6 Signs of a Healthy Business

6 Signs of a Healthy Business

Many of us have spent this year concerned about the health of our businesses or those in the community. Ultimately, a healthy business has a good balance sheet. It has more coming in than it does going out. But that is not the only indicator of business health.

In today’s world, where a quick decision from a politician can radically affect your business overnight, it’s important to know the early indicators of business peril. This of these things as your business’ “canary in the coal mine.”

Signs Your Business Is Healthy (before you see it on the books)

Before you see any issues in the balance sheet, you can spot a healthy business in these areas:

  1. Referrals. While it’s never easy to get people to refer you even when they love you, a healthy business harnesses the power of the referral and makes it easy for happy customers to bring in more happy customers.
  2. Reviews. Just like referrals, reviews are the signature of a healthy, well-loved business. But they don’t happen automatically. A healthy business asks for them, makes it easy to give them, and repurposes them in their marketing collateral.
  3. Promotes from within and trains accordingly. A healthy business promotes from within with clear pathways to additional challenges even when the business is small enough not to have additional levels to climb. It recognizes employees who are committed to the business, doing a great job, and those that require additional challenges or training.
  4. Looks for needs. If your business moves in another direction, opens a new market, or branches out, you may not be able to promote from within. A healthy business is clear about what each employee’s strengths are and what they may need to obtain from outside whether that be from an additional hire, vendor, or partner.
  5. Builds loyalty outside of sales. Loyalty is not owned by the sales department. Loyalty is built by customer service and marketing. A healthy company looks for ways to keep customers engaged and feeling like they are part of the brand. It creates enjoyable experiences for customers at each touchpoint whether they are calling to complain, buy, or simply spend time on social media.
  6. Remains agile. This one is certainly a lesson learned in 2020. A healthy business must be ready to align its offerings and services with those of their loyal customers and the larger market. Small businesses may not have had a lot of operating capital when the pandemic hit but they did retain the ability to move quickly and that helped a lot of them stay in the black.

Is your business healthy outside of the balance sheet? Go through this list and ask yourself how many of these qualities your business meets. If you’re missing a few, you may want to see how quickly you can add them. After all, they are a good indicator of business health long before you begin to see signs of trouble in the balance sheets or books.


Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. 

Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.


Coronavirus relief options

SBA offers several different relief options to help businesses, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations recover from the impacts of COVID-19. You can view all options or skip to a specific program below.

In order to reach the smallest businesses, SBA will offer Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses with 20 or less employees and sole proprietors only from Wednesday, February 24 through Wednesday, March 10, 2021. President Biden has also announced additional program changes to make access to PPP loans more equitable.

SBA is currently offering the following funding options:

SBA is preparing to offer:

SBA is contacting eligible businesses regarding:

SBA previously offered the following funding options:

  • EIDL Advance (No longer available)

Governor DeWine Announces CARES Act Funding to Support Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Ohioans Impacted by COVID-19


(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today announced that the administration, in partnership with the General Assembly, is developing a package of more than $419.5 million CARES Act funding to help Ohioans. This package includes funding for small businesses, restaurants and bars, hospitals, higher education, arts, nonprofits, and low-income Ohioans impacted financially by the pandemic


Business Grants, Loans and Tax Credits

Business Bonds, Grants, Loans, and Tax Credits

The Ohio Development Services Agency has a variety of bonds, grants, loans and tax credits that can assist Ohio companies as they grow and create jobs in Ohio. More information click HERE.

Summary of Governor DeWine’s Address | February 18, 2021


COVID-19 Update: Vaccine Maintenance Program, Nursing Home Visitation, Phase 1B Medical Conditions

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


As a result of continued bad weather, vaccine shipments in Ohio and across the country continue to be delayed. Ohioans with vaccine appointments this week should confirm that their appointment has not been canceled before leaving home.

Because of these weather delays, it is expected that providers will give vaccinations over the weekend as shipments arrive.


This morning, Ohio launched its COVID-19 Vaccine Maintenance Program for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Each month, facilities can host a vaccine clinic for residents and staff if there is the need for vaccinations. The program ensures that vaccinations in long-term care facilities continue for new residents and staff or current residents and staff who have now decided to be vaccinated. 


Governor DeWine announced that he has assembled a team of doctors and nurses to develop a plan for safe nursing home visitation. Members of the team are experts in infectious disease control, skilled nursing, and other types of long-term care settings.

