It is difficult to predict what restrictions will be put in place, either on a local level or statewide, during this state of emergency. According to a memorandum prepared by the Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS), the Governor's emergency powers under the Colorado Constitution are limited; however, his statutory emergency powers are broader, and include the ability to procure certain supplies, quarantine people and property, and inform citizens on how to protect themselves to control an epidemic. The OLLS memorandum concerning the Governor's emergency powers can be found through the following link: https://bit.ly/2QKOFoG.
On March 25, 2020, Governor Polis issued an Executive Order ordering Coloradans to stay at home whenever possible due to the presence of COVID-19 in the state. The original Executive Order went into effect on March 26, 2020, at 6:00 a.m. and was set to expire on April 11, 2020. On, April 6, 2020, Governor Polis issued another Executive Order extending the stay-at-home order until April 26, 2020, unless modified, rescinded, or extended further by Executive Order. On, April 26, 2020, Governor Polis issued an Executive Order entitled "Safer at Home" that allows many Coloradans to return to work while maintaining a sustainable level of social distancing. The safer at home order is in effect for 30 days from April 27, 2020, unless it is extended by another Executive Order. Members of the public can stay abreast of the Governor's Executive Orders through the following website: https://www.colorado.gov/governor/2020-executive-orders. Additional information about the stay-at-home order can be found here: https://covid19.colorado.gov/stay-home-except-essential-needs
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are no FDA-approved vaccines to prevent COVID-19 or FDA-approved drugs to treat COVID-19. The FDA is working to speed development of COVID-19 treatments. On February 25, 2020, the National Institutes of Health began a randomized controlled trial for the treatment of COVID-19 patients and continues to work to help expedite additional clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments.
Additionally, on March 18, 2020, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) made statements regarding the WHO's efforts to address treatments and possible vaccines for COVID-19. This includes working with countries with community transmission to apply lessons learned in South Korea and elsewhere, and launching the SOLIDARITY trial, which is an international clinical trial that aims to generate data from around the world to find the most effective treatments for COVID-19.
With regard to possible protective clothing, on April 3, 2020, Governor Polis asked that all Coloradans wear non-medical, cloth masks when they are outside their homes. On April 17, 2020, Governor Polis directed the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to issue a public health order requiring workers in critical businesses and critical government functions where the workers interact in close proximity with other employees or with the public to wear masks while working, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health. Additionally, these workers were directed to wear gloves, to the extent possible, when in contact with customers or goods, if gloves are provided to workers by their employer. The following link provides more information about making masks https://www.coloradomaskproject.com/.
It is unknown what specific tasks the Colorado National Guard and federal military will have during this state of emergency. The National Guard is available to both the Governor and Federal Emergency Management Agency Region Eight. Part of the mission of the Colorado National Guard is to assist local, state, and federal agencies to provide emergency medical service. Additionally, the Colorado National Guard has personnel who are trained and equipped experts in biological hazards. According to the Colorado National Guard, as of March 17, 2020, about 50 Colorado National Guard members have been mobilized by Governor Polis and are on state active duty to support the State Emergency Operations Center and CDPHE with medical support and logistics at drive-up COVID-19 testing centers in various communities throughout the state. On April 3, 2020, Governor Polis placed more than 250 Colorado National Guard members on state active duty to help the State Emergency Operations Center and the City and County of Denver to shelter people in Denver who are experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. On April 17, 2020, Governor Polis announced that he is deploying the Colorado National Guard to conduct COVID-19 testing at the three largest nursing homes in the state. Information about the activities of the Colorado National Guard can be found through the following link: https://co.ng.mil/News/Archives/
Some small businesses may qualify for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest, long-term loans for physical and economic damage caused by a declared disaster. One of these loans is an Economic Injury Disasters Loan for small businesses, agricultural cooperatives, and private nonprofit organizations that suffer substantial economic injury. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade has many resources on the following webpage related to state and federal COVID-19 announcements, programs, and information that may be relevant to Colorado businesses, including information about the SBA Economic Injury Disasters Loans: https://choosecolorado.com/covid19/.
