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coronavirus

As your representative in Washington, I want to make sure you are updated on COVID-19, or the coronavirus. 


Frequently Asked Questions

How does the coronavirus spread?

According to the CDC:
  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
What are steps we should be taking to protect ourselves, our families and our communities?

President Trump, the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released new guidelines to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. We can all do our part to help slow the spread.


Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals and Families

Will there be any tax filing relief?

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced on March 20, 2020 that Tax Day will be moved from April 15 to July 15. 

What should I do if I have coronavirus symptoms or believe I have been exposed to COVID-19?

From the office of Governor Brian Kemp: 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, an urgent care clinic, or your local federally qualified health care center. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.

Is there a State of Georgia coronavirus hotline?

The State of Georgia has a new COVID-19 hotline. Georgians can call 1-844-442-2681 with questions or concerns about the coronavirus.

Will there be rent or mortgage relief?

President Trump has confirmed that the Housing and Urban Development Department is suspending all foreclosures and evictions for homeowners and renters amid the spread of the coronavirus. Additionally, the Federal Housing Finance Agency has ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for any single-family mortgages they back for at least 60 days.

If you need immediate information regarding a loan or mortgage, please contact your lender directly. 

Direct Payments

Will I be eligible for a rebate relief direct payment?

Direct payments will be made to Americans through recovery rebates in amounts of $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples. The amount increases by $500 per dependent and is incrementally decreased for wages above $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples. For people who haven’t filed taxes yet, they would utilize 2018 tax returns.

Are these payments taxable?

No, these payments are not taxable.

Are illegal immigrants eligible for the payments?

No, illegal immigrants are not eligible.

Are seniors eligible for the payments?

Yes, seniors are eligible for the payments.

When will these payments go out?

Secretary Mnuchin recently mentioned that he expected the payments would be going out in a few weeks.

How do I use the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info tool?

For those who don’t normally file a tax return, the process is simple and only takes a few minutes to complete. First, visit IRS.gov, and look for “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here.” Then provide basic information including Social Security number, name, address, and dependents. The IRS will use this information to confirm eligibility and calculate and send an Economic Impact Payment. Using the tool to get your payment will not result in any taxes being owed. Entering bank or financial account information will allow the IRS to deposit your payment directly in your account.  Otherwise, your payment will be mailed to you.

“Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info” is secure, and the information entered will be safe. The tool is based on Free File Fillable Forms, part of the Free File Alliance’s offerings of free products on IRS.gov.

Who should use the Non-Filers tool?

This new tool is designed for people who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who don’t receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits. Others who should consider the Non-Filers tool as an option, include:

Lower income: Among those who could use Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info tool are those who haven’t filed a 2018 or 2019 return because they are under the normal income limits for filing a tax return. This may include single filers who made under $12,200 and married couples making less than $24,400 in 2019.

Veterans beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients: The IRS continues to explore ways to see if Economic Impact Payments can be made automatically to SSI recipients and those who receive veterans disability compensation, pension or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and who did not file a tax return for the 2018 or 2019 tax years. People in these groups can either use Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info option now or wait as the IRS continues to review automatic payment options to simplify delivery for these groups. 

Social Security, SSDI and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries with qualifying dependents: These groups will automatically receive $1,200 Economic Impact Payments. People in this group who have qualifying children under age 17 may use Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info to claim the $500 payment per child.

Students and others: If someone else claimed you on their tax return, you will not be eligible for the Economic Impact Payment or using the Non-Filer tool.

Has Congress increased unemployment assistance?

Yes, the phase 3 package approved by Congress and signed by President Trump establishes a pandemic unemployment assistance program to cover those who not eligible for regular compensation or extended benefits under state or federal law or if an individual is not covered under other programs in this package. This includes independent contractors, self-employed individuals, and those who are unable to work or telework as a result of the coronavirus public health emergency.

How much will be paid out under this expanded unemployment assistance program?

The bill provides an additional $600 per week payment to each UI or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipient for 4 months beginning April 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020.

Will the unemployment assistance be extended?

Yes, the phase 3 package provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment are exhausted.

Is this unemployment assistance program retroactive?

Yes, it is retroactive to late January.

Can I quit my job to receive the unemployment increase?


No, it is not true that someone can quit and claim unemployment.

Did Congress approve free coronavirus testing?

Yes, Congress has passed legislation ensuring all tests for COVID-19 are covered with no out of pocket costs.

Does the bill approved by Congress and signed by President Trump provide individuals more compensation on Unemployment Insurance than they receive via employment?

The enhanced UI is designed to keep as many as whole as possible. Some may temporarily receive more benefit than previous payment – though that number is very small relative to the number of people who will be filing UI claims in next few weeks.

