2019 Novel Coronavirus Resources and Information
A Message from Rep. Walden:
"There is much we don’t know about how this virus spreads and how long a person who doesn’t show outward signs of the virus can spread it to others. With no treatments available to stop the virus we have to rely on basic public health efforts to stop its spread. The Administration is responding with every tool that Congress has given them. They have the funding, they have the resources, and they are working together with our friends and allies around the globe to provide assistance. Nobody does this better than the United States. Together we are using every bit of science we have and all the public health resources we have to address this and protect the American people. The situation is rapidly changing, but I am receiving frequent updates and will continue to share relevant information as it’s made available." - Rep. Walden
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Paycheck Protection Program:
Personal Protective Equipment:
Economic Impact Payments:
Opening Up America:
FAQ on Legislation Related to COVID-19:
Phase I Package
Q: I’m worried my small business will have to close due to financial issues. Will there be more assistance?
A: Secretary Mnuchin has made clear immediate assistance is on the way. Moreover, H.R. 6047— the first Coronavirus bill— allowed $1 billion in loan subsidies to be made available to
help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture producers, and nonprofit organizations which have been impacted by financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This funding could enable the Small Business Administration to provide an estimated $7 billion in loans to these entities. In addition, provides $20 million to administer these loans.
Testing and Supplies
Q: What has Congress done?
A: H.R. 6047— the first Coronavirus bill— included more than $4 billion to make diagnostic tests more broadly available; to support treatments to ease the symptoms of those infected with the virus; and to invest in vaccine development and to procure vaccines when they are available.
Phase II Package
Q: My small business can’t afford to pay sick leave.
A: H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed by the House — includes a refundable payroll tax credit to reimburse—dollar-for-dollar—local businesses for paid sick leave and family and medical leave wages paid to employees that are affected by COVID-19. Click here for an explanation of who is eligible and for what amounts.
Q: The leave is fully funded by the tax credit, but my small business will be interrupted by cash flow issues.
A: H.R. 6201 provides significant relief to businesses that otherwise may not be able to afford the employee costs associated with coronavirus-related paid leave. Treasury has broad regulatory authority to advance funds to employers to protect businesses concerned about cash flow. In a March 14th press release, Treasury stated that “employers will be able to use cash deposited with the IRS to pay sick leave wages. Additionally, for businesses that would not have sufficient taxes to draw from, Treasury will use its regulatory authority to make advances to small businesses to cover such costs.”
Q: The legislation exempts businesses with more than 500 employees from mandated paid leave while imposing the requirement on small- and medium-sized job creators.
A: The benefits under H.R. 6201 are not an expense for the business, rather it operates as a benefit to both the worker and the employer. The legislation will ensure that every dollar of leave that an employer is required to pay is reimbursed—dollar-for-dollar—by the federal government. It will allow workers to care for themselves and loved ones impacted by coronavirus. Additionally, the credit will help businesses to stay up and running. After all, workers who knowingly show up sick jeopardize the health of coworkers and business operations.
Nearly 90% of businesses with more than 500 employees offer paid sick leave to their full-time workers. To facilitate more universal coverage of paid sick leave, H.R. 6201 provides temporary federal coverage for paid sick and family leave to all employers with fewer than 500 employees.
Q: Does the bill mandate an unaffordable extension of FMLA on my small business?
A: H.R. 6201 as passed by the House permits the Secretary of Labor to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the longer-term mandate where it creates significant hardship.
Mandatory Employer Paid Sick and Family and Medical Leave
Q: How do employees find out if they can receive sick leave?
A: H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed the House— requires employers to provide notice of eligibility to employees. The Department of Labor is required to create model notification within 7 days after enactment of the bill.
Q: How does the H.R. 6201 support states that are experiencing a spike in claim for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19 layoffs and business closings?
A: The bill immediately provides $500 million in emergency administrative grants to increase state capacity to process unemployment applications and make payments. It also makes an additional $500 million available to states that experience a 10% percent increase in unemployment to provide 100% federally funded benefits to provide extra weeks of benefits.
