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COVID-19 Joint Information Center Update: March 16, 2021

COVID-19 Joint Information Center Update: March 16, 2021

COVID-19 JOINT INFORMATION CENTER BRIEFING
March 16, 2021
 
The Washington County, Maryland Joint Information Center (JIC) provides the following update regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Please visit www.washco-md.net/coronavirus-info for the latest numbers on Washington County’s COVID-19 dashboard.’
 
COVID-19 Joint Information Daily Briefings will be released ONLY on Tuesdays and Fridays.
 
**The dashboard is updated Monday-Friday**
 
EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER
 
PRE-REGISTRATION
 
The State of Maryland has launched a new platform for eligible Marylanders to pre-register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at one of the state’s mass vaccination sites. Once pre-registered, Marylanders will be notified once an appointment is available, and will be able to verify their pre-registration status and reserve an appointment.
 
Marylanders in Phase 1 eligible populations are now able to pre-register online at covidvax.maryland.gov or by phone through the state’s COVID-19 vaccination support center at 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829).
 
If you know anyone over 65 who has not yet received a vaccine and wants to receive one, please encourage them to pre-register for our mass vaccination sites. You may also pre-register on their behalf. 
 
The Western Maryland mass vaccination site is set to open next Thursday, March 25th. Below are details regarding this site.
 
Hagerstown Premium Outlets: For the Western Maryland mass vaccination site, the state will provide at least 2,100 priority appointments per week—divided equitably by population—for residents of Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties.
 
VACCINE APPOINTMENTS FOR PRIORITY POPULATIONS
 
  • Consistent with federal guidelines, Maryland is in Phase 1C of its vaccine distribution plan, prioritizing all residents 65 and over, as well as critical workers in high-risk settings. Click here to see if you’re eligible.
 
  • Nearly 300 providers are now listed on covidvax.maryland.gov, a one-stop-shop for finding providers in your area. Vaccinations are by appointment only, and supply remains very limited.
 
  • A telephone-based support line is available for residents without Internet access who require assistance finding providers and making appointments for mass vaccination sites. The COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center—available at 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829)—is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. 
 
GET INVOLVED
 
In addition to taking the vaccine when it becomes available to you, there are a few ways you can help:
 
Volunteer at a clinic. Join the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps to support vaccination clinics across the state. Sign up to volunteer at a vaccination clinic.
 
Join our campaign. The State of Maryland has launched a grassroots public outreach and equity campaign to promote vaccine confidence. These vaccines are safe, effective, and authorized for use by our country’s leading medical experts. Join the GoVAX campaign.
 
Stay informed. Marylanders are also encouraged to visit covidlink.maryland.gov to review vaccine safety and efficacy information.
 
It is important to continue to follow all of the recommended guidelines to keep yourself safe. Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose while out in public or when you are around others outside of your household, wash your hands often, social distance, and avoid gatherings with people outside of your household.
 
If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or have been around others that have tested positive, PLEASE STAY HOME. Monitor your health closely and get tested.
 
Please continue to follow the guidelines put forth by the CDC and Maryland Department of Health:
 
  • WEAR A MASK that covers your nose and mouth
  • WASH YOUR HANDS
  • WATCH YOUR DISTANCE
 
***Timelines are subject to change depending on multiple factors, including vaccine availability***
 
COUNTY STATUS: PHASE 1C
 
Effective at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 12, 2021, the Washington County COVID-19 Senior Hotline was shut down. This hotline has served as an effective method of communication for helping seniors in Washington County get registered for their COVID-19 vaccine. The County has been able to assist over 2,000 senior citizens in registering to receive a vaccine.
 
As Governor Hogan announced earlier this week, a mass vaccination site will be opening in Washington County on Thursday, March 25, 2021. Details regarding appointment registration for this site will be forthcoming from the State of Maryland and Meritus Health.
 
To receive additional information, you can call the COVID-19 Vaccine Information Hotline at 1-833-285-2804 to receive the latest updates.
 