COVID-19 is a new infectious disease that was first identified in 2019. While data are still being collected with regard to COVID-19, on March 11, 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, testified to Congress that COVID-19 is currently estimated to kill at least ten people per 1,000 infected, which is about ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu, which kills about one person per 1,000 people who contract the flu. Additionally, there are concerns about how quickly the disease spreads, contagion rates, the lack of a vaccine or treatments, and potential pressures on the health care system.
Governor Polis issued Executive Order D2020 019 on March 27, 2020, "ordering the temporary suspension of the personal appearance requirement before notarial officers to perform notarizations due to the presence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Colorado." You may view the Executive Order in full at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1c_QxNWMuZZbv-4keXDP_CCXjzULFxK6E/view.
The Secretary of State (SOS) will be issuing emergency rules this week setting forth the procedures and requirements for remote notarization in Colorado during this state of emergency. These rules will address implementation of the remote notarization process while including protections against identity theft and fraud. Information about the development of the rules may be found on the SOS website at https://www.sos.state.co.us/.
In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Division of Insurance (DOI) released Bulletin No. B-4.105 Policy Directives for Small and Large Group Health Benefits Plans Related to COVID-19 on March 27, 2020, directing health insurance carriers that provide policies to small and large employers to be flexible around certain policy provisions for employees whose work hours are reduced, or who are laid off or furloughed. DOI directs carriers to waive the minimum number of employee work hours required for health insurance eligibility. The DOI guidance is to remain in effect for as long as the Governor's Executive Order related to the declaration of a disaster emergency remains in effect, or until the DOI rescinds the bulletin, whichever is later. Employers should contact their insurance carrier to determine the steps they need to take to implement the directives provided for in the DOI bulletin.
The DOI bulletin may be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VeVORK_6-1dEAXP6TDbKZ33gyD5vSc3D/view
The Governor's amended public health order 20-24, dated March 26, 2020, implemented several stay-at-home-requirements. Certain critical businesses are exempt from the order, subject to certain limitations, and are encouraged to remain open. Critical businesses must comply with social distancing requirements at all times and implement tele-work or other strategies, such as staggered schedules or re-designing workplaces, to create more distance between workers unless doing so would make it impossible to carry out critical functions. The entire list of critical businesses can be found starting on page 5 of the order. Construction is listed as a critical business, including "skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers, and other related firms and professionals for who provide services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and critical operation of residences, and other essential services." "Agriculture/farms" is also listed as a critical business category. The public health order is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/18n2zIw1XdqYHzU-aRqAFBK3pEsaRxmV4/view
Access-a-Ride changes. The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is offering grocery delivery to Access-a-Ride customers. Customers may order food and schedule a pick-up time with specific stores and food banks. After ordering and scheduling with the store or food bank, customers can call Access-a-Ride reservations to schedule the pick-up and delivery of food. See RTD’s Access-a-Ride web page for additional information about this and other updates, https://www.rtd-denver.com/services/access-a-ride.
Fares and passenger boarding. RTD has temporarily suspended fares on buses and light rail. In addition, when boarding and exiting, RTD passengers must use the rear door, unless disabled and in need of ADA assistance. RTD recommends social distancing while using the bus or light rail. Drivers will call dispatch for additional buses if larger crowds form along a route. Visit RTD’s website for the latest COVID-19 updates, https://www.rtd-denver.com/coronavirus.
Schedule changes. RTD is currently operating on a regular schedule for essential travel. Current schedules may be found on RTD’s schedule page, https://www.rtd-denver.com/app/schedules .
Effective April 19, 2020, and through September 2020, RTD is implementing a reduced schedule plan. Many bus routes will run on a Saturday or regional schedule with reduced trips, with some routes to discontinue. Light rail will operate on a Sunday schedule. Find the reduced service plan on RTD’s schedule web page, https://www.rtd-denver.com/service-changes/covid-19-service-plan.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed in March 2020, among other things, provides relief for federal student loan borrowers. The CARES Act enforces changes to the federal student loan program that include an automatic administrative forbearance for all borrowers and an elimination of loan interest rates until September 30, 2020. Read the U.S. Department of Education’s website on COVID-19 resources for borrowers, students, and parents for more information. https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus
See the Colorado Attorney General’s website for guidance on loans serviced at the state level. https://coag.gov/office-sections/consumer-protection/consumer-credit-uni...