Ohio’s existing visitation order does allow compassionate care visits. Examples of compassionate care situations could include:

  • A resident who was living with their family before recently being admitted to a home is struggling with the change in environment and lack of physical family support.
  • A resident who needs cueing and encouragement with eating or drinking, previously provided by family or caregiver(s), is experiencing weight loss or dehydration.
  • A resident, who used to talk and interact with others, is experiencing emotional distress, seldom speaking, or crying more frequently.

The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is available to assist citizens with questions about compassionate care visits. The office can be reached at OhioOmbudsman@age.ohio.gov or 1-800-282-1206. 


This week, vaccine eligibility opened up to Ohioans born with the medical conditions outlined below, or those who were diagnosed in early childhood whose conditions continued into adulthood. Following anecdotal reports of individuals with these conditions being denied vaccination appointments, particularly those with cystic fibrosis, Governor DeWine stressed that vaccine providers should vaccinate those of any age with any of the following conditions. 

Ohio's vaccination program garphic

COVID-19 Resource Guide

As Ohio communities continue to face the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that they have the
resources they need to help keep residents safe.

Please use this guide as a tool as we continue to help one another and persevere until we are on the other side of this crisis.  We are all in this together, Ohio.

Click HERE to view the “COVID-19 Resource Guide.”

CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html.

COVID-19 Information for Businesses: https://www.tpchd.org/healthy-people/diseases/covid-19-information-for- businesses.

Coronavirus and Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Ohioans can apply for unemployment benefits online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at unemployment.ohio.gov. It is also possible to file by phone at 877-644-6562 or TTY at 888- 642-8203, Monday through Friday 7 am to 7 pm and 9 am to 1 pm on Saturdays. Employers with questions should email UCTech@jfs.ohio.gov. 
Read more 

Resources for Local Health Districts and Providers  
Resources for Local Health Districts and Providers – COVID-19 The Ohio Department of Health (ODH), in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is closely monitoring coronavirus disease 2019, first identified in… 
Read more 

If your agency/organization needs support, please remember there are two ways to request support:

  1. For supply needs, please email eoc@allencountyohio.com .
  2. In order to apply for COVID-19 funds, please fill out the following form: https://forms.gle/EQV9dAA89Ms3ckse9 .  
  3. The personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage in Ohio remains severe. Governor DeWine made a plea to healthcare workers using N95 masks to send them to Battelle which can sterilize up to 160,000 masks each day, making them reusable up to 20 times. Hospitals should contact battelle.org to arrange for mask sterilization.

United Way

COVID Resources

CDC Situation Reports

WHO Situation Reports

Allen County Public Health

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation

Ohio employers urged to cash dividend checks


Jan. 13, 2021

$500 million in checks aimed at pandemic relief remain uncashed

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) urges Ohio employers to cash the checks BWC mailed them in December to mitigate the economic hardship brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Tuesday, 23,351 employers still had not cashed $513.7 million in checks BWC sent last month in its $5 billion dividend for nearly 180,000 private and public employers.

“We issued this dividend at Governor Mike DeWine’s request to help businesses stay open and keep people employed,” said BWC Interim Administrator/CEO John Logue. “We encourage employers to check their mail and start putting these dollars to use.”

BWC issued the dividend in mid-December via checks in the mail and credits to employer accounts. Made possible by strong investment returns, declining injury claims, and other cost savings, the dividend included $4.3 billion for

 private employers and $687 million for local government taxing districts, such as counties, cities, townships, and schools.

The dividend followed two others in 2020, one for $1.54 billion last spring and another for $1.34 billion in October, bringing total dividends for the year to nearly $8 billion.

The checks have a 90-day life before stale-dating. BWC will reissue checks after the stale date at the employer’s request, but the process delays employer access to these funds. Ultimately, if an employer fails to cash an original or reissued check, BWC will credit their account.

For frequently asked questions, visit this page on BWC’s website or call BWC at 1-800-644-6292.
BWC and COVID-19

For more information about COVID-19 as it relates to BWC, visit this Frequently Asked Questions page or email BWCCOVID19@bwc.state.oh.us.

For the latest on the pandemic as it relates to Ohio, visit the Ohio Department of Health website coronavirus.ohio.gov, or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).



The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is modifying the process for haulers carrying heavy loads of essential goods. 

Generally, Ohio requires haulers with loads classified as “oversized” to seek advanced permission from ODOT before they are legally allowed to travel in the state.  