Right now, states pay between $250-500/week in unemployment and they base it on a percentage of a worker’s paycheck, usually between 1/3 to 1/2 of prior earnings. An additional $600 will put some workers at or just above their usual paycheck – this increase only lasts until July 31st. Additionally, the worker must have been laid off by their employer, so they can not voluntarily “opt-in” by quitting. The main point of the overall bill is to provide a lifeline to small businesses, so they don’t have to lay people off in the first place. Without this bill, the UI situation would be much worse.

From the Georgia Department of Labor:      

PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance):

This includes individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, or those with limited work history who will not qualify for state unemployment benefits.

The GDOL is modifying its current online unemployment application adding new questions to better identify those individuals who may be eligible for PUA.  This modified application is expected to be available on Monday, April 13, 2020. Once the application is received, it will take several weeks to process.

If you have already filed a claim with the GDOL and will be eligible to potentially receive benefits under this program, you do NOT have to refile your claim.  These individuals will be identified and sent an email with a link to provide additional information for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program.

What about relief for college students?

The bill provides direct financial relief to many student loan borrowers by pausing their monthly repayment requirements for six months with no penalty.

It codifies the Trump administration’s decision to pause collections on defaulted student loans through September 20, 2020. 

It gives schools the flexibility needed to direct federal resources through the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program to students struggling the most in this environment.

The bill also provides schools the flexibility to ensure this interrupted or unfinished semester does not stop their students' ability to continue class in the future. Students will not be on the hook for financial aid distributed to them when the pandemic forced them to drop out mid-term. 

Finally, employers can provide a tax-free student loan repayment benefit that wouldn’t have to be included as income.

What about K-12 schools?

The bill waives requirements for states to test students in reading, math, and science, and identify low-performing schools.

Additionally, schools will be able to continue using Title I funds for next year.

Schools districts will also be given more flexibility in how they utilize block grant funding.

Is Planned Parenthood eligible for SBA loans and grants?

No, Planned Parenthood is not eligible for SBA grants or loans.

Frequently Asked Questions for Seniors

How will the coronavirus impact nursing homes?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced critical new measures designed to keep America’s nursing home residents safe from the coronavirus. The new measures CMS announced, which supersede prior CMS guidance, constitute the agency’s most aggressive and decisive recommendations with respect to nursing home safety in the face of the spread of COVID-19.

They include:
  • Restricting all visitors, effective immediately, with exceptions for compassionate care, such as end-of-life situations;
  • Restricting all volunteers and nonessential health care personnel and other personnel (i.e. barbers);
  • Cancelling all group activities and communal dining; and
  • Implementing active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms.
If you have questions about a specific nursing home facility, please contact the facility directly.

What does the bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump do for older Americans and their health needs?


The bill provides additional flexibility for the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure vital services are provided to our nation’s seniors.

If I have no income or am on a fixed income, such as receiving Social Security, am I eligible for the direct payments?

Yes, there are no earned income or tax liability requirements to receive the rebate checks. 

Will I continue to receive my Social Security benefit or Supplemental Security Income payments during the pandemic?

Yes. No matter if you receive your Social Security benefits through direct deposit or via mail, you will still receive your monthly payment. While Social Security offices are closed to the public out of an abundance of caution during the coronavirus pandemic, if you need help from the Social Security Administration, most services are still available online or over the phone.

Visit https://www.ssa.gov/onlineservices/ for those services. 

Are there any changes to how my retirement savings will be treated?

Older Americans that are subject to mandatory minimum distributions from their retirement accounts will be able to keep their savings invested instead of being forced to cash out to draw on that capital without penalty, which would be suspended for 2020. 

The bill also waives the 10% penalty on coronavirus-related early distributions from 401(k)s and IRAs, which applies to distributions made at any time during 2020.

Those aged 65 and over are at an increased risk of serve illness from Coronavirus, what is being done to reduce my exposure to the virus?

The bill contains a significant expansion of telehealth by allowing patients to see doctors with whom they don’t already have a relationship, connecting folks on home dialysis with providers, and allowing federally qualified health centers and rural health centers to participate. The bill also expands telehealth services for home health and hospice.

Will I be able to get tested for Coronavirus?

All coronavirus testing is free with no out-of-pocket costs.

Will Medicare cover a vaccine for the Coronavirus?

Yes. At this time, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus but Medicare Part B will fully cover a coronavirus vaccine without any cost-sharing and drugs will be covered by Part D. 

What else is Medicare doing?

You can learn more about what Medicare is doing to help during the pandemic here: https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus

Frequently Asked Questions for Medical Professionals

Is there a hotline for health care professionals?
 
For questions about testing and getting supplies, please call 1-888-INFO-FDA. It’s manned by Public Health Commissioned Corps officers who can assist.

How does the legislation recently approved by Congress and signed by President Trump address the PPE and COVID-19 testing shortage?

The bill provides $16 billion explicitly for the national stockpile. This funding will go towards medical supplies, personal protective equipment and medicine.

How will Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) be distributed to hospitals and local providers?

The President has made the strategic national stockpile of PPE available to each state’s governor. Providers and hospitals that are running short on PPE, or need more, can place a request with their respective state health department to receive PPE from the strategic national stockpile. Each state has the authority to distribute the PPE.

