Dear USPA Members,
Considering all that we face, the Association wanted to reach out to address questions that must be on your collective minds. First, we hope this finds you safe and well. Second, we are abundantly aware of the stress the pandemic and the suspension of USPA supported polo is placing on clubs. We are actively reviewing our options to help sustain clubs during this catastrophe. More on this question will be forthcoming as we meet to consider options.
Stewart Armstrong, USPA Chairman
The following information has been compiled with answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” along with programs that may be beneficial to clubs and members during this difficult time. We encourage our members to utilize USPA staff or reach out to your Circuit Governor with any questions or concerns.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can we still ride, stick and ball, practice and teach lessons over the next month?
On March 27, 2020, the Association made the difficult decision to continue the suspension of all USPA Tournaments and Events throughout the month of April. In addition, the USPA strongly advises and recommends that every USPA Club suspends all Club Events for the same time period. A Club Event is defined as any club-level game, league or tournament that is not a USPA National, Circuit or Sanctioned Event. However, a Club Event does not include practices, practice games, clinics, drills, lessons, meetings, exercising horses or similar activities conducted at or by a member club. We encourage clubs to follow the requirements of your local authorities with regards to your polo club operations. Here is an example of state guidelines as relates to polo facilities presented by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.
There are inherent risks involved with continued club activities and we urge caution, however it is up to each club to decide the best course of action. Club operations should be dependent upon each region, adhering to state and local authorities as well as federal restrictions.
The following link regarding equestrian facility COVID-19 Prevention, while not directly endorsed by the USPA, may prove a useful resource for members: https://sway.office.com/JmIvPNmDrT5OhRpd?ref=Link&loc=endofstory.
Is there a timeline for play to resume?
Based on President Trump’s address on Sunday, March 29, 2020 to continue social distancing through the month of April, we cannot see beyond the month of April. Our hope is that polo can resume soon. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.
Will the NOCSAE helmet requirement be pushed back?
Based on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic to NOCSAE helmet manufacturers, the Board will consider a postponement to the effective date at the April Board of Governor’s Meeting.
How will COVID-19 affect the April Meetings?
The USPA will be holding the April Board of Governors Meetings via telephone conference and video rather than in person on April 18, 2020. All committee meetings will be held telephonically and scheduled separately at times convenient to their respective committee. Board members or others will not be asked to attend the Board Meeting in person in order to help ensure everyone’s safe health and protection from the virus.
Can horses get Coronavirus infections?
Yes, they can but it is Equine Coronavirus (ECoV) that causes it, not the novel human Coronavirus COVID-19 that we are fighting at the moment. There is no indication that COVID-19 can infect horses or any other animal at this time. Equine Coronavirus infections have been recognized for about 10 years and are more of a gastrointestinal infection in the horse and not a respiratory infection like COVID-19. The transmission is through manure and not aerosol like COVID-19.
Can I contract COVID-19 from my horses or pets?
At this time, there is no evidence of this kind of transmission. There is also no evidence that your horse or pets can contract COVID-19 from humans. Since there are reports that the human Coronavirus can last several hours to days on certain surfaces, it would seem possible that it could be transmitted on the fur or hair of your pet or horse. At this time, this has not actually been proven but all necessary precautions should be taken.
Can I still receive veterinary care for my horse or pets during “stay at home” orders?
In almost all states, veterinarians are designated as essential businesses. Most small animal clinics or equine hospitals are on reduced staff and clients cannot come into waiting rooms or clinics with their pets or horses. They must stay safely distanced outside or call when they arrive and have a staff member take their pet from the car or get their horse from the trailer. Equine veterinarians also have had to specify new sets of rules to minimize exposure. Usually this includes working in gloves and masks and requesting that only the owner or the owner’s employee be present with the horse when being examined and treated. In all areas of veterinary medicine, the practice of elective procedures and surgeries have been reduced or eliminated for the time being.
Will the USPA be assisting clubs and/or players that were unable to complete/begin their season as anticipated?
The USPA is sensitive to the issue that the clubs and players are facing and are working to develop ideas and programs that may help assist them.
What does the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) mean for club owners, professional polo players and other polo industry professionals?