To assist in the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, ODOT will modify the process for haulers carrying heavy or oversized loads of food, non-alcoholic beverages, medical supplies, cleaning products, and other household goods. 

Haulers carrying these essential goods can download and print the permit at transportation.ohio.gov. 

Ohio Manufactures COVID-19 Resources (for Manufacturers)

Ohio Public Private Partnership – Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released the following information on how to consider addressing PPE needs in a non-healthcare setting. 

Read more here



Small Businesses Cannot Afford $15/hr Minimum Wage

Small Businesses Cannot Afford $15/hr Minimum Wage

Congress recently proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and eliminating the tipped wage. This proposal would more than double the federal minimum wage while small businesses are struggling to make it through the pandemic. 

Email your legislators and urge them to oppose the Raise the Wage Act of 2021.

Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and eliminating the tipped wage would hit small business owners particularly hard. NFIB Research Center estimates that this proposal will reduce employment by 1.6 million jobs by 2029. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees would absorb 900,000 of those job losses, 57% of all jobs lost.

Small businesses, unlike larger businesses, are less likely to have the cash reserves or profit margins to absorb the increase in labor costs. Small business owners must make the difficult decision to either increase the cost of their products, which in many cases is untenable, or reduce labor costs in the form of employees, employee hours, or other employee benefits. 

Businesses that currently pay a minimum of $15 per hour may feel pressure from employees to elevate their wages to make up the difference as they are accustomed to making more than the federal minimum.

Help Congress understand how a mandated $15 per hour minimum wage would impact your business, employees, and community. Many legislators have never worked for a small business—they don’t know the real-world impacts this legislation would have on their district/state and the businesses and employees they represent. Tell them.

Be the voice of small business and make your voice heard.




IRS warns against COVID-19 fraud; other financial schemes

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers to guard against tax fraud and other related financial scams related to COVID-19.

In the last few months, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CI) has seen a variety of Economic Impact Payment (EIP) scams and other financial schemes looking to take advantage of unsuspecting taxpayers. CI continues to work with law enforcement agencies domestically and abroad to educate taxpayers about these scams and investigate the criminals perpetrating them during this challenging time.

“Criminals seize on every opportunity to exploit bad situations, and this pandemic is no exception,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The IRS is fully focused on protecting Americans while delivering Economic Impact Payments in record time. The pursuit of those who participate in COVID-19 related scams, intentionally abusing the programs intended to help millions of Americans during these uncertain times, will long remain a significant priority of both the IRS and IRS-CI.”

Criminals are continuing to use the COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments as cover for schemes to steal personal information and money. Scams related to COVID-19 are not limited to stealing EIPs from taxpayers, however. CI has already seen scams related to the organized selling of fake at-home test kits, offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19. Other scams purport to sell large quantities of medical supplies through the creation of fake shops, websites, social media accounts and email addresses where the criminal fails to deliver promised supplies after receiving funds.

“Criminals try to take advantage of our most vulnerable times and our most vulnerable populations. But because we have seen many of these criminals and schemes before, we know how to find them and we know how to expose them,” said Don Fort, Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation. “And because COVID-19 is a global problem, it requires a global solution. Not only are we leveraging our financial investigative expertise domestically, we are working hand-in-hand with our J5 partners on those COVID-19 cases that cross borders. There truly is no place for criminals to hide.”

Other COVID-19 related scams involve setting up fake charities soliciting donations for individuals, groups and areas affected by the disease. Some criminals are offering opportunities to invest early in companies working on a vaccine for the disease promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information.

Finally, CI has also seen a tremendous increase in phishing schemes utilizing emails, letters, texts and links. These phishing schemes are using keywords such as “Corona Virus,” “COVID-19,” and “Stimulus” in varying ways. These schemes are blasted to large numbers of people known by the bad actors in an effort to get personally identifying information or financial account information to include account numbers and passwords. Most of these new schemes are actively playing on the fear and unknown of the virus and the stimulus payments.

Coronavirus-related (COVID-19) scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF web Complaint Form. The NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dedicated to improving the detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct related to natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19). Hotline staff will obtain information regarding your complaint, which will then be reviewed by law enforcement officials.

Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online. TIGTA investigates external attempts to corruptly interfere with federal tax administration, including IRS-related coronavirus scams.

Also, taxpayers can always report phishing attempts to the IRS. Those who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should forward it to phishing@irs.gov. Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.

