Lee

Lee

The state’s Economic Recovery Group announced last Friday it will lift capacity restrictions on restaurants and retail businesses starting Friday, May 22.

The state also will issue guidelines to open larger, non-contact attractions on or after that date. 

The new Large Attractions guidance applies to those businesses that can effectively practice social distancing, including racetracks, amusement parks, waterparks, theaters and dinner theaters, auditoriums and large museums.

Restrictions on social gatherings of more than 10 people remain in place. Restaurants will still need to maintain social distancing, including six feet between tables

 

State of emergency

On Tuesday, Gov. Bill Lee extended the state of emergency from May 18 to June 30.

The measure also provides access to telehealth services, access to unemployment benefits, protections against price gouging and electronic notary services. 

The executive orders continue allowing the Tennessee Health Department to share confidential personal health information. Multiple media reports indicate this allows the department to tell police the names and addresses of COVID-19 patients; the reports do not indicate any Rutherford County agencies are participating in the program.

Marriage licenses are extended until June 30. Deadline for paying professional privilege tax is extended through June 30. 

 

Grants

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced a $1.4 million grant award to the City of Murfreesboro for the Rover bus system.

The grant comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Rover will use the grant funds for operating, preventive maintenance and administrative expenses to maintain transit service during the public health emergency. 

Rutherford County has been awarded $244,432 to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county under Phase 37 of the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program and the CARES Act.

Agencies interested in applying for Emergency Food and Shelter Program funding should contact Dan Caldwell at (615) 893-7303 or Dan.Caldwell@yourlocaluw.org. The deadline to submit an application is 4 p.m. on Friday, May 22.

 

Graduations

James Evans, communications director for Rutherford County Schools, said the governor’s extension of the emergency declaration will not affect graduation plans. High schools are planning ceremonies in late June and July.

“Our plan for graduations has not changed and we plan to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing as this community situation continues to evolve,” Evans said. “The ceremonies will be livestreamed, graduates will be distanced, and the number of live spectators will also be limited based on the guidelines at the time.”

 

Tax revenues

Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley on Tuesday announced that state revenues for April were less than the monthly revenues from the previous year.

Overall state revenues for April were $1.3 billion, which is a negative growth rate of 39.75 percent compared to last year and $693.8 million less than the state budgeted. However, the state had extended the filing deadlines from April 15 to July 15 for franchise and excise tax and Hall income tax returns. It takes about a month to report tax revenues, so the April numbers reflect March activity.

Sales tax revenues were $61.2 million less than the estimate for April and they were 6.01 percent less than April 2019. For nine months, revenues are $182.4 million higher than estimated. The year-to-date growth rate for nine months is 4.83 percent.

The Tennessee Department of Revenue last week reported that Rutherford County in April collected $32,991,427 in sales tax revenue, and $ 333,184,151 year-to-date in Fiscal Year 2020. That compares to the April 2019 report, which showed $ 34,403,106 for the month and $322,733,617 year-to-date.

 

Insurance

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee last week made permanent its coverage of virtual visits with in-network providers.

The company said its decision makes it the first major insurer to embrace telehealth for the long-term after the expansion of these services during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the insurer began covering telephone and video visits with in-network providers. 

The change initially included primary care providers, specialists and behavioral health providers and was later expanded to include occupational, physical and speech therapy as well as ABA therapy services. All of these services will now be covered on an ongoing basis.

 

Unemployment

A total of 29,308 new and 325,095 continued unemployment claims were filed the week ending May 9, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development said.

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