COVID-19 POLICY UPDATES

August 5, 2020

North Carolina to Remain in Phase 2

Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for five weeks.

July 28, 2020

Governor Cooper Signs EO No. 153 Limiting the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages

Governor Roy Cooper is doubling down on prevention measures with Executive Order 153, stopping the sale of alcoholic drinks in restaurants, breweries, wineries, and distilleries at 11:00 p.m.  North Carolina bars that are currently closed will remain closed.  This order will take effect Friday, July 31.

July 14, 2020

Schools Reopening Plan - Phase 2 Continued

On July 14, Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina schools will open for both in-person and remote learning with key safety precautions to protect the health of students, teachers, staff and families.  This is plan B that the state asked schools to prepare.  Districts can choose plan C — which requires all remote learning — if they determine that is best for those children, parents and teachers.  Face coverings will be required for every teacher, staff and student from kindergarten through high school.  Districts and schools can use a plan that works for them — whether it is alternating days or weeks or some other strategy.  Symptom screenings, including temperature checks, will take place daily before children enter the school buildings.

Governor Cooper also announced that when the current executive order expires on July 17, North Carolina will continue to stay paused in Safer at Home Phase 2 for three weeks.

June 24, 2020

Phase 2 Continued

On Wednesday, June 24, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina will remain in Phase 2 for an additional three weeks.  Face coverings will be required when out in public where social distancing is not possible.  Face coverings will be required for all employees and customers of retail businesses and restaurants as well as workers in manufacturing, construction, meat processing and agriculture settings.

June 8, 2020

StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12)

On Monday, June 8, NCDHHS released a 26-page "toolkit" for K-12 schools that outlines both requirements and recommendations, including a three-stage plan for social distancing dependent on state metrics.

June 4, 2020

Executive Order 143

On Thursday, June 4, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 143 to address the social, environmental, economic, and health disparities in communities of color that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Order directs state agencies and offices to provide targeted measures to help communities of color that have been affected by the pandemic.

May 21, 2020

Executive Order No. 141

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced that North Carolina will move into Safer at Home Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, May 22 at 5:00 p.m.

Read Executive Order No. 141

Phase 2 lifts the Stay At Home order moving into a Safer At Home recommendation, especially for people at high risk for serious illness.  Teleworking is also urged when possible.  To see what is included in Phase 2, click here.

The Safer at Home Phase 2 runs through at least Friday, June 26.

May 5, 2020

Executive Order No. 138

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order Tuesday, May 5 that allows the state to move into Phase One of lifting statewide restrictions that he said have slowed the coronavirus spread.  The new order takes effect Friday, May 8 at 5:00 p.m.  Cooper said the stay-at-home order will remain in place but will allow more reasons to leave home and will remove the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses.  Those that open can only be occupied at 50 percent capacity.

Executive Order No. 138

What's New in Phase One

May 4, 2020

Pandemic Relief Legislation Unanimously Approved by N.C. General Assembly

On May 2, 2020, the North Carolina General Assembly unanimously passed two COVID-19 response packages approving over $1.5 billion of funding relief for critical needs and extensive policy measures to help local communities address the crisis as the state safely reopens its economy.

House Bill 1043 Pandemic Response Act appropriates over $1.5 billion in relief funding for North Carolina’s medical providers, education communities, broadband connectivity. See below for a summary of select H.B. 1043 appropriations.

Senate Bill 704 Covid-19 Recovery Act provides tax relief, streamlines unemployment access, and makes policy reforms in education, healthcare, and government operations to assist North Carolinians through the pandemic and economic shutdown.

April 24, 2020

The Paycheck Protection Program ("PPP") and Health Care Enhancement Act of 2020

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act of 2020 was signed into law on April 24, 2020.  The $484 billion PPP Act has been enacted with the goal of replenishing the PPP with approximately $310 billion in additional funds, increasing availability of Emergency Economic Injury Disaster ("EIDL") Grants, and providing federal funding to assist hospitals and healthcare providers.  This second round of PPP loans may end up distributed even faster than the first round since thousands of applications had been submitted to lenders by the time the first round of funds had been depleted.  Sixty billion dollars of the new PPP funds will be specifically set aside for small, medium, and community lenders to distribute.