Learn more by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov. Official IRS information about the COVID-19 pandemic and economic impact payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov, which is updated frequently.


Read Press Release Here

Benefit coverage for the COVID-19 vaccine

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC)

May 28, 2020

COLUMBUS – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is deferring the due date for employers to pay their June, July, and August premium installments until Sept.1.

Governor DeWine said the deferral is designed to help employers focus resources on re-opening their businesses under his Responsible RestartOhio Plan, the state’s effort to restart the economy while keeping Ohioans safe amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“By extending the premium due date, businesses can continue to focus on the safety and well-being of their employees and customers during this health pandemic,” said Governor DeWine. 

BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud noted the deferral is the second deadline extension given to employers since COVID-19 emerged in Ohio in March.

“We’ve said since the beginning of this pandemic we would do our best to relieve the financial pressures employers are facing in this unprecedented time,” said Administrator McCloud. “This is our latest step, and I’m grateful to Ohio’s employer community, our stakeholders, and our staff for putting us in a strong position to help.”

Among several actions to help the business community’s bottom line, BWC sent Ohio’s private and public employers nearly $1.6 billion in dividends in late April thanks to strong investment returns, declining injury claims, and other costs savings. The agency is also sending at least 2 million face coverings to employers and their workforce to weaken the spread of the coronavirus under its Protecting Ohio’s Workforce — We’ve Got You Covered plan.

For more on BWC as it relates to COVID-19, please visit bwc.ohio.gov or email us at BWCCOVID19@bwc.state.oh.us

For more on COVID-19, including prevention guidelines and its impact on Ohio, visit the Ohio Department of Health website coronavirus.ohio.gov.
# # #
Media Contacts: 
Tony Gottschlich, 614-644-4940 or 614-296-1734, tony.gottschlich@bwc.state.oh.us
Kim Norris, 614-728-8045 or 614-361-0202, kimberly.norris@bwc.state.oh.us  
Established in 1912, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Ohio and serves 249,000 public and private employers. With 1,800 employees and assets of approximately $28 billion, BWC is the largest state-run insurance system in the United States. Our mission is to protect Ohio’s workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses at fair rates. For more, visit www.bwc.ohio.gov.

If you would rather not receive future communications from Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, let us know by clicking here.
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, WGB, 30 W. Spring St., Level 24, Columbus, OH 43215 United States


ALL Survey 2020

Allen Lima Leadership Class of 2020
Media Contact: Melissa Sponseller (419) 908-7788

Matthew Childers, ALL Executive Director

all@wcoil.com   (419) 204-8152


Lima, Ohio (September 4, 2020) 

The Allen Lima Leadership (ALL) Class of 2020 has accepted the challenge by Executive Director, Matt Childers to develop a project that will add value to the Greater Lima Community.  During the ten-month program, teams developed project ideas and presented those projects to a panel of judges in June. The winning project is the development of a community-wide survey to gather information related to livability in the Greater Lima Region. The class is working closely with the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce and the Allen Economic Development Group to develop the best survey questions to offer the best data that will assist their strategic planning efforts.

The Regional Survey is made up of 15 questions and will take less than 5 minutes to complete. The survey will open on Friday, September 4, 2020, and will close on Friday, September 11, 2020. The survey will be sent to regional businesses, employees, students, and posted on various social media channels. The data collected will be analyzed to develop targeted growth campaigns for companies that represent economic value to all people in the Greater Lima Region.  The project coordinators are looking to receive a minimum of 1,000 responses to provide a 90% confidence rate of the data.

The Survey will also be linked on the following websites: Lima/Allen County Chamber, Allen Economic Development Group, The Lima News and Hometown Stations as well as through the ALL Facebook page.

The ALL Class of 2020 would like to invite the community to participate in this 15 question survey and share it with their friends and family, especially those that have moved away from Lima. The targeted audience is those born and raised in the Greater Lima Region, age range 18 to 35, those currently working in the Greater Lima Region, and those who live and work outside of the Greater Lima Region. Results will be presented at the class graduation scheduled on September 24, 2020, at the Civic Center.


Ohio Minority Micro-Enterprise Grant Program

Ohio Minority Micro-Enterprise Grant Program

Many Ohio small, minority- and women-owned businesses have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ohio Minority Micro-Enterprise Grant Program provides $10,000 in funding to help these companies through the current crisis and set them up for the future.

