights for the Business Community

The following is our latest on coronavirus response and news:

  • THE HEROES ACT: On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a new stimulus proposal as the latest installment of the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This proposal, called the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), is a $3 trillion effort to relieve financial strain on Americans and the economy. Some of the major provisions included in the bill are:

  • Another round of direct payments to individuals and families

  • Additional funding for health care providers and COVID-19 testing

  • Nearly $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments

  • Will This Bill Pass? House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that Members will convene this Friday to consider the HEROES Act, as well as a rule change that would facilitate remote Congressional work. If enacted, it would represent the largest federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic to date. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and members of the Senate GOP caucus panned the bill, declaring it "dead on arrival" in the Senate.

  • The text of The Heroes Act, H.R. 6800, is here.

  • A one pager on the legislation is here.

  • A section-by-section summary is here.

  • A resource on the state and local relief provisions is here.


  • ABILENE CITY COUNCIL TO HOLD SPECIAL MEETING TODAY: City Council will host a meeting today at 8:30 am in order to address extending the declaration of disaster before it expires. You can watch the meeting on the City’s website here


  • LOOK TO THE HEAVENS FOR AN #AIRFORCESALUTE: Abilene’s proud military heritage will be on display Friday as a B-1B Lancer and two C-130J Super Hercules from Dyess Air Force Base plan flyovers to salute medical professionals, first responders, and other front-line workers. Watch the skies at 12:25 pm to see the B-1B roar over Hendrick Medical Center and three minutes later, Abilene Regional Medical Center. Two C-130s will pay tribute local first responders by flying over the APD and fire stations between 12:29 pm and 12:35 pm. Click here to view the routes.

  • GOVERNOR ABBOTT TO ANNOUNCE MORE REOPENING PLANS: The Texas Tribune published today that Governor Greg Abbott plans to announce another set of reopening plans on Monday. When asked about the reopening of bars, massage businesses, and tattoo parlors during an interview with WOAI, Governor Abbott said he was seeking advice from their four-doctor medical team about safe ways that certain businesses that are not open may be allowed to open. Abbott said the goal was to have more and more businesses be allowed to open in a safe way, and expressed that additional decisions regarding reopening would be made in the coming days. In the interview, the Governor was clear to note that the coronavirus was still a threat, and that safe practices continue to be necessary to prevent the spread. 

  • DEPARTMENT OF LABOR RELEASES UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE DATA: 2,981,000 INITIAL CLAIMS FILED IN THE WEEK ENDING MAY 9: The DOL's unemployment data for the week ending May 9 shows 2,981,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims were filed. This is down 195,000 from the previous week's revised level. The 4-week moving average was 3,616,500, a decrease of 564,000 from the previous week's revised average. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 15.7% for the week ending in May 2, which is 0.3% higher than the previous week. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 2 was 22,833,000, an increase of 456,000 from the previous week's revised level. Additionally, the DOL's report includes unadjusted data. In Texas, initial data shows 210,200 claims filed for the week ending May 9. Approximately 2.02 million claims have been filed since March 14. The Texas Workforce Commission publishes details on historical numbers, including claims by industry and county, here.


  • DOE ACTS ON PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ORDER TO PURCHASE OIL FOR THE SPR: RELEASES RFP ANNOUNCING CRUDE OIL PURCHASE TO TEST THE MARKET: The U.S. Department of Energy released a Request for Proposals to purchase up to one million barrels of sweet crude oil to test the oil market. The oil is for delivery to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve during July with early deliveries accepted in June. Under this solicitation, DOE will purchase crude sourced from small to midsize U.S. oil producers. Delivery will be to one or more of three SPR storage sites – Big Hill (TX), Bryan Mound (TX), and Bayou Choctaw (LA) – based on bidder preference and scheduling logistics. DOE must receive bids by 1 PM CT on May 27, 2020. DOE intends to award contracts by May 29, 2020. Deliveries will take place in June or July 2020. The solicitation is posted on the following websites - FedConnect, beta.sam.gov, and SPR websites. Offerors must register in the System for Award Management at https://www.sam.gov/.


  • CONGRESSIONAL LOOK AHEAD - THE SUMMER OF COVID-19: This memo by Thorn Run Partners forecasts potential Congressional activity in the coming weeks and months. While immediate action will focus on policies pertaining to COVID-19 response efforts, and remote voting and virtual hearing contingency plans that promote social distancing and flexibility among lawmakers, Congress must still work on a variety of “must-pass” items. These include the fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as well as others that will require Congressional action before September 30. Click here for the full memo. 

  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT COVID-19 AND THE ADA, THE REHABILITATION ACT, AND OTHER EEO LAWS: The EEO laws, including the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, continue to apply during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19. The EEOC has provided guidance, consistent with these workplace protections and rules, that can help employers implement strategies to navigate the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace. It has been updated as of March 19, 2020 to address examples and information regarding COVID-19; the new 2020 information appears in bold. Click here to read more.


Previously shared updates:


  • OPEN FOR BUSINESS: As Texas and the Abilene community work to re-open, the Abilene Chamber is committed to helping you, our member, connect with potential customers. Every day, more and more individuals turn to your Chamber as their trusted source for business information. To help you share your story, the Chamber has made a few updates to your online Member Information Center (MIC). The following resources are now available:

  • Opt-in to use temporary logos that will be displayed on your profile allowing consumers to see your business is open. Chamber staff is standing by to help. Click here to add one of the three logo options below: 

  • OPTION ONE: Open for Business

  • OPTION TWO: Open for Business with Modified Hours

  • OPTION THREE: Open for Business - Working Remotely

  • Be sure and update your business hours to the most current. Directions here.

  • As always, the Chamber team is working and ready to serve. If you have any questions about your MIC login information or anything else, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

  • UPDATE YOUR EMAIL PREFERENCES: Since mid-March, your Chamber has sent daily business updates, advocacy updates, our regularly scheduled Weekly Connection updates, and more. To better serve you and to narrow down which content you'd like to receive, we've created a newsletter preference page. From here, you can manage your preference and choose which updates you receive from the Chamber. Click here for more.

  • HELP US GATHER A LOCAL RESOURCES: Do you have hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, etc. that would be beneficial to businesses working to re-open? We're gathering a list for the business community. Help us populate it! Click here for more.


Can you pencil us in? You don't want to miss these upcoming events.


Webinars for business

  • 5/20 INTRODUCTION TO GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING (FEDERAL, STATE & LOCAL) In this LIVE Webinar facilitated by Cross Timbers Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), attendees will learn about important topics in government contracting (i.e. Federal, State, and local), to better prepare potential contractors on next steps to start or continue their government contracting program with confidence. Register here.


  • 5/21 RE-OPENING YOUR BUSINESS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In this webinar, we’ll cover what employers need to know to successfully reopen, best practices, and how to maintain customer and employee safety as we work to transition from work-from-home to working in office spaces again. Moderated by Staci Benavides with LoneStar HR, LLC. Register here.


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