COVID-19: News & Updates


    


UPDATED:  May 26, 2020 - 11:00 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

  • PPP Loan Forgiveness:  The U.S. Treasury Department released new guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness.  The issued guidance is open to public comment and may be refined based on stakeholder input.  NOTE:  The guidance provides helpful examples for firms in completing the forgiveness application.  Also, the guidance document answers questions to whether loan forgiveness will be reduced if a laid off employee refuses an offer to return to work, or if an employee is fired for cause or resigns voluntarily.  Please see the following documents:
  • Update on TxDOT Ransomware AttackThe Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is continuing to experience IT issues and not all information normally on the TxDOT webpage is available at this time.  The PEPS Division sent ACEC Texas the latest copy of the Administrative Qualification lists as of May 22, 2020:Please continue to visit the ACEC Texas TxDOT webpage by clicking on the link (TxDOT Logo) above the banner.

 REGIONAL NEWS

 ACEC National News & Updates

  • UPDATED May 22:  Latest ACEC National COVID-19 Resource Document: COVID-19 Resource Doc.

  • 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 as of Monday, April 27th.  This comes after Congress passed an additional $484 Billion in new relief funding last week in response to COVID-19.  The new relief package provides approximately $321 billion in additional funding that will go towards the PPP to help small businesses.  $75 Billion in funding for hospitals and $25 Billion for testing for coronavirus are also included.  For more information, please click on the following link:  SBA COVID-19 Relief Options & Updated PPP FAQ (NEW)

  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: 
  • 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. 

  • TBPELS Continuing Education Requirement: The Texas Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (TBPELS) understands that COVID-19 is very serious and has been taking the necessary precautions by cancelling or postponing many continuing education courses, conferences, and other events. PE license renewals are due on March 31 as are the associated education requirements.  However, TBPELS has asked to please communicate with them if you are audited for this renewal period and you have not completed your hours due to a verifiable course cancellation or if the course is unavailable due to COVID-19.   NOTE:  TBPELS allows for 5 hours of self-study per renewal cycle and online courses may also be counted for continuing education purposes.   For more information, please visit the TBPELS COVID-19 webpage:  TBPELS COVID-19 Webpage.

  • 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

  • State Leaders Direct Agencies & Universities to Cut Budgets:  On Wednesday, Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen issued a joint letter directing state agencies and institutions of higher education to each submit a plan identifying savings to reduce their budgets by 5%.  In the letter, state leaders also urged for agencies and universities to pursue cost-saving strategies that will not affect the state's response to COVID-19 such as forgoing capital expenditures that can be deferred, any avoidable travel expenditures, any administrative expenses that are not mission critical, and keeping unfilled any open positions that are not essential to Texas' COVID-19 response.  To read the letter in its entirety, please click on the following link:  Joint Letter to State Agencies and Institutions of Higher Education.

  • Governor Abbott Announces Phase II for Reopening Texas: Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference on Monday to announce Phase II of reopening the Texas economy as we continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Governor announced that the majority of Texas is ready to move into the second phase of the plan to safety reopen businesses with certain restrictions in place.  The announcement included restaurants being allowed to expand their capacities to 50%, reopening bars, breweries and wineries at 25% occupancy limits, and allowing child care centers to open as well.  The Governor also stated that beginning May 31st, youth and summer camps, and certain professional sports without spectators would be allowed to open. However, the Governor highlighted areas of the state that will have their Phase II start date delayed due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospital capacity concerns.  These areas include the counties of El Paso, Randall, Potter, Moore, and Deaf Smith.


    To view a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates, please visit the following website:  Reopening Texas. 

  • Funding for Local Governments:  Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and House and Senate leaders sent a letter to city and county leaders announcing $5.06 billion in funding available to local governments in Texas through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Of this $5.06 billion, the U.S. Department of Treasury has directly sent over $3.2 billion to the 6 cities and 12 counties in Texas with a population greater than 500,000. The remaining $1.85 billion will be available to other cities and counties throughout the state. Funding will go towards reimbursement of direct expenses incurred by cities and counties due to COVID-19.  To view the letter, please click on the following link:  Letter to Local Governments

  • Texas Attorney General Issues Guidance on Non-Essential Businesses:  The Texas Attorney General’s (AG) Office issued a guidance letter regarding reopening non-essential businesses.  This comes following Governor Abbott issuing three new Executive Orders for reopening certain Texas businesses and reports suggesting the Governor’s order is “vague” or “unenforceable.”  In a letter dated April 30, 2020 and addressed to Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta, the Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel states, “…local governments are prohibited from allowing businesses to reopen unless they are recognized as essential or reopened services under the Governor’s order.”  The letter also states that the Governor’s new Executive Order requires, “all Texans to ‘minimize in-person contact with people’ who do not live in the same household, ‘except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services or reopened services.’”  To view the AG letter, please click on the following link:  Texas AG Letter on Non-Essential Businesses.

  • 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.

  • State Runoff ElectionsGov. Abbott announced  that primary runoff elections would be postponed from May 26th to July 14th.


ACEC Texas COVID-19
ARCHIVES


 

 

RESOURCES & HELPFUL LINKS:

 

 


ACEC National:
COVID-19 Updates
   

Office of Governor Greg Abbott:
News & Updates

 
Coronavirus Disease 2019
Public Information
 
         
 
COVID-19 Info: Symptoms
Prepare Your Family
   

ACEC Texas: Facebook

   


ACEC Texas: Twitter

 




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Calendar

5/28/2020
ACEC San Antonio Seminar- 5/28/20 Preparing for the New Normal by John Geddie

6/3/2020
SA PPC mtg. with Councilman John Courage, D9