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be an Ohio minority or woman-owned business.
  • Must have 10 or fewer employees.
  • Must have been in operation for at least a year (no startups).
  • Must have $500,000 or less in annual revenue.
  • Must be a current full-time resident of Ohio and a full-time resident in 2019.
  • The business must be located within the State of Ohio.
  • Must be current on all State of Ohio taxes.
  • Must provide the most recent copy of each document requested for your specific type of business ownership structure:
    • Sole Proprietor – 2019 Schedule C and Bank Signature Card, or a letter, on the bank’s letterhead, explaining who has signature authority for the company’s bank accounts.
    • Partnerships – 2019 Schedule K-1 and Bank Signature Card, or a letter, on the bank’s letterhead, explaining who has signature authority for the company’s bank accounts.
    • Corporation – Stock journal or ledger, 2019 schedule K-1, Bank Signature Card, or a letter, on the bank’s letterhead, explaining who has signature authority for the company’s bank accounts, and management agreements.
    • LLC – Unit journal of ledger, 2019 schedule K-1, Bank Signature Card, or a letter, on the bank’s letterhead, explaining who has signature authority for the company’s bank accounts, and management agreements.

Grants will be awarded on first-come, first-served basis.

Click here to apply

Implementing a National Return to Work Plan

What will a return to work look like? That is the question weighing heavily on the minds of government leaders and public health officials, employers and their employees, and American families striving for the delicate balance of staying safe and making ends meet.

It is a question that begs more questions. But this much is increasingly certain: returning to work will be gradual, phased-in, and will vary by factors such as location, sector, business type or size, and the health status of workers. It also will require continued social distancing, expanded use of personal protective equipment, and other counter-measures.

Whenever the return to work begins, the planning for it must begin now. The American business community must begin preparing now for new processes, requirements, or restrictions for which there is no playbook or precedent. And we must not allow a lack of resources, regulations that are not fit-for-purpose, and the fear of litigation to sideline efforts to return to work and life—safely, successfully, and sustainably.

To help business and government anticipate the challenges we may face, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun to explore and catalogue some of the major implications of returning to work in this environment—ranging from workplace safety and employee rights to liability concerns and continued revenue disruptions.

Some of our initial thoughts are detailed below across three different sections:

  1. Essential Services and Resources
  2. Resolution of Regulatory and Legal Liability Issues
  3. Support for Businesses and Individuals

This document is intended to spur discussion. We hope you will not only read it, but also react to it and add to it. We don’t have all the answers today – or even all the questions.

It is worth pausing to thank all of those who never stopped working, who risk their personal health to keep everyone else safer. As we proceed, we should think about how we honor them and recognize their efforts.

Working together, we know we can be better prepared for the successful reopening of our economy and an eventual return to normal ways of working and living.

Issues to Resolve for a Successful Return to Work

Essential Services and Resources
Bringing employees back to work and reopening commerce will require that certain essential services and resources are in place. These include:

General Health Screening

The CDC has recommended that critical infrastructure employers screen certain exposed employees for temperature, ideally before entering the facility. If this recommendation is expanded to cover all employees and potentially customers, employers will have to acquire temperature checking equipment and develop a process to screen individuals. Early and federally consistent guidance as to what will be expected is critical because it will take time to acquire equipment and establish protocols.

COVID-19 Testing

To the extent that return to work is based on the testing of employees either for the COVID-19 virus or antibodies to COVID-19, there will have to be sufficient testing capacity, as well as clear resolution on who is responsible for administering the tests, paying for the tests, and checking test results. Most employers are not well-positioned to administer these medical tests, so there must be widely accessible third-party providers. There also will need to be standardization as to when employees need to be tested, the frequency of tests (especially important if testing for infection, rather than antibodies), and the documentation employees will provide to employers. Frequent testing could be especially costly, and it should be determined who will bear those costs.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

If public health professionals recommend widespread use of PPE, such as masks, it will require clarity as to what is needed and who is responsible for providing such equipment, especially if shortages persist. For example, with respect to certain employees in critical infrastructure, the CDC has said: “Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.” However, the purpose of these masks should be made clear as many are not rated for protecting the wearer and employers asking employees to wear them should not be held liable if an employee contracts COVID-19 while wearing such a mask.


Approximately eight million Americans rely on public transportation to get to and from work each day. Public transportation is most efficient when it maximizes density, which needs to be avoided to preserve social distancing. While staggered worktimes can help spread out the rush hour, transit systems likely will need to operate at what would normally be excess capacity in order to support public health. Transit systems will likely require some form of financial assistance to support a safe return to work.


