CARES Act Grant Programs: Searching for Opportunity in the Coronavirus Relief Effort

Tjasse L. Fritz

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or “the Act”) is a $2.2 trillion legislative package designed to stabilize the United States’ economy as the country deals with the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Included in the Act are a wealth of grant programs that may hold opportunities for companies able to position themselves appropriately during this crisis.

Of particular interest are grant programs related to healthcare, technology, and workforce sustainment, which include:

1. Entrepreneurial development grants

Section 1103 of the CARES Act provides a $240 million grant fund for development of programs to provide education, training, and advising to covered small business concerns. Training topics include:

    • How to apply for Small Business Administration (“SBA”) resources, including business resiliency programs;
    • COVID-19 transmission prevention practices; and
    • How to manage and practice teleworking.

An additional $25 million grant is available for development of a centralized information hub where these educational materials may be accessed.

2. Emergency business grants

Section 1110 of the Act expands eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans to several new categories of businesses, including sole proprietorships, and authorizes the SBA to issue “emergency grants” of up to $10,000 per business while these loan applications are reviewed.

The grant funds must be disbursed by the SBA within three days, and no repayment is required even if the final loan application is eventually denied.

For prime contractors overseeing multiple subcontracts, this stop-gap measure may hold the key to keeping operations running smoothly.

3. Short-time compensation programs

Section 2110 allocates $100 million for grants to states implementing and administering short-time compensation programs, also called “work share” programs.

Among other permitted uses, funds for these grants may be used to automate application systems or create advisement teams to teach employers about alternatives to layoffs.

Short-time programs also provide businesses with incentives to maintain their workforce by splitting a smaller number of hours across more employees; the employees are then given partially reduced unemployment benefits, and the employer is given some relief from sustaining the entire payroll during times of slack labor demand.

4. Telehealth network and telehealth resource centers grant programs

Section 3212 of the CARES Act reauthorizes Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) grant programs for the development and promotion of telecommunications systems for remote administration of healthcare and health information services.

The $29 million allocation is aimed at providing remote COVID-19 screening for high-risk individuals and medical care to individuals in remote communities.

5. Rural healthcare services grants

Section 3213 allocates $79.5 million for HRSA grant programs for development of healthcare networks in rural communities.

Interestingly, the reauthorization of this program includes an amendment that makes for-profit companies eligible for grants if they are entities “with demonstrated experience serving, or the capacity to serve, rural underserved populations.”

6. Geriatric medicine education grants

Section 3403 of the CARES Act authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements to organizations for creation and administration of programs designed to provide training on geriatric healthcare to medical professionals. The annual allocation of $40,737,000 for awards gives priority to entities that submit proposals aimed at serving traditionally underserved and rural communities.

As COVID-19 issues permeate virtually all aspects of commerce nationally and internationally, we stand ready to help. Blank Rome’s Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force includes interdisciplinary resources across every business sector from insurance recovery to HR.