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  • Wednesday, April 08, 2020 10:58 AM | Schawna Thoma (Administrator)

    By: Lauren Hirsch & Jacob Pramuk

    KEY POINTS

    • Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes to approve further funding for the small business loan program this Thursday.
    • Congress late last month approved a $350 billion small business lending program as part of a more than $2 trillion stimulus bill.
    • The initial rollout of the ambitious program faced challenges as banks hurried to prepare themselves to assist with the efforts.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he hopes to approve further funding Thursday to buoy small businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

    “I will work with Secretary Mnuchin and Leader Schumer and hope to approve further funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by unanimous consent or voice vote during the next scheduled Senate session on Thursday,” he said in a statement. 

    Congress late last month approved a $350 billion small business loan program as part of a more than $2 trillion stimulus bill aimed at helping the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The program is aimed at helping small businesses that provide the engine of employment and entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy.  

    The small business measures aim to help companies cover payroll and other expenses during the punishing outbreak. Firms with fewer than 500 employees can use the money to cover salary, wages and benefits, with a maximum loan of $10 million or 250% of monthly payroll

    Still, the initial rollout of the ambitious program faced challenges as banks hurried to prepare themselves to assist with the efforts. In the run-up to the program’s launch this past Friday, banks and trade groups pushed for more clarity around the program and sought to manage expectations about how quickly they could dole out the funds.

    This week, there were technical glitches with the system amid the flurry of demand. Some banks are still awaiting guidance from the Treasury on promissory notes clarifying the terms under which the loans are valid, a person familiar with the situation told CNBC. The Treasury did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Still, some banks viewed the announcement of more funds positively, believing it would reassure small business owners that the system would have enough money to cash their checks, even as it works through the technical issues, that person said.

    Nonetheless, initial challenges may be a point of debate in any proposal to add to the program. 

    A spokesperson for Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement to CNBC, “Senator Schumer has not heard from Senator McConnell, and  [the small business committee’s ranking member] Senator Ben Cardin D-Md has not heard from Senator Rubio.”

    Sens. Cardin, Schumer and others issued a release Tuesday urging that a portion of the small business lending program be reserved for companies without relationships to banks. In an effort to expedite the process of delivering loans, some banks have hoped they can prioritize those with whom they have existing relationships.

    But Schumer and other Democratic senators warned that some companies may get left behind. 

    “Without proactive and sustained outreach, we can expect that underserved communities will be disproportionately harmed – just as they were during the Great Recession when minority business enterprises suffered a precipitous decline in the proportion of SBA-backed loan approvals,” they said. 

    Despite concerns about the existing program, Congress and the administration are under pressure to offer relief quickly. Administration officials and lawmakers have acknowledged the loan program may not be enough. Mnuchin has told CNBC he would ask Congress for more money if more is needed.

    On Tuesday, the White House is expected to hold a virtual meeting with a number of major banking executives to discuss issues including small business support.

    The Senate, meantime, had not been expected to be back in session before April 20. McConnell said Tuesday that a session was scheduled for Thursday.

    While most senators are out of Washington, the chamber can pass legislation during regular pro forma sessions, brief periods of activity usually overseen by at most a few lawmakers. Any one senator can block the passage of a bill by unanimous consent.

    After passing the Senate, the legislation would need to be approved by the Democrat-led House of Representatives. Speaker Pelosi told CNBC last week she that wants more small business loans as part of a bigger fourth financial relief package the Democrats have begun to discuss. 


  • Tuesday, April 07, 2020 12:15 PM | Schawna Thoma (Administrator)

    By: Alexandria White

    The coronavirus pandemic is altering the way Americans live and work and unfortunately causing financial hardship for thousands of consumers. Whether you’ve been laid off or have seen a reduction in working hours, you may find it difficult to make credit card bill payments.

    Thankfully, most major card issuers have released statements outlining how they plan to assist customers during this challenging time. Cardholders may be able to skip payments, avoid late fees and receive lower interest rates. Keep in mind, the assistance you receive depends on your individual situation. Not everyone will qualify for the same coverage.

    Card issuers encourage customers to use online account management and mobile apps for 24/7 account access and call or chat to speak to a representative about available options.

    Below, CNBC Select rounds up what assistance card issuers are currently offering credit card holders.

    Credit card issuer customer assistance

    Many of the top credit card issuers have released statements and created webpages dedicated to customers’ coronavirus concerns. See below for a summary of what card issuers are offering as relief.

