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COVID-19 News

For more detailed information, please visit msdh.ms.gov.

SBA Administrator Guzman Announces Application Opening for $28.6 Billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman recently announced the U.S. Small Business Administration will begin registrations on Friday, April 30, 2021, at 9 a.m. EDT and open applications on Monday, May 3, 2021, at noon EDT for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The online application will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.

“Restaurants are the core of our neighborhoods and propel economic activity on main streets across the nation. They are among the businesses that have been hardest hit and need support to survive this pandemic. We want restaurants to know that help is here,” said Administrator Guzman. “The SBA has focused on the marketplace realities of our food and beverage businesses in designing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to meet businesses where they are. And we are committed to equity to ensure our smaller and underserved businesses, which have suffered the most, can access this critical relief, recover, and grow more resilient.”

In preparation, the SBA recommends qualifying applicants familiarize themselves with the application process in advance to ensure a smooth and efficient application experience, specifically by:

  • Registering for an account in advance at restaurants.sba.gov starting Friday, April 30, 2021, at 9 a.m. EDT.
  • Reviewing the official guidance, including program guide, frequently asked questions, and application sample.
  • Preparing the required documentation.
  • Working with a point-of-sale vendor or visiting restaurants.sba.gov to submit an application when the application portal opens. [Note: If an applicant is working with a point-of-sale vendor, they do not need to register beforehand on the site.]
  • Attending a live recorded virtual training webinar.

Mississippi Restaurant Revitalization Fund Training

Each SBA District Office located across the Southeast Region will host a presentation and Q & A on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). These informational sessions are designed to get you prepared to apply for this new “grant” fund prior to the application going live.

The link below will be your access to the event.

TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2021
Training Schedule- Open to the public, closed press
Join the Microsoft Teams event below at the time allotted:

For any questions regarding this training, please contact lola.kress@sba.gov.

COVID-19 Vaccine Available to All Mississippi Residents Beginning March 16

All Mississippi residents are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine beginning Tuesday, March 16 Gov. Tate Reeves announced.

“Starting tomorrow, ALL new appointments will be open to ALL Mississippians,” Reeves tweeted Monday. “Get your shot friends - and let’s get back to normal!”

Vaccinations in Mississippi are currently available for anyone ages 50 or over, staff at K-12 schools, first responders, health care workers and those who are at least 16 and have health conditions that might make them more vulnerable to the virus.

Reeves urged those in the 50 and up age group to make appointments Monday before eligibility expands to the entire state.

“Almost 10,000 appointments available statewide over next 3 weeks,” he said. “If you’re over 50, lock them down TODAY!”

People eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine can make an appointment at COVIDvaccine.umc.edu or by calling the COVID-19 call center at 1-877-978-6453.

Upon President Biden signing the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Senior Advisor Michael Roth stated:

“The American Rescue Plan Act enables the SBA to continue to lift up the cornerstones of our communities; the mom-and-pop businesses and nonprofits that provide essential services for our everyday lives, hire from within neighborhoods, and more. Our nation’s more than 30 million small businesses are the economic engine of this country and, in alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s focus on equitable treatment, the SBA will work tirelessly to ensure eligible borrowers will get access to this critical economic relief.”

The American Rescue Plan Act’s Small Business Assistance and Support

The American Rescue Plan Act provides additional relief for the nation’s small businesses and hard-hit industries for programs the SBA is currently administering and adds new efforts, including:

  • • $7.25 billion additional for the Paycheck Protection Program, including to expand eligibility to additional nonprofits and digital news services
  • • Additional funds are allocated for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, and now allows businesses to apply for both a PPP loan after Dec. 27, 2020, and the SVOG
  • • $15 billion additional for Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance (EIDL) payments, including NEW $5 billion for Supplemental Targeted EIDL Advance payments for those hardest hit
  • • NEW: $28.6 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund for industry-focused grants
  • • NEW: $100 million to establish a Community Navigator pilot program; grants will go to eligible organizations supporting efforts to improve access to COVID–19 pandemic assistance programs and resources.

Beginning the first week in March, those eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination in Mississippi will now include all persons 50 years of age and older.

To date, 94 percent of COVID-19 related deaths (6,381) and 80 percent (7,342) of COVID-19 related hospitalizations in Mississippi have been among those 50 and older.

“So far, about 350,000 persons aged 50 years and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the state. We are expanding our eligibility to this age group to increase the access to vaccination in this vulnerable population and prevent hospitalizations and deaths,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

The modified eligibility criteria for the COVID-19 vaccine in Mississippi are as follows:

  • All persons aged 50 years and older.
  • All teachers/staff/employees in K-12, preschool or childcare settings.
  • All first responders (including law enforcement, public safety, fire services, and emergency management officials)
    All healthcare personnel.
  • Persons aged 16-49 years with underlying medical conditions, as follows: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Down syndrome, heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies), immunocompromised from solid organ transplant, obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2) or severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking, diabetes, or other medical conditions determined by the medical provider.

