COVID-19 took the world by surprise and continues to spread across the globe in more than 210 countries and counting.  The outbreak in the United States escalated rapidly, with over 585,000 confirmed cases as of April 14, 2020.  The federal government and a number of hard-hit states were caught off guard, and soon learned that their inventories of personal protective equipment (“PPE”) and other life-saving equipment such as test kits and ventilators were insufficient to keep pace with the pandemic.  The demand for equipment to fight COVID-19 skyrocketed and government and commercial entities have shifted into high gear to respond.  Whether motivated by humanitarian concern or commercial enterprise, many state and local governments, companies and individuals are now looking abroad to procure critical supplies on an expedited basis.  At the same time, many foreign industrial manufacturers are positioning themselves for the high demand of exports by adapting their facilities to produce PPE.  For example, Chinese electric car maker BYD announced on March 13, 2020 it is now the largest face mask factory in the world—less than one month after converting its facilities in response to the pandemic.  In the midst of these exigent circumstances, the global supply chain landscape is replete with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act landmines—and well-intentioned companies hoping to partner with foreign PPE manufacturers could become a casualty if they don’t watch their step.
Continue Reading FCPA Landmines Beneath the Surface of the COVID-19 Crisis

As the Federal Government struggles to secure a sufficient volume of Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) – i.e., gloves, masks, gowns, face shields, etc. – for the nation’s health care workers and first responders, states and localities have begun taking it upon themselves to identify and protect the resources available within their geographic boundaries. These efforts have resulted in a growing number of state and local orders targeted at manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors of PPE and medical equipment.
Continue Reading Seize The Day (and the PPE) – An Overview of State and Local Rules Governing the Possession and/or Sale of Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

To further assist the contractor community with the effects of the unprecedented Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) issued on April 8, 2020 a Class Deviation authorizing contracting officers to use a new clause – DFARS 231.205-79, CARES Act Section 3610 Implementation – to address contractor reimbursement under Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Pub. L. 116-136).  Section 3610 allows agencies to reimburse paid leave, including sick leave, that a contractor provides to keep its employees or subcontractors in a ready state, including to protect the life and safety of Government and contractor personnel, during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Paid leave is reimbursable at the contractor’s minimum billing rates under its contracts, and may be allowed for up to an average of 40 hours per week.
Continue Reading DoD Issues Class Deviation to Address Contractor Reimbursement for Paid Leave Required to Maintain a Mission-Ready Workforce During the COVID-19 Outbreak Pursuant to Section 3610 of the CARES Act

On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201, Pub. L. No. 116-127 (the “Coronavirus Response Act”). Among other measures in response to the current pandemic, this legislation offers manufacturers and distributors of industrial-grade face masks, referred to as “personal respiratory protective devices,” immunity from liability arising from use of the masks in connection with COVID-19. This immunity is retroactive to January 27, 2020, will last through October 1, 2024, and stems from the Federal Government’s effort to respond to the shortage of available masks. The law follows the Food & Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization for emergency use of industrial-grade face masks in health care settings on March 2, 2020.
Continue Reading Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Face Mask Manufacturers and Distributors Protected from Liability for Coronavirus Deaths

On March 25, 2020 the Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill “[p]roviding emergency assistance and healthcare response for individuals, families and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.”  The House and the President are both expected to approve the Bill in short order.  The Bill contains many provisions important to all companies, including government contractors.  Sheppard Mullin’s Government Contracts, Investigations and International Trade Practice Group prepared a summary of the Bill, available here.  In addition, for your reference, we are providing a section-by-section analysis from Capitol Hill, as well as the text of the bill itself.  Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about the legislation or its implementation.
Continue Reading Key Provisions in the Senate Stimulus Bill

The SEC has transitioned to a “full telework posture” in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States.  However, the Commission is taking pains to assure market participants that it is still business as usual at the SEC.  The Commission recently published the SEC Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response on its website, which summarizes, among other things, market monitoring priorities, guidance and targeted assistance and relief, and investor protection efforts the SEC is undertaking in response to the Coronavirus.
Continue Reading The SEC’s COVID-19 Response