• Amber Thomas

Federal, state and local governments respond to coronavirus pandemic

Trump invokes national security order

On March 18, President Donald Trump signed the Presidential Executive Order on Prioritizing and Allocating Health and Medical Resources to Respond to the Spread of COVID-19. The order invokes the Defense Production Act (DPA), if necessary, to expand the supply of resources needed to battle the coronavirus pandemic. Now, some government and industry groups are calling on him to use it. 

The DPA was signed in 1950 by President Harry Truman amid concerns about scarcities of supplies and equipment during the Korean War. The act allows the government to marshal private sector resources to ramp up production of certain supplies. Since then, it's been invoked multiple times to help the federal government respond to a range of emergencies, including war, hurricanes, and terrorism prevention.

Through the DPA, President Trump can prioritize contracts for health and medical resources and offer incentives within the domestic market to enhance the production and distribution of these critical supplies. The president invoked the DPA “in case we need it,” and so far, no action has been taken under the act.

Does your business qualify as “essential” to the coronavirus response? Many states are closing all but essential businesses to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but they don’t all agree on the definition of “essential.” Companies are asking, what qualifies? The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) identified 16 industries, including critical manufacturing, that are deemed crucial to the United States’ coronavirus response. Review the CISA guidance on critical manufacturing here: https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19. Manufacturers can help strengthen this guidance that many states are already adopting by emailing CISA.CAT@cisa.dhs.gov with detailed examples of why manufacturing and the supply chain is critical, life-sustaining infrastructure. If you have changes to offer, please give redline suggestions accompanied by supporting examples.

Check out your state’s coronavirus guidance The National Association of Manufacturers is maintaining ongoing state-level guidance on COVID-19 at this link: https://www.nam.org/covid-state-orders. If you bookmark this link, don’t forget to refresh your browser as we update frequently. If you have state-specific questions, please email Amber Thomas at athomas@amtonline.org.

No tariff relief in wake of coronavirus Businesses and some lawmakers were disappointed to hear that the president won’t consider tariff reductions as part of his coronavirus relief response. Several members of congress and business coalitions contacted the administration to urge lifting tariffs to alleviate some of the impact of COVID-19 on American manufacturers.

Phase II stimulus package signed into law Last week, the President signed a bipartisan emergency relief package. This package provides paid sick leave, expands unemployment assistance, includes nutrition assistance, and increases resources for testing. Law firm Arent Fox published a report on what is in the new law: https://www.arentfox.com/perspectives/alerts/president-trump-signs-bipartisan-coronavirus-relief-bill.

New emergency family and medical requirements take effect April 2 The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor has been inundated with questions regarding the emergency family and medical rules signed into law as part of Phase II of the coronavirus disaster relief package. The WHD is working to issue guidelines and regulations on the new paid leave law scheduled to take effect April 2. The link below from the House Appropriations Committee is a good summary of the provisions. Check AMTNews.org for news on the release of the WHD’s guidance. https://appropriations.house.gov/sites/democrats.appropriations.house.gov/files/2020-03-17%20Emergency%20Paid%20Sick-Family%20Leave%20Fact%20Sheet%20Enrolled%20FINAL.pdf

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