As Texas is getting back to business, it is no surprise that some consumers are nervous about rejoining their communities and reentering public spaces. A recent nationally recognized survey reported that 89% of consumers were hesitant about visiting a brick-and-mortar business and 40% cited cleanliness as a top concern.
As the country slowly begins to reopen, local professional cleaning specialist Susan Meacham from SERVPRO of Clear Lake notes four things people should look for when they reenter their community to help ensure they are stepping into a healthy environment.
1. Look for “signs” of clean.
When you first walk into a building, you should immediately take inventory of whether the space has been cleaned recently. A clean space should be free of visible dirt and trash. Fingerprints on doors and windows and stains on countertops and tables may indicate a relaxed attitude towards cleaning. High-touch surfaces should be disinfected regularly. Oftentimes, you can smell a freshly cleaned facility. Standalone sanitation stations are a good sign that preventing the spread of germs is a priority. You may notice physical signage stating when the space was last cleaned, who is servicing the facility, or details of a regular cleaning regimen. Many businesses are also hanging signage to remind guests and employees of proper social distancing standards.
2. What adjustments have staff made?
Everyone has a responsibility to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The staff of retail businesses, restaurants, or community centers should be properly trained in CDC-approved cleaning methods. If employees are not using proper techniques or products, it might be because of a lack of proper training. Likewise, look for staff who are wearing gloves and masks and who are practicing safe distancing when interacting with customers. It is obvious when the business is not protecting its employees. People should come before profits.
3. What adjustments has the business made to the physical space?
Many businesses and facilities have made physical changes to their buildings to help reduce the risk of spreading illness. The business may adjust the traffic flow of patrons to prevent congested areas. Contactless points-of-sale are becoming more common, and many businesses are constructing barriers between employees and guests. Some are even adding markers on floors to indicate safe distances. One good way to help prevent the spread of infection is to reduce the number of touch points, such as propping doors open and opening windows to increase airflow. Some businesses are going a step further and reducing the number of guests allowed inside the space at one time.
4. Does it look like “business as usual?”
In the same way that the country changed following 9/11, what we once knew as “normal” may change forever. If a facility is still operating in the way it did before the coronavirus pandemic, there is a good chance the managers or staff are not taking the illness seriously and are not prioritizing the health of their employees and guests. Many have reduced their hours of operation or offered times when they are open only for at-risk individuals, such as senior citizens or those who are immune-compromised. Before stepping out of your door, check the company’s social media pages or their website for communications about their hours and the steps they are taking to protect patrons. These locations should be following federal, state, and local mandates with regard to safety.
SERVPRO of Clear Lake, Thank you so much for these helpful tips.
Governor Abbott has announced plans for Texans to get back to business. Tomorrow, restaurants, retailers, malls and movie theaters will all start the process of reopening with a limited capacity.
What is your business plan for reopening? Here are 5 simple steps to help you create your plans and be ready to once again open for business.
#1: Build a COVID-19 Plan
Have you reviewed re-opening guidelines? Have you taken time to write your COVID-19 plan of action? This plan should include your re-opening checklist, new protocols and safety procedures, marketing and communications, and social distancing. Most importantly, what is your internal and external communications plan to staff and customers?
#2: Respect Social Distancing
We have all seen it, stickers on the floor, signs that say no more than 10 people at a time, and even plastic shields in front of counters. You need to consider similar procedures. Start gathering supplies and signage to accommodate your COVID-19 plan.
#3: Create a Cleaning Schedule
Customers and staff will notice if your store or office is clean and organized and decide if it is safe to enter. Your new cleaning plan will have a new schedule – add it to your daily calendar! Make sure staff is fully aware of the new procedures and has all the necessary supplies to comply. Build in inspection times and quality control.
#4: Market Your COVID-19 Plan
As businesses begin to re-open, customers will be aware of what businesses have communicated their safety plan. When you begin to market your business as back open for business, follow-up with your plans and protocol. Your marketing efforts should assure customers that you are serious about safety.
#5: Respect the Process
The process of re-opening will constantly adjust as our leaders evaluate the current data. Just as many people who are ready for business as usual, there are others who will remain very cautious for a while. If you cater your plan to the cautious, more open consumers will respect those procedures. The lack of a plan will undoubtedly lose some customers. The faster we adhere to safety protocols, the faster we will get everyone back to business.
For more resources on COVID-19 and other re-opening tips, visit our resource page here.
The CARES Act established a new $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program to provide relief to millions of small businesses so they can sustain their businesses and keep their workers employed.
