PRESS RELEASE

Congressman Capuano Calls on President Bush and the Small Business Administration to Assist Businesses Impacted by SARS

May 20, 2003 -- Today Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA) joined Rep. David Wu (D-OR) and other Members of Congress in calling on President Bush and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist businesses in those geographic areas, communities and lines of business that have been negatively impacted by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

"Although there has not yet been a confirmed outbreak of SARS reported in the United States, certain businesses have suffered declines in revenues of 30-60% since the outbreak was reported in Asia. Other businesses have had to curtail travel or change their standard practices, often decreasing efficiency or increasing expenses or both," Congressman Capuano and his colleagues wrote in a letter to SBA Administrator Hector Barreto.

Congressman Capuano called on the SBA to make Economic Injury Disaster Loans available to eligible businesses. He also called on President Bush to direct the SBA to take into consideration the economic losses that many businesses have suffered and provide immediate relief. A range of businesses, including Chinese restaurants and travel agencies, are suffering losses.

"Businesses from coast to coast are being severely impacted by the fear of this disease because people are simply staying away from them," stated Congressman Capuano, whose 8th District includes Boston's Chinatown. Chinatowns across the country are also suffering from a loss of revenue as a result of the SARS epidemic. These neighborhoods are tourist attractions in many states, including Massachusetts. In Boston's Chinatown, revenues are down considerably, and the steep decline began in the wake of reports about SARS.

"President Bush and the SBA have the ability to release Economic Injury Disaster Loans to address the economic hardships that many businesses are facing. They should act immediately to offer this small measure of relief. Our businesses are already suffering through a difficult economy. Further loss of revenue because of SARS could make it impossible for some of these businesses to recover," stated Congressman Capuano.

--

Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208