Throughout the United States, many childcare providers that are still operating are primarily only caring for the children of essential workers. They also have implemented various public health recommendations to increase social distancing, such as lowering teacher-child ratios. In order to allow other parents to return to work, childcare providers will need to presumably operate under sub-optimal financial conditions: below previous capacity levels (as not all employees will return to work at once) and with increased costs (to maintain social distancing and accommodate staggered work times). Childcare providers will likely require some form of temporary financial assistance in recognition that they will need to operate at a loss in order to allow parents to return to work.

 Resolution of Regulatory and Legal Liability Issues

A reopening plan that is medically based and relies on social distancing and other best practices for public health may raise significant regulatory and legal liability risks. These are in addition to numerous lawsuits already filed as a result of COVID-19 and litigation risk that will become exacerbated during a reopening. Issues include:

Health Privacy

Federal and some state laws are designed to maximize the health privacy of individuals. However, this objective could conflict with potential reopening requirements for employers to verify an employee’s COVID-19 status and/or their vulnerability due to underlying health conditions. Employer efforts to protect other employees and conduct contact tracing in the workplace after an individual has tested positive could be slowed by obligations to protect the infected individual’s health privacy. In addition, confidentiality requirements could prevent businesses from narrowly focusing their contact tracing so as to balance workforce safety while minimizing business interruption. During the COVID-19 national emergency and recovery period, employers will need a broad safe-harbor to make necessary inquiries regarding health status and to make certain limited disclosures to prevent the spread of the disease.

Discrimination Claims

Employers who conduct a medically-based or risk-based reopening (using factors such as age or underlying health conditions) may face liability under existing anti-discrimination rules, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, employers could face claims for adverse employment actions by employees who are delayed in returning to work or who feel they are not provided other reasonable employment accommodations. At the same time, employers can likewise face liability if they return at-risk employees to work too soon. There is a need for clear guidance about what practices are acceptable in conducting a medically-based or risk-based reopening and provide a safe harbor for actions taken by employers consistent with those guidelines.

Safe Workplace Requirements

Generally, when maintaining a safe workplace requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, respirators, and physical barriers, OSHA requires employers to be responsible for ensuring the availability of such equipment and training employees on the use of the equipment. This is simply not possible if PPE becomes recommended in all workplaces. The federal government should make clear that PPE recommended specifically to combat the spread of COVID-19 is not subject to the normal OSHA requirements around workplace PPE.

Employers also may face lawsuits around the limited supply of or training for PPE. Worker’s compensation issues dealing with shortages of PPE or its incorrect use are also likely to emerge. The federal government should clarify the scope of liability for the provision (or inability to provide due to scarcity) of PPE.

Support for Independent Contractors

More than 23 million Americans receive income as independent contractors in fields as varied as construction, news reporting, professional services, and online-platform-enabled work. Businesses want to be able to provide the same type of workplace protections to independent contractors as they do for employees. However, doing so could be used to argue that the individual has ceased to be an independent contractor and is instead an “employee.” Congress should settle this tension by creating a safe harbor that would allow businesses to implement health practices and provide benefits, including PPE, without establishing a formal employment relationship for the duration of the COVID-19 return to work transition.

Employment Practices

Employers already are facing litigation regarding employment practices related to the pandemic. This includes class actions in the transportation industry regarding employees’ scope of work and travel destinations. Employers also could face liability around wage-and-hour issues (for example: Are employees compensated while getting tested or passing through screening?), leave policy, travel restrictions, telework protocols, and worker’s compensation. In addition, employers could risk legal actions if they do not accommodate employees who either insist on returning to work even though they have not completed health screenings or are high risk, or who refuse to return to work and provide adequate support for such refusal. There should be a safe harbor for temporary employer-implemented workplace policy changes designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Another source of liability are charges against employers forced to lay off workers in response to social distancing policies and government-mandated closures. The federal WARN Act and many similar state laws require employers comply with procedural requirements, including notice to employees in the event of layoffs. California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on March 17, 2020 that suspended some requirements under California’s WARN Act and ordered the state’s labor agency to issue guidance on the suspension. Policymakers should implement similar statutory and/or regulatory changes designed to limit the application of the WARN Act for COVID-19 related layoffs.