“This legislation provides small business job retention loans to provide eight weeks of payroll and certain overhead to keep workers employed,” said Secretary Mnuchin. “Treasury and the Small Business Administration expect to have this program up and running by April 3rd so that businesses can go to a participating SBA 7(a) lender, bank, or credit union, apply for a loan, and be approved on the same day. The loans will be forgiven as long as the funds are used to keep employees on the payroll and for certain other expenses.”
The Paycheck Protection Program is specifically designed to help small businesses keep their workforce employed. More details are available at SBA.gov/Coronavirus. It is important to note, the new loan program will be available retroactive from Feb. 15, 2020, so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020.
There are several Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce members that can assist you with the Paycheck Protection Program.
Loan Terms and Conditions
We received the below resources from Senator Cornyn’s Office.
Other SBA Financial Resources:If you do not qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, you might be eligible for other SBA financial assistance. Our local SBDC office is operating and available to answer your questions. They have compiled a comparison chart for different loan options click here to view. For more information, please email Herb Hildebrand, Director, at Herbert.Hildebrand@sjcd.edu.
Please continue to reference our COVID-19 Resource Page for more information.
Note: This email contains the most current information received from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the SBA. Information is subject to change. We will communicate as additional details are available.
Hello Everyone – Hope this may be helpful to our members as they try to keep up with the latest regulations on Emergency paid leave, Emergency family and medical leave, unemployment issues and how the new law signed last night by President Trump may affect your business and employees.
FAMILY FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (FFCRA)
A BRIEF SUMMARY FOR EMPLOYERS
The President signed into law a new act to provide relief for employees which will go into effect on April 2, 2020. All employers with fewer than 500 employees (employers) are affected by the provisions of the FFCRA, although the Secretary of Labor may exclude healthcare providers and emergency responders from the definition of employees and may exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the required leave would jeopardize the viability of their business. We will need to watch for regulations that will explain how this exemption will work for employers, not yet published.
Employers should be aware that there are two parts of the FFCRA which may require them to provide temporarily until the end of December 2020, coverage for employees under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA).
EFMLA changes who is an employer that must provide coverage from one with 50 employees to any employer with fewer than 500 employees.
1) must have worked for an employer for 30 days before the first day of the leave.
2) may take up to 12 weeks of job protected leave, if an employee is unable to work or work remotely to care for the employee’s child (under 18 years of age) if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the childcare provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency.
3) may receive paid leave (for full time employees equal to two-thirds the employee’s regular rate for the number of regularly scheduled hours or for part time or irregular schedules pay based on the average number of hours the employee worked for six months prior to taking emergency FMLA, paid leave is subject to caps). The first ten days are unpaid and an employee may use accrued paid leave like PTO or vacation to cover those days.
4) except in cases of employers with less than 25 employees, the employee must be returned to the same or equivalent job upon returning to work. For less than 25 employees, the employer may be excluded from job restoration if the employee’s position no longer exists due to an economic downturn or circumstances due to a public health emergency. However, the employer must make reasonable efforts to return the employee to work for up to a year following the leave.
For the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)
An eligible employee may take paid sick leave for the following reasons:
1. subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
2. advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
3. experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis;
4. caring for an individual subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns (not limited to family members);
5. caring for the employee’s child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to public health emergency; or
6. experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
Eligible means any employee of an employer with fewer than 500 employees (no prior work duration requirement prior to leave) who meets one of the above reasons, will receive 80 hours of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate (or two thirds of the employee’s regular rate for qualifying reasons 4,5,6). Part-time or employees with an irregular schedule will be paid based on regular rate determined from the average number of hours the employee worked for the 6 months prior to taking paid sick leave. An employee may also request to use this paid sick leave to cover the unpaid 10 days under the EFMLA. There are caps on the paid sick leave allowed.
Paid sick leave does not carry over to the next year and may be in addition to any paid sick leave provided by the employer.
UNEMPLOYMENT – no 7- day waiting period in Texas. Employer must notify employee of the availability of unemployment when they are separated from work. State’s action in accordance with the FCCRA where there is at least a 10% increase in claims over the same quarter last year will allow for payment of an extra 26 weeks of unemployment paid solely by the federal government. Keep in mind if your facility is ordered to close by a government entity, the Department of Labor may allow for chargeback protection. In addition, unemployment due to medical reasons may prevent a chargeback.
TAX CREDITS FOR EMPLOYERS WHO ARE REQUIRED TO PAY EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE AND EMERGENCY PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE
FFCRA provides for a series of refundable tax credits for employers who are required to provide the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave described above. These tax credits are allowed against the employer portion of Social Security taxes. While this limits application of the tax credit, employers will be reimbursed if their costs for qualified sick leave or qualified family leave wages exceed the taxes they would owe.