CRS has released a 3-page explainer document that reviews the paid leave and unemployment insurance provisions here.
Testing and Supplies
Q: What has Congress done?
A: H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed the House— requires free access to coronavirus testing, ensuring there are no cost barriers to these tests. It also included $1.2 billion to help cover the costs of testing, including $142 million to directly help our servicemembers and veterans.
The Vulnerable School-Aged and Elderly Population
Q: Where can children and seniors get meals?
A: H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed the House— provided half a billion dollars for WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) to help low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children who lose their jobs or are laid off due to the coronavirus emergency. It also included as waivers to allow child and adult care centers to allow those eligible to take their food to go.
Q: How can seniors get meals delivered?
A: H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed the House— provided $250 million for the Senior Nutrition program in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to provide approximately 25 million additional home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors who depend on the Senior Nutrition programs in their communities.
This funding will provide meals to low-income seniors:
- who are home-bound;
- who have disabilities;
- who have multiple chronic illnesses;
- as well as caregivers for seniors who are home-bound.
Q: How did H.R. 6201 address the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)?
A: H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed the House— included $400 million to assist local food banks in meeting the demand for low-income Americans during the coronavirus emergency.
Q: How did H.R. 6201 address Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) food assistance?
A: H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed the House— allows the Department of Agriculture to approve state plans to provide emergency EBT food assistance to households with children who would otherwise receive free or reduce-priced meals if not for their schools being closed due to the coronavirus emergency.
Q: How can I get child care?
A: H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed the House— provides family leave for caretakers if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the child-care provider is unavailable, due to a coronavirus.
Health Coverage in the States
Q: What assistance has Congress passed to help the states?
A: H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed the House— provided a temporary increase in the federal share of Medicaid spending.
Testing and Supplies
Q: How is the Administration increasing access to personal protective equipment (PPE)?
A: The Administration is working with industry partners to increase capacity. Moreover, the USTR moved quickly to grant tariff exclusions to reduce the cost of a broad range of medical and health-related items, including hospital gowns and headwear, medical gloves, face masks, surgical drapes, biohazard bags, cleansing wipes, anti-microbial linens, and protective glasses.
Q: Can seniors utilize telehealth to stay out of hospitals, but continue to receive necessary care?
A: Yes. Vulnerable seniors on Medicare need care, and providers must be able to focus on the most critical patients, especially during this national emergency. The Trump Administration has quickly acted on Congress’s work in the first coronavirus emergency supplemental to expand access to telehealth. Beginning on March 6, 2020, Medicare will temporarily broaden its policy to pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for seniors across the country. A robust FAQ via CMS— which includes what services are eligible and enforcement details— can be found here.
Social Security Administration
Q: Since all SSA field offices are closed to the public, how do I find the phone number of the local field office?
A: You can find the contact number via the SSA website – https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp
Or you can always call SSA’s 800 number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778)
Q: I need a benefit verification or a new/replacement Social Security card, but my local field office isn’t processing those right now. What do I do?
A: While SSA field offices are prioritizing dire need and benefits related actions at this time, the SSA’s online portal, mySocialSecurity, can be used to obtain a benefit verification and in most states, a replacement Social Security card. Access the portal here: www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount
Other Commonly Asked Questions
Access to Unemployment Insurance
Q: What flexibility is there for states to offer unemployment insurance now to individuals that have lost their job or are unable to work due to COVID-19 crisis?
A: DOL has issued guidance that can be found here, which explains flexibility states have to provide unemployment benefits when:
- An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
To find out details on your state’s unemployment insurance program, visit DOL’s website here.
Also, you can find a list of state-specific FAQ’s about unemployment insurance and COVID-19 here.
Testing and Supplies
Q: Where can my local health officials get more tests?
A: Tests can be ordered from IDT, ThermoFisher, or Roche. All state public health labs are up and running, and LabCorp and Quest are also running tests. CDC continues to update their guidance, which can be accessed here.
The Vulnerable School-Aged and Elderly Population
Q: Can individuals use their SNAP (food stamps) for hot meals, drives thru, restaurants, etc.?
