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COVID-19 Updates for the Trades: Coronavirus Resources, Links, Headlines for Contractors

April 28th, 2020
30 Min Read

The latest information on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, curated for the trades by ServiceTitan:

MAY 14

Key links for the trades: » New guide to how contractors can stay safe while doing their jobs in this pandemic, based on first-hand experiences from contractors performing essential construction repairs and services. Read more.

» It all starts with the basics. Check out this guide to proper handwashing, from a site that provides training materials for Certified Nursing Assistants. It's one step — but a critical one — in keep your team, and your customers, safe.


ASHRAE Releases Statements To Counter False Information About HVAC, Covid-19

To counter what ASHRAE says are false impressions about the potential spread of Covid-19 through recirculating HVAC systems, the trade organization has released two statements to clear the air. 

ASHRAE, a leader in research, education and standards in the HVAC-R industry, is seeking to counter advice not to operate residential or commercial systems to reduce the chance of spreading Coronavirus. Contrary to assertions elsewhere, AHSRAE says HVAC systems can help stem the spread. 

ASHRAE’s statements

  • On the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19: “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”

  • On the operation of HVAC systems to reduce SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 transmission: “Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus.”

A position paper from ASHRAE was also released to support the statements. 

Filtration and UV light systems reduce the level of airborne contaminants and other viruses, although specific effectiveness against Covid-19 has not been proven. 

News reports on the possible spread of Covid-19 through HVAC systems have caused concern among consumers. ASHRAE’s guidance aims to help HVAC companies counter those concerns.   


PPP Applications Acceptance Resumes, But Problems Remain With Website, Process

The Small Business Administration reopened application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on Monday, but reports of problems persist.  The PPP, which had run out of funds in less than two weeks when the original $349 billion was exhausted, reopened Monday with an additional Congressional appropriation of $310 billion in funding. 

Heavy demand and continued problems with the process remain, including crashes of the processing site, E-Tran, on Monday, minutes after the 10:30 a.m. EDT opening of the application process. 

Chase, in a notice to customers on its website, warned that money could run out quickly

More big companies, including the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, were reported to have gotten the forgivable loans ahead of the intended small businesses. (The team is returning the $4.6 million it was awarded.) Publicly traded hotels in Texas received $69 million and say they won’t return the money, citing the intent of the program to maintain paychecks for employees. 

For small businesses still awaiting funding or approval, including those in the trades, stories like those are worrisome. So are thoughts of the future financial impact of the Covid-19 outbreak

A Goldman Sachs survey of more than 1,700 of its 10,000 Small Businesses members showed that 93 percent say the Covid-19 pandemic will impact the way they operate long-term, and 68 percent say it will permanently change their business model. The survey also surfaced worries about outsized impact on smaller companies and minority-owned businesses.

Link for the Trades

City of San Diego expands electronic permitting system

Key takeaway: The San Diego Development Services Department will accept permits online for all new projects starting May 4. Contractors will submit plans electronically for approval, removing the need for an in-person permitting visit. Will other areas follow suit, or have they already embraced online permitting processes in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.


Additional $310 billion in PPP funds approved, but businesses better hurry

The U.S. House of Representatives approved on Thursday a Senate bill that adds $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, a small-business relief effort intended to keep employees on company payrolls. 

President Trump was expected to sign the measure immediately, restarting the flow of forgivable loans to American businesses harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed the Senate on Tuesday. 

» Earlier: ServiceTitan’s tips for the application process.

The funding followed $349 billion in the CARES Act, after that money ran out on April 17, less than two weeks after the program started. Small businesses, including those in the trades, could use the forgivable loans to cover payroll, rent or mortgage interest, benefits and other expenses. 

Applications for the money go through local banks, with $60 billion of the second wave of money headed for smaller institutions and credit unions and banks that serve minorities and rural areas, a stipulation the Democrats demanded. The Small Business Association administers the loans. 

Some distributions, considered a lifeline for struggling small businesses, could come as early as Friday. An article in American Banker said the new funds could run out even more quickly this time around, perhaps in as little as 48 hours. Financial institutions are expected to flood the SBA with applications.

