City of Lincoln and Lancaster County Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Resources

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High Risk of COVID-19 Spread

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The dial's previous week pointer is at 5.5 on a scale of 0-8. The dial's current week pointer is at 4.5.
Severe High Moderate Low

This COVID-19 Risk Dial provides a summary of current conditions in the Lincoln-Lancaster County community. Each color incorporates federal and national guidance published by top public health experts and is coupled with specific guidance.

This is only guidance and does not replace federal, state, or local directed health measures. At-risk and vulnerable populations should take stringent precautions.

COVID Orange – High Risk of COVID-19 Spread

Strategies continue to focus on adherence to physical distancing. If modifications cannot ensure physical distancing, strong consideration should be given to discontinuing that specific practice or duty.

Employers must focus on ensuring sick employees stay home. Employees and customers should wear face coverings. Curbside/drive-through business is strongly encouraged. Telework and/or working from home is strongly encouraged.

Business Guidance and Recommendations
COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies for Employers and Workplace Settings

This resource provides local business a starting point to develop strategies and implement measures to ensure a place of business is instituting practices commensurate with where our community is at in this pandemic.

The following four strategies are based on a modified hierarchy of controls developed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

  • Physical Distancing

    Limiting close, prolonged contact with others is one of the best ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Examples include staying 6 feet away from other people and not gathering in groups.

  • Engineering Controls

    Creating physical barriers between people and using technology to reduce close contact are proven strategies to reduce illness and injury.

  • Administrative Controls

    Administrative controls are training, procedures, policies, or shift designs that lessen the risk to individuals or an entire workforce. Examples include: enhanced sick leave policies, requiring sick staff to stay home, staggering shift change times, and training in disinfection and hygiene protocols.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    PPE is clothing or equipment designed to protect workers from infection, exposure or injury. This includes cloth face coverings, disposable gloves, respirators (i.e. N95, FFR), and face shields.

The most effective mitigation plan will incorporate strategies from all four of these areas.

Two other factors that should be considered are contact frequency and contact intensity. Think through your business operations in terms how frequently people interact and how long and close the contact is. Actions that reduce either contact frequency or intensity will reduce risk of exposure.

The COVID Risk Dial provides a context for where Lincoln and Lancaster County is in the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a tool that can help businesses know what steps to take to protect the health of employees, customers and our community. Each color on the COVID Risk Dial provides specific guidance. Special guidance is included for people who are most at risk and vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. This tool will help you better understand our local situation and how it affects your workplace. The COVID Risk Dial is updated weekly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a set of General Business Frequently Asked Questions as well as Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19 that provide more specific guidance for workplace settings.

General Workplace Guidance
Physical Distancing Control Type
  • Keep workers at least 6 feet apart while working through workspace/desk spacing
  • Install signage for distancing
  • Require distancing at clock-in/check-in
  • Require distancing in outdoor smoking areas
Engineering Controls Control Type
  • Install physical barriers between workers where 6-foot distancing is not possible or practical
  • Utilize a ‘no-touch’ or ‘touchless’ clock-in/check-in
  • Close meeting rooms and break rooms
  • Where possible, leave doors open to minimize touch
  • Provide sanitizing stations or portable handwashing stations in areas with high volume foot traffic or high touch surfaces
  • Increase air exchanges in the HVAC system to provide increased fresh air intake and air dilution
Administrative Controls Control Type
  • Screen employees upon arrival for COVID signs and symptoms and dismiss employees with the following symptoms. Refer sick employees for medical follow-up and direct them to follow CDC recommendations.
    • Fever >100.4°F, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell
  • Sick employees should not be allowed to return to work until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation
  • Where possible, provide paid leave for employees who test positive for COVID-19, or who display COVID symptoms (e.g. sick leave or emergency paid sick leave under FFCRA)
  • Reduce or limit the number of people in any single space (offices, common areas, elevators, etc.)
  • Prohibit employees from entering work areas where access is not necessary, and from intermingling in other work areas
  • Use of web- or phone-based platforms for meetings (e.g. Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, conference call, etc.)
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning and disinfection using products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2
  • Encourage frequent handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, and provide hand sanitizer if and where possible
  • Establish policies/protocols limiting non-essential visitors and strongly discouraging non-essential personal travel
  • Require single occupant travel in company vehicles, and suspend all non-essential work-related travel
  • Stagger breaks and lunch
  • If your business has an in-house cafeteria, provide food ‘to-go’
  • Close areas that cannot be modified for distancing
PPE Control Type
  • Face coverings strongly recommended for all employees, customers, and visitors (personal or company provided)
  • Disinfectants provided and encouraged use for:
    • Mouse, keyboards, pens, other high contact surfaces
Workplace Guidance Templates
Workplace-Specific Guidance Documents