Washington County remains in Phase 1C. Priority groups 1A, 1B, and 1C are eligible to receive vaccines in Washington County. Priority group 1C includes the following individuals who are eligible for vaccination:
 
  • All adults over the age of 65
  • Food and agricultural workers
  • U.S. Postal Service workers
  • Grocery/Convenience store workers
  • Public and private transit workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Veterinarians and their support staff
  • Members of clergy and others deemed essential support for houses of worship
  • Everyone in Priority Groups 1A and 1B
  • Individuals who are currently hospitalized AND diagnosed with the following criteria are eligible to receive vaccine in Phase 1C:
  • Cancer patients who are currently in active treatment
  • End-stage renal disease patients requiring hemodialysis
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), especially those who are oxygen-dependent or are steroid-dependent
  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • Sickle cell disease patients
  • Diabetic patients (Type 1 and Type 2)
 
Individuals who are diagnosed with these medical conditions but are not currently hospitalized will be eligible to receive the vaccine in Maryland’s Phase 2 COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
 
Maryland Department of Health is requiring local health departments to prioritize older adults aged 65 and up for vaccination appointment slots, as they become available.
 
  • Thousands of people on the call list means it will take several weeks before you are contacted to schedule a vaccination appointment
  • Please be patient and refrain from contacting the Health Department and Meritus to receive a status update on where you are on the waitlist and when you will be able to schedule your appointment
  • You will receive a phone call to schedule an appointment. If you are in Phase 1A, 1B, or 1C priority groups and have completed an online form on either Meritus Health, MyChart, or the Health Department, you are on the call list.
 
The Washington County Health Department has created an interest form in order to create lists for each priority group moving forward. If you are interested in receiving a vaccine and are in the priority groups identified in Phase 1A, 1B, & 1C (other than 65+) please fill out the form below. 
 
If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, or substance use, please dial 2-1-1. For a more in-depth look at resources available in Washington County, please visit www.washcohope.com.
 
 
To partner with the community for this outreach campaign, golden thread bracelets will be given to businesses and community organizations across Washington County who would like to be a Threads of Hope partner. All partners are asked to hand out bracelets to anyone who may need encouragement during this season. If you are a business or organization in Washington County that would like to get involved, please sign-up at www.washcohope.com. Scroll to the bottom of the page to complete the form.
 
The County recognizes that nothing about this year has been normal. As we enter into the winter months, staying connected may become more difficult. It is okay to reach out for help. Citizens are encouraged to check on your friends and family members. Find creative ways to connect virtually or send cards of encouragement in the mail. We will get through this is together.
 
COVID-19 TESTING SITES IN WASHINGTON COUNTY, MD
 
  • Meritus Screening Drive Thru Center is located at 13620 Crayton Blvd. The drive-thru screening center is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m and Saturday from 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
  • Health Department Winter Testing Site: located at 13 West Lee Street, Hagerstown, MD. The site is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • CVS Drive-Thru Testing Site located at 1503 Potomac Ave, Hagerstown MD 21742. Please visit https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing to see if you qualify for testing at this site and to schedule an appointment.
  • CVS Drive-Thru Testing Site located at 10 E Wilson Blvd, Hagerstown MD 21740. Please visit https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing to see if you qualify for testing at this site and to schedule an appointment.
  • U.N.I. Urgent Care Center located at 11236 Robinwood Drive, Suite 101 Hagerstown, MD 21742. Appointment required and patients are charged with copay. Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; 240-313-4242
  • U.N.I. Urgent Care Center located at 18721 N Pointe Drive Hagerstown, MD 21742. Appointment required and patients are charged with copay. Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; 301-733-8313
 
WASHINGTON COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
 
COVID-19 TESTING
 
Mobile Testing Sites: Closed for the winter months.
 
Winter Testing Site: Our drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 test site is located at one place during the winter months. Please go to the entrance at 13 West Lee Street and follow all traffic directions to be tested.
 