Apply for government relief funds fast through BlueVine: undefinedIf you are not able to find success through your current financial institutions, or are looking for an alternative, our partner, BlueVine, is ready to support your business with funding through the program. You can apply online here.


Senate, White House Agree To Additional PPP Funding for Small Businesses

The Senate and the White House reached a deal to add another $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, which had run out of money to help small businesses ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic keep employees on the payroll with forgivable loans. 

The program initially got $349 billion in funding as part of the CARES Act, but that money ran out on Thursday. The additional funding will expand that program, which proved not large enough to help all the businesses that needed it. 

"There are still some more i's to dot and t's to cross, but we have a deal,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced in an interview on CNN’s "New Day."

Those in the trades, and other small businesses, will again be able to request funding. (Earlier: ServiceTitan’s tips for the application process.)

With millions of small businesses caught in the application pipeline, Democrats and Republicans argued over the addition of additional Coronavirus testing to the new funds, but those hurdles appear to have been overcome. 

Meanwhile, the Small Business Association told about 8,000 of applicants for Economic Injury Disaster Loans that their personal information had been mistakenly leaked by a website glitch. EIDL is a separate relief measure within the CARES Act.

Links for the trades

Plumber Magazine: Add sanitation to your offerings during COVID-19 pandemic Key takeaway: Hot-jet cleaning and sanitizing has grown in popularity during the Coronavirus pandemic, causing many in the plumbing industry to add it to their offerings. 

KMOX: Jerry Kelly Heating and Air matching gift cards for local businesses Key takeaway: Jerry Kelly Heating and Air in St. Charles, Mo., is supporting local small businesses by buying matching gift cards to local businesses to mirror those bought by the public. They are using marketing funds to support the community, and so far has received 300 requests.  


PPP Program ‘Out of Money,’ SBA Announces; Negotiations Ongoing

The Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP), a $349-billion program of forgivable loans intended to keep employees of small businesses in the trades and elsewhere on the payroll, is out of money as of Thursday.

The Small Business Administration announced on its website that, because the limit of Congressional funding has been reached, applications are no longer being taken as of midday Thursday, and new lenders are not being enrolled. 

Applications already in process could still be funded, and Congress was scheduled to resume negotiations on adding to the fund, part of a $2 billion emergency relief package established by the CARES Act, on Thursday.

A congressional source told ABC News on Wednesday night that the SBA has approved more than 1.5 million applications totaling more than $324 billion. The program ran out of money in less than two weeks, after launching April 3.

The program has been plagued with problems from the beginning, leaving small business owners frustrated and, in some cases, angry. 

The Trump Administration wants an additional $250 billion for the program, but Democrats and Republicans have been unable to resolve disputes over the specifics. Democrats want changes to the rules that would allow credit unions and small community banks to participate. Republicans want to simply add the funding without making those changes.  

Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin and Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza urged additions to the funding appropriation as soon as possible in a joint statement on Thursday. 

"By law, the SBA will not be able to issue new loan approvals once the programs experience a lapse in appropriations," the statement said. “The high demand we have seen underscores the need for hardworking Americans to have access to relief as soon as possible.  We want every eligible small business to participate and get the resources they need.”

Links for the Trades

ACHR News: Carrier releases product that could slow Coronavirus spread in hospitals Key takeaway: Carrier Global Corporation launched the OptiClean portable negative air machine, which cleans and removes air potentially contaminated by the virus using HEPA filters to significantly reduce the presence of coronavirus and other contaminants in the air, and flexible ducting to exhaust the filtered air.

Irving, Texas, HVAC company adds hazard pay for employees until May 1 Key takeaway:  Reliant Air Conditioning  in Irving, Texas, has announced a hazard pay increase of 15 percent through the end of May to thank employees for working during COVID-19 outbreak. 


New PPP lenders, ways to cut costs, more in Monday’s COVID-19 links:

ACHR News: 82 ways to cut costs as an HVAC company

Key takeaway: ACHR News says cutting costs is like weeding a garden: If you haven’t done it in a while, now is the time, but don’t neglect fertilizer. 