Exposure Liability

This is perhaps the largest area of concern for the overall business community. It encompasses multiple types of claims that could be brought against business that have been designated as “essential” as well as large swaths of the remaining business community once the economy is reopened. The core component of claims in this category is that a customer/employee/patient/member of the public/etc. was exposed to COVID-19 in a business facility or as the result of a business’ particular action, or failure to act, and then that claimant became sick. The legal theories underlying these claims may range from simple negligence to strict liability to public nuisance, which the plaintiffs’ bar could try to pursue through contingency fee arrangements with cash-strapped states and municipalities. Depending on the legal theory underlying the claim, proving causation may be a challenge for plaintiffs. If enough claims are brought, the scope and magnitude of the litigation still may exert enough pressure to threaten businesses or industries with bankruptcy. The threat of exposure-related lawsuits also will deter some businesses from reopening even after it is determined that they could safely operate by following the guidance of appropriate health authorities.

Reforms to address these types of claims are largely dependent on which legal theory underlies a particular claim. For example, in the negligence space, providing a safe harbor for companies following CDC or state/local health department guidance could be helpful so long as the companies’ actions do not amount to gross negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct. Procedural reforms such as channeling certain claims into federal court rather than allowing them to remain in various state courts could be helpful. Prohibiting or tightly circumscribing public nuisance claims also could be useful. Finally, policymakers should look to the reforms contained in prior economy-wide federal legal reform laws, such as the Y2K Act for guidance.

Product Liability

Makers of certain products/devices/equipment to either protect against, treat, or test for COVID-19 may not have sufficient protection against speculative litigation. While the PREP Act currently provides protection against some types of liability for some categories of key “countermeasures,” it does not cover others. For example, while respirators are now covered by the Act, hand sanitizers, soaps and other key cleaning supplies are not. Furthermore, the Act does not provide protection outside key healthcare-related spaces. For example, a non-healthcare provider business that provides PPE to its employees or uses recommended cleaning products does not receive any protections under the PREP Act. The list of product types covered by the PREP Act should be expanded to include widely recommended protective products such as hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies. In addition, the Act could be expanded to cover additional categories of users and providers of essential countermeasures.

Medical Liability

There is increasing concern about medical liability claims being brought against healthcare providers and facilities caring for COVID-19 patients. For example, the plaintiffs’ bar could try to bring medical liability/malpractice claims arising from care decisions, lack of care due to equipment shortages, as well as mistakes due to long hours or staff shortages. Also of concern are lawsuits brought against nursing homes and assisted living facilities for allegedly failing to protect residents/patients from contracting COVID-19. Healthcare facilities could be forced to ration care and make difficult decisions about who does and does not receive specific types of treatments, and each of those decisions has the potential of becoming a lawsuit. In addition, there are liability concerns about claims brought by non-COVID-19 patients who allege that they did not receive the appropriate standard of care due to the influx of COVID-19 patients that a healthcare facility or provider was required to treat.

At the federal level, the CARES Act provides some liability protections for volunteer healthcare providers caring for COVID-19 patients. The CARES Act language should be expanded to include all healthcare providers and facilities (not just volunteers). In addition, significant state-level COVID-19 medical liability statutes, such as one New York recently enacted, could serve as a model for a preemptive federal fix in this area.

Securities Litigation

Securities class actions already have been filed against businesses impacted by the coronavirus—such as those in the cruise line and pharmaceutical sectors—based on stock-price drops resulting from the impact of the virus and claims that companies should have been warning investors about the potential consequences if the world was faced with an unprecedented pandemic. In addition, securities litigation also has been filed related to data privacy concerns for certain video conferencing platforms that have increased in popularity due to the increased use of teleworking because of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. An automatic stay should be placed on securities litigation cases arising out of or related to the COVID-19 emergency until after the President’s declaration of a public emergency has been rescinded. In addition, these types of securities cases could be consolidated into one or a few federal district courts for efficiency purposes. Also, defendants in these cases should be allowed to have interlocutory appeal rights for the denial of a motion to dismiss and plaintiffs should have to plead with particularity all the elements of their claim in these cases; and all discovery should be stayed until after the motion to dismiss stage of the litigation. Finally, it is worth considering a cap on damages in COVID-19 related securities lawsuits.