How does the bill help individuals with mental health needs?

EXPANDS TELEHALTH SERVICES: Opens up expanded telehealth services in the Medicare program, allowing seniors across the nation to receive any current telehealth approved service (not just COVID related services), including mental health and substance abuse services. This will allow seniors to receive critically important mental health and substance use disorder services in their homes without having to forgo care or risk infection by entering the community.

IMPROVED CARE COORDINATION FOR PATIENTS WITH SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER: Ensures that health care providers can more effectively care for patients with substance use disorders (especially those with comorbid mental illness and other chronic diseases) by better aligning the treatment of substance use disorder medical records subject to 42 CFR Part 2 with HIPAA.

REAUTHORIZES THE EXCELLENCE IN MENTAL HEALTH DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM: Reauthorizes and expands Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, which provide critical services both in person and via telemedicine to tens of thousands of vulnerable Americans with suffering with mental health or addiction issues.

PROVIDES ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (SAMHSA): Provides a total of $425 million for SAMHSA to be used to support grants to address suicide prevention, mental and behavioral health priorities for tribes and tribal organizations, Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, and other emergency substance use disorder or mental health needs in local communities.

Specifically:

• Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics: $250 million to increase access to mental
health care services.
• Suicide Prevention: $50 million to provide increased support for those most in need of
intervention.
• SAMHSA Emergency Response Grants: $100 million in flexible funding to address mental health, substance use disorders, and provide resources and support to youth and the homeless during the pandemic.

Will emergency service providers be eligible for telehealth provisions?

Emergency service providers are still required to respond to the scene if they are dispatched through a 911 emergency call. However, emergency service providers will be able to use funds from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund in order to authorize treatment in place and alternative destinations of care besides the hospital for ground ambulance responders. These emergency service providers should be able to use telehealth tools and capabilities in order to treat patients on site or determine if they require care at an alternative site. These concepts of treatment in place and alternative destinations of care for emergency responders are found in the Administration’s Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) Model released last year aimed at providing greater flexibility for first responders and patients.

Why aren’t phone calls – which are low-tech and easier than video conferencing – eligible for telehealth reimbursement?

We understand that seniors may have issues with video conferencing for telehealth purposes, particularly in areas where there is a lack of broadband, especially rural areas. We all realize how important keeping our vulnerable seniors out of the community setting is during this public health emergency. To make up for this discrepancy, the package includes funding to expand broadband services for the purposes of telehealth.

Is the VA eligible for relief funds?

The bill provides a total of $19.6 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans programs. In addition, if VA is called upon by the federal emergency coordination council to care for non-Veterans, it will be reimbursed through the Public Health and Social Security Emergency Fund. Funding provided in the bill for the PHSSEF assumes VA will be reimbursed approximately $4 billion.

How will funds be distributed to hospitals, including rural hospitals?

The bill appropriates $100 billion to hospitals and other health care providers. We believe HHS will hire a third-party claims processor, similar to a Medicare Administrative Contractor. This processor will use criteria, outlined by HHS, to determine (1) eligibility of provider, (2) justifiability of amount, (3) amount of claim, (4) payment, and any other information determined by HHS. We also assume there will be an administrative appeals process. We do not know specifics yet as this is a new program. The bill provides wide latitude to the Administration to determine program parameters.

Additionally, the bill provides money for providers through Medicare:

• Allows for accelerated Medicare payments. This will help hospitals, especially those facilities in rural and frontier areas, get the reliable and stable cash flow they need to help them maintain an adequate workforce, buy essential supplies, create additional infrastructure, and keep their doors open to care for patients. 
• Creates a 20 percent add on payment for inpatient treatment.
• Delays the sequester until the end of this calendar year, which gives providers both money and certainty.

Will nursing homes be able to access the same account as hospitals?

Nursing homes may be eligible, but exact levels are unknown. Significant parameters will need to be issued by HHS on the process, information, and eligibility.

Can specialty hospitals, like children’s hospitals, access the same accounts as other hospitals?

Yes, but administrators of such hospitals must track in detail all losses that are attributed to the coronavirus pandemic and report them to the Secretary of HHS. The losses must be attributed to the coronavirus. 

If I get a coronavirus test but have a private health insurance, will I have to pay out of pocket for it? 

No, all Coronavirus tests are fully covered without any cost-sharing.

If I get tested for Coronavirus and have Medicare or Medicaid, will I have to pay out of pocket for it?

No, all Coronavirus tests are fully covered without any cost-sharing.

If patients don’t have insurance, can they still receive a coronavirus test without paying for it?

Anyone can receive a coronavirus test with no cost-sharing, no matter your insurance status. 

I use my local community health center. Will I be able to get tested there?

It is recommended to call your community health center to see if they are actively testing individuals experiencing symptoms. Community health centers have received additional funds, and should be available to provide medical services pending local health situations. 