A: Most individuals cannot use their SNAP EBT cards to buy hot or prepared foods. The FNS website offers a list of eligible items here. Some States operate a Restaurant Meals Program, a special State-run program allowing SNAP consumers to purchase restaurant foods at concession prices. Currently, only Arizona and California participate in this program. Additional information can be found here and here.
FAQ CARES Act: Unemployment Insurance
The information below reflects the CARES Act, which was recently signed into law by President Trump. For general information on COVID-19, click here.
The CARES Act -- the economic relief bill signed into law last week -- provides much-needed temporary support for American workers impacted by COVID-19. It dedicates $250 billion to give workers more access to unemployment benefits during this public health emergency.
- Creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
- Expands coverage to more workers, including self-employed, contractors, and furloughed workers.
- Increases by $600/week Americans’ unemployment benefits for the next 4 months.
- Makes available 13 additional weeks of unemployment for those who need it.
- Waives the normal one-week waiting period.
- Includes funding to offset 50% of the costs of state and local government and non-profits for cost of paying unemployment to their workers.
- Supports short-time, work share programs as an alternative to layoffs.
Q: Are self-employed and independent contractors eligible?
A: Self-employed and independent contractors, like gig workers and Uber drivers, are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This also covers workers laid off from churches and religious institutions who may not be eligible under the state’s program.
Q: What about furloughed workers?
A: Yes. States have policies in place to allow furloughed workers to receive unemployment benefits and part-time workers can receive partial benefits. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program also helps workers stay connected to their employer by allowing unemployment benefits for workers who have a job but are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19-related reasons and are not receiving paid leave through their employer.
Q: How much do unemployed workers get?
A: It varies. Unemployment benefits across the country averaged $385 per week in February 2020 but vary significantly by state. Generally, a person’s benefits replace about 1/3 to 1/2 of their wages. The CARES Act provides an additional $600 per week on top of whatever a person would normally receive in their state – limited to the next 4 months (expires July 31, 2020). This will end up providing a higher than average wage replacement rate for low-wage workers.
Q: Can individuals get more on unemployment than they got in their paycheck?
A: The additional $600 in weekly benefits is designed to keep as many workers as whole as possible through the emergency. Some may temporarily receive more benefit than their paycheck -- though that number is very small compared to everyone receiving Unemployment. Of course, people receiving Unemployment do not receive health insurance, retirement or other important benefits that can be available at work. The temporary $600 is only available through July 31.
Q: How long do unemployment benefits last?
A: It varies by state, but most states provide access to unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. The CARES Act provides federal funding for an additional 13 weeks for those who need it. Funding for this expires December 31, 2020.
Q: Are unemployment benefits taxable and do they count as income?
A: Yes. Unemployment benefits are taxable income and they generally count as income when determining eligibility for public assistance programs.
Q: What does unemployment insurance look like for Oregon?
A: To find out how to apply for unemployment in Oregon visit:
A state-by-state summary of how each state determines weekly unemployment benefits amounts can be found here: https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/sigpros/2020-2029/January2020.pdf
For information about how Oregon’s unemployment agency is responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency visit: https://www.naswa.org/resources/coronavirus
Frequently asked questions about the Payroll Protection Program for Farmers and Ranchers
Q: Are agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers eligible for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?
A: Agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers with 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States are eligible.
Farms are eligible if: (i) the farm has 500 or fewer employees, OR (ii) it fits within the revenue-based sized standard, which is on average annual receipts of $1M.
Additionally, farms can qualify for PPP if they meet SBA’s “alternative size standard.” The “alternative size standard” is currently: (1) a maximum net worth of the business not more than $15 million, AND (2) the average net income. Federal income taxes of the business for the two full fiscal years before the date of the application may not be more than $5 million.
Q: Are agricultural and other forms of cooperatives eligible for PPP?
A: As long as other eligibility requirements are met, small agricultural cooperatives may receive PPP loans. Other forms of cooperatives may be eligible provided they comply with all other Loan Program Requirements (as defined in 13 CFR 120.10).
Q: Do H-2A or H-2B workers on my payroll count towards my eligibility and total possible loan amount?
