COVID-19 Resources | The Aluminum Association

COVID-19 Resources

As COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, continues to spread rapidly around the world and throughout the United States, the Aluminum Association is prioritizing the health and safety of our members and staff – and we are working tirelessly to ensure that aluminum producers can continue to operate as part of the critical manufacturing sector.  

The Aluminum Association has released a framework for policymakers developing economic stimulus and other programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The document – “American Aluminum Jobs: Essential to the Nation” – calls for a number of immediate measures to support the industry during the ongoing public health crisis. Aluminum industry stakeholders can find a letter from the association here affirming the important role of aluminum as a core part of the critical manufacturing sector (as recognized by CISA). 
 
 
We are continuously compiling updates and resources to help you stay informed on this rapidly evolving situation, but please do not hesitate to reach out to the Association team anytime with questions, issues or requests at policy@aluminum.org
 
Last updated March 30, 2020
 

Public Health Tracking

Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Mapping/Tracking – Johns Hopkins provides real-time updates and geo-mapping of global coronavirus impacts on this site down the state level in the US.

State-Level Testing Data – This site provides daily updated information on the number of tests conducted in each state and the resulting outcomes of those tests.

EPA List of Effective Coronavirus Disinfectants — The EPA maintains a constantly updated list of disinfectants determined to be effective against coronavirus.  The list can be used to assess the effectiveness of products under consideration for use in industrial, residential and commercial settings. 

World Health Organization – The agency leading the global coronavirus response has extensive resources available at this site.

Center for Disease Control – The CDC is leading the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak and a wide spectrum of prevention, mitigation and protection information can be found on their coronavirus website.

Industry Resources

American Aluminum Jobs: Essential to the Nation — The Aluminum Association released a framework for policymakers developing economic stimulus and other programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The document underscores the essential nature of U.S. aluminum production, fabrication and recycling and calls for a number of measures to support the industry during the ongoing public health crisis. 

‘Critical Manufacturing Sector’ Information — DHS released updated guidance (here) on March 28 for state and local communities as they consider COVID-19-related restrictions. As outlined by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the identified sectors are critical for national security, economic security, public health or safety – including critical manufacturing workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains, transportation, energy, communications, and the defense industrial base. There are additional specific references to aluminum production and processing as “critical manufacturing” from CISA HERE. As a reminder, CISA's guidance is not binding. State officials have ultimate authority over their jurisdictions. Many states have adopted CISA guidance, while others have taken a different approach. More details below about state activity. More information at https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19.

CISA provided a sample letter (HERE) for essential business employers to provide their employers.

The President’s Coronavirus Response Guidelines for America recommends that workers in a designated critical infrastructure industry (of which aluminum is one) should maintain a normal work schedule and follow CDC guidance to maintain worker health.

The Aluminum Association joined a broad group of business associations in a letter on March 25 to urge state and local officials to incorporate CISA guidance, and we joined vehicle suppliers on March 26 in a letter to CISA to encourage clarification that vehicle suppliers are essential. Additionaly, the association sent a letter to the National Governor’s Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of Counties urging them to specifically designate aluminum industry operations and employees as “essential” and clearly exempted from any “shelter in place” orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Critical Manufacturing in Canada and Mexico: As of March 27, there is no federal guidance in Canada on critical infrastructure – but federal messaging should be issued shortly. Canada’s government is currently dealing with the critical infrastructure question like the U.S. government, at the provincial level, but Canada does have a mechanism to make any federal guidance on critical infrastructure binding using the Emergencies Act. Right now, Quebec has the most restrictive designation. Aluminum is considered critical infrastructure as a priority manufacturing activity (and is specifically mentioned in the designation) but there is language about reducing those activities to a minimum. The Mexican government’s designation of critical infrastructure is federally driven, with one decree stipulating that businesses and special establishments cannot operate with crowds.