Does the recently passed legislation allow me to use my Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) for additional pharmaceutical products?

Individuals with a high deductible health plan who have a HSA can use it to cover telehealth services prior to reaching your deductible. Individuals with a HSA or FSA can now use those accounts to purchase over-the-counter medical products without a prescription from a physician. 

I have prescription drug benefit under Medicare, but my prescription is running out. I want to practice social distancing without having to go get my refill as often. Can I receive a longer refill if my doctor doesn’t order it?

Medicare Part D plans can now provide a 90-day supply of prescription medicine if you request it to be filled.

CARES Act Provider Relief Fund

President Trump is providing support to health care providers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 27, 2020, the President signed the bipartisan CARES Act that provides $100 billion in relief funds to hospitals and other health care providers on the front lines of the coronavirus response. This funding will be used to support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19 and to ensure uninsured Americans can get testing and treatment for COVID-19.

Immediate infusion of $30 billion into healthcare system

Recognizing the importance of delivering funds in a fast and transparent manner, $30 billion is being distributed immediately – with payments arriving via direct deposit beginning April 10, 2020 – to eligible providers throughout the American health care system. These are payments, not loans, to health care providers, and will not need to be repaid.

Who is eligible for initial $30 billion?

- All facilities and providers that received Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursements in 2019 are eligible for this initial rapid distribution.

- Payments to practices that are part of larger medical groups will be sent to the group's central billing office.

- All relief payments are made to the billing organization according to its Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

- As a condition to receiving these funds, providers must agree not to seek collection of out-of-pocket payments from a COVID-19 patient that are greater than what the patient would have otherwise been required to pay if the care had been provided by an in-network provider.

- This quick dispersal of funds will provide relief to both providers in areas heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and those providers who are struggling to keep their doors open due to healthy patients delaying care and cancelled elective services.

How are payment distributions determined?

- Providers will be distributed a portion of the initial $30 billion based on their share of total Medicare FFS reimbursements in 2019. Total FFS payments were approximately $484 billion in 2019.

- A provider can estimate their payment by dividing their 2019 Medicare FFS (not including Medicare Advantage) payments they received by $484,000,000,000, and multiply that ratio by $30,000,000,000. Providers can obtain their 2019 Medicare FFS billings from their organization's revenue management system.

As an example: A community hospital billed Medicare FFS $121 million in 2019. To determine how much they would receive, use this equation: $121,000,000/$484,000,000,000 x $30,000,000,000 = $7,500,000

What to do if you are an eligible provider?

- HHS has partnered with UnitedHealth Group (UHG) to provide rapid payment to providers eligible for the distribution of the initial $30 billion in funds.

- Providers will be paid via Automated Clearing House account information on file with UHG or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

- The automatic payments will come to providers via Optum Bank with "HHSPAYMENT" as the payment description.

- Providers who normally receive a paper check for reimbursement from CMS, will receive a paper check in the mail for this payment as well, within the next few weeks.

- Within 30 days of receiving the payment, providers must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agreeing to the terms and conditions of payment. The portal for signing the attestation will be open the week of April 13, 2020, and will be linked on this page.

- HHS' payment of this initial tranche of funds is conditioned on the health care provider's acceptance of the Terms and Conditions - PDF, which acceptance must occur within 30 days of receipt of payment.  If a provider receives payment and does not wish to comply with these Terms and Conditions, the provider must do the following: contact HHS within 30 days of receipt of payment and then remit the full payment to HHS as instructed.  Appropriate contact information will be provided soon.

Is this different than the CMS Accelerated and Advance Payment Program?

Yes. The CMS Accelerated and Advance Payment Program has delivered billions of dollars to healthcare providers to help ensure providers and suppliers have the resources needed to combat the pandemic. The CMS accelerated and advance payments are a loan that providers must pay back. Read more information from CMS.

How this applies to different types of providers?

All relief payments are being made to providers and according to their tax identification number (TIN). For example:

- Large Organizations and Health Systems: Large Organizations will receive relief payments for each of their billing TINs that bill Medicare. Each organization should look to the part of their organization that bills Medicare to identify details on Medicare payments for 2019 or to identify the accounts where they should expect relief payments.

- Employed Physicians: Employed physicians should not expect to receive an individual payment directly. The employer organization will receive the relief payment as the billing organization.

- Physicians in a Group Practice: Individual physicians and providers in a group practice are unlikely to receive individual payments directly, as the group practice will receive the relief fund payment as the billing organization. Providers should look to the part of their organization that bills Medicare to identify details on Medicare payments for 2019 or to identify the accounts where they should expect relief payments.

- Solo Practitioners: Solo practitioners who bill Medicare will receive a payment under the TIN used to bill Medicare.

Priorities for the remaining $70 billion

The Administration is working rapidly on targeted distributions that will focus on providers in areas particularly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, rural providers, providers of services with lower shares of Medicare reimbursement or who predominantly serve the Medicaid population, and providers requesting reimbursement for the treatment of uninsured Americans.

