Here are the day’s top coronavirus stories from the team at Bloomberg Law:
- KEEP WAITING: To frustrated gig workers flooding state support lines and legal aid offices, wondering why they can’t get the unemployment assistance, most states’ messages come down to some version of “wait” or “keep waiting.” The difficulty in getting the aid flowing highlights a convoluted federal-state unemployment system that won’t be ready to go live with the expanded benefits until at least the second half of April.
- INSURANCE FIGHTS: Law firms such as Reed Smith and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman are poised to benefit the most from an expected wave of insurance coverage lawsuits triggered by the pandemic. The two firms are already considering shifting commercial litigators as they position themselves to bring lawsuits against insurers for denying claims on business interruption policies while many of their Big Law peers are conflicted out because of their industry clients.
- WET SIGNATURES FADE: The wet signature requirement, that a document be signed in-person and with ink, could see its demise as social distancing practices take hold across the globe. Covid-19 has accelerated the already growing use and acceptance of electronic signatures to such an extent that wet signatures may soon become relics for attorneys.
Editor’s Top Picks
Record Bankruptcies Predicted in Next Year as Unemployment Soars
Bankruptcies related to Covid-19 shutdowns will set records in the next 12 months, according to Edward Altman, the professor emeritus at New York University’s Stern School of Business who developed a widely used method called the Z-score for predicting business failures.
Worries Arise That Coronavirus-Prompted Rule Changes Go Too Far
State and federal governments are using the ongoing global pandemic to pursue deregulation and political priorities, a trend that has prompted protests. Some of the rule changes are based on common sense—like allowing hand sanitizers of up to 12 ounces on airplanes—while others are seen as threats to public health and safety.
Pharmacy Workers Turn to Makeshift Virus Protections on the Job
Major pharmacy chains are starting to dole out masks and gloves to employees and moving to install plastic glass partitions as the pandemic spreads. In the meantime, some pharmacists and technicians are relying on their own makeshift barriers and protective gear to stay safe on the job.
Fiscal 2021 Spending Bills Move Forward Despite Virus Disruption
Top House appropriators have received preliminary top-line spending figures for their fiscal 2021 bills and are remotely drafting legislation to fund the government past Sept. 30, even as the coronavirus complicates their work.
Pot, Liquor ‘Essential’ to Keep Up Spirits, Revenue During Virus
State officials from Washington to Delaware have deemed alcohol and recreational marijuana as essential services that are allowed to continue while many other businesses have to close. By putting those sales in the same category as groceries, the politicians avoided a constituent revolt and the governments got to keep collecting the taxes.
CPAs Mobilize to Save Small Clients, Protect Their Firms
Panicked, small-business owners don’t want to miss a chance to borrow some much-needed cash to cover rent and payroll for the next eight weeks—especially if the low-interest loan eventually would be repaid by the federal government. But they have questions, and little guidance to help them in their urgent rush to start submitting applications for the Payroll Protection Program.
INSIGHT: Business Interruption Insurance Wording Is Key to a Covid-19 Claim
The exact wording is key in figuring out what a company’s insurance policy covers during the pandemic. Resolution Economics LLC advisers say insurance experts agree recovery depends on the terms of the business interruption coverage and any specific carve-outs for viruses.
INSIGHT: To Zoom or Not to Zoom—Privacy and Cybersecurity Challenges
Zoom daily meeting participants have grown from 10 million in December 2019 to 200 million in March. Troutman Sanders attorneys examine some of the privacy and cybersecurity issues raised with the remote conferencing platform and suggest ways to avoid problems using it for meetings.
Latest Court Closings
Click here for updates on how federal courts are operating during the pandemic.
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Editor’s Note: The Bloomberg Law news team has been closely covering the legal, regulatory, business, and tax implications of the coronavirus pandemic. This daily email highlights the top stories of the day, across practice areas. To unsubscribe, please adjust your Bloomberg Law newsletter settings. For assistance, contact our help desk at 888-560-2529 or email@example.com.