Small businesses are still struggling to get PPP forgivable loans approved

Key takeaway: Many firms are still struggling to apply for the money as they face technical glitches and confusion about lending terms. (Here’s ServiceTitan’s guidance for the trades, too.)

PayPal, Intuit, Square approved to join small business relief lenders

Key takeaway: Fintech companies have been lobbying for weeks for a seat at the Paycheck Protection Plan table, and Monday three of them were approved as lenders. 


Updates from around the industry:

» More on small business loans: This week’s episode of The HVAC Jerks podcast explains what government programs are available to help small businesses survive and how to get them, as explained by the experts at HARDI. Listen now.

» From HVAC News: Tips for HVAC companies to thrive during Coronavirus outbreak — a list of methods for those in the HVAC industry to weather the crisis. 

» From EGIA: Their new Navigating Turbulent Times webinar series focuses on adapting to the ongoing crisis and challenges in business. The hub for that series, updated weekly with new virtual trainings and live “Ask the Experts” session recordings can be accessed here. The virtual training is for EGIA members, but the weekly Ask the Experts webinar each  Wednesday morning is free.

» The CARES Act, Explained: How to navigate the small business loans within the CARES Act: How To Apply, What To Apply For First, FAQs. Read more here.

» State by State action on Coronavirus — at a glance. (NCSL)

April 6

Paycheck Protection Program Rollout Sputters; One Bank Halts Request Acceptance 

Mike Lousteau, general counsel for ServiceTitan, advised home services leadership on a webinar hosted by the company on Thursday to use their normal bank, to eliminate the need for onboarding and other startup activities, and to apply quickly. 

In the case of the customers of one bank, that movement without haste was particularly important. 

Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest banks, halted the acceptance of PPP loan applications through the CARES Act on Sunday when requests to the bank hit $10 billion. According to BusinessWire, the company was limited in its ability to serve customers by “an asset cap imposed by its regulator due to actions of past leadership.” 

From the BusinessWire article:

“We are committed to helping our customers during these unprecedented and challenging times, but are restricted in our ability to serve as many customers as we would like under the PPP. While all businesses have been impacted by this crisis, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and nonprofits often have fewer resources. Therefore, we are focusing our efforts under the Paycheck Protection Program on these groups,” said Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf.

The PPP, part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act relief package agreed to by Congress and signed by President Trump, was designed as a forgivable loan program to encourage companies with fewer than 500 employees to keep people on the payroll as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the world. The program was to begin last Thursday at midnight, but many banks were not yet ready.

That has made the rollout of the PPP lifeboat sputter so far. Funds were scheduled to be released starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. And with all but essential workers being instructed to stay home in many areas, job losses and economic uncertainty have staggered many. 

Those in the trades are fortunate, in many ways, that safer at home orders have universally declared them “essential businesses” that can remain open for consumer safety reasons. 

Where Sunday’s move leaves Wells Fargo customers in the trades is unclear. The bank focused on nonprofits and small companies of 50 or fewer employees and says loan requests received after Sunday won’t be considered. With many banks accepting applications only from current customers, Wells Fargo, which funded the most small business loans than any bank in the country in 2019, could be shutting out many customers who have not yet applied. 

Other banks have struggled as well, including Bank of America, was slammed for offering PPP loans only to small business customers with business credit cards or loans, not simply checking accounts. They relaxed that requirement in response to customer concerns,  and as of Sunday had accepted 145,000 applications for more than $30 billion in funding.

Small Business Association administrator Jovita Carranza told Newsweek, though, that more than 17,500 loans worth at least $5.4 billion have been given out. And if banks can’t handle the entire load, it’s possible other financial services companies could step into the fray.

Whatever the situation, if your home services company hasn’t yet applied for PPP relief, follow Lousteau’s advice and do it now. 