This emergency child care program is a public-private partnership working to provide child care for essential workers. The state's participation in the Collaborative is being run by the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS). Information from CDHS about the Collaborative can be found here http://coloradoofficeofearlychildhood.force.com/oec/OEC_Resources?p=Reso.... Included on that page is information about payment to providers, as well as information on guidance and guidelines child care providers need to be following. To be reimbursed for care, providers must utilize the software approved by CDHS to receive payment. CDHS reports the software should be set-up within the next three weeks, and they will be sending out additional details once they are available.
General information about the Collaborative, including frequently updated information, can be found here https://covidchildcarecolorado.com/. Also accessible from that website is information about how children will be matched with providers, and how providers will be alerted as to this match. That information is accessed here https://covidchildcarecolorado.com/matching-faqs/#. If there are additional questions about licensing or public health that are not answered on the Emergency Child Care Collaborative website or the CDHS website, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Colorado Department of Human Services is the licensing agency for child care centers. Licensing does not regulate parental fees, but does require programs to list their fee schedule and procedures around fee collection in the policies provided to parents. For questions about fees, you should refer to your program's policies and work with them on payment. Licensing could investigate a complaint if a facility was not abiding by its policies. The contact number for the Department of Human Services is 303-866-5700.
Yes, and there is an urgent need for donated blood. The volume of blood donations nationally has decreased sharply due to the cancellation of blood drives. Blood banks are designated as critical businesses under Colorado’s Stay-at-Home order, which permits them to operate as normal while in compliance with all public health orders currently in effect. Blood donation centers are experienced at preventing the spread of infectious disease, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended protocols to facilitate safe blood donation during the COVID-19 outbreak.
To donate blood, find a local blood donation site through one of the following organizations. Making an appointment ahead of time is recommended.
America’s Blood Centers: https://americasblood.org/for-donors/find-a-blood-center/
American Red Cross: https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive
> Where do I file for unemployment in Colorado?
Unemployment insurance benefits are administered by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). You can access information about applying for benefits, eligibility, as well as find information about available jobs here: https://www.colorado.gov/cdle/unemployment
> Who is eligible for unemployment benefits?
Anyone who has become unemployed or had their hours reduced below 32 hours per week may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Following the passage of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for increased unemployment benefits or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). In addition, under this new federal law, self-employed, independent contractors, gig-economy workers, and employees of nonprofit churches or other religious organizations, or who are requesting an extension of benefits may also be eligible for unemployment benefits.
> Who is eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?
· Workers who are self-employed, independent contractors, and 1099 workers
· Workers who are unable to go to their place of employment due to Executive Order
· Workers who were scheduled to start work and do not have a job as a result of COVID-19
· Workers who have had to quit their job because of COVID-19
· Individuals who have become the major support for a household because the head of household died from COVID-19
> The following individuals may be eligible for unemployment assistance after they have exhausted their paid sick leave, emergency paid sick leave, and paid family medical leave from their employer.
· Workers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19
· Workers who have a member of their household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
· Workers who are unable to reach their place of employment due an advisory to self-quarantine
· Workers who are primary caregivers for a child or other person who cannot attend school or another facility due to COVID-19
> How much money will I be eligible for?
Colorado unemployment benefits cover about 55 percent of a worker’s salary. In addition, individuals who qualify for the PUA may be eligible for an additional $600 per week. The federal stimulus package will also provide a one-time payment of $1,200 to individual taxpayers earning less than $75,000 adjusted gross income. That payment will not affect an individual’s unemployment benefit.
> When will I receive my unemployment benefits?