Ensuring Americans are not surprised by bills for COVID-19 medical expenses

The Trump Administration is committed to ensuring that Americans are protected against financial obstacles that might prevent them from getting the testing and treatment they need from COVID-19.

As announced in early April, a portion of the $100 billion Provider Relief Fund will be used to reimburse healthcare providers, at Medicare rates, for COVID-related treatment of the uninsured. As a condition, providers are obligated to abstain from "balance billing" any patient for COVID-related treatment.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires private insurers to cover an insurance plan member's cost-sharing payments for COVID-19 testing.

President Trump has also secured commitments from private insurers, including Humana, Cigna, UnitedHealth Group, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield system to waive cost-sharing payments for treatment related to COVID-19 for plan members.

Frequently Asked Questions for Veterans

As a veteran, will I be eligible for a rebate relief direct payment?

Yes, Direct payments to Americans through recovery rebates in amounts of $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples.

• Amount increases $500 per dependent.
• Amount is incrementally decreased for wages above $75,000 and $150,000 thresholds.
• For those who haven’t filed taxes yet, they would utilize 2018 tax returns.

Are these payments taxable?

No, these payments are not taxable.

Will my existing VA benefits affect my ability to receive this payment?

No, any existing benefits will not have an impact for an individual or family to receive this check if they meet the income thresholds.

Are illegal immigrants eligible for the payments?

No, illegal immigrants are not eligible.

Are seniors eligible for the payments?

Yes, seniors are eligible for the payments.

UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

Does legislation passed by Congress include additional unemployment assistance?

Yes, it establishes a pandemic unemployment assistance program to cover people who not eligible for regular compensation or extended benefits under state or federal law or people not covered under other programs in this package.

• Includes eligibility for independent contractors and self-employed individuals who are unable to work or telework as a result of the coronavirus public health emergency.
• Requires self-certification that the individual is able to work.

How much will be paid out under this expanded unemployment assistance program?

The bill provides an additional $600/week payment to each UI or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipient for 4 months beginning April 1 through July 31, 2020.

Will the unemployment assistance be extended?

Yes, the bill provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment are exhausted.

Is this unemployment assistance program retroactive?

Yes, it is retroactive to late January.

VA ASSISTANCE

I am a homeless veteran and/or work with homeless veterans.  What is the government doing to keep up with the demand for homelessness resources during this time? 

Congress relaxed rules for homeless veterans using VA programs to transfer from homelessness to permanent housing by eliminating rules about absentees as well as allowing increasing per diem rates in that program. 

I am new to the Veterans Directed Care Program but cannot physically go into the VA for an appointment at this time.  Will I lose my eligibility? 

Newly enrolled veterans may use telehealth so they can remain at home during the crisis instead of going directly to the VA.

I have a prosthetic limb and cannot travel to the VA at this time because of the coronavirus.  What are my options? 

Veterans with prosthetics may go to a local provider rather than the VA during the pandemic.

I need to make my mental health appointment but I can’t physically go into the VA at this time.  What should I do? 

Low income or rural veterans may receive a subsidized rate from their phone company to use a tele-mental health system provided by the VA. 

I live or work in a State Veterans Home, but people are leaving because of the pandemic.  Will we be able to remain open? 

The legislation approved by Congress and signed by President Trump protects State Veterans Homes by waiving the requirement that they have 90% occupancy or more to keep receiving support from the VA. It also supplies State Veterans Homes with masks and other protective equipment and supplies to keep veterans safe. 

Will my home health provider put me at risk for getting the coronavirus? 

The VA will provide masks and protective equipment for all home care workers. 

Will the VA be able to handle all of the extra demand for services during this time? 

Legislation approved by Congress and signed by President Trump provides $19.6 billion for the VA in order for the VA to increase access to many of their programs and facilities that are currently receiving higher demand than normal. 

What should veterans do if they need to see a doctor?

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), any Veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should immediately contact their local VA facility. VA urges Veterans to call before visiting – you can find contact information for your closest VA facility.

Alternatively, Veterans can sign into My HealtheVet to send a secure message to VA or use telehealth options to explain their condition and receive a prompt diagnosis.

Upon arriving at VA, all patients will be screened for flu-like symptoms before they enter in order to protect other patients and staff. A VA health care professional will assist you with next steps once this screening process is complete.

For additional information from the VA on COVID-19, please click here.  

Frequently Asked Questions for Businesses

SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE – PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

Is there a new small business assistance program?

Yes, the Paycheck Protection Program includes small businesses, non-profits, veteran-owned businesses, and tribal organizations.

What are the loan amounts?

The maximum loan amount will be the lesser of $10 million dollars or 2.5 times the average monthly payroll based on the prior year's payroll.

Who is eligible?