Hagerstown Housing Authority
13 West Lee Street, Hagerstown
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
 
PSA- Fraudulent Calls Claiming to be Contact Tracers:
We have seen an increased number of reports of people receiving phone calls from individuals claiming to be from the “health department”. These individuals are then asking Washington County residents for personal and financial information. Please be cautious and aware that contact tracers will NEVER ask for your:
 
  • Social security number
  • Financial or bank account information
  • Money or payment
  • Immigration status
  • Passwords
  • Personal details unrelated to COVID-19
 
You should never give out personal information without being sure of who you are talking to directly. Contact tracers will only ask you questions regarding:
  • To verify your name, date of birth and address
  • About your health and symptoms
  • Locations you have been during a specific period of time
  • Names and contact information for any household and casual contacts (we do not disclose your name to anyone, only that they may have come into contact with an infected individual)
 
For more information about contact tracing please visit https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/contact-tracing   
CONTACT TRACING UPDATE
Due to significant increases in the daily volume of COVID-19 positive individuals in our county, the Washington County Health Department is working diligently alongside NORC call center to notify all positive cases and their contacts in a timely manner.
 
Currently NORC call center is making all first contact attempts for COVID-19 positive individuals in Washington County. When you see “MD COVID” or (240) 466-4488 on your phone, please answer the call. If NORC is unable to reach the individual, Washington County Health Department is notified and attempts to reach the COVID-19 positive individual.
 
The key things to know if you test positive but don’t get a call are to isolate (please see the FAQs about Isolation and Quarantine) and to tell your close contacts* of their exposure.
 
We urge Washington County residents to cooperate and help contact tracer by answering all the questions they ask. Your honest answers and the information you provide will help us in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Your cooperation in contact tracing efforts plays a crucial role in keeping our community healthy.
 
* Close contact is described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. Cumulative total can be determined by adding individual exposures over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes)
 
For more information of contact tracing please go to https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/faqs/#faqCT
 
MD COVID Alert
Marylanders can use MD COVID Alert to receive COVID-19 exposure notifications on smartphones The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today announced the launch of MD COVID Alert, the official COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Express system of Maryland. MD COVID Alert uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology to quickly notify users who might have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 with the goal of reducing infections in Maryland.
Exposure Notifications System: Helping Health Authorities fight COVID-19
 
MERITUS HEALTH
 
VACCINES STILL AVAILABLE
Are you a Maryland resident, 65 or older, interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine? Please email Vax313@MeritusHealth.com with your name, date of birth, phone number, address and email address to be scheduled. You will be contacted with an appointment date and time, as well as instructions on where to go for the appointment and what to bring with you.
 
MERITUS HEALTH DRIVE-THRU SCREENING CENTER
The drive-thru screening center for COVID-19 testing is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
 
The screening center is located behind Meritus Medical Plaza at 13620 Crayton Blvd., in Hagerstown. Testing is available for anyone, including those who do not currently have symptoms of the coronavirus, but suspect or are concerned that they have been exposed. No appointments or referrals are needed to be tested. Test results are made available typically within a day through a patient’s My Chart account or primary care provider.
Essential Workers
 
Seasonal Illness Care Clinics – SIC Clinics
Meritus Health has established Seasonal Illness Care Clinics or SIC Clinics to safely accommodate patients with symptoms of COVID-19 or flu. Once a patient has been cared for by his/her provider via video or phone, the provider may refer said patient to one of the SIC Clinics. This would be for those individuals who need to be seen in person, but have COVID or flu-like symptoms preventing them from having an in-practice appointment. Symptoms that would be present to visit a SIC Clinic could include:
  • Upper respiratory illness
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Ear pain
  • Shortness of breath/wheezing
  • Generalized body aches/joint pain/muscle pain/fatigue
  • Chills
  • Nasal congestion/runny nose/sinus pain and pressure, postnasal drip
  • You’ve tested positive for COVID and have worsening symptoms
  • You have known COVID exposure and feel ill
 
SIC Clinic – North (located at Meritus Medical Plaza, 13620 Crayton Blvd.)
Hours of operation: Monday–Sunday from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. including holidays
 
SIC Clinic – Smithsburg – by appointment only (located beside Meritus Pediatric & Adult Medicine – Smithsburg, 22911 Jefferson Blvd.)
Hours of operations: Monday–Thursday 10:00 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday 8:30-11:30 a.m
 
UPDATED MERITUSHEALTH.COM COVID-19 RESOURCE PAGE
Please visit the recently updated MeritusHealth.com website for additional COVID-19 resources and information including:
  • Infusion treatment now available in our community
  • E-Visits and free telehealth visits with providers
  • COVID-19 vaccine information
  • Current hospital visitor restrictions
  • How to make a donation to Meritus Health Care Heroes
 
WASHINGTON COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Visit www.washcorises.net for constantly updated resources and information to help you reopen your business.
With the passage of the RELIEF Act of 2021 by the Maryland General Assembly, new COVID-19 relief will soon be made available for certain Maryland businesses through the Maryland Department of Commerce.
 