DOD Memo on Defense Industrial Base

Department of Labor Guidance on Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family, Medical Leave Under Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Association Resources

3/23/20 NAM-CISA Conference Call Recap — Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) staff provided clarity on ‘essential industries’ as states work to make determinations in this area related to coronavirus orders.

3/23/20 Department of Commerce-OSHA Conference Call Recap — Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) staff provided resources and information about coronavirus management strategies in the workplace.

3/26/20 CISA-FEMA Conference Call Recap 

Small Business Resources

The CARES Act, enacted March 27, vastly expands existing U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) programs:

  • Deferment of pre-existing SBA 7(a) loans (6-12 months)
  • $10 billion for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) “bridge” (up to $10,000 within 3 days)
  • Establishes the “Paycheck Protection Program” (PPP)

Collectively, the measures widen the pool of eligible businesses and provide additional assistance to companies struggling to maintain operations and keep employees on the payroll. You can find an Association summary of these changes here, or visit SBA.gov/disaster.

Do I Qualify as “Small”?

Be sure to check the size standards for your industry using the NAICS codes outlined here. Once you have obtained your NAICS code, you can use the SBA’s Size Standards tool to determine if you qualify for SBA programs. For example:

NAICS Codes

NAICS Industry Title

Size Standard in millions of Dollars (if applicable)

Size Standard in numbers of employees (if applicable)

331313

Alumina Refining and Primary Aluminum Production

-

1000

331314

Secondary Smelting and Alloying of Aluminum

-

750

331315

Aluminum Sheet, Plate, and Foil Manufacturing

-

1250

331318

Other Aluminum Rolling, Drawing, and Extruding

-

750

331524

Aluminum Foundries (except Die-Casting)

-

500

 

In addition to meeting the numerical standards for “small,” a business must:

  • Be a for-profit business of any legal structure
  • Be independently owned and operated
  • Not be nationally dominant in its field
  • Be physically located and operate in the U.S. or its territories
  • Businesses outside the U.S. may still be counted as small if they have an operation in the U.S. that makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor.

State Small Business Resources

National Guidance & Federal Resources

White House Coronavirus Information – Official White House statements, guidelines and briefing documents regarding coronavirus response.

OSHA Guidance for Employers – This site provides information on key OSHA standards relating to COVID-19 in the workplace and a variety of other workplace resources.

DOL Guidance for Implementing Emergency Paid Leave Mandate 

IRS COVID-19 Tax Relief – Notable, IR-2020-57 outlines the ways in which small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.

U.S. Export-Import Bank – Available Ex-Im Bank press releases and programs to deal with COVID-19, including a fact page specifically about the programs exporters can utilize.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) COVID-19 Supply Chain Update 

DHS CISA Guidance – Provides latest updates from CISA on critical industries and infrastructure.

CDC Guidance for Businesses – Updated guidance for non-healthcare businesses on implementing prevention and protection efforts.

CDC FAQ Document on Manufacturing Facility Protocols

State-Level Information

State Level Emergency Orders – The Association will update biweekly this tracker of state emergency orders, including references to CISA or specific mentions of aluminum as an "essential" business. The NAM tracks state level emergency orders HERE and (with a snapshot available here) and how they may affect manufacturing operations. This dashboard from MultiState Associations also has state-level information, including contact information for state officials. 

National Governors Association – In the state resource section, NGA lists all actions and guidance taken in each state regarding movement restrictions, critical industries, etc.

State Legislation
 

Coronavirus Survival on Aluminum Surfaces

Shipping, Cargo & Travel Information 

Department of Transportation Emergency Declaration – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief.

State Waivers on Truck Weight Limits – States are providing waivers to allow for heavier-than-normal truck loads on state highways for a limited time.

Coast Guard Guidance for Cargo Vessels

CDC Guidance for Travelers – The CDC provides travel notices for international and domestic travel. 

North American Cross-Border Travel Suspended – "Non-essential" travel between the United States and Canada is now restricted. The travel restrictions do not apply to cross-border trade. DHS released a US-Canada Joint Initiative explaining that “nonessential travel” refers to travel for tourism or recreational purposes. The restrictions go into effect on March 21 and will be in place for 30 days. Similar restrictions on nonessential travel between the U.S. and Mexico took effect on March 21. Additional details are available from DHS here.

