April 3 COVID-19 Response Update
The Bay Area Council is continuing to work with our members, partners, and local, state and federal government officials on a variety of fronts to address the growing public health and other impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities, businesses and economy.
Securing critical PPE
With a critical shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE), the Council is leveraging its many relationships in China to identify and help procure badly needed masks, ventilators and other medical supplies and equipment. The bureaucratic and regulatory obstacles are considerable and connecting healthcare providers here with new and unfamiliar supply chain partners in China also comes with challenges. We’ve identified stocks of millions of masks and other equipment in China are now working with partners on both sides of the Pacific to continue funding and delivering these supplies.
Protecting critical essential services businesses
The Council has been leading the charge to resolve serious inconsistencies between state and local shelter in place (SIP) orders that are unnecessarily halting a variety of essential services needed to address the COVID-19 crisis. Today, we are sending a letter to Gov. Newsom asking him to preempt certain overly restrictive local SIP guidelines on a variety of construction projects.
The Council had already won concessions in recent weeks for several projects in San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, but it has become increasingly clear that the only solution is to align the state and local orders. In addition to halting badly needed housing projects, confusion over the state and local orders is jeopardizing the maintenance of internet service that so many rely on as they work from home, not to mention important work on cures and other life sciences technologies that our member companies are developing to combat COVID.
Advocating for federal assistance
The Council was a leading advocate for passage of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Council sent two letters to Congress advocating for funding to support our public transit, airports, airlines, ports, and freight industries, many of which will thankfully see some relief in the third coronavirus stimulus package signed into law last week. To read the letters, click here and here. You can also view a summary of the third coronavirus stimulus package from Senate Democrats here.
We have also begun advocating for an additional package of federal and state funding to support transit projects from around the region. These important projects will jump start jobs in the Bay Area and help build the infrastructure our region has long needed. Congress is already discussing a fourth stimulus package which is expected to fund infrastructure projects. Please let us know if there are specific projects you would like us to advocate for by contacting Policy Manager Kelli Fallon.
Protecting vulnerable startups and foreign tech workers
The Council is working to help a large segment of non-US citizens who are in the United States on temporary work visas and who due to the crisis are unable to return home or fully comply with current regulatory requirements. In a letter to Bay Area Congressional representatives, the Council is urging Congress to temporarily extend work authorizations that have expired since the national emergency was declared or that will expire within 180 days of the declaration. The Council’s Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium (BASIC) has also sent a letter to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office in Silicon Valley requesting that it waive or delay expensive patent filing fees for startup companies that have been especially hard hit by the severe economic downturn that has followed the COVID-19 pandemic.
Providing critical information, data and analysis
The Council has launched a series of webinars featuring top experts providing information, insights and guidance on a range of COVID-19 related topics from the public health response to business continuity and more. Invitations are going out today for a webinar on April 7 that will provide insights and information about how small businesses can apply for low-cost or forgivable loans under the CARES Act. And we’re working on another webinar scheduled for April 9 that will explore the financial and economic impacts of the COVID-19 shutdown on the California economy.
In the coming days, we’ll be launching a new data visualization and mapping tool that will show how well different counties in the Bay Area are doing in limiting travel and maintaining shelter in place orders. The data can be helpful in identifying where infection hot spots could crop up, amplifying public communications to limit travel and enabling healthcare providers to ramp up services in anticipation of possible infection surges.