    American Express

    To ease the financial hardship and difficulties many Americans are already facing, American Express is waiving interest and late payment fees for eligible personal and business cardholders. Amex also suggests members consider its Financial Hardship program, which offers both short-term and long-term assistance, such as monthly payment or interest rates temporarily lowered or relief from late payment fees for qualifying cardholders. Learn more about Amex’s coronavirus assistance.

    Update April 2: Amex is offering new cardholders 3 more months to earn welcome bonus

    Goldman Sachs, Apple

    The Goldman Sachs-backed Apple Card was one of the first to offer relief to cardholders. Apple sent out an email on March 15 that stated: “We understand that the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation poses unique challenges for everyone and some customers may have difficulty making their monthly payments. Apple Card is committed to helping you lead a healthier financial life.”

    Upon enrollment in Apple’s Customer Assistance Program, cardholders are able to skip their March credit card payment without incurring interest charges. Learn more about Apple’s coronavirus assistance.

    Bank of America

    Bank of America has one of the most extensive webpages dedicated to coronavirus assistance, including statements from top executives. “If you have been negatively impacted by coronavirus and need additional assistance related to your account please visit our website or you can give us a call,” Holly O’Neill, head of consumer, small business and wealth management client care at Bank of America, said in a video statement on the client assistance webpage.

    Available assistance includes the ability for credit card holders to submit an online request form for a payment deferral. Learn more about Bank of America’s coronavirus assistance.

    Capital One

    Like Amex, Capital One is also including waived interest and fees in its assistance program for both personal and business cardholders. According to a Capital One spokesperson, “The specific provisions offered really depend on the individual customer’s needs, but can include fee suppression, minimum payment assistance and deferred loan payments.” Learn more about Capital One’s coronavirus assistance.

    Chase

    Chase cardholders may receive assistance with both bill payments and travel bookings. “When customers call us with financial challenges related to coronavirus, our customer service specialists have been helping them with things like waiving fees, extending payment due dates for cards, auto loans and mortgages, or increasing credit lines for consumer and small business customers,” a Chase spokesperson tells CNBC Select.

    Chase also created a coronavirus trip management page dedicated to changing or canceling travel booking, which states they will work with customers “to help find solutions for changing or cancelling a trip whether you paid with your credit card, debit card, or with rewards.” Learn more about Chase’s coronavirus assistance.

    Update April 1: Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders may receive a $100 annual fee credit amid coronavirus

    Citi

    Citi’s coronavirus webpage states that eligible Citi credit card customers can receive credit line increases and enroll in collection forbearance programs. If you qualify for assistance, you may be able to ask for a larger line of credit or the ability to temporarily pause minimum payments. Learn more about Citi’s coronavirus assistance.

    Update April 7: Citi expands assistance to include late fee waivers and deferral of minimum payments for two months. Coronavirus relief options are also extended until May 8, 2020 and Citi will continue to monitor the situation to determine if assistance should be further extended or expanded. Citi credit cardholders can also now submit a request for assistance online after logging in.

    Discover

    A Discover spokesperson tells CNBC Select that, “Discover customers may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments.” Cardholders can call customer service or chat with a representative about available options. Learn more about Discover’s coronavirus assistance.

    Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and other issuers

    Other card issuers, such as Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, encourage customers to call and discuss possible solutions. If your card issuer doesn’t provide the assistance you need, consider opening a new credit card with benefits that are better suited to your needs.

    Consider 0% APR credit cards to get out of debt

    If you’re in a temporary bind due to the coronavirus, you may want to consider cards that offer no interest for up to 21 months. These typically require a good credit score, but if you qualify a 0% APR credit card can help you pay off debt or new purchases over time without incurring interest charges, as long as you make the minimum payment and pay off your balance before the intro period ends. Below, we list some of our favorite no-interest credit cards.


  • Tuesday, March 31, 2020 12:55 PM | Schawna Thoma (Administrator)

    WHAT TREASURY IS DOING

    The Treasury Department is supporting American workers and businesses who are impacted by the coronavirus. In February, Secretary Mnuchin was appointed to the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, where he meets daily with the Vice President and our nation’s top health officials. For the latest information from the Task Force, please visit www.whitehouse.gov/news/.

    ASSISTANCE FOR AMERICAN WORKERS AND FAMILIES

    In the weeks immediately after the passage of the CARES Act, Americans will see fast and direct relief in the form of Economic Impact Payments. For more information, CLICK HERE.

    ASSISTANCE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

    The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

    Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

    • For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE
    • If you’re a lender, more information can be found HERE
    • If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE
    • The application for borrowers can be found HERE

     

    PRESERVING JOBS FOR AMERICAN INDUSTRY

    The CARES Act assists eligible businesses looking for payroll support to keep Americans working. For more information, CLICK HERE.