While applications are not yet being accepted, the Department of Commerce wanted to spread the word about the new funding as broadly as possible so businesses from across the state are ready to apply when the time comes. MD Department of Commerce will update their website as details about these Commerce programs become available.
 
The new funding will be available through the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund (also known as Commerce’s Advantage Maryland program), a flexible and broad-based program which usually funds grants, loans and investments to support economic development initiatives; and through Commerce’s Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Account, which uses proceeds from video lottery terminals at Maryland’s six casinos to assist small, minority, and women-owned businesses.
 
This funding will be targeted toward certain groups of businesses, including:
  • $10 million for businesses who do not collect sales tax and can demonstrate a need for assistance, with priority given to those who have not already received assistance;
  • $500,000 for businesses seeking to set up online sales or help employees telework;

  • $10 million for small, minority, and women-owned businesses;

  • $8 million for private commuter bus operators and local transit systems.

 
Commerce will also provide an additional $22 million to the local jurisdictions for relief to restaurants and $10 million for hotels.  An additional $5 million in grant funding will be available to artists and arts organizations through the Maryland State Arts Council, and another $1 million for tourism marketing will be provided to the destination marketing organizations in each jurisdiction.
 
Commerce anticipates accepting initial applications for the new funding in mid-March.  Please continue to visit our business resources website for the latest information.
Maryland State Arts Council Opens Emergency Grant Applications $5 million will be distributed to artists and arts organizations
 
BALTIMORE, MD (March 5, 2021) – With the passage of the RELIEF Act of 2021 by the Maryland General Assembly, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) will distribute $5 million through its Emergency Grant Program. Created in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, Emergency Grants provide funding to arts organizations and artists for losses sustained because of programming, operations, and events that have been modified or canceled.
 
This fourth round of MSAC Emergency Grant funding is available to independent artists, arts organizations, County Arts Agencies, and Arts & Entertainment District management entities. Per the legislation, MSAC will prioritize grants to organizations that have not received prior funding from MSAC or do not qualify for funding under other MSAC programs.
 
All applicants must complete an application through SmartSimple to request funding. Applications open March 5, 2021 and must be submitted by 5 p.m. on April 1, 2021 to be considered for funding. Click here to access the application.
 
An informational webinar will be held on Wednesday, March 10th, at 2 p.m. to provide an overview of the grant, its process, and how to apply. Click here to view details and register.
 
Since March 2020, MSAC has distributed $7 million in Emergency Grants across 332 grants to arts organizations and 349 grants to independent artists. Prior rounds have utilized funds from MSAC’s annual appropriation, the federal CARES Act via the National Endowment for the Arts, and Governor Larry Hogan’s Maryland Strong Economic Recovery Initiative. For more information about MSAC and Emergency Grants, visit msac.org.
 
UPCOMING WEBINARS
 
FREE NFIB Webinar: What You Need to Know on Applying for A Second (or initial) PPP Loan!
Don’t miss NFIB’s PPP and COVID-19 experts, Beth Milito and Holly Wade, as they go step-by-step on how to apply for a PPP loan:
 
  • Who’s eligible?
  • Where to apply?
  • New application form
  • How to calculate loan amount
  • And more!
 
Please submit your questions ahead of the webinar so we can make sure to answer them.
(If you have EIDL or Covid paid sick leave questions, we welcome them as well!)
 
NFIB’s On-Demand Webinars are available online, anytime. Browse our online library of free small business Webinars, from legal and tax advice to operations information, to help you run your business better.
 
