NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Small businesses in Tennessee that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to apply for loan assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) new Paycheck Protection Program. The application will be available Friday.
The $349 billion loan program is meant to provide relief to help small companies keep their workers employed and sustain operations. It is a major piece of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law by President Donald Trump last week.
"This unprecedented relief is absolutely vital for Tennessee's small businesses, workers and Main Street economy to weather the impact of COVID-19," said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. "I encourage our small businesses to access the SBA's new forgivable loan program to ensure Tennesseans continue to get a paycheck during these difficult times."
The SBA will fully forgive Paycheck Protection Program loans that are used to cover the first eight weeks of payroll, rent, utilities and mortgage interest. Due to a likely high subscription, at least 75 percent of the forgiven amount must be used for payroll purposes. Loan forgiveness will be based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees, as well as maintaining salary levels through June 30.
The loans have a two-year maturity and interest rate of 0.5 percent. Payments will be deferred for six months. The loans do not require collateral or personal guarantees. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees for these loans.
The Paycheck Protection Program is for any business with fewer than 500 employees, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed workers affected by the coronavirus. Nonprofit organizations or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations are also eligible, as well as healthcare providers. Businesses in certain industries may still be eligible with over 500 employees if they meet SBA size standards for those industries.
Businesses can apply through existing SBA 7(a) lenders or federally-insured banks and credit unions. The SBA says businesses should consult with their local lenders to confirm participation in the program. For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program, including the application form, can be found on the U.S. Department of Treasury's website.
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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.
What are the symptoms?
The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of the following symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.
The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.