     

    PROCEDURES AND APPLICATIONS FOR TREASURY PROGRAMS

    Guidelines and Application Procedures for Payroll Support to Air Carriers and Contractors under Division A, Title IV, Subtitle B of the CARES Act

    Procedures and Minimum Requirements for Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses under Division A, Title IV, Subtitle A of the CARES Act

     

    COVID-19 SCAMS

    If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond.  These are scams.  Please contact the FBI at www.ic3.gov so that the scammers can be tracked and stopped.

    Fraud involving payment of Federal taxes should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

     

    RECENT REMARKS, TESTIMONY, AND STATEMENTS


  • Friday, March 27, 2020 2:13 PM | Schawna Thoma (Administrator)

    By: Paul Kane, Mike DeBonis, and Erica Werner

    President Trump on Friday signed a massive $2 trillion emergency spending bill into law, which policy makers hope will blunt some of the coronavirus epidemic’s economic fallout.

    His signature came just hours after the House of Representatives passed the measure by a voice vote, and less than 48 hours after it received unanimous approval from the Senate.

    “I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first," Trump said.

    Now, the White House, Treasury Department, Small Business Administration and other agencies must rush to try and flood the economy with money under the new law. The law authorizes Treasury to send $1,200 payments to millions of Americans and creates programs to disburse close to $1 trillion in business loans and guarantees to millions of large and small companies throughout the entire economy.

    There are now roughly 100,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and it has caused more than 1,300 deaths domestically, figures that have been rising rapidly. To avoid contagion, much of America has shut down. Schools have closed. Most public gatherings have been cancelled. Many Americans have stopped leaving their homes, devastating millions of businesses that depend on consumer spending for their cashflow.

    This led 3.3 million employees to file for unemployment benefits last week, by far the most over a seven-day span in recent American history. A number of economists believe the U.S. economy has taken a nose dive from a period of relative economic strength to one of the worst recessions ever recorded.

    To respond, the White House and Congress assembled a massive spending bill that directs money to households, businesses, cities, states, and hospitals, while seeking to buttress state unemployment programs that are overwhelmed with new filers. To read more, click here

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MOVES TAX DAY TO JULY 15

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced today that the deadline for filing tax returns will be postponed three months, to July 15 because of the coronavirus outbreak. This decision was in result of complaints over the administration’s previous plan, which gave people who owe the IRS an additional 90 days to pay, without penalties or interest, yet still require them to file returns by April 15. 

To read more, click here


GLOBAL WELLNESS INSTITUTE'S NEW RESOURCE - POSITIVELYWELL ADDRESSING COVID-19 IN A POSITIVE WAY

Check out the Global Wellness Institute's new online resource, PositivelyWell, which positively addresses COVID-19. This resource for example helps you find medical studies about how optimism impacts health in a new Wellness Evidence Modality. PositivelyWell will be expanding this wellness platform over the days and weeks ahead. The GWI will also be sharing important insights and information in upcoming issues of the Global Wellness Brief and the Global Wellness Summit's Trendium.

To check out the website, click here


Colorado Tourism Office Coronavirus (COVID-19) Talking Points

March 11, 2020

The Colorado Tourism Office has released the following recommended talking points and messaging regarding COVID-19 for media and visitors. Please contact Communications Manager Abby Leeper at abby.leeper@state.co.us with any questions.

Travel Recommendations

The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) understands travelers may be concerned about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect them. Colorado currently has no cases and the risk of COVID-19 for Coloradans is low at this time.

The CTO and the U.S. Travel Association are committed to ensuring that travelers are provided with accurate, updated information about public health conditions in Colorado.

While the U.S. government has not suggested limiting domestic travel or imposing restrictions on international inbound travel beyond those already in place, this is a rapidly evolving situation.

  • At this time, authorities have not issued any guidance that is specific to travel and meetings in Colorado or the U.S.
  • The U.S. government has issued warnings for travel to Italy, Japan, South Korea and Iran in addition to China. For the latest travel alerts, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Health Risks to Travelers

The CTO is in contact with the Colorado Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. With this evolving situation, we encourage the traveling public to follow any guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and these public health authorities.

When it comes to the American public, the CDC is consistent in its precaution to practice everyday preventative measures to help stop the spread of germs, as is typical in the current flu and respiratory disease season.

U.S. health officials are urging the same personal best practices that are standard for typical flu season:

  • Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
  • Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Getting a flu shot if you haven’t gotten one this year

With the situation evolving rapidly, we encourage the traveling public to follow any guidance offered by the CDC and local and state public health authorities. 

Impact on Colorado Travel Industry

With no travel restrictions to Colorado in place, domestic and most international travelers should not be discouraged from continuing to plan and take vacations in the state. 