For more information, click here.

April 23, 2020

Executive Order No. 135

On Thursday, April 23, Governor Roy Cooper extended North Carolina's Stay at Home Order until 5:00 p.m. on May 8, 2020.  This order remains in effect unless repealed, replaced, or rescended by another applicable Exectuive Order.

To read the order in its entirety, click here.

Gov. Cooper Outlines Three-Phase Plan to Gradually Reopen Business

On Thursday, April 23, Governor Roy Coooper spelled a three-phase plan to lift the restrictions of his stay-at-home-order and gradually reopen businesses statewide, but none of those actions will occur before May 8.

Phase 1:

  • The stay-at-home order will remain in place, but people can leave their homes for commercial activity.
  • Gatherings would still be limited to 10 people, but parks could reopen to provide more options for people to engage in outdoor activities and exercise.
  • Local emergency orders with more restrictive measures may remain in place.

Phase 2 (at least two-three weeks later):

  • Restaurants, bars, fitness centers, personal care services and other businesses could reopen if they follow safety protocols.
  • The number of people allowed at gatherings will increase, but no limit was set.
  • Places of worship and entertainment venues can hold events at reduced capacity.
  • Public playgrounds can reopen.

Phase 3 (at least another four to six seeks later):

  • Stay-at-home restrictions would be eased for vulnerable populations.
  • The number of people allowed at gatherings and inside restaurants, bars, other businesses, places of worship and entertainment venues would be further increased.

If data shows a resurgence in coronavirus cases at any time during the process, Gov. Cooper said, the state might need to step back to an earlier phase.

April 22, 2020

Senate Passes Additional Funding for CARES Programs

On Monday evening, April 20, the Senate passed a $480 billion supplemental spending bill in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Dubbed by some as Stimulus 3.5, this bill provides additional funding for key CARES Act programs that had been depleted in recent days. Specifically, the bill includes:

  • $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, with $60 billion of that money reserved for smaller businesses without existing banking relationships.
  • $60 billion ($50 billion in loans and $10 billion in grants) is also set aside for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan fund, which is administered directly by the Small Business Administration rather than banks. Farms and other agricultural programs are now eligible for those funds.
  • $75 billion for hospitals and healthcare providers to help them cover the massive costs associated with responding to the virus.
  • $25 billion for coronavirus testing.
    • $11 billion of that money is earmarked for states and local governments to expand their testing capacity.

This bill now heads to the House where passage is anticipated to occur by the end of the week.  For more information, click here.

NC Leadership Announce Support for Additional Golden Leaf Funding

On Tuesday, April 21, state elected leaders jointly announced bipartisan support for expanded funding for the Golden Leaf Foundation Rapid Response loan program.  In a media release, Speaker Tim Moore cited the programs efficiency and effectiveness in responding to the emergency needs of state small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  This language required to appropriate this funding has been a major focus in recent House COVID-19 working groups, with draft language nearing it’s final form.  It is anticipated that this bill, along with changes to North Carolina tax codes, will be addressed quickly when the General Assembly returns on April 28.

For more information, click here.

Gov. Cooper Amends Unemployment Rules to Allow Furloughed Employees Access to Benefits

On Tuesday, April 21, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed a new executive order (E.O. 134) allowing a group of furloughed workers to claim unemployment benefits. The order gives furloughed workers who received a severance payment from their employer’s access to payments through the unemployment system. Previously, such workers were ineligible to claim unemployment benefits.

For more information, click here.

April 9, 2020

Executive Order 131

On Thursday, April 9, 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order that provides new required and recommended policies for retail establishments, addresses COVID-19 mitigation measures for long-term care facilities, and expedites the processing of unemployment insurance claims by expanding availability of the attached claims process.

This information is subject to change in light of new CDC guidance and additional Executive Orders or local government declarations.