If you have a home services company and would like to share your PPP loan experience, email us at

April 1

Using Zoom for meetings with your newly remote workforce? Beware hackers

Is your work-from-home home services company using Zoom virtual meeting software? Beware, because hackers might be trying to join. 

Zoom meeting crashers have taken over presentation screens, sharing inappropriate material and causing a general ruckus, but there are ways to protect yourself, and your company, from the Zoom-bombing. 

Inc. Magazine suggests these five methods (and offers step-by-step instructions) for keeping your Zoom meetings hacker-free: 

  1. Disable guest screen sharing. 

  2. Require the host to be present.

  3. Keep your personal meeting ID private.

  4. Use a password.

  5. Require a waiting room. 

Zoom is taking steps to help, too, updating its privacy policy and security practices. But with downloads and usage skyrocketing since the COVID-19 outbreak, that’s not enough for some. 

Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a letter to Zoom asking about its data privacy and security practices, the New York Times reported. The Times, which obtained a copy of the letter, said it expressed concerns about security issues “that could enable malicious third parties to, among other things, gain surreptitious access to consumer webcams.”

Other links and resources

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Johnson Controls institutes furloughs Key takeaway: Johnson Controls, which manufactures HVAC and other building control systems, is implementing two-week furloughs in May because of the financial challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Journal-Sentinel cited an anonymous employee not authorized to speak on behalf of the company. ‘Essential’ businesses still seeing big changes in age of Coronavirus Key takeaway: In Salt Lake City, Dax Steenbergen, marketing coordinator for Whipple Service Champions, a 24/7 plumbing, heating and electrical company, says that although it has been business as usual so far, that could change in coming weeks.

Magazine encourages readers to ask about safety measures. Do you have an answer?  Key takeaway: Does your home services company have a script for CSRs should customers ask what steps you are taking to keep them safe during your service visit to their home? Sarasota Magazine is among the publications recommending consumers ask that question before allowing a worker into their home. 

» Here is the application for the federal relief package’s Paycheck Protection Program

March 30

CISA Updates ‘Essential’ List To Include Plumbing and Mechanical Supply Chains

The U.S. government on Tuesday fortified the supply chain for HVAC companies, plumbers, electricians and others in the trades by adding those workers to the list of “essential” businesses. 

The move protects those who provide supplies and equipment for the skilled trades, which were previously part of the list. 

While the Cyberstructure and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, notes that the list is “advisory in nature,” most if not all of the areas that have instituted “safer at home” or “shelter in place” orders have followed the CISA guidelines.  

The move to add supply chain workers to the essential list came after a recommendation from the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials

From the PHCP Pros website:

“This is big news not only for IAPMO, but the entire plumbing and mechanical industry,” IAPMO CEO GP Russ Chaney said. “By explicitly citing the entire supply chain for plumbing products as essential, the federal government has clarified how important each facet of the industry is, from manufacturer to distributor to plumber.”

Infrared thermometers from HVAC supplier help Coronavirus fight

An HVAC supply company in Mentor, Ohio, had more than 200 infrared thermometers, and they’re being used by Lake County officials to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

The devices, which will allow for the quick screening of individuals for fever, were found at Johnston Supply and cost about $45 each, according to the News-Herald in Willoughby, Ohio. 

“We needed a quick and reliable way to measure people’s temperature, but no one could find the thermometers,” said Lake County Commissioner John Hamercheck. “I refused to give up and found 123 infrared thermometers in the warehouse of an old supplier of mine who is in the HVAC business.”

He found another 98 at another supplier, giving the county 221 in all. 

“The beauty of these thermometers is that they allow you to take someone’s temperature but never actually have to come into physical contact with them,” Jason Wuliger, president of Nachshon Ventures, told the newspaper. “They also provide a nearly instantaneous result. Having these in the county toolbox is a great step forward.”

Top industry links for Tuesday

ACHR News: Tips for transitioning an HVAC company to remote work amid Coronavirus Key takeaway: Tips for helping employees accustomed to working from an office adjust, finding new ways to communicate effectively, cultivating company culture in a remote setting and more.  