Federal Response & Legislation

Defense Production Act - President Trump signed on March 18 an Executive Order to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA). As background, the law permits the federal government to impose some control over private-sector industry to ensure the production of material that is deemed necessary for national defense, and it was reauthorized last year through 2025. Under DPA, the government canalter the order in which companies fulfill their contractual obligations by telling them to prioritize some existing contracts ahead of others (but it seems unclear if the government could use the law to force a company to accept a new contract for a product that it does not already make). More context for the DPA here.

On March 27, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Delegating Additional Authority Under the DPA with Respect to Health and Medical Resources (HERE) and a Memorandum on Order Under the Defense Production Act Regarding General Motors Company (Text, Statement).

Legislation 

Supplemental I  – Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act  (Enacted March 6)

The first supplemental legislation was signed by the President on March 6. This bill provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, including supplemental appropriations for the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies. 

Text is available here, and a summary is available here

Supplemental II – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Enacted March 18)

The President signed the second supplemental bill on March 18, after the Senate passed a modified version of the House bill (HR 6201). Text is available here, a factsheet is available here, and a section-by-section is available here. A summary of paid leave provisions, incorporating changes made by technical correction, is here

In addition to offering free testing for COVID-19, a few highlights of the legislation:

  • Mandates Emergency Paid Sick Leave
    • Employers with less than 500 employees are required to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to an employee that: 
      • Has a current diagnosis of COVID–19, or is under quarantine at the instruction of a health care provider, employer, or a local, state or federal official. 
      • Is engaged in caregiving for an individual who has a current diagnosis of COVID–19 or is under quarantine. 
      • Is engaged in caregiving because of the COVID–19-related closing of a school or other care facility or care program. 
    • Businesses with under 50 employees will have an opportunity or request an exemption from the Treasury Department if the requirements “would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.” Treasury has yet to clarify how these exemptions will be made. These provisions would expire at the end of calendar year 2020. 
  • Expands Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is expanded to include leave needed to care for an employee’s child whose school or care provider is closed due to COVID-19. This leave can be used by employees who have been employed by their current employer for at least 30 days. This applies to any private sector employer with less than 500 employees. 
      • The first 10 days of FMLA leave may be unpaid, but beyond that time employers must compensate employees for the remainder of FMLA-leave taken (up to 10 work weeks) at 2/3 of their regular rate of pay. 
      • FMLA paid leave is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 per employee total. 
  • Business Tax Credits for Emergency Leave
    • The bill creats a refundable tax credit equal to 100 percent of paid family or medical leave wages paid by the small business each quarter. The credit can be used against the employer’s social security taxes and applies to amounts paid to employees who are sick or quarantined. A smaller credit applies to amounts paid to employees caring for a family member or for a child whose school or place of care has been closed. 
  • Emergency Unemployment Stabilization 
    • Emergency grants totalling $1 billion available to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance benefits. 
      • $500 million would be used to provide immediate additional funding to all states for staffing, technology, systems, and other administrative costs, so long as they met basic requirements about ensuring access to earned benefits for eligible workers. 
      • $500 million would be reserved for emergency grants to states which experienced at least a 10 percent increase in unemployment. 
      • States that experience an increase of 10 percent or more in their unemployment rate (over the previous year) and comply with all the beneficiary access provisions will qualify for 100 percent funding for Extended Benefits. 
      • Extended benefits are triggered when unemployment is high in a state and provide up to an additional 26 weeks after regular unemployment insurance benefits exhausted. This section also suspends the financial penalty for states that waive the usual one-week waiting period for benefits. 
Supplemental III – Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Enacted Marc)

The Senate passed an amended version of the CARES Act by a vote of 96-0 on March 25. Text available here (Democratic summary here, Republican section-by-section here). The House passed the CARES Act by voice vote on March 27. The president signed the legistlation later that same day. A few highlights from the legislation:

