COVID-19 UPDATES FOR COUNTY OFFICIALS

As issues continue to develop and change at a quick rate with COVID-19, the Coronavirus, we at the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA) are working alongside Governor Tony Evers, the Administration, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and our general counsel, von Briesen & Roper, s.c., (von Briesen) to provide the latest resources and updates to assist county officials during this unprecedented time.

COVID-19 Daily Update: 5.12.2020

May 12, 2020

COVID-19 DAILY HEALTH UPDATE
(Information from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) current as of 1:00 p.m. Central, Tuesday, May 12, 2020)

  • Total people with negative results: 112,748 (+4,715)
  • Total people with positive results: 10,611 (+193)
  • Hospitalizations: 1,877 (+31)
  • Total deaths: 418 (+9)

DWD UPDATE FOR REIMBURSABLE EMPLOYERS
The following report came to the Wisconsin Counties Association today from Department of Workforce Development Assistant Deputy Secretary Danielle Williams. For more information, please contact her at (608) 266-2284 or via email.

“As you may know, reimbursable employers, including most state and local governmental entities, certain nonprofit organizations, and federally-recognized Indian Tribes, will have all of their unemployment insurance benefit costs that are related to COVID-19 reimbursed to them.

The CARES Act provides federal funds to states to reduce by half the liability of reimbursable employers for their claims through December 31, 2020. Under 2019 Act 185, the state will reimburse the remaining half from the Department of Workforce Development’s interest and penalties account. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued guidance that requires employers subject to reimbursable financing to first pay the reimbursements due to the state in full before the federal government will reimburse those amounts.

We understand that DOL’s required approach places a substantial and unnecessary burden on reimbursable employers, who are facing significantly reduced revenues during this public health emergency. The approach is also administratively burdensome on state UI systems that are already overwhelmed by unprecedented numbers of claims and implementing three new federal programs. After hearing from so many states and employers negatively impacted by this interpretation, we are hopeful that DOL will modify its directive or that Congress will make changes through future legislation. However, unless or until those changes are made at the federal level, DWD has identified a couple of ways that we may relieve some of the burden on Wisconsin’s reimbursable employers. 

First, we have decided that we will only bill employers the federal 50% portion of the balance due and not bill the half that will be paid through DWD’s interest and penalties account. Making this change to DWD’s billing system will take some time to update, as our programmers are also working on the programming for other state law changes and implementing the new federal programs. In the likely case that we are not able to update our billing system before we mail future statements, DWD will include additional clarification and communication with the billing statements that explains the requirement to reimburse only the share of claims not related to COVID-19 and the half of claims related to COVID-19 that will be reimbursed by the federal government. Second, DWD issued a scope statement for an emergency rule that will waive interest in limited circumstances for employers subject to reimbursement financing when reimbursements are delinquent due to COVID-19. As you know, reimbursable employers typically have 30 days to pay their bills in full without being charged interest. Given the difficult financial situation facing reimbursable employers, DWD, in consultation with Governor Evers, has decided to waive those interest charges on employers who are unable to pay their reimbursements on time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While we hope these administrative actions help alleviate some of the burden on reimbursable employers, it is very important to remember that in order to receive the 50% reimbursement from the federal government under the CARES Act, payments for that share of claims must be received in full by December 31, 2020. We understand paying this portion of claims will continue to be very difficult for many municipalities, Tribal governments, and non-profits. We encourage you to share the impact of DOL’s guidance with your federal representatives so that they may offer a more comprehensive solution to this problem.”

JOIN NACO CALL TOMORROW: HOUSE INTRODUCES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF PACKAGE WITH ESSENTIAL AID FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
The House has introduced a Coronavirus Relief Package with essential aid for local governments. Join NACo tomorrow for a national call at 4:00 p.m. CST for a federal polity update on COVID-19 response.

LATEST ISSUE OF NACO COUNTY NEWS NOW RELEASED
The National Association fo Counties (NACo) has released the May 12, 2020 issue of County News Now.

NATIONAL POLICE WEEK HONORS THOSE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
Our county and local law enforcement partners put their lives on the line every day and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, their job is even more critical. The Wisconsin Counties Association is proud to promote the 2020 National Police Week, which runs May 10-May 16.

On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at 7:00pm CST, 307 fallen heroes will be memorialized on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. There is a virtual Candlelight Vigil and the reading of the names that can be watched from anywhere in the world.

FEMA DAILY BRIEFING POINTS FOR COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Below please find the Tuesday, May 12, 2020 FEMA Daily Briefing Points for the Whole-of-America response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.