A: Only employees with a principal place of residence in the U.S. count toward eligibility and calculation of the PPP loan amount.
Q: How do sole proprietor farmers provide accurate documentation regarding payroll when they may not take a traditional salary?
A: SBA requires sole proprietors, independent contractors, and other eligible self-employed individuals to provide documentation to the lender that the business was in operation as of February 15, 2020. This documentation may include payroll processor records, payroll tax filings, Form 1099-MISC, or income and expenses from a sole proprietorship. For borrowers that do not have any such documentation, the borrower must provide other supporting documentation to its lender, such as bank records, sufficient to demonstrate the qualifying payroll amount.
Documentation options for payroll tax filings include the following:
IRS Form 941 (quarterly wages); IRS Form 944 (calendar year wages); State income, payroll and unemployment insurance filings; QuickBooks; bank repository accounts; and/or internally generated profit and loss statements. However:
- Nonprofit organizations must include IRS Form 990;
- Sole proprietors must include IRS Form 1040 Schedule C;
- Any entity that filed IRS Form 1099-MISC must include this form;
- Seasonal employers must document the period beginning February 15, 2019 through June 30, 2019
The Coronavirus Aide, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) ACT - PHASE 3
The information below reflects the Phase 3 emergency funding package as passed the Senate and Senate. For general information on COVID-19, click here.
Relief for American Families:
One-time tax rebate check
- $1,200 for an individual, $2,400 for a couple, $500 per child.
- Not reduced for lower income Americans.
- Reduced for higher income Americans, starting at $75,000 or $150,000 per couple.
- Phases out completely for individuals with adjusted gross income of $99,000 or $198,000 for couples.
Expanded unemployment insurance to cover independent contractors, self-employed, and non-profit employees.
Assistance for Small Businesses:
New SBA-backed loan program to help small businesses pay for expenses
- Paycheck Protection Loan: loans taken by small businesses to keep employees on payroll may be forgiven. Loan maximum is the lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times average monthly payroll.
- $350 billion in federally guaranteed loans through private lenders to assist businesses with 500 or fewer employees; may be used to cover payroll, health benefits, mortgage interest/leases, and utilities during the outbreak.
- Small businesses, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, veterans’ organizations, and Tribal businesses are eligible.
- Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed people are eligible.
- Loan forgiveness: For businesses that maintain employees on payroll, they can receive loan forgiveness for 8 weeks of costs related to payroll, mortgages/leases, and utilities.
- Employers that have laid off employees may re-hire them and still qualify.
- To receive forgiveness, businesses will have to work with their lender to justify their payroll was maintained through documentation.
Payroll Tax Deferment: Employers can defer their employer-side payroll taxes for two years. Half of that amount is due by the end of 2021, the remainder by the end of 2022.
Ensuring Access to Care for All Americans
Increased Medical Product Supplies:
- Increases access to testing by allowing Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to stockpile medical supplies like swabs used in COVID-19 testing.
- Permanent liability protection for manufacturers of PPE in the event of a public health emergency.
Faster Approval for Treatments:
- Allows FDA to quickly approve the use of new medication and treatment.
- Prioritize drug applications.
- Requires drug manufacturers to provide additional information when there is an interruption in the supply chain as well as to submit information to FDA regarding shortages.
- Allows Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to more easily partner with private sector on research and development, which includes helping to scale up manufacturing.
- Provides breakthrough therapy designations for animal drugs that can prevent human diseases.
Access to Health Care for COVID-19 Patients:
- Facilitates the use of new and innovative telemedicine technology to protect and contain the spread of COVID-19.
- Expands Medicare telehealth flexibilities.
- Expands Medicare telehealth for home dialysis patients.
- Reauthorizes HRSA grant programs to strengthen rural community health by focusing on quality improvement and access to care.
- Allows Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health clinics to furnish telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries.
- All testing for COVID-19 is to be covered by private insurance plans without cost-sharing, including those tests without an emergency use authorization.
- Allows Medicare beneficiaries to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Medicare Part B with no cost-sharing.