This is a summary of some of the key provisions for employers under FFCRA. The FFCRA has other provisions such as coverage for testing for insured, self-insured and grandfathered plans. Notice to employees of their rights under this new law is also important. For assistance with information, compliance with notice and any other requirements, please contact Carol Keough at the Keough Law Firm, 713-239- 5617 or email at email@example.com.
*information submitted by: Carol Keough | Keough Law Firm
Each day brings new details about COVID-19, and the amount of information available can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, much of what you read or hear may not be accurate. Misinformation is spreading throughout communities, leaving people with false details about how to protect their families.
How do you know who to trust? Memorial Hermann-affiliated infectious disease specialist Dr. John Butler helps identify the facts and the fiction about COVID-19, based on official information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the
World Health Organization (WHO).
Here are some common beliefs about COVID-19. Are they true or false?
There’s a vaccine for COVID-19, so I have nothing to worry about: FALSE
As of now, there is no vaccine for COVID-19. Researchers are working to
develop a vaccine, but there is nothing currently available. According
to the CDC, the best way to prevent infection is to take simple steps
like washing your hands with soap and water, and avoiding contact with
people who are sick.
Wearing a face mask will protect me from COVID-19: FALSE
If you are not sick, there is no known benefit to wearing a face mask. The
only time that wearing a mask is beneficial is if you are sick with
COVID-19 symptoms, including coughing. The WHO warns that if you wear a
mask, but are not sick or caring for someone who is sick, then you are
wasting that mask.
Older and sicker people are more likely to get COVID-19: TRUE
Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions usually show more
severe symptoms than younger and healthier people. The CDC identifies
these groups of people as being at a higher risk:
Children are immune from getting COVID-19: FALSE
Although children are less likely to have severe symptoms, they are not immune.
Anyone can contract COVID-19. According to the CDC, adults appear to be
at a higher risk than children.
Younger people may only have mild symptoms: TRUE
The CDC says that children with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms.
Hand sanitizer is better than washing your hands with soap and water: FALSE
Both hand sanitizer and hand washing are helpful in preventing the spread of
COVID-19, but the CDC recommends hand washing as the first choice. The
best way to clean your hands is by washing with soap and water for 20
seconds. If soap and water are not available, you can use hand sanitizer
that is at least 60% alcohol. Soap and water are best because they can
reach areas of your hands that hand sanitizer cannot always get to.
Also, hand sanitizer cannot clean visibly dirty hands.
Antibacterial wipes and disinfectants kill COVID-19: TRUE
Standard antibacterial wipes and household disinfectants can stop the spread of
COVID-19. The WHO says that if you think a surface may be infected, you
should clean it with a simple disinfectant to kill the virus.
COVID-19 will get better when the weather gets warmer: UNKNOWN
Other coronaviruses have been less prevalent during warm weather, but we do
not know if COVID-19 will respond the same way. According to the CDC,
other viruses like the common cold and the flu spread more easily during
cold-weather months, but this does not mean it is impossible to become
sick during warmer weather.
My pet can spread COVID-19: PROBABLY FALSE
There is no reason to think pets in the United States are a source of
infection for COVID-19. So far, the CDC has not received any reports of
pets becoming sick with or spreading the virus. However, if you are
diagnosed with COVID-19, you should limit your contact with pets while
you are sick, just like you would limit your contact with people.
The flu shot prevents COVID-19: FALSE
The flu shot is specific for the flu virus, and is not effective against
other viruses, including COVID-19. The WHO confirms that COVID-19 needs
its own vaccine, and researchers are working to develop it.
COVID-19 will eventually become so widespread that everyone will contract the virus: FALSE
Dr. John Butler says that the greater-Houston region is taking containment
measures that have shown to be effective in stopping the spread of
What Should You Do Now?
The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to practice healthy habits. These
suggestions may seem basic, but they are some of the best defenses we
have against the spread of the virus:
With the spread of COVID-19, we find ourselves in a time of global uncertainty. As of now, a good handful of states and cities have even closed bars and restaurants in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus.
We realize that small business owners worried about the future of their establishments, and the servers, bartenders, cooks and retail employees are worried about how they will pay bills for the next few weeks. We encourage large businesses to shop local …printing services, equipment servicing, etc. during this time. While we have no control on the restrictions that have been put in place, here are a few things we can do to continue to support our favorite local business during this time. Visit the Chamber directory to see who you can help!
Each day will bring new details and possible restrictions to your daily routine. We will continue to stay up to date with and follow the guidance of our community leaders as well as the CDC and WHO.
To our Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Membership,
Over the past few weeks it has become clear that we are facing an unprecedented challenge. At this time, we understand there is an influx of information surrounding the COVID-19 virus. We are continuously monitoring the latest news and want to do what we can to help keep our communities and families safe and healthy. We also recognize there is a great deal of uncertainty about what to do and how to best go about our daily lives. We feel that it is best to follow community-wide developments and will be keeping you all updated on future Chamber activities. The Chamber will remain open, monitoring the evolving situation and will adjust accordingly.
