Just before the New Year, lawmakers passed a second pandemic relief bill totaling $900 billion (the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021”) that included funds for stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits, and small business loans. This second package reopens the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), providing $284 billion in funding to small businesses that continue to struggle in the face of surging COVID-19 cases and the potential of renewed lockdowns.
As the public continues to take measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, like wearing masks, physical distancing, and handwashing, the importance of air quality is also gaining attention. These measures are particularly important in small spaces, like restaurants and offices, where natural air circulation may be hampered.
The new PPP relief package acknowledges the importance of cleaning the air indoors, which can be done by updating current HVAC systems and investing in portable air purifiers. Both the Act and its implementing interim final rule allow for small businesses to use PPP funds to invest in technologies that may help prevent to spread of COVID-19 and thus create environments that may be more conducive for employees and customers, which can include air purifiers like the G200, which is effective at capturing the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
We've taken a look at the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and its implementing interim final rule. As noted below in the excerpt from the interim final rule, the language allows business owners to use funds to purchase air purifiers to improve air quality. Specifically, the interim final rule provides the following:
- “The proceeds of a PPP loan are to be used for […] covered worker protection expenditures (A) operating or a capital expenditures to facilitate the adaptation of the business activities of an entity to comply with requirements established or guidance issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or any equivalent requirements established or guidance issued by a State or local government, during the period beginning on March 1, 2020 and ending the date on which the national emergency with respect to the COVID–19 expires related to the maintenance of standards for sanitation, social distancing, or any other worker or customer safety requirement related to COVID–19.”
- Covered worker protection expenditures may include “the purchase, maintenance, or renovation of assets that create or expand […] an indoor, outdoor, or combined air or air pressure ventilation or filtration system[.]”
How You Can Fully Utilize the New Relief Package
Unlike the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the new relief package expands the slate of expenses eligible for forgiveness for new or existing PPP loans. The expansion includes personal protective equipment (PPE) and investments in safety standards and facility modifications, including updating a business’s HVAC system or investing in air purification systems. This move recognizes the importance of indoor air quality and the role it can play in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For businesses that rely on employee and customer foot traffic to survive - restaurants, hotels, professional services firms, banks, distribution companies, among others - investing in air purification technologies and making facility modifications can be key to keeping the doors open, and providing a sense of confidence for patrons and employees alike. Those companies that have found success working virtually may be looking for ways to safely reopen offices, ensuring that everyone returning feels comfortable and confident that it's okay to be ‘in-person’ versus working from home. This new relief package may help motivate employers to think of ways they can help improve their overall work environment as they prepare for the return of their staff.
"If you already applied for forgiveness, and received it, you are not eligible for the additional worker protection expenditures outlined in the new stimulus package, even if you did not receive 100% forgiveness. If you receive a second PPP loan, you will be able to include the new expenditures, like a combined air, air pressure ventilation, or filtration system." - Ami Kassar, Chief Executive Officer, MultiFunding LLC
Educational institutions also benefit from the new COVID-19 package, which includes $81.9 billion in education relief funds. The money will be allocated to public K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities that have been affected by the pandemic. Some school districts, such as North Andover Public Schools in Massachusetts, are investing in portable air purifiers to help capture the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
What Can Be Done About Indoor Air Quality?
For businesses to remain open, social distancing, mask-wearing, cleaning, and washing hands are necessary precautions to implement. In addition to these measures, air purifiers can help keep indoor environments clean and thus permit businesses to remain open and successful.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized that SARS-CoV-2 is airborne and can be carried by aerosols, especially in indoor settings with poor ventilation. Because of this, experts are now advocating for proper ventilation indoors as a necessary measure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The FDA recently acknowledged the role that certain air purifier technologies can play in capturing the airborne virus.
The Celios G200 is an air purifier that meets the performance requirements identified by the FDA as being effective at capturing the SARS-CoV-2 virus. (1) Although an air purifier such as the Celios G200 cannot protect users from COVID-19 it can, when used in conjunction with other precautions, help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
For many businesses, it’s important to conduct business safely in-person during these unprecedented times. Employees may not feel comfortable about returning to environments with high SARS-CoV-2 community transmission rates. Air purifiers can help to provide pure, clean air in offices and workspaces. The Celios G200 can be used in offices and small conference rooms, as well as in restaurants and hospitality settings, and it provides ultrafine purification of the air’s most dangerous particles while generating no odors or by-products.
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(1) The Celios G200 Advanced Air Purifier meets the performance and labeling requirements provided in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s March 2020 Enforcement Policy for Sterilizers, Disinfectant Devices, and Air Purifiers During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency, published March, 2020 (the Celios G200 Advanced Air Purifier has not been cleared by the FDA). Specifically, the Celios G200 Advanced Air Purifier has demonstrated up to 99.99999% filtration efficiency of ultrafine airborne particulate matter and is capable of filtering particles down to 10 nanometers in size. The Celios G200 Advanced Air Purifier has also demonstrated up to 99.99999% virus filtration efficiency of ΦX174, a small bacteriophage virus with a maximum diameter of ~32 nanometers.
The G200 Advanced Air Purifier is not intended to prevent or protect from any form of illness or disease (or otherwise). To reduce the risk of fire or electric shock, do not use this fan with any solid-state speed control device. Unplug or disconnect the appliance from the power supply before servicing. The appliance is only to be used with the power supply unit provided and it must only be supplied with voltage corresponding to the marking on the appliance. Do not operate any fan with a damaged cord or plug. Discard fan or return to an authorized service facility for examination and/or repair. Do not run cord under carpeting. Do not cover cord with throw rugs, runners or similar covers. Do not route cord under furniture or appliances. Arrange cord away from traffic areas and where it will not be tripped over. Do not allow children to operate the G200 Advanced Air Purifier or play near the G200 Advanced Air Purifier. Only plug the power cord into a standard electrical outlet. Do not use outdoors. Do not immerse the G200 Advanced Air Purifier in liquid and do not handle the G200 Advanced Air Purifier with wet hands. Do not insert a finger or foreign object into the airflow openings. Do not use the G200 Advanced Air Purifier in toxic or explosive environments or where flammable or combustible gases are present.