MASON CITY, Iowa - Virtually every facet of life is being affected in some way due to the pandemic.
Businesses are not immune from this, with reductions in staff and pay cuts becoming the new unfortunate norm. But thanks to legislation passed last week, it may be able to protect workers and business owners during this time of uncertainty.
The 'CARES Act', short for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, which was passed and signed into law last week, allocates more than $2 trillion in support for individuals and businesses as they're working to navitage through these stormy waters through things like unemployment insurance, payroll taxes, 401K loans and small business relief, among others.
Paul Mixdorf is not only a CPA with FFC Advisors, he's also the President of Eternity Wireless, a cellphone accessory distributor. He's been working with clients, namely small businesses that are feeling the brunt of the pandemic, on what owners should do.
"Should I lay off people? Should I keep them at 50%? How do they file? Every business is unique."
He's also had to balance some issues at his business.
"I have had to cut back on some hours. We base off of how busy we are by the number of orders."
During a teleconference with Mason City Chamber members Wednesday morning, he heard what options are available through the act.
"We're doing our best to plan with our clients to make sure they are getting the necessary help they can get that's available to them."
John Kirchner oversees the Midwest branch of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and has heard from business owners on what they're facing.
"A lot of primarily small business owners have had to make really tough decisions on 'how do we keep our doors open?'"
One piece of the act that would have the widest reaching impact is the Paycheck Protection Program. It provides federally guaranteed loans to small businesses that maintain payroll during this time of crisis, and can be forgiven if they do so.
"If you get, say, a $10 million dollar loan for your business, and spend $8 million on payroll, rent, interest, mortgage and utilities, that $8 million portion turns into a grant. It doesn't have to be repaid."
He's upbeat about what these programs can mean for those in this situation across the country.
"There's a lot of distress in the economy. But I think these programs and some of the other lending through the federal reserve that we're going to get close to spending every bit of that."
Without the passage of the CARES Act, Kitchner predicts more businesses would inevitably shutter.
"I think that impacts to small businesses and businesses across the board would be catastrophic by the time we come out of this. This is trying to get us through the next couple of months, and hopefully that we're through the worst of it."
So what if the pandemic lasts longer than 90 days? Kirchner says there already is talk in Washington, D.C. about what a 'Phase 4' plan would look like.