March 16 – 20, 2020 All Chamber meetings and activities are postponed. However, the Chamber office will remain open to serve the needs of our community.
The SBA has released an announcement regarding disaster assistance loans. SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail) Read more…
|Our members are the heart of this organization and we will remain committed to serving our community throughout this time of uncertainty. If possible, please continue to patronize and support our local business community. Please take care of yourselves and each other.|
Cindy DeWease, IOM President/CEO
You are likely familiar with the old saying, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.” Well I am hoping that the weather we have been experiencing means the winds of change are blowing great spring weather to our area for the chamber’s 31st Annual Spring Fever Golf Classic at Bay Oaks Country Club to be held Monday, March 30, 2020. Teams and sponsorship opportunities are still available.
In March, we are blessed to witness one of Mother Nature’s greatest works with the blooming of Texas wildflowers. Turning our landscape into a masterpiece of colorful artwork. Spring is also the time the chamber hopes to bloom its membership base thru its annual membership drive. I hope you will assist by planting a seed with those in your circle of influence about joining the chamber. During this drive, the chamber will also be announcing a potpourri of new membership packages that will deliver added value for both existing and new members.
March is also the month of one of my favorite holidays, Saint Patrick’s Day which honors the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. Recently, the chamber also recognized some of our local saints with the formulation of ONE (Organization for Nonprofit Engagement) Clear Lake. This group’s first meeting was a huge success and the chamber is looking forward to continuing the support of these important members of our community.
No discussion about the month of March would be complete without bringing up one of the biggest, most exciting and most fun events in all of sports, March Madness. As you cheer on your alma mater or Cinderella team, I encourage you to check out the Chamber blog for news and tips on developing your own professional game plan. You can also receive some great coaching by attending the upcoming Business Development Seminar: Business Credibility to be held on March 3rd and/or signing up for the 2021 Leadership Clear Lake Program.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
2019/2020 Chairman of the Board
AMOCO Federal Credit Union
by Maggie Martin, GHP
Texas and Houston were among the national leaders in month-over-month growth of IT job postings in January.
That’s according to the latest findings from CompTIA, one of the IT industry’s trade associations. It also reported Texas was the second-leading state in total IT job postings last month.
Houston continues to rise as a national leader in technology with about 150,000 tech workers, many of which are outside traditional tech industries. In fact, Houston has the highest share of tech workers at non-tech companies of any top 20 U.S. metro. Nearly two-thirds of Houston’s high-tech workers are employed in industries other than computers and software. Overall, Houston has the 12th largest tech sector in the U.S. with a $28.1 billion impact to the regional economy.
The CompTIA findings are part of the association’s broader report. It said employment in the U.S. technology sector grew by about 16,000 new positions in January, and companies added some 370,000 core information technology workers last month.
“Employers continue to signal the need to expand their base of tech talent to meet short and longer-term business objectives,” said Tim Hebert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA.
CompTIA’s report comes just a day after a different study ranked Houston the sixth-best city for women in tech.
SmartAsset’s annual study examined four factors: gender pay gap, earnings after housing costs, women’s representation in the tech workforce and four-year tech employment growth. Women make up nearly 26% of tech jobs in Houston, and Houston has the eighth-highest average earnings amount for women tech workers at almost $64,500. And while researchers concluded the biggest cities aren’t always better for women in tech, Houston was the only one of the five most-populated cities to make it into the top 15.
We are excited to celebrate HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake and their 50th anniversary as a member of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. For their 50th we asked them a series of questions so we could get to know them better as a member.
What do you love most about your industry? “I love that we get to help people on a daily basis in the healthcare industry” – Jim Russell, COO
How do you define success? “I define success as self-satisfaction in seeing your work improve patient care outcomes.” – Sherry Camacho, CNO
What is your ‘Tip for Sucess’? “Trust your team – you cannot do it alone.” – Dr. Carl Vartian, CMO
What/Who Inspires you? “Jim McIngvale – Hanna Gelbs, VP of Operations
What is a ‘fun fact’ people don’t know about you? “Auditioned for the ‘Miss Saigon’ show on Broadway.” – Angelo Carambas, ACNO
What is the last book you read? “Love Does, by Bob Goff” – Brad Gerke, Assistant Administrator
What is your favorite local restaurant or boutique? “Perry’s Steakhouse” – John Armour, CFO
HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, thank you for your dedication to the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. Here’s to 50 more! Happy 50th Anniversary!
#clacctx #chamberofcommerce #happyanniversary #hcahoustonhealthcarecl #buyintobayarea #biba