These are the eligible organizations:

• Small business concerns, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, a 501(c)(19) veterans organization, or Tribal business concern described in section 31(b)(2)(C) that has fewer than 500 employees.
• Sole proprietors and independent contractors.
• Any business concern that employs not more than 500 employees per physical location of the business concern and that is assigned a NAICS code beginning with 72, for which the affiliation rules are waived.
• Affiliation rules are also waived for any business concern operating as a franchise that is assigned a franchise identifier code by the Administration, and company that receives funding through a Small Business Investment Company.

How is the loan size determined?

Depending on your business’s situation, the loan size will be calculated based on dates in business and payroll. The maximum loan size is always $10 million.

Who should I contact about the Paycheck Protection Program and how should I apply?

Reach out to your lender or banker as they will have delegated authority to administer loans.

For additional information and the application, click here. 

What would self-employed individuals and independent contractors need to do for eligibility?

They will need to submit payroll tax filings reported to the Internal Revenue Service, Forms 1099–MISC, and income and expenses from the sole proprietorship.

Are there defined uses for the assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program?

Yes, loan uses include payroll costs, group health benefit costs, employee salaries, commissions, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, and interest.

What costs are eligible for payroll?

• Compensation
• Vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave
• Allowance for dismissal or separation
• Group health care benefits, including insurance premiums
• Retirement benefits
• State or local tax assessed on the compensation of employees

What is the loan term, interest rate, and fees?

For any amounts not forgiven, the maximum term is 10 years, the maximum interest rate is 4 percent, zero loan fees, zero prepayment fee (SBA will establish application fees caps for lenders that charge).

Will payments be deferred?

Yes, there will be automatic deferrals of principal, interest, and fees for six months.

Is there a process for the loans to be forgiven under the Paycheck Protection Program?

Yes, in order to be forgiven, the loan assistance must be used for designated purposes, including payroll, rent, mortgage expenses, or utilities. You must apply through your lender for forgiveness on your loan and provide documentation they outline.

What happens after the forgiveness period?

Any loan amounts not forgiven are carried forward as an ongoing loan with max terms of 10 years, at a maximum interest rate of 4%. Principal and interest will continue to be deferred, for a total of 6 months to a year after disbursement of the loan. The clock does not start again.

How does the PPP loan coordinate with SBA’s existing loans?

Borrowers may apply for PPP loans and other SBA financial assistance, but they cannot be used for the same purposes.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

What is an EIDL and what is it used for?

EIDLs are lower interest loans of up to $2 million, with principal and interest deferment at the Administrator’s discretion, that are available to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses.

Where do I apply?

Georgia has received an official statewide disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). This declaration will provide assistance in the form of SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to impacted small businesses in all 159 counties in Georgia.

Small business owners can click here for information and the application.

What are the SBA loan amounts?

Up to $2 million for a small business for normal business obligations and expenses.

What are the interest rates?

3.75% – small businesses
2.75% – nonprofits

Will they be deferring any payments?

One year deferment on the first payments for loans.

What should applicants do with the physical disaster section?

Applicants can ignore the physical questions - leave them blank. Applicants should focus on the economic injury areas only.

Will expanded assistance opportunities be available?

If small businesses need one on one assistance, call the SBA customer service center: 1-800-659-2955

Email assistance: disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

Are self-employed Americans eligible for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan?
Yes

**For additional information about SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans, please click here.

Who is eligible for an EIDL?

Those eligible are the following with 500 or fewer employees:

• Sole proprietorships, with or without employees
• Independent contractors
• Cooperatives and employee owned businesses
• Tribal small businesses 
• Small business concerns and small agricultural cooperatives that meet the applicable size standard for SBA
• Most private non-profits of any size

Can I get both an EIDL loan and a PPP loan?

Yes, if they are used for different purposes.

Are there direct assistance grants through the SBA in this bill?

Yes, for people applying for EIDL loans, the bill outlines Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants of up to $10,000 to provide sick leave, payroll, increased costs, rent/mortgage, and repayment obligations.

Would the EIDL grants need to be repaid if I don’t end up receiving a loan under EIDL?

No, it wouldn’t have to be repaid even if you are denied an EIDL loan.

SMALL BUSINESS DEBT RELIEF PROGRAM

This program will provide immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. Under it, SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. This relief will also be available to new borrowers who take out loans within six months of the President signing the bill into law.

Which SBA loans are eligible for debt relief under this program?

7(a) loans not made under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), 504 loans, and microloans. Disaster loans are not eligible.

How does debt relief under this program work with a PPP loan?

Borrowers may separately apply for and take out a PPP loan, but debt relief under this program will not apply to a PPP loan.

I am unfamiliar with SBA loans, can anyone help me apply?

Yes, SBA resource partners are available to help guide you through the loan application process. You can find your nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or Women’s Business Center here.

TAX RELIEF

Will there be any tax relief for small businesses? 

Businesses that file as corporations can postpone estimated tax payments due after the date of enactment until October 15, 2020. Employers and self-employed individuals can defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees.

Employee retention credit – how will this work? 