ACHR News: Clear Seas Research provides snapshot of HVAC industry concerns Key takeaway: Respondents to a Clear Seas Research Survey are most worried about the current economy and achieving business goals in the next six months, given the COVID-19 outbreak. Respondents report a drop in new business development activity. 

March 30

After Tesla and SpaceX, you’ll never guess what Elon Musk wants to revolutionize next Key takeaway: Elon Musk has begun tackling electric cars and private space flight. Now he wants to revolutionize HVAC systems, according to Specifically, he wants them to be quieter and more efficient. The units would be based on the same technology as the heat pump in the Model Y Tesla. 

Water Trade Association: Industry ‘assured broadly’ it’s essential Key takeaway: The Water Quality Association is working with states that have issued Shelter-in-Place directives to their residents. The WQA says its has been assured that, broadly, water treatment products and services fit within the category of essential services designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which are allowed to remain open for business due to their role in safeguarding America’s drinking water.

HVAC School releases a guide to business during Coronavirus outbreak Key takeaway: With the world’s understanding of the outbreak evolving, this guide will update as new information becomes available. The best resource for general information regarding prevention and care is available at the CDC website.

Goettl Air Conditioning and Plumbing making big gift to employees Key takeaway: Goettl CEO Ken Goodrich is installing $1.5 million in air purification equipment in the homes of employees to thank them for their dedication and hard work. More than 600 employees in the Southwest will get UV germicidal lights. 

Google offers five guiding principles for marketing during the Coronavirus outbreak Key takeaway: Google shares five principles developed internally to evaluate media campaigns during the Coronavirus pandemic. The company’s global VP for Media, Joshua Spanier, shares the five and explains how the company uses them.

March 28

Google pauses reviews amid Coronavirus outbreak

In a note to businesses, Google announced that work-from-home requirements because of the Coronavirus pandemic mean reviews on the platform will be paused for now, and some Google My Business updates will be delayed or unavailable. 

The reviews should be posted when the situation normalizes and the reviews can be properly handled by Google. Other review platforms have not followed suit.

The company is also pausing some software updates, including a new version of Google Chrome.

The City: N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo calls off non-essential construction state-wide

Key takeaway: Cuomo’s shift followed a rush of protest from construction workers and their family members. Significant numbers had begun refusing to show up for work, sources said. Word traveled on Facebook among workers about positive cases on job sites and an electrician’s death.

HVAC News: Contractors seek loans to avoid layoffs amid COVID-19 outbreak

Key takeaway: While contractors want access to financing to get through this period, it carries risk. Many common contractor corporate structures, such as S-corps, put the owner’s personal finances on the hook in the event of a loan’s failure.

March 24

Tips for the trades on staying safe

AHR Expo emailed a two-page tip sheet for those in the industry seeking to stay safe during the Coronavirus outbreak. It’s applicable to other trades, too. 

Beyond the usual tips, some of our favorites applicable to home services companies: 

  • Notify your employer if a family member is sick or experiencing symptoms, someone you have been in contact with becomes sick or tests positive, so that protocols for informing others in the business can be followed. 

  • It’s OK to inquire if anyone at a dispatched job site has recently been sick or symptomatic, and reschedule appointments that are not urgent. Take time to let customers know you are well (and, we’d add, about precautions you are taking).

  • Limit contact with customers to a minimum. Touch only what you must to complete the job. 

  • Booties and gloves are recommended when entering residences. 

  • Take time to wipe down mobile devices, tools and surfaces in homes and in your service vehicle. 

What do the symptoms mean? Wondering how you or your employees can know how to recognize Coronavirus, or know what actions are appropriate based on symptoms? The State of Florida has developed an online self-checker

Which states have ‘safer at home’ orders? This map from the New York Times has details, and a pulldown lets you select your state for specific rules. The trades have been ruled essential businesses and may remain in operation in most if not all areas. 

March 22

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, and has provided further detailed guidance on identifying essential critical infrastructure workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Broadly, DHS included as "essential" all the roles workers in the water treatment industry play in delivering clean, safe water — including technical professionals, service providers, product installers, repair and parts replacement workers and supporting operations workers.

