Coronavirus: Recent Updates on COVID-19
In these unprecedented times, we must take care to ensure that our communities are safe.
As you know, Congress passed two bills to provide assistance to state and local government, health professionals, communities, and workers. Negotiations are ongoing for a third federal assistance package.
Yesterday, I provided guidance for Americans who are abroad and trying to return home. Today’s update is regarding domestic policies for COVID-19, including:
- Georgia Fifth Congressional District Resources
- Resources for Small Businesses
- Educational Tools for Distance Learning
- Social Security
- Unemployment Insurance
- IRS and Filing Your Taxes
- Movement of Goods and People
- How You Can Help
Please know that I will send electronic updates to share information as it becomes available. These newsletters are also archived on my website along with general information about the COVID-19 virus. As we all continue to make adjustments for the sake of healthy communities, I hope to provide resources that may be beneficial to you.
We owe a collective debt of gratitude to doctors, nurses, health administrators, first responders, sanitation professionals, postal and delivery employees, food and commercial workers, educators, and the countless others, who are working tirelessly to keep us safe, healthy, and informed.
Finally, while we all do our part for the betterment of our communities, it is important that we keep a kind heart. We cannot allow this moment in history to encourage or rationalize bigotry. We have come too far. Instead, let us all do our part to reduce the harmful stigmas surrounding this disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides regular updates and guidance for the nation on COVID-19.
- Georgia Department of Public Health: If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. The Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline phone number is (844) 442-2681
Please check these pages for COVID-19 updates from local government authorities:
- Clayton County
- Dekalb County
- Fulton County
- City of Atlanta
- City of College Park
- City of Decatur
- City of East Point
- City of Forest Park
- City of Hapeville
I and other Members of Georgia’s Congressional Delegation supported the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) decision to declare a statewide disaster. This declaration means that small businesses in all 159 counties across the state are eligible for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. This program will provide low interest loans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
You may apply for assistance online through the SBA’s website. You may also find interim guidance for businesses and employers on how to keep employees safe and minimize the spread of the virus. The CDC also provided helpful guidance on how to conduct a risk assessment.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of Labor announced preliminary guidance for two new payroll tax credits to assist small and medium-sized employers with providing paid leave for employees.
While many schools have temporarily closed their doors, tools are available to assist parents with educating their children from home. However, each school or school district fosters its own program on how to adjust to the current pandemic. I recommend contacting your relevant institution for best practices. Talking to children about Coronavirus may be difficult but the CDC has provided an online resource to help parents and those working with children approach the subject. PBS has also provided tips on how to approach the topic.
Although changes have been made in how our students are learning, civil rights must still be protected. The Department of Education has released a fact sheet and webinar to serve as guidance for protecting the civil rights of students with disabilities for schools using online learning tools during the COVID-19 outbreak. Additional resources for schools and school personnel may be found on the Department of Education’s website.
In addition, there are nationwide resources available for distance learning provided by PBS and the Smithsonian.
- PBS Learning Media K-12
- PBS Distance Learning Resources
- Smithsonian Learning Lab (Resources for Distance Learning)
- Smithsonian Resources and Collections
- Smithsonian Museum Specific Collections
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has created a webpage in response to COVID-19 where you may find updates to Administration changes or policies regarding social security benefits. The administration is currently suspending Continuing Disability Reviews as well as processing and collection on overpayments. You may learn about other procedures being suspended on the SSA’s COVID-19 webpage. In addition, many of the SSA’s services may be conducted online through their online services portal.
You may elect to receive text messages or emails when updates have been made to the SSA’s COVID-19 webpage.
In response to strong Congressional concerns, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) implemented several changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. You may find updated notices and responses to coronavirus from the IRS on their website at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
- IRS extended its tax filing deadline to July 15th
- Unfortunately, the IRS temporarily closed its Taxpayer Assistance Centers and discontinued face to face services throughout the country.
- Eligible low-income taxpayers may still file their taxes for free through the Free File Program online.
In addition to the small and medium-sized business assistance, the IRS is also taking steps to defer tax payments up to one million dollars for individuals and businesses. The Department of Treasury will provide resources and updates on coronavirus on their webpage which you may access here.
If you lose your job or are furloughed through no fault of your own, you may qualify for unemployment assistance. Please know that I am currently working with my colleagues to find innovative ways to help the unemployed, including part-time and restaurant workers, the self-employed, and freelance workers with irregular pay.
- What is unemployment insurance? Unemployment insurance (UI) is a state-federal partnership in which states fund benefits out of state trust funds, with federal support for administrative costs. Many aspects of UI are set in state law.
- Who can qualify? Generally, a person will qualify if they lost their job through no fault of their own; earned enough money in the last year or so to set up a claim; and are able to, available to, and looking for work each week that they claim benefits.
- What is Congress doing? H.R. 6201, the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act became law this week. This bill provides additional resources for States to administer unemployment programs and requires they be made available to people who apply.
- How do I apply? Please visit the Georgia Department of Labor for more information or to apply for assistance.
Yesterday, I provided an update for Americans seeking to return home. In addition, I am closely monitoring the announcement and implementation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s guidance regarding travel restrictions and changes with Mexico and Canada.
On Friday, the United States Trade Representative opened a public comment period for Americans to identify products that may help aid the United States response to COVID-19.
Please do not ignore the guidance of health professionals. According to the CDC, the best thing we may all do during this time is stay at home. Practicing social distancing will allow us to prevent the spread of the virus, thus minimizing the continued strain on our healthcare system.
Staying home, washing our hands, avoiding contact with others, and cleaning and disinfecting our space will go a long way.