State Announces New Child Care, Small Business Loans Programs In Response To COVID-19
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert addressed Utahns on Monday, after announcing his “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive Friday afternoon. The update included two additional state programs to help residents and business owners weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says reducing the transmission of COVID-19 and accelerating the state’s economic recovery are tied together. The first step to recovery is increasing testing – Herbert says the state is currently conducting around 2,000 tests per day but wants to increase that capacity to 7,000. The plan is to keep the transmission rate low, so as not to overwhelm the state’s health care system. Herbert says the state has 512 ICU beds.
“The next two weeks are critical, if we’re going to be able to do this,” Herbert said. “Everybody has a role to play, and everybody needs to be engaged.”
To help ease parents’ burden during this time, the state announced a new child care program for essential workers. Health care and public safety employees can sign up for the One Utah Child Care program for free child care throughout the state. Tracy Gruber, Office of Child Care director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, says the program will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., as long as schools remain closed.
“Child care is critical right now to keep Utahns working,” Gruber said. “And, it’s important to note, it can be done safely.”
Additionally, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, or GOED, initiated a small business bridge loan program, which offers bridge loans to businesses with 50 or fewer employees. GOED Executive Director Val Hale says the program will re-appropriate $8 million, at least $25% of which will be used to support rural businesses.
“Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $20,000, with zero-percent interest for up to a 60-month period,” Hale said. “Loan payments will not be required for the first 12 months of the loan.”
The program begins March 31. Hale says GOED will determine applicants’ eligibility for the program. Non-profit organizations will not be included in this round of funding but could be considered in future rounds.
For more information about the child care and bridge loan programs, visit coronavirus.utah.gov.