Although Colorado has waived the one-week waiting period for receiving unemployment benefits, CDLE is currently in the process of implementing new federal guidance before implementing the new requirements. Individuals who are eligible for regular unemployment may currently submit claims. Individuals with other COVID-19 related claims must wait to file a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claim.
On March 20, 2020, Governor Polis issued Executive Order D 2020-012. One of the purposes of the order is to limit evictions and foreclosures during the public health emergency that was declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order does the following:
· directs state agencies to work with property owners and landlords to avoid eviction procedures against tenants due to late payments until April 30, 2020;
· directs the Department of Public Safety to work with local law enforcement and governments to suspend residential eviction activity until April 30, 2020;
· directs $3 million from the Disaster Emergency Fund to be distributed to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to provide short-term rental and mortgage assistance to low-income households facing financial hardship due to COVID-19;
· directs various state agencies to share resources and funding options (especially for low-income households) with property owners related to rental and mortgage assistance programs; and
· directs the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to encourage financial institutions to halt foreclosures and related evictions that result from COVID-19.
While the Governor’s order discourages evictions and foreclosures, the order does not ban them, or prevent property owners and financial organizations from collecting rent or mortgages. More information and resources about rental and mortgage assistance may be found on the DOLA website here: https://cdola.colorado.gov/housing-covid19. Renters may also contact their local housing authority to see what programs the authority offers. Contact information for local housing authorities can be found at: https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/PIH/documents/PHA_Contact_Report_CO.pdf. Finally, individuals may contact their landlord, property owner, or financial institution directly to discuss payment options.
The recently enacted federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, included some changes to health savings accounts (HSAs), health care flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) funds that increase the products that are eligible for reimbursement. However, the CARES Act does not include any type of extension for using the funds. Extensions are not an issue for HSAs because the funds remain in the individual’s account until used.
Under the CARES Act, funds in HSAs and health care FSAs can now be used to pay for over-the-counter medical products without a prescription. Menstrual care products were added as eligible expenses for HSA, FSA, and HRA funds. The inclusion of over-the-counter medical products and menstrual care products is retroactive to January 1, 2020. For health care FSAs, current law also allows employers to carry over up to $500 into the next year, or add a grace period for funds to be spent during the first two and a half months of the following year.
Although dependent care FSAs were not addressed under the CARES Act, under current law, contribution elections may be changed if there is a qualifying event that includes a change in the cost of care. If child care facilities are closed, that may be considered a change in the cost of care. Employees should check with their benefits manager to see if contributions for the remainder of the year can be reduced to reflect the change in the child care situation.
The federal CARES Act suspends required minimum distributions from IRA plans, 401(k) plans, and other defined contribution retirement plans for tax year 2020. This means that retirees can choose either to make distributions of less than the normal required minimum, or not to make distributions at all, in order to allow their accounts to recover and/or to avoid incurring a federal or state tax obligation for all or a portion of the amount that would otherwise be distributed.
The change is found in Section 2203 of the CARES Act online here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/748/text#toc-HC8...
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) has issued a guidance document for physicians reentering the workforce in Colorado amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor has directed DORA to take steps to expand workforce capacity for the health care system to assist communities in addressing the disaster emergency, and to protect the public health and safety in light of the risks associated with COVID-19. You can find the guidance document at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LnxSIizNDphlKGXiOhg1PVJfgbzWsvKZRkFY...
> Who is eligible for payments?
Individuals who have a valid social security number, who are not claimed as dependents on someone else’s tax return, and whose income is below a certain level will get stimulus payments.
> How much is it worth?
Eligible individuals whose annual adjusted gross income is $75,000 or less will receive a one-time payment of $1,200 ($2,400 for married couples filing jointly). The size of payments will decrease by 5 percent for any income over $75,000 per year for individuals so that individuals whose annual adjusted gross income exceeds $99,000 (or $198,000 for married couples) will not get a payment. Families will get an additional $500 for each child younger than age 17.
> Who will automatically receive a stimulus payment?
