COVID-19: News & Updates


    


UPDATED:  September 25, 2020 - 7:30 AM
Items marked "NEW" or "UPDATED" have been added/edited since the last update.
Information no longer on this webpage can be accessed through the Archives link at the bottom of the page.

In these challenging times, ACEC Texas wants to provide information and be a resource to our member firms to help navigate issues that may arise.

Information is and has been coming fast and furious, and we will try to pass it along to you in a manner that is informative, timely, and unobtrusive.  We have developed a ACEC Texas COVID-19 webpage that will be updated regularly with new, important, and relevant information as it becomes available.  We are in communication with ACEC National, State Agencies, and other entities, and will continue to provide information from these entities and others. 


ACEC National has provided ongoing federal news and updates their ACEC Coronavirus Resource Center homepage.  To access their homepage, please click below:


The Texas Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors has established a COVID-19 webpage regularly updated with regulatory information.  To access their website, please click on the following:

 


ACEC Texas continues to communicate regularly with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) regarding agency operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We have developed a webpage dedicated to news and updates from TxDOT, which can be viewed by clicking below:

 

 Happening Now

  • NEW - Gov. Abbott Announces New Reopenings:  Governor Greg Abbott announced new reopenings for several Texas businesses to begin on Monday, September 21st.  Here is a quick rundown of what was included in the Governor’s announcement:

    • Gov. Abbott’s “Strike Force to Open Texas” has broken down the state into 22 hospital regions and will only allow the expanded capacity in regions with COVID-19 hospitalizations under 15 percent of the region’s capacity for seven days straight.
    • Of those 22 hospital regions, only 3 are over the threshold: Rio Grande, Laredo and Victoria.Therefore, the new reopening announcement does not apply to these regions.
    • Bars will remain closed statewide for the time being.
    • Restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, museums, libraries and gyms can increase capacity from 50 percent to 75 percent across the state, but only in regions deemed safe enough.


  • ACEC National Fall Conference Going Virtual ACEC National has announced that given the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 has placed on our firms and business travel, they have made the decision cancel the in-person event in San Diego and will be hosting a Virtual Fall Conference over the same dates, October 28-30. The virtual event will feature 3 days of high-profile speakers, panel discussions, concurrent sessions, roundtables, networking and a virtual exhibit hall.  It will have all of the same features that were the highlights of our in-person Fall Conference and the added benefit of access to the archived event for months after the live dates to listen to recorded sessions that were missed.  More details on the program and registration will be coming soon!  For more details, please click on the following link: ACEC National Fall Conference.

 REGIONAL NEWS

 ACEC National News & Updates

  • Webinars & Roundtables:  ACEC National continues to host complimentary online classes and webinars free  for member firms to register for.  The roundtables are designed to convene member firms virtually to discuss the issues facing your business as well as share ideas on how the industry can help our communities during COVID-19.  To view and sign up for an upcoming roundtable or webinar, please click on the following link:  ACEC National Online Classes. 

  • Payroll Tax Deferral Guidance-  ACEC National recently shared a new payroll tax deferral guidance document, which can be viewed by clicking on the following link: Payroll Tax Deferral Guidance Document.  An important note is that the guidance does not explicitly say that employers must defer withholding and transmitting the payroll taxes, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has said publicly several times that it is optional. If you have any questions, please contact Katharine Mottley, ACEC National Vice President for Tax and Regulatory Affairs, at KMottley@ACEC.org.

