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RVIA: Here’s What Industry Needs to Know to Weather COVID-19

Coronavirus as viewed through electron microscope

RVIA COVID-19 Resources

The RV Industry Association is in constant contact with federal officials overseeing the response to COVID-19, monitoring the spread of this virus and its potential impact on the RV industry. Our top priority is the safety of our industry’s employees, members and communities. Below are resources for your companies to use during this unprecedented situation. We will work to share additional information as it becomes available.

RV Industry Talking Points

RVIA has provided the following talking points for members and industry to use when speaking about how the RV industry is uniquely able to assist in managing this ongoing crisis and it’s essential to keep RV manufacturing, dealers and campgrounds open.

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Coronavirus Background Information

Use the following background information as a reference to develop coronavirus response plans. The information below has been compiled from government agency resources and other association resources and links to source material.

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State-By-State Actions and Updates

Below are three regularly updated resources to monitor the latest actions taken in states across the country. Check back daily for the latest information.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has put together a resource to assist manufacturers in navigating this rapidly evolving landscape and understanding how to continue safe operations of manufacturing facilities. The resource includes a list of states highlighting emergency orders that range from guidance to orders to outright restrictions that threaten manufacturers’ ability to operate and contribute to the response to COVID-19.

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Governors are working closely with federal and local officials as well as private sector partners to address the threat of COVID-19. The National Governors Association has regularly updated information on what steps each of the states have taken to address COVID-19.

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MultiState has also created a dashboard of resources on the state and local government response to COVID-19. The dashboard is updated daily and provides a quick and easy reference to updates and information issued by state and key local agencies and policymakers.

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A Message from the Elkhart County Department of Emergency Management and Mayor Rod Roberson

Elkhart County Department of Health announced today the first presumptive positive case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the County. The local health department is working closely with the local and state officials to ensure that contacts of the patient are identified and monitored and that all infection control protocols are being followed. The patient is currently hospitalized and no additional information about the patient will be released due privacy laws.

“Elkhart county’s first case of Coronavirus COVID-19 has been confirmed. We have been anticipating this result and the message remains the same as it was at my Friday press conference: Stay home. The next several days to weeks will be critical for us to flatten the curve. What we do now will determine what next week and week after look like for Elkhart, for Indiana, and for the nation. I am meeting regularly with my response team, fellow mayors, and county officials as we continue to evaluate the changing circumstances. We will keep you updated.” Mayor Rod Roberson

The Elkhart County Commissioners, with recommendation from the Elkhart County COVID-19 Incident Management Team, being fully supported by the Mayors and Elkhart County Health Department, has put a travel advisory in place for all of Elkhart County as of 5:00 p.m. today. This travel advisory means that routine travel or activity is discouraged because of a hazardous situation, and individuals should use discretion on what is necessary for daily living. With that, residents are advised to only travel for essential reasons such as work, grocery stores, dinner pick-ups, pharmacies or doctor appointments, helping and/or checking on family members.

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) will provide updates as new information becomes available.

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Indiana Updates

On March 19, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued additional executive orders that extend the closure of schools, provide economic relief and protections for individuals and businesses, and expand unemployment insurance benefits for those impacted by job loss. Updates include:

  • Extension of the current state of emergency an additional 30 days when it expires on April 5.
  • Extension of the closure of all schools until May 1.
  • Deadline for payment of state income taxes delayed until July 15.
  • Penalties waived on property taxes for 60 days for taxes paid after May 11.
  • The state’s application to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was approved on March 18, 2020. This program provides targeted, low-interest loans of up to $2 million to help small businesses and nonprofits overcome the temporary loss of revenue as a result of coronavirus.
  • Expansion of unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Essential utility services are prohibited from discontinuing service to any customer during the public health emergency.
  • No residential evictions or foreclosure actions may be initiated during the public health emergency.
  • The Commissioner will ask health insurers to cover COVID-19 testing without requiring prior authorization.

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Campgrounds

RVIA is working closely with the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) and federal, state and private campground partners to provide solutions and advocate for the need to keep campgrounds open and accessible to RVers as long as there’s no threat to the health and safety of visitors, employees, and vital resources. The team is working with federal agencies to provide increased access to dispersed or boondocking campsites, where appropriate, to alleviate campground overcrowding at many of the popular national park locations and to help with social distancing. The federal agencies and private campgrounds are also interested in helping to redirect camping demand from limited-capacity or closed parks to local private campgrounds, so RV families aren’t trapped without overnight accommodations.

As the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic evolves, RVIA will continue to reevaluate how the RV industry can be helpful in providing safe, temporary accommodations while adhering to guidelines from health agencies.

Campendium.com has created an online resource of parks and campgrounds closures. As always, understand that policies are changing quickly so call ahead for specific up-to-date information.