Creation of Online Classes Hosted by Allegany College of Maryland
 
From the Office of Delegate Mike McKay:
 
Delegate Mike McKay (District 1C) and Development Coordinator Bill Valentine are proud to announce the creation of an online class, hosted by Allegany College of Maryland. This class has been designed for small businesses, non-profits, home-based businesses, and entrepreneurs. Both Delegate McKay and Development Coordinator Valentine, both small businessmen, feel that COVID-19, has created a new set of challenges for business. To compete successfully, the ability to conduct business on the internet will be more important  than ever before. If there is a need for government to again place restrictions on business, an on-line presence will help businesses to continue.
 
The trading class being offered, will be an online class, lasting 13 weeks, one module per week. Such a class would normally cost a participant over $500.00, but ACM is able to offer this class for less than $50.00 to aide our community. Internet sales and marketing will be some of the main focuses of the course. Website creation and management will be taught. Selling through social media will be another focus.
 
Delegate McKay and Mr. Valentine hope that all District 1C businesses, across Allegany and Washington Counties, will take advantage of the offer for such valuable training. If interested, please contact Bill Valentine at 301-268-1598 or at: billvalentine590@gmail.com. You will then be notified when registration is to open for this valuable class.
 
 
Recent Law Clarifies and Expands CARES Act Employee Retention Credit
The Internal Revenue Service urges employers to take advantage of the newly-extended employee retention credit, designed to make it easier for businesses that, despite challenges posed by COVID-19, choose to keep their employees on the payroll.
 
The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, modified and extended the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), for six months through June 30, 2021. Several of the changes apply only to 2021, while others apply to both 2020 and 2021.
 
Effective January 1, 2021, employers are eligible if they operate a trade or business during January 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, and experience either:
  1. A full or partial suspension of the operation of their trade or business during this period because of governmental orders limiting commerce, travel or group meetings due to COVID-19, or
  2. A decline in gross receipts in a calendar quarter in 2021 where the gross receipts of that calendar quarter are less than 80% of the gross receipts in the same calendar quarter in 2019 (to be eligible based on a decline in gross receipts in 2020 the gross receipts were required to be less than 50%).
 
As a result of the new legislation, eligible employers can now claim a refundable tax credit against the employer share of Social Security tax equal to 70% of the qualified wages they pay to employees after December 31, 2020, through June 30, 2021. Qualified wages are limited to $10,000 per employee per calendar quarter in 2021. Thus, the maximum ERC amount available is $7,000 per employee per calendar quarter, for a total of $14,000 in 2021.
 
For more information, see:
 
Minority Business Fund Founded by Four Community Banks:
Four banks have collectively committed up to $1 million in interest-free loans to aid both startup and existing minority-owned small businesses within the sponsoring community bank markets. The bank serving Washington County is the Bank of Charles Town. For details check out the link.  https://www.mybct.bank/banking-on-diversity/  
 
Please forward this email to any minority-owned business you may know that could be helped by this funding opportunity. If you or any other business needs help with the loan process please feel free to reach out to Herb Melrath, SBA at hjmlerath@frostburg.edu 
 
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FRAUD
 
If you need to report unemployment insurance fraud, please CLICK HERE.
PPP FAQ- The federal Paycheck Protection Program has changed several times. Here are answers to the biggest questions about the program. From the U.S. Chamber.
 
SBA has reopened the #PaycheckProtection Program loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications.
 
Early last week, SBA granted dedicated PPP access to Community Financial Institutions which include Community Development Financial Institutions, Minority Depository Institutions, Certified Development Companies, and Microloan Intermediaries as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to reach underserved and minority small businesses.
 
SBA will continue its emphasis on reaching smaller lenders and businesses by opening to approximately 5,000 more lenders, including community banks, credit unions, and farm credit institutions. Moreover, the agency also plans to have dedicated service hours for these smaller lenders after the portal fully re-opens next week.
 
First Draw PPP Loans are for those borrowers who have not received a PPP loan before August 8, 2020. The first round of the PPP, which ran from March to August 2020.
 
Second Draw PPP Loans are for eligible small businesses with 300 employees or less, that previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will use or have used the full amount only for authorized uses, and that can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.
 
Read the full press release here.
 