The CARES Act involves a total of $2 trillion in legislation specific to individuals and industries impacted by COVID-19. Financial support in the form of loans, grants and unemployment support can be found in the highlights and links below. Club owners, professional polo players and other polo industry professionals including independent contractors may qualify for these programs. Executive Director of Polo Development Justin Powers is available for additional questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Coronavirus Emergency Loans – Small Business Guide and Checklist: https://www.uspolo.org/assets/pdf/PPP-Info-Chamber-of-Commerce.pdf
-The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act: https://www.uspolo.org/assets/pdf/SBA-Care-Act-Summary-Senate-Commitee-on-Small-Bus-Entrepreneurship.pdf
-U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Local Assistance: https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance
-States are launching state-specific COVID-19 support websites either through their state website (.gov) or the state’s Chamber of Commerce or Economic Development Entity. A Google search for “[State] COVID-19 Business Support” should take you to the correct site. Examples below:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: A temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program has been established through December 31, 2020, to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, and others). It provides an additional $600.00 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months, on top of what state unemployment programs pay.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): Appropriates an additional $10 billion to the EIDL program for eligible nonprofits and other applicants with 500 or fewer employees. Extends loans of up to $2 million with 3.75% interest rates for small business and 2.75% for non-profits. The EIDLs expanded provisions include: (1) Approval by the SBA based solely on an applicant’s credit score. (2) EIDLS smaller than $200,000 can be approved without a personal guarantee. (3) Borrowers can receive $10,000 in an emergency grant cash advance that can be forgiven. (4) It expands access to sole proprietors or independent contractors, as well as all non-profits including 501(c)(6)s.
Click here for more information on EIDL: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources#section-header-0
Paycheck Protection Program Loan Guarantee: The SBA backs small-business loans through local lenders (currently working with 1800 lenders and plan to expand that given the anticipated demand). Offered to small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, select types of business with more than 500 employees (see eligibility in SBA size standards), 501(c)(3) non-profits with fewer than 500 workers (have to be in operation before February 15, 2020). Self-employed, sole proprietors, freelance and gig economy workers are also eligible to apply (in operation before February 15, 2020). Loans are given up to a maximum of the lesser of $10 million, or 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs. The maximum interest rate under this program is 4% with payments deferred at least six months and not more than 12 months. No personal guarantee or collateral is required for the loan. Part of this loan may be forgiven and not counted as income to you, if it’s spent during the first eight weeks after loan closing on payroll costs, leases, qualified mortgage interest, or utility payments. The balance of the loan not forgiven will be paid out over 10 years. You apply for the Paycheck Protection Loan directly through your local lending institution (FDIC Insured).
Charitable Giving Incentive: Includes a new above-the-line deduction for total charitable contributions of up to $300.00. The incentive applies to contributions made in 2020 and would be claimed on tax forms next year.
Direct Payments: To adults of $1,200 or less and $500 per child. The amount of the payments phases out based on earnings of between $75,000 and $99,000 per person based on 2018 federal tax returns.
CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS RELATED TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC:
- Caused by a respiratory virus spreading primarily through droplets when coughing or sneezing.
- The virus can stay infectious on different surfaces including cardboard, plastic, wood, metal as well as tack for 24 hours or more depending on material. If an infected person coughs or sneezes and droplets land on a horse or dog, it is theoretically possible for another person to be infected by coming in contact with these droplets by touch or petting the animal. This means any and all human traffic throughout the barns should be disinfected as often as possible. Stall doors, water buckets, harnesses etc, could all be contributing factors to spreading the virus if an individual is infected. Anyone who is feeling any symptoms of illness, should be restricted from barns and consult with a physician.
- Time from exposure to developing symptoms is on average 5 – 6 days but can be as long as 14 days. One might be infected without symptoms, but still able to spread the virus to others.
- The chance of dying from the infection is about 2-3%. Higher if you are senior age more than 65 and have underlying heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or compromised immune system.
- Number of cases currently increasing in all states.
- No effective medication or vaccine. Treatment in severe cases is primarily breathing support in the form of oxygen and ventilators.
- No clear evidence of transmission via animals, such as horses, cats, dogs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html