Frequently Asked Questions for Executive Order No. 131

April 7, 2020

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Updates COVID-19 Recommendations 

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Updates COVID-19 RecommendationsOn Friday, April 3rd, the CDC updated its COVID-19 guidelines to include the recommendation of wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to in lieu of N95 respirators or surgical masks as these supplies are needed in medical facilities. Simple cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. This recommendation is in addition to the previous recommendations of social distancing, hand washing, and avoidance of public gatherings of ten people or more.

More Information

More Information

General Assembly Working Groups Meet to Discuss Impacts of COVID-19

The House Select Committee on COVID-19 and its associated subcommittee have been meeting to discuss impacts and potential response to the ongoing pandemic. Subcommittees are currently meeting weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For the week of April 6, then Economic Support subcommittee will review of potential unemployment insurance changes, continue to hear reports from business and industry on COVID-19 impacts, and hear from an update on CARES Act implementation from the NC Fiscal Research Division. Later on the 6th, the Continuity of State Operations will hear from the Office of State Budget and Management, NCDOT, State Board of Elections, and NC Chief Justice regarding current and future COVID-19 response actions.

More Information

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Passes Senate

Implementation of the CARES Act has been ongoing since April 1st. Small businesses were eligible to begin applying for Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans on Friday, April 3rd. Initial estimates are that nearly $3.5 billion in loans were sought on the first day of eligibility. As of Monday, April 6th, nearly $30 billion in loans had been issued to small businesses. Demand for the program, in addition to increased real estate lending, has placed an administrative strain on financial institutions. Some, including Wells Fargo, have already stopped accepting PPP applications due to this demand.

More Information

Gov. Cooper Declares Statewide “Stay-at-Home” Order, Approves Donation of State PPE, and Implements Consumer Protections in Response to COVID-19

In recent weeks, Governor Cooper has issued numerous executive orders in response to the growing impact of COVID-19. Foremost among these has been the issuance of a statewide Stay-at-home order (see: Executive Order 121) that went into effect March 30th at 5pm. The Order directs all North Carolinians to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member. Specifically, the order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others. It is important to note that unless noted in the order, previous closures and orders such as those in affect in Pitt County and Greenville, stand as written until their expiration date. Once expired, the statewide order would take effect.

On Monday, March 30th, Gov. Cooper signed Executive Order No. 122 to help schools and local governments access state surplus property to help bridge gaps during the response to COVID-19. The Order also provides transfer or donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) that state government may have and not need. By request, surplus property including computers owned by the state may be requested by governments and school districts, and the state will supply them to try to bridge the digital divide during school closures.

Finally, on March 31st, Gov. Cooper signed executive order No. 124. This order calls for numerous changes to the financial challenges faced by unemployed or underemployed citizens during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Foremost, the order forbids the disconnection of essential residential utility services, as well as collection or assessment of any late fees, during the months of April and May. If a residential customer has been disconnected, utility providers are encouraged to reconnect service. While not mandated in the order, E.O. 124 also calls for similar restraint from telecommunications providers as well.

In conjunction with guidance from the Attorney General and Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, E.O. 124 calls for the temporary suspension of any new eviction proceedings in North Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic. County sheriffs and Superior Courts are also encouraged to not issue real property repossession orders during this time.

E.O. 124 requests that bank and mortgage lenders provider lenience to customers experiencing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. These leniencies include waiver of punitive fees and withdrawal limits, restraint in derogatory reporting to credit agencies, and postponement of foreclosures.

Executive Order 121

Executive Order 122

Executive Order 124

March 25, 2020

    Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Passes Senate

    After two days of contentious negotiating and failed votes to close debate, U.S. Senate negotiators and the Trump Administration reached agreement on the CARES Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package that would be the third phase of the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill, H.R. 748, now heads to the House, where Speaker Pelosi has signaled that she will attempt to pass the bill via unanimous consent as members are currently at home in their districts. However, if just one member calls for a roll call vote, all members would need to return to Washington, thereby delaying the bill further. Once approved by the House, the bill would still need to be signed by the president.

