Good morning fellow Floridians. First, if you haven’t registered for our statewide conference call with Governor Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Scott Rivkees on Monday, March 30 at 2 p.m. EST, please know that we’re almost at capacity so please register todayGovernor DeSantis and General Rivkees will provide the latest Florida specific details on COVID-19 and what Chamber members need to know. While most of Florida’s more vulnerable citizens are being asked to essentially shelter in place, parts of our economy are still open and there’s a growing choir that believes this is exactly the right course. In fact, New York’s Governor has officially acknowledged his statewide shutdown was a mistake. This is an incredibly fear-filled time and we’re doing all we can to follow the facts, not the fear. Our numbers in Florida will grow significantly and we recommend Florida continue to increase testing and, just as we do on water policy, follow the science and be smart. 
 
A very special thank you to Florida Chamber member JinkoSolar! Keep reading (see below) to find out what they just did to help keep 10,000 health care workers safe. Again, Florida Chamber members are reminding all of us of the power of free enterprise – you are awesome! 
 
Florida now has 3,198 COVID-19 cases, that’s an increase of 497 since yesterday (New York has at least 44,635 and New Orleans – a fast-growing hot spot – has at least 2,746). We have had 46 deaths, and two additional counties (Levy and Suwannee) reported their first positive cases yesterday, bringing the total number of counties with positive cases to 49 of 67. Florida has tested 33,822 people, which is an increase of more than 26,450 since March 20 and, as supplies become available, we’re all pushing for the number of available tests to increase.
 
Yesterday, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law, which allocates $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed. Known as the “Paycheck Protection Program,” the initiative provides 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this pandemic. And importantly, a large portion of these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. 
 
We’re working closely with Florida’s U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, whom I spoke with yesterday and we’re partnering to ensure Florida’s small businesses get the information they need to begin navigating the Paycheck Protection Program. The FloridaChamber’s Small Business Councilwill hold a webinar in the coming few days to provide more details on this program, so be on the lookout for details. In the meantime, to see if you might qualify, here’s a guide and checklist to help you with the loan process. 
 
With more than 74,000 Floridians filing unemployment claims this past week, and tens of thousands more claims going through the process, clarity on what we’re seeing in our economy is important. Please take five minutes to watch Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrishshare his initial thoughts on the economic impacts of COVID-19. (Watch here.) Remember, the Florida Chamber is the only chamber in America with a full-time Chief Economist. If you are currently a member of the Florida Chamber’s Board of Governors program and would like to schedule a webinar for our Chief Economist and your management team, please contact BOG manager Greg Blose for details at gblose@flchamber.com
 
U.S. Senator and former Governor, Rick Scott, invested an hour with our Board of Directors yesterday and he urges us to keep doing all we can to make supplies available for our health care workers. Remember, our frontline healthcare workers still need N95 masks. From donating masks to making hand sanitizer and more, see all the great things your fellow Florida Chamber members are doing as we all fight the impact of this pandemic together. A very special thank you to our Florida Chamber member JinkoSolar for locating more than 10,000 masks in their supply chain, and donating those to Florida healthcare workers through the Florida Chamber’s make-shift emergency call center. Please contact Tanya Bechtold at tbechtold@flchamber.com or 850-521-1218 if you have the ability to manufacture swabs and/or masks, procure them and/or donate them.
 
My team and I are in constant contact with business and government leaders and what I continue seeing is nothing short of amazing. If there’s information I’m not providing in this daily email, simply let me know and we’ll make every effort to get you what you need in our collective time of need. Share this with others and ask them to sign-up to receive a copy.
 
My Best,
 
Mark Wilson
President and CEO