Customer Communications

Businesses have an enhanced need during the COVID-19 emergency to communicate to customers via telephone and text messages regarding operating status, restricted access, and other issues. However, the threat of litigation under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) can cause a business to limit the use of the important informational phone calls and texts. Approval of a pending petition at the FCC to expand the type of communications subject to an emergency exemption due to the COVID-19 situation would be helpful.

False Claims Act

Cases brought under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) can impose significant liability on entities receiving federal funding or contracts and these types of liability concerns have the potential of slowing down relief under the CARES Act and any future relief measures. In the FCA space, the Small Business Administration’s Interim Final Rule implementing the paycheck protection loan program under the CARES Act does contain very helpful hold harmless language for financial services providers; to more fully effectuate that language a memorandum of understanding between the SBA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding how DOJ will approach FCA litigation under the CARES Act loan program would be extremely valuable and similar reforms also should be implemented for any future relief measures.

Support for Businesses and Individuals

The federal government took unprecedented steps to support employers and individuals during the current shutdown. These programs will need to be modified and to some extent extended and targeted to assist those businesses and individuals who will remain under distress during a phased or gradual reopening.

Businesses Dependent on High-Density Gatherings or Travel

Entertainment venues, restaurants, bars, companies that host meetings and events, and many other businesses are only profitable when they achieve the type of occupancy and density that is not possible during social distancing. In addition, many businesses rely on business, trade show, and personal travel that may be greatly reduced based on social distancing guidance. A gradual or phased reopening that restricts the size of gatherings or limits travel may technically permit these businesses to reopen but this will mean operating at a significant loss. During the period where occupancy and gatherings are numerically restricted, these businesses should be provided with bridge assistance to enable them to remain viable.

Individuals Delayed in Returning to Work

Until there is a widely available vaccine, or at least a widely available effective treatment for those who fall ill, not everyone will be able to resume normal work activities. High risk populations will need to engage in social distancing or even remain at home entirely. Individuals, including independent contractors, who must stay home because of their risk profile will need ongoing financial support if they cannot work remotely. This may require an extension of regular unemployment insurance or the creation of a new “high risk” unemployment insurance system.


  1. What additional essential services do you see as necessary to support a phased reopening?
  2. What additional resources do you anticipate needing to operationalize a phased reopening?
  3. What additional guidance, including specific regulatory guidance, from the federal government would be beneficial for a phased reopening?
  4. What additional legal liability issues are you concerned about during a phased reopening?
  5. Do you anticipate your businesses needing additional financial support to bridge a phased reopening? If so, what form should that take?
  6. How have you changed how you operate your business as a result of COVID-19 and what changes do you anticipate continuing after the pandemic?
  7. Have you benefitted from any of the federal support, including the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, implemented since the onset of the pandemic? If so, which support programs and do you have feedback on these programs and the federal response? Are there any changes you would recommend?
  8. What new support do you envision needing going forward? For example, some types of standing support for business interruption in the case of a pandemic? How concerned are you about the potential costs of such support?
  9. While restoring the economy will be a matter of private sector employers being able to resume activity, what other role should the private sector be playing, and what hindrances do you see in the way of any of these efforts?
  10. What did we forget to ask?
    From:  Suzanne Clark, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    Date:  April 13, 2020


Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance from the SBA

Changes have been made to the CARES Act passed on March 27, 2020. We realize there have been several delays in the loan processes and this has been very trying for you, our valued small business owners. We are sending this update in an effort to keep you informed.

  • EIDL Loans will be capped at $15,000
  • EIDL Advance will be limited to $1,000 per employee
  • Source: SBA Columbus District Office

If you have applied for an EIDL and EIDL Advance, we are hearing of some clients who have received the money in their bank account(s) as of last night.

On Thursday, April 9, 2020, the Senate blocked efforts to expand the $349 billion small business stimulus lending program by an additional $250 billion. The Senate is adjourned until Monday. The expansion of the PPP small business loan program may still occur at a later date.
Source: Coleman Report 4/10/2020

The SBA said nearly four million businesses have applied for funding under this program—seeking $383 billion—while Congress has allocated far less, $17 billion.
Source: Wall Street Journal 4/10/2020

The PPP just opened applications on April 10, 2020,  for Sole Proprietors and Independent Contractors.

There is a PowerPoint presentation available on our website at www.rhodesstate.edu/sbdc if you would like to learn the details of the programs.

Stay well and together, we will get through this!

Kathy Keller, Director
Rhodes State College
Small Business Development Center
4240 Campus Drive, KH 133
Lima, OH  45804
(419) 995-8184