  • Small Business Loans (Title I) – Committee section-by-section here and one pager here (minority one pager here).
    • $350 billion for new Paycheck Protection Program, which would provide small businesses eight weeks of cashflow assistance. The portion of the loan used for payroll support (employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, and other overhead like mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments) would be forgiven if employees (and salaries) are retained.
      • Defines eligibility as businesses, nonprofits, veterans’ organizations, and Tribal businesses up to 500 employees and includes self-employed, independent contractors, sole proprietors.
    • $17 billion for SBA to cover six months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.
  • Business Tax Relief (Title II) – Summary here
    • Delays OASDI payroll taxes, payable over two years with half due by 12/31/21 and the remainder due by 12/31/22;
    • Provides refundable payroll tac credit for 50% of wages paid to employees during the COVID-19 crisis (no double-dipping allowed with the COVID-II FMLA and emergency leave payroll tax credits);
    • Relaxes limitations on net operating losses;
    • Increases the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct (Increases limitation threshold increased from 30% to 50% of EBITDA for tax years beginning in 2019 and 2020);
    • Treats corporate AMT credits as refundable for 2018 onward; and
    • TCJA technical correction on QIP (confirms repairs and improvements are eligible for a 15-year class life and eligible for bonus depreciation/full expensing)
  • Economic Stabilization (Title IV) – Summary here
    • The Treasury Department will create a Federal Reserve lending program to provide liquidity for industry in the form of loans, loan guarantees, and other investments. Procedures and regulations due no more than 10 days after enactment.
      • $500 billion in Treasury-administered loans:
        • $25 billion for passenger air carriers,
        • $4 billion for cargo air carriers, and
        • $17 billion for businesses “critical to maintaining national security,” and
        • $454 billion available for all other businesses.
      • Terms and Conditions on loan recipients include:
        • Worker protections (see here for summary) and limits on executive compensation, stock buybacks, dividends, furloughs, and worker pay cuts.
        • The Secretary can make loans to businesses that are “created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States and that have significant operations in and a majority of its employees based in the United States.” We understand that this is intended to apply at the level of the legal entity, not the overall group/parent company.
        • Entities are prohibited from applying for any stabilization loan or grant relief if a covered person owns, directly, or indirectly, a controlling interest in such applying entity. Covered persons include POTUS, VPOTUS, Cabinet officials, Members of Congress, and their direct family members.
      • Congressional Oversight Commission is established to oversee the economic stabilization loan and grant programs.
      • Coronavirus Relief Fund (Sec. 5001): $150 billion reserved for payments to state governments, local governments, and tribes, at least $3 billion of which is reserved for DC and $8 billion of which is reserved for tribal governments.
      • Air Carrier Worker Support: $32 billion in grants to be used for employee wages, salaries, and benefits.
  • Unemployment Insurance (Title II, Subtitle A): Several expansions to UI, including but not limited to:
    • Emergency eligibility expansion (Sec. 2102): Expansion during 2020 for UI to cover individuals not otherwise covered by UI under a variety of conditions, including:
      • COVID-19 diagnosis of the individual or a family member, family care obligations and school closures, or self-quarantine advice from a health provider;
      • Notably, eligibility includes individuals who are unable or unavailable to work (but not actually laid off or unemployed) because their place of employment is closed “as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency”;
      • Does not include employees who can telework with pay or who are receiving paid leave benefits.
    • Emergency increase (Sec. 2104): For both regularly eligible individuals and those covered by the expansion, weekly UI payments are increased by $600 per week through July 31, 2020 (often described as a “four month” expansion);
    • No new obligations for employers as a result of these expansions and increases.

News

March 19, 2020
Today, the Aluminum Association released a framework for policymakers developing economic stimulu
March 9, 2020
The Aluminum Association’s Common Alloy Aluminum Sheet Trade Enforcement Working Group today file