For updated PPP Lender forms, guidance, and resources go to https://www.sba.gov/ppp
 
FEEDBACK NEEDED FROM BUSINESS COMMUNITY
Over the last several weeks, the Chamber has been contacted by numerous members and other stakeholders regarding the role of the business community in Maryland’s mass vaccination efforts.
 
To support the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in their efforts moving forward, it is critically important that you submit your feedback to psector@maryland.gov if:
  • You have ideas on how to improve the communication resources and tools provided to support your industry in the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination effort.
  • You think you may be able to provide support for Mass Vaccination Operations and Logistics
 
Please note that providing feedback does not entitle the entity to immediate vaccine deliveries. The next phases of vaccine distribution will depend on vaccines that are allocated to Maryland through the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed program. The intent of this effort is to gather feedback and information to better assist in Maryland’s mass vaccination planning for future phases.
 
For more information and assistance on the Stakeholder COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Operations & Logistics Capabilities Support, please contact psector@maryland.gov.
 
Please visit the covidlink.maryland.gov website for more updated information on the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination in the State of Maryland. For additional information and assistance on Mass Vaccination General Inquiries email secretary.commerce@maryland.gov
 
For questions, please contact Ashley Duckman, Vice President of Government Affairs, at aduckman@mdchamber.org or 410-269-0642, ext. 1112.
 
SDAT Reminds Businesses to Verify Good Standing Status, Prepares for 2021 Filing Season
 
The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) encourages business owners to look up their business’ status on Maryland Business Express to ensure they are in Good Standing with the state, and if not, to follow the steps in this Good Standing Checklist to avoid being forfeited. The Department also announced that its free 2021 Annual Report Extension System is live, which allows businesses to extend their filing deadline from April 15 to June 15, 2021.
 
Important information below from SBDC’s Financial Specialist Team if you or your business as received a PPP loan: 
 
As a PPP borrower – and with 2020 tax preparation season now in swing – the Maryland SBDC Financial Specialists Team wants to remind you about tax implications related to PPP forgiveness. Although the SBDC does NOT provide tax advice, they wanted to make you aware of a potentially KEY issue. Per IRS Notice 2020-32, expenses paid using FORGIVEN PPP funds are NOT tax-deductible expenses. This means that if your application for forgiveness is APPROVED in 2020, the expenses you paid with those “forgiven” PPP funds WILL NOT be deductible on your 2020 tax return. This could have significant “2020 income tax due” implications when you file the return. If you delay the “Forgiveness” request/get approval until 2021, that would allow time for tax planning related to the 2021 tax filing when those “forgiven” related expenses still cannot be deducted. STEPS TO TAKE: SBDC encourages you to connect ASAP with your tax preparer to consider strategies and options. Certainly, if you have any questions or want additional insights, please feel free to contact your Maryland SBDC Business Consultant, go to the www.marylandsbdc.org website to get connected with a Consultant and/or refer to our COVID19 Small Business Survival Guide.
AGRICULTURE AND RURAL BUSINESS RELIEF ACT GRANT PROGRAMS
 
The Maryland Urban Farmer Relief Grant – provides grants of $500 to urban farmers to assist with a portion of the costs associated with the urban commercial production of locally grown food products this spring. Urban farmers played a significant role in helping to feed city residents during the pandemic. First-round applications are due by March 15, 2021. Learn more.
 
The Maryland Local Food Cold Storage Relief Grant Program – provides grants of up to $15,000 (up to 50% of the cost) to help agricultural and seafood businesses purchase the cold storage equipment that is needed to continue or expand operations. Farmers needing new cold storage equipment and facilities has increased significantly during the pandemic. First-round applications are due by April 1, 2021. Learn more.
 
The Maryland Livestock Processing Equipment Relief Grant Program – provides grants of up to $100,000 (at up to 75% of the cost) to livestock processors to purchase meat processing equipment to help expand the capacity of their processing enterprises. The demand for local meat products overwhelmed local processors during the pandemic which led to scheduling backlogs at small processing facilities and farmers having to hold their livestock for longer periods of time. This program will potentially help to relieve some of this demand by providing funds to facilities to expand their processing capacity. First-round applications are due by April 1, 2021. Learn more.
 
