COVID-19 UPDATE: Governor and State Officials Announce Assistance for Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus

Governor Sununu held a press conference late in the afternoon on March 19, 2020 with Dr. Benjamin Chan, the State Epidemiologist and Taylor Caswell, the Commissioner of the Department of Business and Economic Affairs to provide an update on the State’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and announce assistance aimed to help businesses in New Hampshire.

During the press conference, Governor Sununu and Commissioner Caswell announced that New Hampshire was one of the earliest states to receive a disaster declaration by the federal Small Business Administration (SBA), which will enable small businesses to apply for disaster relief loans at a maximum interest rate of 3.75% for up to $2 million.  According to the SBA, the aim is to provide working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster.  These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.  Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.  The Governor also stated he is working with the Business Finance Authority to make other loans available to local businesses

In addition, Commissioner Caswell announced the creation of the Department’s new website for New Hampshire businesses impacted by COVID-19.  The portal will include a growing list of resources from the federal and state government, including information from the federal SBA, state unemployment information, public health and support, and other key resources.

The Governor also announced the formation of a special fund to assist hospitals and other healthcare providers in New Hampshire weather the COVID-19 storm.  Details were released shortly afterward in Emergency Order 9: Establishment of COVID-19 Emergency Healthcare System Relief Fund.  “This [sic] new initiatives that will help ensure the doors to our hospitals remain open, and that individuals can still get the health care they need,” said Governor Sununu in a statement. “We must support the entire system from the top down, so that individuals can receive the best care possible from the ground up.”

Using General Fund dollars, the new Fund is authorized to disburse up to $50 million in the form of grants or loans on such terms as approved by the Governor and the Attorney General.  Applications for relief for organizations that are a part of the State’s healthcare system, including hospitals and other healthcare providers, will be made to the Department of Health and Human Services at a contact point to be specified by the Department.  The Department of Health and Human Services is charged with developing a standard application and written criteria according to which applications from healthcare providers shall be evaluated and relief disbursed.  However, the Governor may waive such criteria and approve immediate disbursement of relief if it is deemed to be immediately necessary for the maintenance of an essential component of the State’s healthcare system.  All decisions must be approved by the Governor and no disbursements shall be made without prior written approval of the Governor.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state and federal resources and regulations continue to evolve.  Orr & Reno attorneys are here to help your business navigate the storm.

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