People who filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, people who receive Social Security retirement income, disability income (SSDI), or survivor benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits will automatically receive stimulus payments. If the IRS has a bank account on file, your stimulus payment may be posted directly to your bank account. Otherwise, the payment will arrive as a check in the mail.
People receiving Social Security retirement, disability, or survivor benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits and who have a qualifying dependent child will need to access the non-filers tool (discussed below) to receive $500 per qualifying child. The tool is available here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.
Individuals qualifying for other federal assistance programs may also receive automatic payments as IRS procedures evolve.
> What if I do not automatically receive a stimulus payment?
People who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who do not receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits will need to provide the IRS with some basic information by accessing the IRS web tool here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here. By clicking the button, “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here,” you will be taken to a secure website where you can submit the required information. For more information about how to use the non-filers tool, visit: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-launch-new-tool-to-help-non-fi....
> Will stimulus payments be taxed?
Stimulus payments will not be taxed and do not count toward future taxable income. Additionally, these payments will not count toward eligibility for means-tested programs and will not be counted as a resource for the purpose of determining benefits received under Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Your payments from these programs should not be impacted.
> How can I check on the status of my payment?
You can check the status of your stimulus payment by using the “Get My Payment” tool available here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment. People who did not use direct deposit on their last return will be able to input bank account information to receive the payment more quickly by direct deposit instead of by mail. For security purposes, the tool does not allow people to change bank account information that is already on file with the IRS.
> Will the IRS contact me about my payment?
The IRS will not call, text, email or contact you on social media about stimulus payments. Due to a rise in fraudulent activity, the IRS advises not to provide personal or bank account information or click on links or attachments in response to any communications via these means. If you have questions about your eligibility or the status of a payment, visit the IRS website directly: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.
The IRS does plan to mail a letter about the payments to your last known address within 15 days after the payment is sent. The letter will provide confirmation of the payment, as well as information on how to report any failure to receive the payment.
> How can I get more help with my stimulus payment?
For further information and updates about stimulus payments, which the IRS calls "Economic Impact Payments," visit the IRS webpage: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center.
Contacting the PUC. The PUC is available by phone at 303-894-2000, and email at email@example.com. Inquiries regarding permits and insurance outside of metro Denver may be placed with 800-888-0170. Access to PUC offices is limited until further notice. Members of the public may provide comments to the PUC at puc.colorado.gov/puccomments.
Submitting paperwork to the PUC. Submit all applications and filings through the PUC’s E-filings System until further notice, https://www.dora.state.co.us/pls/efi/EFI.homepage. Please do not submit hand delivery or mailed filings at this time. Responses from the PUC and other correspondence may see delays. See new requirements for attestations and affidavits and service of process.
Commissioners' weekly meetings. Meetings occur by remote connection instead of in-person until further notice. The public may access live audio from the webcasting page. Audio recordings from weekly meetings are available 24 hours after the meeting.
Policies concerning towing. Operators towing vehicles from private property where a vehicle owner did not agree to the tow are temporarily limited on the fees they may charge vehicle owners. Vehicle owners will not pay for mileage, fuel, or daily storage. The PUC adopted a temporary rule on April 1, 2020, effective April 2, 2020 to April 27, 2020.
Policies concerning common and/or contract carriers. Common carriers experiencing an interruption in scheduled services must post a notice on their website and file a written report with the PUC. Common or contract carriers needing to suspend service must submit an application to the PUC. Common carriers offer scheduled and/or call-and-demand services, such as taxis and shuttles. Contract carriers provide service in a contract to address unique customer needs at a price not less than that of existing common carriers.
Limits on public utility disconnections. On March 20, 2020, Governor Jared Polis issued an Executive Order that included limitations on disconnection of utilities, such as electricity, gas, or water. The Executive Order is on the Governor’s website, Executive Order 2020-012. The PUC is collecting and monitoring data from public utilities on the implementation of measures to respond to the order. The PUC created a spreadsheet to capture the data, updated weekly as necessary, included on its website.
Visit the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) website for updates related to COVID-19, https://puc.colorado.gov/puc_covid19.