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The Network Effect
The Chamber has a virtual portal for employers to submit questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business. Submit questions by visiting Slido.com and entering the event code #ASK4BIZ (or simply click here to go directly to the page). Questions can also be submitted via email at ask@madisonbiz.com. Responses are posted at madisonbiz.com/covid19faq.

Good evening --

Here are the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak and our organizational efforts to inform and ensure an effective community response.

Today's highlights include key provisions of the new federal stimulus package, updates on vaccine eligibility and new masking guidance from the CDC.

BUSINESSES AND GATHERINGS

Public Health Madison & Dane County has posted information helping to clarify gathering requirements and how they apply to businesses under the new order that took effect March 10. 

When hosting a gathering, businesses are limited to their capacity or the gathering limit, whichever is lower. The venue must also be able to maintain six feet of distancing between people not from the same household or living unit. In some spaces, the gathering limit will be lower to meet the distancing requirements of the order.

For example, a venue with a capacity of 500 people that offers food and drink at an event would be limited to 150 people, even though the venue’s capacity is larger. On the other hand, a venue with a capacity of 200 people that offers food and drink at an event would be limited to 100 people, because their 50 percent capacity limit is lower than the gathering limit of 150.

See PHMDC's full guidance here.

VACCINE ELIGIBILITY

The state Department of Health Services (DHS) has added restaurant and food service workers to its list of individuals currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. They join public-facing essential workers including public transit, grocery stores, and food production and agriculture – along with workers in education and childcare, non-frontline healthcare personnel and others – in becoming eligible this month.

In addition, starting March 29, DHS is set to make eligible individuals with certain medical conditions, including cancer, heart conditions, diabetes, moderate-to-severe asthma, liver disease, pregnancy, overweight or obesity, among others.

See the full list of currently and soon-to-be eligible individuals here.

NEW CDC MASKING GUIDANCE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people may:
 
-- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing;

-- Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing; and

-- Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
 
People are considered fully vaccinated at least two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna) or at least two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). This guidance refers only to small private gatherings, so people should continue to follow masking and distancing requirements and guidelines in public, including at businesses and schools.

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT

Last week, President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act, which includes several new measures intended to assist businesses and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some key provisions include:

-- $350 billion worth of direct assistance for state, local, tribal and territorial governments;

-- Stimulus checks for individuals and families;

-- Additional small business assistance of $50 billion, including $25 billion for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund;

-- Nearly $47.8 billion for testing and tracing, $7.5 billion for vaccine distribution and administration, and $7.6 billion for the public health workforce;

-- $128.6 billion for emergency and secondary school emergency relief;

-- $40 billion for childcare block grants to states;

-- Nearly $50 billion for emergency rental assistance, homeowner assistance, housing vouchers, utility assistance and funding to prevent and address homelessness;

-- $30.5 billion for transit;

-- $8 billion for airports;

-- An expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the child tax credit; and

-- An extension of subsidies for government and nonprofit entities; and an expansion of paid sick and family leave tax credits for employers.

For questions about the American Rescue Plan Act and what it means for you and your business, visit Slido.com and enter the event code #ASKBIZ (or simply click here to go directly to the page). You can also email questions to ask@madisonbiz.com.

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For a full archive of previously shared resources, visit madisonbiz.com/covid19.

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