The Employee Retention Credit provides a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in wages per employee (including health benefits) paid by certain employers during the coronavirus crisis.  The credit is available to employers: 

• whose operations were fully or partially shut down by government order limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to coronavirus, or 
• whose quarterly receipts are less than 50% for the same quarter in the prior year. 

Wages paid to employees during which they are furloughed or otherwise not working (due to reduced hours) as a result of their employer’s closure or economic hardship are eligible for the credit. However, for employers with 100 or fewer employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit, regardless of whether they are furloughed or face reduced hours.

Is there any relief on taxes or expenditures from prior years? 

Yes, there are relaxed limitations on a company’s use of losses from prior years. NOLs are currently subject to a taxable income limitation, and they cannot be carried back to reduce income in a prior tax year. Congress now allows a loss from 2018, 2019, or 2020 can be carried back five years.

Is there any relief on interest for business expenses? 

Yes. Congress temporarily increased the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns, by increasing the 30-percent limitation to 50 percent of the taxable income for 2019 and 2020.

Are there any tax incentives to retain my employees? 

Congress created a refundable payroll tax credit of up to $5,000 for each employee on the payroll when certain conditions are met. The entity had to be an ongoing concern at the beginning of 2020 and had seen a drop in revenue of at least 50 percent in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2019. 

COUNSELING & TRAINING

Will there be some form of counseling or assistance available?

Yes, to find a local resource partner, visit https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/find/

Do I have to pay for counseling and training through SBDCs, WBCs, and MBDCs?

Counseling is free and training is low-cost with these partners. 

Resources for Farmers

What has Congress done to provide relief for rural communities and farmers?

Legislation approved by Congress and signed by President Trump includes a number of small business provisions designed to help farmers stay in business and take care of their employees during this difficult time. These include provisions that allow farmers to work with their trusted farm credit institutions for the purposes of securing payroll tax loans, along with 1-year deferrals, 100% guarantees, and low rates.

The bill provides $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), the funding mechanism for all major USDA programs. It also appropriates an additional $9.5 billion to USDA specifically to respond to losses due to COVID-19. 

Additional funding is provided for USDA agencies that are on the front lines of responding to COVID-19, including the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). 

The bill also includes $100 million to provide financing for rural broadband through the ReConnect program, and $25 million for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program to provide grants for equipment and connectivity improvements.

DIRECT PAYMENTS

Will I be eligible for a rebate relief direct payment?

Yes, Direct payments to Americans through recovery rebates in amounts of $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples.

• Amount increases $500 per dependent.
• Amount is incrementally decreased for wages above 75,000 and $150,000 thresholds
• For people who haven’t filed taxes yet, they would utilize 2018 tax returns.

Are these payments taxable?

No, these payments are not taxable.

Are illegal immigrants eligible for the payments?

No, illegal immigrants are not eligible.

Are seniors eligible for the payments?

Yes, seniors are eligible for the payments.

AGRICULTURE PROGRAMS

How will the $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) be distributed to different programs?

The $14 billion for CCC is intended to ensure that all major USDA programs continue operating as they normally do and anticipate increases in the demand for these programs during the pandemic. USDA is still determining how the funds are specifically allocated. 

What will the additional $9.5 billion to respond to the Coronavirus be used for?

The $9.5 billion will be used by Secretary Perdue to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, including providing support for agricultural and food service production and the distribution of foodstuffs. USDA is in the process of determining what specific help it will be able to provide with these funds.

Will USDA and FSA services still be available during the pandemic? 

Yes. USDA Service Centers will remain open but by phone appointment only. Program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be work with agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible. Field work, including conservation planning assistance, will continue with appropriate social distancing.

Producers can continue to apply for farm loans and get their current loans serviced. Farm loans are critical for annual operating and family living expenses, emergency needs, and cash flow in challenging times like now.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency is relaxing the loan-making process and adding flexibilities for servicing direct and guaranteed loans to provide credit to producers in need.

Producers can continue to apply for disaster assistance and safety net programs. This includes the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus, Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs, Farm Storage Facility Loan program, and commodity loans.

You can find out more about what USDA is doing during the pandemic by visiting https://www.farmers.gov/coronavirus.

Can I still get H-2A help during the pandemic? 

USDA and DOL have identified nearly 20,000 H-2A and H-2B certified positions that have expiring contracts in the coming weeks. There will be workers leaving these positions who could be available to transfer to a different employer’s labor certification. 

Employers should be aware that all statutory and regulatory requirements continue to apply.  Employers are encouraged to monitor www.travel.state.gov for the latest information and should monitor the relevant Embassy/Consular websites for specific operational information.

Please visit https://www.farmers.gov/manage/h2a for more information. 

Frequently Asked Questions for Local Governments

Is there relief funding for state and local governments?

Yes, Congress established a $150 billion coronavirus relief fund specifically for states and local government to address the spread of the coronavirus.

Who is eligible?

States, eligible local governments, Tribal governments, DC, and the territories are eligible for funding.

