February 27, 2020 — Florida Politics
U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin have formally asked the U.S. Small Business Administration about its plan to ensure small businesses are prepared to respond to possible disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The bipartisan letter released Thursday addresses SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza regarding concerns about coronavirus and COVID-19, which is the name of the disease the virus causes.
“As the situation continues to evolve, it is becoming clear that the threat of widespread transmission of COVID-19 could have severe economic impacts on small businesses and the U.S. economy as a whole,” the Senators wrote. “For this reason, we urge you to take immediate action to ensure that small businesses and their employees are equipped to prepare for, and respond to, the anticipated spread of COVID-19 in order to reduce both short-term and long-term disruptions.”
As of Thursday afternoon, there are more than 83,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, including 60 in the U.S.
So far, 2,858 people have died with the vast majority of the fatalities (more than 2,600) in China.
U.S. markets are already responding to potential U.S. threats. The Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced its worst drop ever Thursday, plummeting nearly 1,200 points.
Rubio and Cardin acknowledged in the letter that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) anticipates more reports of the coronavirus in the U.S., noting “person-to-person spread will likely continue to occur.”
Coronavirus has spread to at least 47 countries as of Thursday afternoon.
While coronavirus has reached the U.S., the Florida Department of Health reported Thursday there were no cases of coronavirus in Florida.
Rubio and Cardin asked for a senior-level staff briefing from the SBA by March 4 to answer several questions, including:
— What specific actions has the SBA taken to ensure small businesses are prepared to respond to potential disruptions caused by COVID-19?
— What is the SBA doing to coordinate with other agencies, like the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, to prepare small businesses and employees to protect employee health and safety?
— What outreach has the SBA conducted to small businesses regarding COVID-19?
— What administrative actions does the SBA expect to take to reduce the burden that COVID-19 could have on small businesses and the overall U.S. economy?
— Is the SBA considering global supply chain issues in this process?
— What additional resources and/or direction from Congress does SBA need to assist in the agency’s response to the potential impact of COVID-19?
“We look forward to your prompt response on the agency’s efforts to ensure small businesses are prepared for this emerging public health threat,” the senators wrote.
Rubio and Cardin’s letter comes the same day U.S. Sen. Rick Scott wrote to the CDC, urging the agency to launch a 24/7 hotline to address questions people might have about the coronavirus.