To register for an appointment at a Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) drive-through site, visit https://covidvaccine.umc.edu or call the MSDH COVID-19 Hotline at 1-877-978-6453 for additional assistance.

Governor Tate Reeves signed Executive Order 1549. This order will go into effect at 5:00 PM on March 3rd and stay in effect until March 31st.

"Today, I signed what I expect will be one of my last executive orders regarding COVID-19. Our hospitalizations have plummeted, and our case numbers have fallen dramatically as well. In fact, our case numbers have fallen to the point where no county meets the original criteria for a mask mandate," said Governor Tate Reeves.

"I am replacing our current orders with recommendations. Everyone should continue to listen to Dr. Dobbs and other health advisors for the best possible wisdom regarding how you can personally stem any risk of catching COVID. Their insight is valuable. The only rules that will remain in this order are a capacity limit of 50% on indoor arenas, and those that govern K-12 schools."

Mississippians are encouraged, though not ordered, to wear a face covering and practice social distancing. K-12 schools will still require a mask where social distancing is not possible. Seating for K-12 extracurricular activities at outdoor venues is now set at 50% capacity and 25% maximum seating capacity inside. Seating capacity for indoor bowl and arena seating is now increased to 50%.

General Resources

MEC MMA Infographic Final

For more detailed information about COVID-19 vaccinations, please visit msdh.ms.gov.

MDES Contact Center Information:

Unemployment claimants should call 601-493-9427 or 601-326-1119 for the following services:

  • To file unemployment claims,
  • Ask questions about existing claims,
  • Password reset assistance, and
  • How to file weekly certifications

Claimants should call 601-493-9427 for the following services.

Call: 601-493-9427 for the following services.

COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus that causes flu-like illness ranging from mild to severe, with symptoms of fever, coughing, fatigue and difficulty breathing. The CDC and MSDH are working to detect, contain and limit the spread of cases in the U.S. and Mississippi should they occur. MSDH is actively preparing doctors and hospitals on how to respond safely and effectively to COVID-19 in Mississippi.

Like the flu, COVID-19 is thought to be spread person-to-person by close contact (within 6 feet) and by coughing or sneezing. Other possible routes of transmission, such as touching surfaces contaminated by the virus, are also being investigated.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

The Mississippi State Department of Health and CDC Community Recommendations Through March 31, 2020:

  • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • Restrict visitation to long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes.
  • Discretionary travel and social visits should be avoided.
  • Avoid eating or drinking in restaurants, bars, and food courts. Use drive-through, pickup and delivery options.
  • If anyone in a household tests positive for the virus, everyone who lives there should stay home.

Even with these new guidelines in place, it is still essential that everyone continues to practice basic preventative measures:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean surfaces and objects that are touched regularly
  • Stay home if you do become sick

Employer Resources

It is important for employers to maintain open lines of communication with their employees. To that end, employers should update contact information for employees if necessary and stay informed of the latest news. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease.” The CDC recommends that employers begin implementing the following steps now:

  • Encourage employees with acute respiratory illnesses to stay home;
  • Separate sick employees;
  • Emphasize cough and sneeze etiquette and hand hygiene;
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning;
  • Advise employees about the risks prior to travel to countries that have had a significant outbreak; and
  • Consider informing employees in the case of possible exposure in the workplace.

The Mississippi State Department of Health and CDC Community Recommendations Through March 31, 2020:

  • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • Restrict visitation to long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes.
  • Discretionary travel and social visits should be avoided.
  • Avoid eating or drinking in restaurants, bars, and food courts. Use drive-through, pickup and delivery options.
  • If anyone in a household tests positive for the virus, everyone who lives there should stay home.

Even with these new guidelines in place, it is still essential that everyone continues to practice basic preventative measures:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean surfaces and objects that are touched regularly
  • Stay home if you do become sick

The CDC also recommends that employers create response plans now that the outbreak has reached the United States.

Employers should create response plans that would:

  • Provide flexibility and input from employees
  • Reduce transmission among staff
  • Protect people at higher risk for adverse health complications
  • Maintain business operations
  • Minimize adverse effects on other entities in their supply chains
  • Share best practices

Can your business allow short-term telecommuting? Flexible hours? The cancellation of some or all business travel? Fewer in-person meetings? There is no single answer to these questions for every business.

Can employers require employees to undergo medical examinations?

As noted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in its guidance, “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” employers may not require medical examinations under the ADA unless the medical exam is job-related and consistent with business necessity. Whether a medical exam is job-related and consistent with business necessity depends upon the facts presented (e.g., what are the employee’s symptoms, where has the employee been, etc.) and the latest CDC guidance on coronavirus.

What actions can employers take in the case of a pandemic?

In the case of a pandemic, employers can send employees home if they show coronavirus-like symptoms at work. Furthermore, employers may ask employees if they are experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms as long as they are mindful of confidentiality obligations. Finally, if an employee returns from traveling during a pandemic, an employer may ask the employee whether they are returning from a location where that individual may have been exposed to the virus.

Obviously, this is an evolving issue. The businesses that plan for it will be in a better position to deal with it if it becomes a crisis in the United States.

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