    Key provisions of the H.R. 748 include:

    Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loans
    The Economic Injury Disaster Loans would provide up to $377 billion in assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to employers that maintain their payroll during the pandemic. For employers that do not lay off and continue to pay their employees, their loans would be forgiven. It is proposed that this provision apply retroactively to March 1, 2020, to encourage employers to bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls.

    Small employers with 500 employees or fewer, including some nonprofits, would be eligible to apply for the loans.

    Loans would be available immediately through existing SBA-certified lenders, including banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions, and SBA would be required to streamline the process to bring additional lenders into the program.

    The size of the loans would be tied to an applicant’s average monthly payroll, mortgage, rent, utility payments, and other debt obligations over the previous year. The maximum loan amount would be $10 million.

    Unemployment Benefit Improvements
    People who are unemployed would get an extra $600 per week for up to four months, on top of state unemployment benefits to make up for 100% of lost wages. The final agreement provides an extra month of unemployment benefits than what Senate Republicans had originally sought.

    Individual Stimulus Payments
    All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) would get a $1,200 ($2,400 for couples) “rebate” payment. They are also eligible for an additional $500 per child. The payments would start phasing out for earners above those income thresholds and would not go to single filers earning more than $99,000; head-of-household filers with one child, more than $146,500; and more than $198,000 for joint filers with no children.

    Loans to Industry
    H.R. 748 allows for up to $500 billion in loans to struggling industries, including:

         Up to $50 billion for passenger air carriers
         Up to $8 billion for cargo air carriers
         Up to $150 billion for other eligible entities

    It is important to note that these would be loans, not grants, and would have to be repaid. Further limitations on the funds include a ban stock buy-backs for any corporation that accepts government assistance during the term of the loan and for one year thereafter. Furthermore, businesses owned by the president, vice president, members of Congress, and the heads of federal executive departments would be ineligible to receive loans or investments under the program.

    Entrepreneurial Development
    The bill proposes providing grants to Business Development Centers to offer counseling, training, and related assistance to small businesses affected by COVID-19, in two forms:

    $265 million for Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers. The non-federal match for Women’s Business Centers would be waived for a period of three months.

    $10 million for Minority Business Development Agency’s Minority Business Centers.

    Funding for Hospitals
    Health care providers would secure $100 billion in grants to help fight the coronavirus and make up for dollars they have lost by delaying elective surgeries and other procedures to focus on the outbreak. They would also get a 20 % increase in Medicare payments for treating patients with the virus.

    Funding for State and Local Governments
    The agreement would provide $150 billion for state and local governments, with $8 billion set aside for local governments, which are bleeding tax revenue as only essential businesses remain open and unemployment claims climb by the tens of thousands every day.

    Food Stamps and Child Nutrition Funding Increases
    The stimulus includes nearly $25 billion for food assistance, including nearly $16 billion for SNAP and nearly $9 billion for child nutrition.

    Farmer and Rancher Relief
    Nearly $24 billion, including $14 billion for an obscure Depression-era financial institution that USDA has wide discretion to use to stabilize the farm economy. Another $9.5 billion would be set aside for emergency aid for the agriculture sector, including cattle ranchers and fresh fruit and vegetable growers.

    Emergency Funding for School Districts and Higher Ed
    The final package provides more than $30 billion in emergency education funding for colleges and universities, states and school districts.

    To read the bill itself, click here.

    March 23, 2020

    Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Update

    The updated CARES Act builds on the two former pieces of legislation by providing more robust support to both individuals and businesses, including changes to tax policy. The bill includes:

    $350 billion allocated for Small Business Interruption Loans (§1105)

    These loans are meant to help small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) impacted by the pandemic and economic turndown make payroll and cover other expenses. Notably, small businesses may take out loans up to $10 million and cover employees making up to $100,000 per year; loans taken for this purposes are forgiven if the business does not lay off its employees (forgiveness is scaled down as layoffs rise). In order to be eligible for a loan, a firm must maintain an average monthly number of employees during the covered period that is no less than the number it had before the crisis began.

