Updates about Coronavirus Response
I write to provide a legislative update regarding the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
As many of you know, Congress recently passed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This third congressional relief package provides $4.1 billion in support to help Georgians during this trying time. Last week, I also underscored the importance of the Internal Revenue Service suspending private debt collection for those who are already experience hardship.
Even though we are staying safe by staying apart, we are in this together. As a community, we can beat this pandemic. It is very important that everyone remains healthy, calm, and positive by following the guidance and safety precautions outlined by health professionals and local authorities.
As always, you may reach out to my office if you need help interacting with a federal agency or have any other legislative questions or concerns. In addition to these newsletters, you may follow updates on my website at https://johnlewis.house.gov/coronavirus.
Below, you will find updates and information on the following items:
- Small Businesses
- Nonprofits and Charities
- Critical Federal Updates and Reminders
- Beware of Fraud and Scams
- 2020 Census
Most Americans are eligible for the rebate payments under the CARES Act. The IRS will administer rebate payments, which do not need to be repaid.
The amount of the rebate depends on family size --
- The payment is $1,200 for each adult individual ($2400 for joint filers), and $500 per a qualifying child under age 17.
- The advance payment of rebates is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income to the extent a taxpayer's income exceeds $150,000 for a joint filer, $112,500 for a head of household filer, and $75,000 for anyone else (including single filers).
Rebates will be delivered automatically—by the IRS—to most Americans who file individual federal income tax returns. When available, electronic direct deposit will be used in place of mailing a physical check. You may find additional information about rebate payments and updates, as they become available, on the IRS website.
The Ways and Means Committee has also released an explainer on how rebate payments work alongside Social Security and SSI payments.
Please know that direct assistance remains a priority for me and many House Democrats; we proposed direct assistance of $1,500 per person and up to $7,500 for a family of five. While this level and many other people-focused priorities were excluded from the compromise bill, they remain a priority for any future legislation.
Many people who lost their job or were laid off are applying for unemployment benefits for the first time. The CARES Act provides additional Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for Americans workers in need of a helping hand.
Notably, the bill also expanded these benefits to give states the option to offer benefits to individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors, and “gig” economy workers. If the State of Georgia chooses to expand the program, it would assist many struggling artists, independent workers, and others who are suffering through no fault of their own in Metro Atlanta
Many Americans work for small businesses. Under the CARES Act, the Small Business Administration (SBA), is responsible for overseeing a variety of loan and grant programs aimed at helping America’s small businesses.
- Here is a thorough guide to assistance in the CARES Act.
- As a result of the CARES Act, small businesses may apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, grants from the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Grants programs and the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, and debt relief for SBA borrowers.
Please share these resources with any friends, neighbors, and small business owners who have questions and concerns. In addition, small business owners should frequently check the SBA website as well as the IRS website for updates.
Throughout Metro Atlanta many nonprofits and charities are worried about whether they can survive these difficult days. The CARES Act included support for nonprofit organizations and charities, which are key employers and service providers are struggling during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Nonprofits should closely monitor opportunities to apply for grants from the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury programs and the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.
- The CARES Act included emergency unemployment relief for nonprofits and pension relief for charities.
- The legislation also permits a temporary, partial $300 above-the-line deduction for charitable contributions and temporarily increase the limitations on charitable deductions to public charities and corporate food contributions in 2020.
Nonprofits and charities should closely monitor the IRS website for guidance as it becomes available.
We must keep in mind that the health of our nation is the top priority in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides daily updates and helpful guidance on how to stay safe and healthy during this time.
In addition, the CDC launched a new website and app with a COVID-19 screening tool and resources to help people protect their health. The website can be found here, and the app can be accessed here.
Under the CARES Act, Congress implemented several funding streams to help the nurses, doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers on the frontlines of the Coronavirus epidemic.
Additional funding was provided to support hospital preparedness, secure protective equipment, and help state and local and governments address the needs of their community. You may find more information on healthcare provisions in the CARES Act here.
In response to COVID-19, several federal agencies are constantly updating their services and practices. On my website, you will find a comprehensive list of Federal, State, and local government COVID-19 resources. Please find below a few notable developments:
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): USCIS temporarily closed its offices to the public. In addition, for applicants and petitioners who received a Request For Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) dated between March 1, 2020 and May 1, 2020, any responses submitted within 60 calendar days after the response deadline set forth in the RFE or NOID will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken.
- Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): The Department of Veterans Affairs released its COVID-19 Response Plan. This plan outlines practices the VA is executing within its medical facilities to keep veterans, staff, and family safe. The VA shifted some outpatient care to telehealth and postponed some elective and non-emergent procedures.
- U.S. Department of State: My staff is working around the clock to help Americans who are attempting to return to the United States. If you have any family or friends who are abroad, please encourage them to register for the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that they will receive information regarding evacuation and other updates as quickly as possible.
- The Centers for Disease Control Self-Check Tool: Last week, the CDC launched a new website and app with a COVID-19 screening tool and resources to help people protect their health. The website can be found here and the app can be accessed here.
Unfortunately, there are some criminals who use these trying times to target individuals. The Federal Trade Commission provides guidance on how to identify and protect yourselves:
- Hang up on robocalls, and do not press any numbers.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits.
- Fact-check all information and ensure it is from a trusted source.
- Know from whom you are buying products and supplies.
- Do not respond to text and emails about checks from the government.
- Do not click on links from sources you do not know.
- Check the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for updates; do not respond to emails from the CDC and/or World Health Organization (WHO)
- Do your homework before donating
You may report a scam or other consumer problems here.
You still have time to complete the 2020 Census. From the comfort of your couch, you still have time to complete the 2020 Census online, by phone, or postal mail. As you may remember, every person counted results in about $1,800 in Federal funding for the State of Georgia.