Michael Weems, VP/Government Engagement for the American Lighting Association (ALA) headquartered in Dallas, explains` how two recently enacted laws to combat COVID-19 will impact the lighting industry. The first law – the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 202 – became law on March 6 and provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The main provisions of the law include:

  • appropriations to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the Disaster Loans Program Account;
  • developing, manufacturing, and procuring vaccines and other medical supplies;
  • grants for state, local, and tribal public health agencies and organizations;
  • loans for affected small businesses;
  • evacuations and emergency preparedness activities at U.S. embassies and other State Department facilities;
  • humanitarian assistance and support for health systems in the affected countries;
  • appropriations for the Food and Drug Administration for salaries and expenses;
  • appropriations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund; and allowing HHS to temporarily waive certain Medicare restrictions and requirements regarding telehealth services during the coronavirus public health emergency.

The second law – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – became law on March 11 and responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for healthcare workers.

The main provisions of the law include:

  • establishing a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak;
  • expanding unemployment benefits and providing grants to states for processing and paying claims;
  • requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees;
  • appropriations for nutrition and food assistance programs: the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP); nutrition assistance grants for U.S. territories; and nutrition programs to assist the elderly;
  • establishing requirements for providing coronavirus diagnostic testing at no cost to consumers;
  • treating personal respiratory protective devices as covered countermeasures that are eligible for certain liability protections; and
  • temporarily increasing the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP).

The ALA advises members to “monitor your state and local advisory warnings and take all necessary precautions to protect yourself, your employees, and your customers.”