- Medicare Part D plans would be allowed to provide a 90-day supply of a prescription medication during the COVID-19 emergency period.
- Increases Medicare reimbursement rate to assist providers caring for our most vulnerable population.
- Provides $1.32 billion in supplemental funding to Community Health Centers (CHC).
Increases Medical Professional Staffing
- Establishes a Ready Reserve Corps to ensure we have enough trained doctors and nurses to respond to public health emergencies.
- Includes a Good Samaritan provision for doctors who provide volunteer medical services during the public health emergency related to COVID-19 to have liability protections.
- Allows the Secretary of HHS to reassign members of the National Health Service Corps to sites close to the one they were originally assigned, in order to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Directs the Secretary of HHS to strengthen the health professions workforce
Supporting Health Care Providers
- $100 billion for hospitals and health care providers
- Temporarily lifts the Medicare sequester, which reduces payments to providers by 2 percent, from May 1 through December 31, 2020, boosting payments for hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, and home health.
- Increases payments to hospitals treating patients admitted with COVID-19 by 20 percent; this add-on payment is available through the duration of the COVID-19 emergency
- Expands an existing Medicare accelerated payment program for hospitals. With Critical Access Hospitals eligible for an advance payment up to 125 percent, based on net reimbursement represented by unbilled discharges or unpaid bills.
- Delays cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) through November 30, 2020.
- Provides $30.9 billion in emergency supplemental funding to the Department of Education.
Higher Education Assistance
- Higher Education received $14.25 billion to directly support students and institutes of higher education. Half of this funding is directed to support students.
- Waives the requirement for federal aid funds to be returned if students withdrew from the university during the payment period.
- Universities can use emergency financial aid grants to assist undergraduate and graduate students with unexpected expenses as a result of COVID-19.
- Universities participating in work study may make payments to students participating in work study even though affected students were not able to fulfill the students’ work study obligation.
- If the semester was not completed due to COVID-19, that semester will not count against the student for an enrolled semester for subsidized loan or Pell grant semester limits.
- Students are not required to return Pell grants or federal student loans if they withdrew due to COVID-19.
- Student loans are cancelled for this period ONLY, if the student withdraws from the university.
- For Federal Student Loan Borrowers, all payments for federal loans have been suspended through September 30, 2020. All interest has also been suspended until September 30, 2020.
States’ Department of Education Assistance
- Elementary and Secondary Education received $13.5 billion to states to help respond to COVID-19. This funding can be used to meet the immediate needs of students and teachers, as well as improve remote learning.
- The Secretary of Education may provide waivers to State Educational agencies or Indian Tribes to waive:
- End of year testing
- Attendance and long-term goal strategic plans
- Plans for targeted support of underperforming schools
- Report cards
Direct Funding to Combat the Pandemic
Coronavirus Relief Funds
- $340 billion supplemental appropriations:
- $150 billion emergency relief fund for states, cities, localities to fight the pandemic.
- Each state will receive a minimum of $1.25 billion.
- Support for health care workers and hospitals.
- Funding for Personal Protective Equipment.
- Support for our local responders.
- Funding for the research of new treatments and vaccines.
- Support for small businesses.
- Support for local colleges and universities.
- Support for veteran health care.
- Support for DOD response to COVID-19.
- $150 billion emergency relief fund for states, cities, localities to fight the pandemic.
Learn More About 2019 Novel Coronavirus:
- CDC's Information on COVID-19
- CDC's "What You Should Know "
- World Health Organization Information on COVID-19
- Oregon Health Authority COVID-19
- Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracker
- Resources for Veterans
- Guides for childcare programs and K-12 administrators
- Info for Parents and guardians regarding possible school closures
How to schedule a blood donation appointment:
Visit RedCrossBlood.org. Click on “Schedule an Appointment” under the “Donate Blood” tab. From there you can enter your zip code to find a blood drive near you.
Red Cross Blood Donor App
Use Amazon Alexa Blood Scheduling Skill
It’s important to know that the best thing you can do to prevent sickness is adhering to basic health protections:
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- And most importantly, stay home if you are sick to avoid the spread of illness
- Create a Household Plan for COVID-19