If you have questions, please call LLCHD at 402-441-6280.



At-Risk and Vulnerable Employees and Customers
At-Risk and
Vulnerable Employees and Customers

For employees and customers over the age of 65 and anyone with underlying health conditions (diabetes, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, etc.), employers should consider the following protections for people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, in addition to the General Guidelines and any Workplace-Specific Guidance:

Physical Distancing Control Type
  • Provide options to work from home or telework
  • Offer a temporary workspace with greater distancing from customers and other employees
  • Offer curb side, drive-up, or no-contact delivery service for vulnerable customers
  • Consider options to reduce contact frequency or intensity
Engineering Controls Control Type
  • Offer to install physical barriers between vulnerable workers and others, even if 6-foot distancing is provided
  • Establish designated points of ingress/egress for vulnerable workers and customers
Administrative Controls Control Type
  • Offer duties that minimize their contact with customers and other employees
  • Discourage vulnerable workers, customers, and visitors from sharing elevators
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Control Type
  • If medically approved, supply vulnerable workers with higher level PPE (such as N95 mask)

Buy Local

Protect your customers and employees while supporting Lincoln businesses by purchasing PPE (face coverings, hand sanitizer, etc.) locally: LNKPPE.com. For more on supporting local businesses, visit our How to Help page.

COVID-19 Related Guidance for Employers and Employees

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued workplace guidance for employers to plan and respond to coronavirus (COVID-19), including tips related to telework/telecommuting, business continuity planning, leave policies, and other workplace measures.

The CDC has also issued workplace guidance for employees on healthy workplace habits, including commonsense hygiene practices. Other business-related guidance can be found at the CDC.

Other resources along these lines can be found at the US Chamber of Commerce.

Federal Resources

SBA loans – the US Small Business Administration is offering immediate cash flow assistance to businesses through a couple low-interest loan programs.

Congress just passed a bill that puts $320 billion more into the Paycheck Protection Program. Because this funding may run out again, we encourage you to apply for PPP loans as soon as you can through your SBA-approved lender or Community Development Financial Institution.

Congress also approved an additional $60 billion in funding for the economic injury disaster loan program. See below for more application information.

  • Economic injury disaster loans – eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19 can get up to $150,000 in assistance with these loans, at a low interest rate. Apply now and get up to a $10,000 cash advance for emergency capital.
  • Express bridge loans – if you have a relationship with an SBA Express Lender, your business may qualify for an express bridge loan of up to $25,000.
  • Paycheck Protection Program loans – businesses, sole proprietors, nonprofits, and independent contractors impacted by COVID-19 can get up to $10 million in assistance with these loans, at a low interest rate. These loans are offered through SBA approved lenders, and if you retain your employees through June, part of your loan may be forgiven. Learn more and apply now.

Main Street Federal Program – small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before COVID-19 can apply for loans from eligible banks under this program. The program is designed to encourage banks to lend money to businesses by having the Federal Reserve purchase large portions of the loans under this program (up to 95%).

The program will operate through three credit facilities:

Learn more about the program with from these Frequently Asked Questions.