  • ACEC National Recap of AASHTO Audit Committee Meeting on Firm Overhead & PPP Loan Forgiveness - On August 28th, ACEC National Vice President for Transportation Programs Matt Reiffer and FAR consultant Dan Purvine led a meeting between ACEC member firm representatives, CPA firms, and State DOT auditors at the virtual American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Audit Committee Conference.  There were approximately 170 participants in the liaison meeting, the vast majority of whom were DOT representatives. To read the complete article, please click on the following link:  Meeting Recap

  • ACEC National Releases New “Private Industry Brief” - ACEC National published their latest ACCE Private Industry Brief that reviews the economic performance of the second quarter in the United States and looks ahead through 2024.  The report was written by ACEC National Vice President Private Market Resources Erin McLaughlin, and a few highlights include the following:

    • The engineering industry was better prepared than most entering the pandemic because we were coming off our two best revenue quarters: $89.93 billion in Q4 2019 and $89.68 billion in Q1 2020.
    • The economic recovery will be more of a “claw back” than a “bounce back.” More than 90 percent of the economists in the most recent National Association of Business Economics survey said the economy won’t return to its pre-COVID-19 level until at least the second half of 2021.
    • The market sectors with the biggest declines over the coming months will be those most sensitive to consumer spending and travel: commercial/retail, lodging, and amusement/recreation. Only two sectors are forecast to climb over the next few years: communication and transportation.
    • Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, so a full recovery is unlikely until people are confident they can remain healthy while engaging in a broad range of activities, such as shopping, traveling, and dining out.
    • 80 percent of those economists said the biggest driver behind an economic upswing will be either a COVID-19 vaccine or a comprehensive testing/tracing program.

    To view the complete report, please click on the following link:  ACEC Private Industry Brief.

  • ACEC National Finance/HR/IT Forums 2020 – Sept. 14-15, San Antonio:  If you are a Finance, HR, or IT professional in the A/E industry, ACEC National will be hosting three forums just around the corner.   ACEC National is looking to host the events in-person in San Antonio, TX on September 14th and 15th.  For more information and to register to secure your spot, please click on the following hyperlinks:
  • Recording from July 8th COVID-19 Litigation and Ways for Firms to Reduce Risk: https://secure.icohere.com/ACECWebinars?pnum=WCV70357

  • ACEC Research Institute Releases Findings of COVID-19 Business Impact Survey Series: The ACEC National Research Institute, which serves as the research arm of the association, has been conducting a series of surveys to accurately measure the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the engineering community.  ACEC Texas has been sending out those survey results to members and posting them on our COVID-19 webpage.  ACEC National has compiled the results into a summary which is now available. With seven waves of polls being performed, the Business Impact Survey delivered a weekly measurement of the engineering industry as it navigated the challenges of hiring, workplace culture, operations, travel and overall economic sentiment.

    The executive summary and a supporting infographic can be downloaded here.

  • ACEC National individual survey results from their COVID-19 Business Impact Surveys:
  • ACEC National will be posting to their blog, The Last Word, which they will use to distribute up-to-date information from their departments, and news stories of interest to our industry. ACEC will also host regular "Engineering Influence" Podcast as well.  To sign up for The Last Word and to view the blog, or to listen and view episodes of the Podcast, please click on the following links:

                 
     

 Business News


Business Aid & Loan Opportunities Available:

  1. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP):  The U.S. Small Business Administration has resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders.  For more information, please click on the following link:  SBA COVID-19 Relief Options & Updated PPP FAQ (NEW)

    The PPP Flexibility Act, signed into law on June 5th,  is designed to ease restrictions originally set forth by the PPP. Highlights from the PPP Flexibility Act include reducing the required amount of aid money used on payroll from 75% to 60%, allow businesses 6 months instead of 2 months to use the funds, and pushing back the deadline to rehire workers.  ACEC National issued a letter of support of the bill, which can be viewed here:  ACEC National Letter on PPP Flexibility Act.


    SBA Releases New Versions of PPP Forgiveness Application
    The U.S. Small Business Administration released this week two new versions of the Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness application following the passage of the PPP Flexibility Act:


    The EZ Loan Forgiveness Application is available to borrowers that:

    1. Are self-employed and have no employees; OR
    2. Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees; OR
    3. Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%.

    For more information, please click on the following link:PPP Loan Forgiveness – SB

    Congress Approves Extension of PPP:  The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved a deadline extension for small businesses to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.  The original deadline was set for June 30th and has now been pushed back to August 8th.  PPP loans were first established by Congress in March to help businesses keep their employees on the payroll during closures due to COVID-19.  There is $130 billion remaining in PPP loan money.

