Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all nonessential businesses closed effective 5 p.m. on March 23, with the exception of those covered by federal guidelines and defined as critical infrastructure sectors.
He also announced a combination of state programs to begin addressing the revenue losses that the state’s small businesses are experiencing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.
“Maryland is not just going to rely on or wait for action from the federal government,” he said. “We will continue to lead and take action in this crisis.”
During his March 23 press conference, Gov. Hogan announced the immediate launch of a $175 million comprehensive business relief program administered by the state’s Department of Commerce and Department of Labor.
He added that workers who have been laid off can immediately submit claims by phone, email, or by applying online.
“As of today, an additional $7 million is available to help small businesses retain employees during this period of crisis,” Hogan said, through the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund.
Maryland small businesses with fewer than 50 employees can apply for up to $50,000 in flexible funding to help continue operations and keep employees on payroll.
The state also launched the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Business Relief Fund, a $75 million fund that will provide working capital to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees that have lost revenue due to this pandemic, as well as a $50 million Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Fund which will provide direct immediate grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses that have lost revenue due to the coronavirus.
“We are also immediately developing a $5 million fund to provide incentives to Maryland small businesses to manufacture masks, personal protection equipment and other supplies to immediately help meet the critical demands of our healthcare workers,” Hogan said. “We are deploying another $40 million in emergency money through all of our existing commerce finance programs, to specifically target assistance to Maryland small businesses and help them survive and preserve the jobs of their employees.”
Phase 1 of Hogan’s surge plan has already made 900 additional hospital beds available, with 1,400 to be added by early April.
Plans are underway to establish a field hospital at the Baltimore Convention Center and an alternate care site at the adjacent Hilton hotel, set up by the National Guard and operated through a joint partnership between the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and Johns Hopkins HealthCare.
“We also worked with the UMMS to reopen the Laurel Hospital which will make an additional 135 hospital beds available in short order,” Hogan said. “We also have five vehicle emissions inspection centers ready to immediately open as drive-through screening and testing centers as soon as the necessary testing kits, personal protection equipment and lab capability becomes available.”
By George Berkheimer | Senior Writer | The Business Monthly