The Water Quality Association is reaching out to governors' offices across the country and has received direct commitments from several state governments recognizing the essential work of our industry. In addition, Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware and True Value have stated to customers that they all consider water treatment as "essential."

» WQA Convention: The WGA Convention, set for April in Orlando, has been cancelled, but the WGA is planning to proceed as a virtual convention. The WGA has a list of FAQs about the convention as well as information about the Coronavirus on its website.

The WQA has been actively advocating for water treatment products and services to be deemed essential services during this outbreak, due to their role in safeguarding America's drinking water.

March 21

Trades exempted as New York, Illinois join California under ‘safer at home’ order 

California expanded a “safer at home” order to the entire state Thursday night, but electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians and many other tradesmen were on the list of exempted businesses because of their role in protecting public health and safety. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom made the announcement of the plan, versions of which had been implemented in the San Francisco Bay area on Monday and announced for Los Angeles earlier Thursday. 

“Staying in our residences, being aggressive about hygiene, and practicing safe social distancing are the most effective ways to protect ourselves, the people we love, and everyone in our community,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a release announcing that city’s move. “Each one of us is a first-responder in this crisis.”

New York joined California in the safer at home order on Friday morning. Friday afternoon, Gov. J.B. Pritzger announced Illinois would join them on Saturday. Such orders were originally referred to as “shelter in place,” but states are finding that that phrase alarms citizens. They do not constitute a total lockdown, as has been seen in China and Italy. 

“We need everyone to be safe, or no one can be safe,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference. 

While “100 percent” of the workforce was included in the New York order, essential services such as those performed by the trades are exempted. The expectation is that order will be standard for states that issue such orders.

Those who do venture out to do business, whether in a safer at home order or not, should exercise best practices and limit contact with customers. 

Dealing with the outbreak, trade style: Every business is challenged by the limitations posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, even those whose services are on the exempt list. ACHR News asked those in the HVAC industry how they’re adjusting

In an email to ACHR News, Sarah Moscatello, owner of The Heat Pump Store in Portland, Ore., summed up her experience.

“I have to deal with a weird thing that I've never had to deal with, which is the coronavirus and how to communicate to my staff and my customers what we're doing to be prepared,” Moscatello said. “And it's just a very strange thing. It's coming down on everybody, and we’re feeling the weight of it.”

What can your business do? In a ServiceTitan webinar on Friday, attended by more than 500 participants, Jason Schlunt, CEO of Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air in the San Francisco area answered questions about operating a home services business during the outbreak. Read the key takeaways from that webinar here

Federal tax filing deadline delayed: The deadline for filing tax returns for 2019, for both individuals and businesses, has been delayed until July 15. Returns can still be filed earlier, but won’t accrue interest or penalties until the new date.

March 18

ACCA manager calls on HVAC pros to be ‘a beacon of truth’ during Coronavirus

Matt Akins, the manager of HVACR education for Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), has posted a blog encouraging HVAC professionals to be “a beacon of truth and good faith” when it comes to educating customers during the Coronavirus outbreak.  

That’s good advice. HVAC companies (and those in all the trades) build their reputation over the years and grow trust by educating customers. Destroying that trust for what we all hope will be a short-term problem with COVID-19 would be incredibly short-sighted. 

Some consumers are already noticing, taking to Twitter to lament the rise of sports talk radio commercials about UV eliminating “airborne pathogens.” 

But what does being a beacon of truth look like? According to Atkins, contractors should educate clients on indoor air quality and the Coronavirus by telling them: 

  • Source control is the first step. Customers should be advised to follow CDC guidelines on social distancing, handwashing, covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, etc. Same as with odor, mold or other contaminants — any virus within a residence or business is your virus. It won’t come from an external airborne source, or from the factory. 

  • The air can spread contaminants. Viruses, including Coronavirus, as well as fungi, mold and bacteria can be spread through the air. Viruses, though, making it difficult for a standard air filter to catch them. 