The Maryland Shellfish Aquaculture Relief Grant – provides grants of between $500 and $2,000 to persons holding State submerged land and/or water column aquaculture leases. The grants can assist shellfish aquaculture producers with their spring planting expenses, some of which are mandated under State law. There are approximately 175 oyster farms in Maryland, and many of these farms experienced large revenue losses in 2020 because of a dramatic decline in restaurant sales. First-round applications are due by March 15, 2021. Learn more.
 
The Maryland Wood Products Industry Equity Investment Relief Fund (WIPPIE) – provides grants of 20% to 33% of a project’s cost up to $225,000, with the aim to help forest harvesters and wood fiber processors to purchase new equipment or construct facilities to increase the utilization and production of wood products in Maryland. The forest products industry has been devastated by the closure of mills and the loss of markets in recent years, and the pandemic has exacerbated this problem. There are more than 157,000 private forestland owners in Maryland (owning 10 or more acres of woodland). First-round applications are due by April 1, 2021.  Learn more.
 
For more information regarding all five grant programs, please visit the MARBIDCO website.
 
Help Us Continue on Our Path to Keep Washington County Open – Please ensure your business and customers continue to follow the recommended CDC guidelines as we reopen businesses and other activities across Washington County. Wearing masks inside, social distancing, regular hand washing, and expanded cleaning is still a critical part of keeping infection rates low. By taking on these minor inconveniences, we can prevent a spike in infections which could force officials to slow down or even reverse the reopening process. The coronavirus has not gone away and we must stay vigilant until a vaccine is created. We all have a responsibility to do our part to help our economy reopen so that our many local businesses can survive and provide jobs for our citizens.
The purpose of this page is to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Rumors can easily circulate within communities during a crisis. Do your part to the stop the spread of disinformation by doing 3 easy things; don’t believe the rumors, don’t pass them along and go to trusted sources of information to get the facts about the state of Maryland’s (COVID-19) response. 
CITY OF HAGERSTOWN
 
Attention Main Street Businesses in downtown Hagerstown! A new COVID-19 business assistance grant application is LIVE!
 
  • The Main Street Hagerstown Business Stabilization Grant Program provides grants up to $5,000 for businesses located in the downtown Main Street area district. 
 
  • Is your business located in the Hagerstown Main Street District?: Click on this MAP LINK to see the boundaries of this district. 
 
Main Street Hagerstown has received special COVID-19 funding from the Governor’s Maryland Strong: Economic Recovery Initiative (MD-SERI). This funding has been made available for designated Main Street Maryland districts as part of the Governor’s initiative. These funds will be distributed on a rolling basis until allocated program funds have been dispersed into the designated district or until June 1, 2021. The grant can fund eligible expenses and purchases made from January 1, 2021 to June 1, 2021. The grant, with a maximum funding amount of $5,000/business, will be administered to businesses in order to assist in the ability to sustain, adjust, and bolster their day to day operations as well as operations that continue to be adjusted to address COVID-19 restrictions and prevention methods.
 
Guidelines and Application Form became available on Thursday, 1/28/21 on the City’s website.
 
COMMUNITY RESOURCES, INFO & EVENTS
Having trouble affording your utility or heating bill? We’ve got you covered. Apply for energy assistance BEFORE you receive a turn-off notice so that funds can be applied to your account as soon as possible! Click the logo to learn more.
 
Now is an excellent time to remind friends, family, and neighbors about the Senior Call Check program. It is important that we check in on our older adults, especially those living alone, to make sure they are okay.
 
 
EMERGENCY SHELTER & EVICTION ASSISTANCE IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
If you or someone you know is in sudden need of shelter and/or eviction assistance as the rental moratorium comes to an end, please contact the resources listed on the poster below.
 
During the day, all individuals/families are being directed to the Community Action Council (CAC) and/or Reach. It is very important that people be directed to these agencies for appropriate assessment of all needs and eligible services. For immediate shelter at night; adult individuals are directed to the Reach Shelter. 
 
For additional information, please contact the Public Relations and Marketing Department at 240-313-2380 or pr@washco-md.net.
 
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