    For more information on PPP loans, please click on the following link:  U.S. Small Business Administration PPP Loans.

  2. Business Loan Program:  Governor Abbott has announced a new partnership with Goldman Sachs and LiftFund to provide $50 million in loans to small businesses in Texas affected by COVID-19.  The new business loans, made through the U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), will be used primarily for payroll continuity.  To apply and for more information, please click on the following link:  LiftFund Website.

  3. The Main Street Lending Program is intended to support small and mid-sized businesses, in good financial standing prior to COVID-19, through offering 4-year loans with principal and interest payments deferred for one year.  Businesses who have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) can also apply for the Main Street Lending Program.For more information, please visit the following link: 
  • P.E. Ethics Webinar:  The Board is offering free ethics webinars to assist license holders with meeting their ethics requirement. Each webinar provides an up-to-date overview of agency activities, case studies, and a review of professional ethics topics.Registration is open at this time, and please click on the following link for more information:TBPELS Ethics Webinar Information.

  • ACEC National Issues Guide for Returning to Work:  ACEC National has released the first edition of the “ACEC Guide to Returning to the Office and the Job Site” report.  The guide provides insight and recommendations for planning the return, health policy and procedures, returning to the office, returning to the job site, and links to additional COVID-19 resources.

    To view the report, please click on the following link: 
    ACEC Guide for Returning to Work.

  • COVID-19 Employer Protections:  The state of Texas joined the growing number of states and federal leaders pushing for employer protections from COVID-19.  Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen have sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking for their support for liability protections for Texas employers. This would include protecting business owners, healthcare facilities and employees, and first responders from being held liable for COVID-19 exposure claims when they adhere to relevant public health guidelines and make good faith efforts to limit the risk of exposure and infection.  State leaders are asking for these provisions to be included in the next phase of COVID-19 relief aid. To view the letter, please click on the following link:  Letter to Congress on Employer Liability.

  • Return to Work Guide:  Greyling Insurance, administrator for the ACEC Business Insurance Trust, has issued an "Employer's Guide to COVID-19 Return to Work or Resuming Operations."  To view the guide, please click on the following link:  Return to Work Guide - Greyling Insurance. 

  • Emergency Leave and Tax Credits:  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Labor (DOL ) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury released an informal guidance document on emergency leave and associated tax credits.  To view the document, please click on the following link provided on behalf of ACEC National:  Guidance Document from IRS, DOL and Treasury.

 State of Texas & Federal
News & Resources

  • The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has made available an online resource center that shows COVID-19 projection models for the United States and individual States.  To view the website, please click here:  COVID-19 Resources - IHME.

  • Paid Leave:  The U.S. Department of Labor has released new guidance on paid leave requirements:  DOL Guidance on Paid Leave.

  • IRS FAQ:  The IRS issued a frequently asked questions document regarding the delay in 2019 tax payments and tax filing deadline, which has been moved to July 15:  IRS FAQ Document.

  • Income Taxes Deadline:  U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced this morning that the income tax filing deadline has been pushed back from April 15th to July 15th.

  • State Information and Resource Hotline:The Texas Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging Texans in need of COVID-19 information and referrals to community resources to call the 2-1-1 Texas hotline, which is available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.For more information, please visit the Department’s hotline webpage by clicking on the following:2-1-1 Hotline Information.

  • Driver Licenses: Governor Abbott has directed the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to temporarily waive expiration dates for Driver Licenses, Commercial Driver Licenses, and other identification forms:  Driver License Information

  • Local Elections:  The Governor issued a proclamation suspending provisions of the Texas Election Code to allow political subdivisions to postpone 2020 local elections until November 3, 2020 if they choose.  


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Calendar

10/6/2020
Central Texas Virtual Chapter Meeting-10/06/20

10/7/2020
ACEC Central Texas and San Antonio Transportation Series: Session 1