  • An HVAC system can allow biological contaminants to thrive. Your unit can provide the food (through skin cells in the system), moisture and the absences of ultraviolet light. 

  • An ultraviolet system will not, by itself, keep your home virus- or mold-free. A limited “kill zone” can limit its effectiveness. Viruses can be particularly resistant, or not. And according to ASHRAE, the reduction level for viruses can vary over several orders of magnitude

But an ultraviolet light system can be part of the answer, combined with proper hygiene, social distancing and improved indoor air quality. With customers frightened by Coronavirus, HVAC companies can shine a light, ultraviolet or otherwise, on the facts of indoor air quality.

March 17

Federal relief coming for small businesses, individuals

President Trump has asked Congress for $1 trillion toward Coronavirus relief, including giving the small business administration $50 billion in lending authority and potentially making $1,000 payments directly to U.S. citizens.  

The IRS will also defer, without penalties or interest, tax payments that would have been due April 15 by 90 days for both individuals and businesses. Returns still must be filed by April 15, but payments won’t be due until July 15.

Here’s the link to the Small Business Administration’s Coronavirus loans page. 

According to CNBC, the relief package could be worth over $1 trillion and include up to $550 in direct payments or tax cuts, up to $300 billion in small business assistance, up to $100 billion in airline and industry relief, and $250 billion for making direct payments to Americans.

Trades exempted from ‘shelter in place’

Seven counties around San Francisco ordered residents to shelter in place for three weeks, and they started doing so on Monday. A list published by the Los Angeles Times includes home services companies among those who are exempt from the order. 

Specifically, that includes “plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining safety and sanitation.” Also exempt is the supply chain, which the Times refers to as “businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate.”

Each state will likely have its own list, but in California and, presumably, Pennsylvania, and probably others, the trades would be considered essential. 

That type of reaction could spread to other cities quickly. New York CIty Mayor Bill De Blasio said Tuesday the city should be prepared for possible “shelter in place” order within 24 hours. 

Not sure what it looks like to shelter in place? Here’s what you can, and can’t, do

Business impact: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney expressed concern about the ability of small businesses in the city to withstand the impact of Coronavirus on its own, The Philadelphia Business Journal reported. 

The city, and the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses for two weeks. At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Kinney likened the steps needed to those taken during the Great Depression and World War II. And Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy got right to the point. 

Coronavirus Basics

Reminder on recognizing the symptoms of Coronavirus: 

  • Runny nose

  • Sore throat

  • Cough

  • Fever

  • Pneumonia

  • Difficulty breathing (severe cases)

And here’s a handy checklist from the New York Times on what to do to prepare yourself and to stay safe and healthy.

Hope for a vaccine? The first trial for a vaccine for COVID-19 started on Monday, but widespread implementation could take 12-18 months. Four volunteers each got two doses of the possible vaccine, the beginning of a long process to prove the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. China has also begun vaccine trials. 

Coronavirus guidance for plumbers (IAPMO)

Key takeaway: common sense still reigns supreme. Plumbers are advised to increase the frequency of hand washing and wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water (even longer hand washing time is good practice after contact with wastewater); avoid touching of the face; cover any open cuts or wounds and wear proper PPE. If you personally come into close proximity, or into direct contact with an infected person, immediately report the incident to your supervisor and to your doctor or healthcare provider.

Coronavirus prompts response in HVAC industry (ACHR News)

Key takeaway: For concerned clients, the priority will be keeping their employees, their facilities, and their families safe. Contractors should be aware of what the available technologies are and represent them in an honest and transparent way while noting that disease prevention cannot be solved by HVAC alone.

» Latest updates and news information for the trades about the COVID-19 pandemic at

For the latest information on how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting the trades, check out our Coronavirus blog, our Facebook group for customers and our Facebook group for the industry

If you have story ideas or questions, you can email us. We’d love to tell your story about how you’re helping in your community or dealing with these uncertain times, or just help answer your questions.

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive home services business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000 contractors across the country. Contact our team to schedule a demo.

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