Required paid leave (subject to federal reimbursement) – businesses with fewer than 500 employees must provide a certain amount of paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave to employees who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. Private employers will receive reimbursement for this expense through payroll tax credits. Learn more by reviewing the US Department of Labor's employer paid leave requirements and FAQs. Make sure you post this notice of employee rights in your workplace in order to satisfy the new law.

  • If you're self-employed, you may be able to claim a tax credit for paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave related to COVID-19.

Unemployment compensation – the COVID-19 relief packages passed by Congress include a number of changes to unemployment compensation. The Nebraska Department of Labor has put together a notice to employees regarding eligibility for unemployment compensation, which employers can post in their workplace.For more information, see Unemployment Assistance on the Resident Resources page.

Tax relief for businesses – the federal CARES Act passed on March 27, 2020 includes several key changes to the tax code, to the benefit of the business community. Here is a helpful summary of this federal tax relief.

Deferment of import duties and fees – the US Customs and Border Protection agency may allow for a 90-day deferment period on certain payments for importers who have faced a significant financial hardship due to COVID-19.

State Resources

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development has compiled a list of state resources including CDBG business loans, banking resources, manufacturing resources, export/import resources, and other resources.

Short Time Compensation - the Nebraska Department of Labor offers a short-time compensation program that is designed to prevent layoffs by allowing employers to reduce employees' hours by 10 to 60 percent while permitting the employees to receive a prorated unemployment benefit, thus offsetting the loss of income to employees. Employees participating in short-time compensation plans are eligible for $600 per week in federal benefits in addition to their partial unemployment benefits. Application information can be found at the Nebraska Department of Labor.

Unemployment Compensation - unemployment benefits are typically paid with contributions from employers. The Nebraska Department of Labor is temporarily waiving employer contributions for unemployment claims related to COVID-19. For more information on unemployment compensation in light of COVID-19, see Unemployment Assistance on the Resident Resources page.

Employment and Hiring

EmployLNK is a mechanism whereby job seekers can be matched up with employment opportunities. It enables the sharing of hiring information between businesses and workforce-related agencies. Participants on the workforce side include 20+ agencies representing 5,000 job seekers, with participation from the Nebraska Department of Labor, Unemployment Insurance, ResCare/American Job Center, Lutheran Family Services, Catholic Social Services, the New Americans Task Force, and many more.

Hiring information is specifically shared with 900+ case managers and human service workers to ensure that it reaches job seekers and those assisting them. If your organization is still hiring, contact Bryan Seck, bseck@selectlincoln.org, to share your organization's information.

Other
  • Through the Partner America Program, small businesses can receive free one-on-one assistance with increasing sales, profits, cash flow, and ease of operations. Call a representative at 855-876-5561 for assistance.
  • Inc. has curated a list of tools, resources, and financial help for businesses.
  • GrantWatch is a search engine that connects nonprofits and small businesses with grant opportunities.
  • Facebook announced $100 million in cash grants for small businesses. Details have yet to be announced on what businesses are eligible for the grants. There is a link you can use to sign up for updates and information when it becomes available.
  • Google is supporting small and medium-sized businesses by offering free ad credits, so you can stay in touch with your customers during this challenging time.
  • If you're a bar or restaurant owner, Uber Eats is waiving the delivery fee for many businesses.
  • The Zoom Basic Plan allows you to host up to 100 participants in a meeting and hold unlimited one-on-one meetings with the video-conference provider's complimentary plan. Note that there is a 40-minute limit on group meetings, though you're not limited to the number of meetings.
  • The Main Street Initiative is offering eligible businesses zero-interest $2,000 loans.
  • Read this legal analysis to understand how "force majeure" or the concept of "act of God" applies to contracts affected by the coronavirus.
  • The Insurance Federation of Minnesota put together a Frequently Asked Questions document on business interruption insurance.
  • Finimpact has put together a helpful COVID-19 survival guide for small businesses.

Lastest COVID-19 News Releases

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