Inbound tourism to Colorado from China represents 32,300 visitors — 2.8 percent of Colorado’s international visitors. By comparison, 20 percent come from Mexico, 19 percent from Canada and 7.5 percent from the UK.

At this time, U.S. airlines have canceled flights to/from mainland China until April 24, 2020. Data from China shows that potential inbound Chinese tourists are postponing, rather than canceling, their future travel plans. 61 percent of all travelers have rebooked travel, with most trips planned for May and June.

Travel industry leaders will continue to engage health and security authorities on any planned or anticipated coronavirus-related measures that would impact travel. 

Additional Travel Restriction Details from U.S. Travel Association

The travel restrictions that have been put in place on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently specific to China:

  • Any foreign national who has been in China in the last 14 days may not enter the U.S.
  • American citizens and permanent residents who have been in China in the past 14 days will be allowed to enter the United States but will be redirected to one of 11 airports to undergo health screening. Depending on their health and travel history, they will have some level of restrictions on their movements for 14 days from the time they departed China.
  • Additionally, the U.S. State Department has advised U.S. citizens to “exercise increased caution” when considering travel TO South Korea or Japan; however, there are no additional protocols for travel FROM those countries.  

Resources

Center for Disease Control:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment COVID-19 Info: 
https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus

General questions about COVID-19:
Call CO-Help at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911 or email COHELP@RMPDC.org, for answers in English and Spanish (Español), Mandarin (普通话), and more. 
CDC: 2019 Novel Coronavirus web page
CDC: Novel coronavirus information for travelers

The U.S. Travel Association
Emergency Preparedness and Response: Coronavirus (COVID-19)


WHY THE HOT SPRINGS MOVEMENT IS GAINING STEAM IN THE UNITED STATES

October 10, 2019
By Laura Powell, Skift

For centuries, many European and Asian cultures have viewed mineral-fed hot springs as a source of health, wellness, and healing. But according to the Global Wellness Institute, the sector is quite underdeveloped in North America, due to a lack of a historic bathing culture that is prevalent elsewhere. The times are changing, however, as more Americans are looking to nature for its power to calm and rejuvenate.

In the United States, hot springs have traditionally been seen in recreational terms rather than as a wellness endeavor, according to Vicky Nash, a tourism consultant who is dedicated to professionalizing the hot springs industry. Thanks to the efforts of Nash and a former U.S. senator, among others, hot springs are suddenly being reframed as wellness destinations across the country.

To read the full article: https://skift.com/2019/10/10/why-the-hot-springs-movement-is-gaining-steam-in-the-united-states/

Hot Springs and CBD Products a Natural Fit

September 20, 2019

By Hot Springs Connection

In 2016, Bryan Ward’s friend decided to expand his Colorado ranch by planting hemp and asked him for help. With a background in technology startups, Ward was intrigued and began learning everything he could about the uses of hemp. He soon discovered cannabidiol’s (CBD) successful use as a natural treatment for arthritis, insomnia, epileptic seizures, diabetes and other illnesses.

The following year, he established Sopris Health & Wellness in Carbondale, Colorado, and today the company sells full-spectrum CBD body care products, oil, gelcaps and salves for people as well as CBD treats and well-being tinctures for pets. Next up is a line of tinctures that combine hemp extract with other botanical extracts to target specific ailments with enhanced effectiveness. All Sopris products are hemp derived and can be sold and used in all 50 states.

“I realized hemp-extracted CBD supplements and oils were my opportunity to start a company dedicated to helping people increase well-being,” Ward says.

To read the full article: https://www.hotspringsconnection.com/2019/09/hot-springs-and-cbd-products-a-natural-fit

What’s New at Hot Springs Resorts in America

Posted: September 19, 2019

By Hot Springs Connection

There is a whole lot of new going on around North America’s hot springs industry. Check out this round-up of both practical and innovative solutions to make the hot springs experience enjoyable and memorable for guests in the United States and Canada.

To read full article: https://www.hotspringsconnection.com/2019/09/whats-new-at-hot-springs-in-america/

Californians with Century-Old Water Rights Face Restrictions

Farms and other Californians that have been shielded from water reductions because of century-old claims could face new restrictions, the State Water Resources Control Board said Friday.

It's another sign of the rising severity of California's drought, now in its fourth consecutive year. Surveyors on Wednesday found the Sierra Nevada snowpack containing just 5 percent of its normal water level, which makes its way into rivers and streams and provides 30 percent of the state's water.

To read the full article: https://www.agweb.com/article/californians-with-century-old-water-rights-face-restrictions--naa-associated-press/

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