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Canada and Mexico Updates

The U.S. and Canada agreed to temporarily close our shared border between the two countries to non-essential traffic. The Association has been in contact with Canadian Custom Officials to verify that trade, including the export of RVs, is still moving between the two countries. As additional updated are available, we will update this section.

Recognizing the robust trade relationship between the United States and Mexico, we agree our two countries, in response to the ongoing global and regional health situation, require particular measures both to protect bilateral trade and our countries’ economies and ensure the health of our nations’ citizens. We agree to the need for a dedicated joint effort to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus and address the economic effects resulting from reduced mobility along our shared border.

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RV Legislation to Watch

Inclusion of RVs in the Stimulus Package

The RVIA team is working to have the RV industry specifically included in stimulus packages. The first stage was an $8.3 billion package signed into law on March 6, focusing on fortifying health agencies to contain the outbreak. The second stage is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a $100 billion stimulus bill signed into law by President Trump on March 18. This package provides two weeks paid sick leave to workers, boosts unemployment insurance, makes coronavirus testing free and increases food assistance during the crisis.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are taking the lead on the third stage, a $1 trillion stimulus package. As negotiations on this package begin, the RV Industry Association’s federal affairs team is talking regularly with our contacts in the Senate and the Administration to provide input and suggestions regarding the inclusion of the RV industry in the proposed stimulus package.

This package will reportedly include checks from the government to all Americans meeting certain income requirements, to begin as soon as early April. The bill is also rumored to authorize the creation of a small business interruption loan program and appropriate $300 billion for the program. The U.S. government would provide a 100 percent guarantee on any qualifying small business interruption loan. This is for businesses with fewer than 500 employees and would be for 100 percent of six weeks of payroll, capped at $1,540 per week per employee.

Finally, before the current crisis, RVIA and ORR had been working closely with the House Small Business Committee on stimulating small businesses within the outdoor recreation and RV industries and to help campgrounds and dealerships in rural communities. This working relationship led the committee to reach out to ORR to request input on outdoor recreation needs and how the Small Business Administration can help in their stimulus package.

Essential Businesses: RVs For Emergency Response

RVIA is currently engaging state officials, Congress, and the Vice President’s Coronavirus Taskforce to advocate for the use of RVs for emergency response purposes such as quarantine units, mobile staging units, mobile medical clinics, operating rooms, ICUs, bathroom trailers, laundry facilities, sleeping units, command centers, and more. RVs are uniquely able to meet these critical needs in an expedited timeframe. California has already announced their intention to purchase more than 1,300 travel trailers to use as quarantine units. The state team is working to advocate for similar uses for RVs in other states.

We are also working with our RV Caucus co-chairs, Rep. Jackie Walorksi (R-2-IN) and Sen, Joni Ernst (R-IA), our champions on Capitol Hill, and the Vice President’s Coronavirus Task Force, to advocate for RV manufacturers and dealers to be considered “essential businesses,” allowing manufacturers and dealers to remain open and able to provide RVs for the emergency response uses listed above. It is also critical to keep RV dealerships open and available to perform critical maintenance and repairs for consumers who are currently RVing and provide liquified petroleum gas refills for heat and refrigeration. Moreover, there are RV mobile medical clinics already on the road now that may need service.

Floor Plan Fix

The RV Industry Association team is actively working with our champions in the House and Senate to request that any stimulus bill includes the floor plan fix we have been advocating for since 2018. During this time of uncertainty, an easy fix like this would help save RV dealers money that they can use to mitigate any slowdowns or setbacks they experience due to coronavirus. Fixing this definition would provide this small certainty to nearly 400 dealer locations nationwide but is still an uphill battle in the partisan halls of Congress.

Human Resources

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a $100 billion-dollar stimulus bill signed into law by President Trump on March 18, requires employers to provide paid leave for some employees related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, among other measures. Specifically, the requires two weeks of paid sick leave for affected government workers and employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees and provides FMLA rights for some employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees.

The bill also provides funding for economic assistance, requires health plans to cover COVID-19 testing at no charge, and includes a refundable tax credit for employers that provide paid leave benefits due to the coronavirus outbreak. The bill will take effect no later than 15 days from the date it is signed by the president which would be Thursday, April 2.

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Events and Factory Visits

RVIA has compiled considerations members should take when determining how to handle interactions with your staff. These considerations should not be considered comprehensive or exhaustive, however, please use the information as one of several possible resources as you continue your company’s due diligence on its coronavirus response.

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RVIA will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves, and will be diligent in updating members in the process as we work together during this time.

To stay up-to-date on the latest industry news visit RVIA’s News & Insights blog and contact us to let us know how we can continue to help you during the current situation.

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