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Update about Coronavirus

March 15, 2020
Press Release

As you know, we are in unprecedented times as the new coronavirus, COVID-19, becomes a global pandemic.

It is important that we all do our part; we should not panic.  During times like these, we must look out for each other and lift up one another.  If we work together to limit exposure and stay healthy, we can contain the spread of COVID-19.  

This unprecedented situation is quickly evolving, and Congress is acting quickly.  In the past two weeks, the House of Representatives already passed –

In addition to crafting the above bills, my colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee and I continue to conduct oversight.  For example, earlier this week, we inquired about the potential impact of COVID-19 on the tax filing season and have an ongoing investigation about the Administration for Children and Families and potential exposure to the virus.  

Unfortunately, during this busy travel season, the United States Capitol, the Library of Congress, and many museums are closed to public tours in order to protect the health and safety of visitors to Washington, D.C.  I apologize for the inconvenience to those who planned to visit the Nation’s Capital during their Spring Break or participate in Cherry Blossom events.

Please know that I will continue to provide supplemental information as it becomes available, and my staff and I remain available to help you in seeking assistance with a federal agency and other legislative matters.   


Travel 

If you are considering travel, please ask yourself whether this trip is necessary or whether it can be delayed.  For example, trips to the pharmacy or grocery store may be considered necessary.  

Please do not use public transportation, use a taxi or rideshare, or fly if you are sick or at risk of catching coronavirus -- including if you are going to the doctor.    

In your car, please remember to wipe down your steering wheel, buttons, door handles (inside and out), seatbelt buckles, and GPS system.  When you fill up at the pump, please remember to use a tissue or paper towel when touching the gas pump or the touch screen.   

If you use public transportation, MARTA is helping riders stay healthy by increasing cleaning on trains and buses and in stations.  More information is available on MARTA's website

Many airlines offered to change or cancel reservations free of charge.  If you are scheduled to fly in the next 72 hours, please visit your airline's website to see how coronavirus might affect you and to change or cancel your flight.  If your flight is more than three days away, please wait until closer to your flight so that airlines assist customers with immediate needs.     

Many cruise ship operators suspended operation due to coronavirus.  Please contact your cruise line for additional details if you have an upcoming trip planned.  The CDC recommends travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel worldwide. 

Information about traveling to and from different parts of the world is changing quickly.  Please refer to the CDC's travel page for the latest updates

Before traveling, please consider: 

  • Is this trip necessary?
  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you live? 
  • Is COVID-19 spreading at your destination? 
  • Will you or your travel companion(s) be in close contact with others during your trip? 
  • Are you or your travel companion(s) at higher risk of severe illness if you do get COVID-19? 
  • Do you have a plan for taking time off from work or school, in case you get exposed to, or are sick with, COVID-19? 
  • Do you live with someone who is older or has a severe chronic health condition? 

Nursing Homes 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced new measures on nursing home safety in the face of the spread of COVID-19.  They include:

  • Restriction on all visitors, effective immediately, with exceptions for compassionate care, such as end-of-life situations;
  • Restriction on all volunteers and nonessential health care personnel and other personnel (i.e. barbers);
  • Cancelation of all group activities and communal dining; and
  • Implementation active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms.

Veterans

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes funding to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests for veterans receiving care through Medical Services or through Medical community.  This includes veterans enrolled in TRICARE.  Please click here for additional information and guidance for veterans

Small Business Assistance

In addition to the tax credits provided for businesses in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Small Business Administration is also offering low interest loans to businesses impact by COVID-19.  Please click here for more information

Elementary, Middle, and High Schools 

Many school systems, charter schools, and private schools in Metro Atlanta have cancelled in-person classes and moved to online or home learning programs.   Public school systems are also offering school lunches at sites throughout Metro Atlanta. 

Please visit your school district's or school's website for specific information about how your children are affected. 

Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities in Metro Atlanta and across Georgia have cancelled in-person classes and moved to virtual classes.   

Please contact your institution for specific information about how you might be affected, including how questions about course requirements, student health resources, distance learning technology, housing, and meal plans. 

Paid sick, family, and medical leave 

Please contact your employer with questions about paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave plans available to you. 

On March 14, 2020, the House passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  The Senate is expected to consider this bipartisan legislation which provides two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave to government employees and workers at businesses with 500 or fewer employees.   

Under the bill, employers will get a 100% tax credit for the paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave they provide for their employees. 

Unemployment 

H.R. 6201, the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act, provides additional resources for States to administer unemployment programs.  If you lose your job or are furloughed, please visit the Georgia Department of Labor for more information about getting unemployment assistance

Census 2020

Please check your mailbox.  Beginning on March 12, 2020, households across the country received an envelope to complete the decennial Census.  You can simply click here to answer the brief questionnaire.  In the State of Georgia, every person counted results in about $1,800 in Federal funding.  It is very important that we ensure a fair, accurate, and full count in Georgia and throughout the United States. 

Earlier this week, I joined my congressional colleagues in asking for an update on Census plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In particular, I expressed concerns for ensuring accuracy of seniors, college students, and the homeless in Metro Atlanta, and I will continue to work on this matter.


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