    Firms that have laid off employees may qualify for forgiveness if employees are rehired by April 1, 2020.

    Recovery rebate for individual taxpayers (§2101)

    The bill would provide a $1,200 refundable tax credit for individuals ($2,400 for joint taxpayers). Unlike the previous version of the bill, the credit has no minimum qualifying income requirements and no phase-in (see Chart 1). The rebate phases out at $75,000 for singles, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for joint taxpayers at 5 percent per dollar of qualified income, or $50 per $1,000 earned. It phases out entirely at $99,000 for single taxpayers and $198,000 for joint taxpayers. Additionally, taxpayers with children will receive a flat $500 for each child. We estimate the rebate will decrease federal revenue by about $301 billion in 2020, according to the Tax Foundation General Equilibrium Model. This is higher than the previous credit design, as this credit is available to more people and offers a higher base amount for low-income households. This credit is one-time, but policymakers might consider additional rebates if the downturn is prolonged.

    Additional Details:

    • The current version makes changes to unemployment coverage by expanding it to 39 weeks through December 31, 2020 (§2102).
    • Title II of the bill, COVID-19 Pandemic Education Relief Act of 2020, make several changes to federal financial aid rules in relation to student employee, Pell grant, and student loan requirements (§3501).
    • Finally, the bill seeks to amend provisions of the paid leave sections of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (§3601-02).
    • It is anticipated that this bill will undergo significant revisions in the next few days as it quickly transverses both the House and Senate. The Senate is expected to vote on this bill on March 23rd.

    March 19, 2020

    Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

    On March 19th, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell introduced Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third series meant to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on American society. The legislation allows the Treasury Secretary to provide up to $208 billion in collateralized loans and loan guarantees to American industries whose operations are jeopardized as a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak. Of the $208 billion, $58 billion is allocated to facilitate liquidity in the airline sector, and an additional $150 billion is provided for the same purposes in other distressed sectors of the American economy.

    Other details include:

    The bill would also delay the deadline to file 2019 taxes from April 15 to July 15 (§2102).

    Title II of the bill, COVID-19 Pandemic Education Relief Act of 2020, make several changes to federal financial aid rules in relation to student employee, Pell grant, and student loan requirements (§4501-4516).

    Finally, the bill seeks to amend provisions of the paid leave sections of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (§4601-4602).

    It is anticipated that this bill will undergo significant revisions in the next few days as it quickly transverses both the House and Senate.

    For more information, click here.

    S.3503 – Veterans Affairs Coverage of Distance Education


    This bill, which has already passed both the House and Senate, amends the requirements of the Veterans Affairs Educational Assistance Benefit so that continuation of educational assistance continues for those courses converted to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    President Trump is expected to sign this legislation on March 20, 2020.

    For more information, click here.

    March 18, 2020

    March 18, 2020

    H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act

    The U.S. Senate passed H.R. 6201- Families First Coronavirus Response Act on a vote of 90-8. Late that evening, Pres. Trump signed the bill into law. The Senate attempted to amend the House version by seeking to strike Federally mandated sick pay and paid family leave and replace it with financial support provided through State administered unemployment insurance systems and funds. All proposed amendments failed to garner the required votes. As such, H.R. 6201 passed without change.

    As discussed in a prior post, this bill responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers. For more information, click here.

    IRS Notice 2020-17: Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019


    The Treasury Department issued guidance delaying payment of some federal income taxes for 90 days. All taxes filings are still required by the traditional April 15th deadline and payment of any state taxes due are not affected by this measure. The postponed federal taxes due are capped at $10,000,000 for each consolidated group or C corporation that does not join in filing a consolidated return. Single individual and married individuals filing a joint return are also capped at $1,000,000.  For more information, click here.

    President Trump Invokes Defense Production Act of 1950


    President Trump issued “Executive Order on Prioritizing and Allocating Health and Medical Resources to Respond to the Spread of Covid-19.” This order allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to steer production by private companies and try to overcome shortages in masks, ventilators, and other supplies.  For more, click here.

    Payment