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Jun 24

June 24, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #71

Posted on June 24, 2020 at 4:55 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


What actions did the governor take yesterday (June 23) regarding the spread of COVID-19 in Texas and in my community?


First, the governor issued a proclamation that modifies Executive Order GA-26 with regard to Fourth of July celebrations. The order previously allowed a mayor or county judge, in consultation with the local public health authority, to impose additional restrictions on most outdoor celebrations estimated to be in excess of 500 people.  Yesterday’s modification granted more authority to mayors and judges by lowering the crowd threshold from 500 to 100. Interested city officials should read the actual language of Executive Order GA-26 as modified by yesterday’s proclamation prior to taking action relating to outdoor celebrations.


Second, the governor directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to enact emergency rules that provide strict health and safety standards and procedures related to COVID-19 for child care centers in Texas. 


According to the governor’s office, “these two actions are based on data showing an increase in COVID-19 transmission stemming from large gatherings and child care centers.”


“These are just some of the steps Texas will take to contain the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” said Governor Abbott. “Today’s proclamation and emergency rules will aid in that effort in two key ways: allowing restrictions on large gatherings where COVID-19 is easily spread and implementing a statewide standard of infection control for child care centers. However, as we face this challenge, there is no substitute for personal responsibility. I urge all Texans to do everything in their power to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus by wearing a face mask, washing their hands often, and staying six-feet apart from others.”


Did the U.S. Treasury Department issue updated guidance on the use of federal CRF funds?


Yes. The Treasury Department issued new guidance today (June 24). It’s available on the department’s CARES Act web page. Of particular interest to many city officials will be this FAQ:


The guidance provides that funding may be used to meet payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency. May Fund payments be used to cover such an employee’s entire payroll cost or just the portion of time spent on mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency?

As a matter of administrative convenience, the entire payroll cost of an employee whose time is substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency is eligible, provided that such payroll costs are incurred by December 30, 2020. An employer may also track time spent by employees related to COVID-19 and apply Fund payments on that basis but would need to do so consistently within the relevant agency or department.


The new FAQs also include the following:


May funds be used to satisfy non-federal matching requirements under the Stafford Act?

Yes, payments from the Fund may be used to meet the non-federal matching requirements for Stafford Act assistance to the extent such matching requirements entail COVID-19-related costs that otherwise satisfy the Fund’s eligibility criteria and the Stafford Act. Regardless of the use of Fund payments for such purposes, FEMA funding is still dependent on FEMA’s determination of eligibility under the Stafford Act.


Must a State, local, or tribal government require applications to be submitted by businesses or individuals before providing assistance using payments from the Fund?

Governments have discretion to determine how to tailor assistance programs they establish in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. However, such a program should be structured in such a manner as will ensure that such assistance is determined to be necessary in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and otherwise satisfies the requirements of the CARES Act and other applicable law.


For example, a per capita payment to residents of a particular jurisdiction without an assessment of individual need would not be an appropriate use of payments from the Fund.


May Fund payments be provided to non-profits for distribution to individuals in need of financial assistance, such as rent relief?

Yes, non-profits may be used to distribute assistance. Regardless of how the assistance is structured, the financial assistance provided would have to be related to COVID-19.


May recipients use Fund payments to remarket the recipient’s convention facilities and tourism industry?

Yes, if the costs of such remarketing satisfy the requirements of the CARES Act. Expenses incurred to publicize the resumption of activities and steps taken to ensure a safe experience may be needed due to the public health emergency. Expenses related to developing a long-term plan to reposition a recipient’s convention and tourism industry and infrastructure would not be incurred due to the public health emergency and therefore may not be covered using payments from the Fund.


May a State provide assistance to farmers and meat processors to expand capacity, such to cover overtime for USDA meat inspectors?

If a State determines that expanding meat processing capacity, including by paying overtime to USDA meat inspectors, is a necessary expense incurred due to the public health emergency, such as if increased capacity is necessary to allow farmers and processors to donate meat to food banks, then such expenses are eligible expenses, provided that the expenses satisfy the other requirements set forth in section 601(d) of the Social Security Act outlined in the Guidance.


Cities that received their CRF funds directly from the state through TDEM should remember that the state has placed restrictions on the funds beyond those imposed by Treasury. 


Further Updates


Has the National League of Cities released its fiscal survey data?


Yes. The following is directly from NLC:


“NLC released data from a survey of over 1,100 municipalities that shows the recovery is going to be tough if Congress does not appropriate additional money for cities, towns, and villages. NLC's CitiesSpeak Blog summarizes the survey.


The survey, which focuses on local spending cuts and service adjustments, found that 65 percent of cities are being forced to delay or completely cancel capital expenditures and infrastructure projects, which will stifle job growth and slow local economic activity and further imperil economic recovery efforts in communities across the nation.


The survey was shared with all congressional offices as well as the Administration."


What information has FEMA released in light of COVID-19 guidance for the hurricane season?


The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 2020 Hurricane Pandemic Plan provides guidance to state and local officials to prepare for response and recovery operations, and it encourages personal preparedness measures amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While the document focuses on hurricane season preparedness, most planning considerations can be applied to any disaster operation in the COVID-19 environment, including no-notice incidents, spring flooding, and wildfire seasons.


FEMA's National Preparedness Directorate is conducting webinars on the plan. Space is limited, so interested city officials should register soon:


June 25: FEMA Adobe Connect


Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?


TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.