How is the funding distributed?

The Funding is paid based on a state share of the total population, subtracting any amounts paid to local governments. 

• No state can receive less than $1.25 billion. 
• $3 billion is reserved for the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. The amount for each is based on population. 
• $8 billion is reserved for Tribal governments after consultation. 

What is the timing for the distribution of funds to states?

Funds must be paid within 30 days of enactment.

How is funding allocated to states?

States receive an amount equal to their relative population, deducting any amount that may have been paid to units of local government within the state who applied for funding independent of the state. 

What are the criteria for local governments?

A unit of local government is defined as any county, municipality, town, or other unit of general government with a population greater than 500,000. 

If my local government’s population is under 500,000 people, how will they receive money?

Smaller units of local government will need to work with their states to access funding.

How much can local governments (>500,000 people) receive if they apply directly?

In no event will the total amount allocated directly to local units of government exceed 45% of the state’s allocation. 

A local government may receive 45 percent of the amount provided to the state times its relative population to the state.

Ex: Town Population      X            45%*(total amount for state)
      State Population

How is the population metric determined?

It is the most recent year for which data is available from the Census Bureau.

What can the funds be used for?

Funds may only be used to cover the costs associated with necessary expenses incurred as a result of the coronavirus diseases 2019 public health emergency, not accounted for in the most recently approved state budget, for calendar year 2020. The fungibility of certain aspects of public budgeting and the general sorts of revenue shortfalls that are expected in the current economic climate makes it unclear how restrictive those limitations will be in practice. 

Are there other programs that states and local governments can take advantage of?

Yes, 80% of the over $300 billion in funding in the CARES Act goes out through existing grants to support state, local, tribal, and community grantees.

Some programs included are:

• Community Development Block Grants – $5 billion
• Homelessness Grants – $4 billion
• Transit Agencies – $24 billion
• Airports – $10 billion 
• Assistance to Tribal Communities (Indian Health Service, Bureaus of Indian Education/Affairs, and Food Distribution) – $1.7 billion
• Disaster Relief Fund – $45 billion
• Emergency Food and Shelter Grants – $200 million
• First Responder (FIRE) Grants – $100 million
• Emergency Management Program Grants – $100 million
• Byrne Justice Assistance Grants – $850 million
• Economic Assistance Development Grants – $1.5 billion
• Manufacturing Extension Partnership Grants – $50 million
• Child nutrition – $8.8 billion
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – $15.8 billion
• Community Services Block Grant – $1 billion
• Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – $900 million
• Child Care and Development Block Grant – $3.5 billion
• CDC Funding for State Public Health Departments – $1.5 billion

If local businesses are asking about assistance programs, where should I point them?

The bill contains hundreds of billions of dollars in direct assistance to small businesses. This is administered primarily through the Small Business Administration and your private lenders.

Resources for Teachers, Schools and Parents

The Smithsonian

The Smithsonian offers millions of digital educational resources from across the Smithsonian museums, research centers, libraries, and archives geared specifically toward students and teachers. Educators, parents and schools looking for free, quality lessons, activities and recommended resources can visit https://learninglab.si.edu/distancelearning.

If you have ideas for Smithsonian educational resources, you can get in touch with their team by emailing learning@si.edu.

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has a wide variety of resources for teachers geared toward helping teachers to use the Library's online primary sources in their lesson plans including:
  • By the People: By the People provides students of all ages with opportunities to explore unique historical documents from the collections of the Library of Congress. Deciphering and transcribing these documents can build students' skills in close reading, examining historical context, and building interpretive consensus. For specific teaching ideas related to this interactive site, see: https://crowd.loc.gov/for-educators
  • Teaching with the Library of Congress Blog: Visit the Teaching with the Library Blog for easy-to-use learning activities built around Library primary sources. The Categories list on the left hand side can help you find your topic quickly, and new posts are added a couple of times each week! See: http://blogs.loc.gov/teachers/

The Science, Space and Technology Committee

The Science, Space and Technology Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives has put together this list of a wide variety of resources for teachers related to STEM learning. Here you can find STEM learning resources from NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation and more!

The National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art has a number of resource on their homepage.

Other resources include the NGAkids Art Zone app for iPadLook Together Activities, and Eye for Art, which offers a different way to engage with the Gallery's collection.

For teachers-both professional teachers and those taking on this role with children at home-they offer hundreds of lesson plans organized by grade level and theme, an online course about teaching critical thinking through art, and an Uncovering America module series.

Other Resources

Verizon, the Weather Channel and AT&T have all announced initiatives and resources geared towards helping students and teachers successfully engage in distance learning.

The Weather Channel is dedicating time during each hour of live programming at :50 past the hour to share educational content. Scientific explanations on everything from how raindrops and rainbows form, to why thunder happens, how to stay safe in all kinds of weather, and more. 

Updates on International Travel

From the Department of State: The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. 

U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.  Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.  Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips.  If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.

The State Department has created a 24-hour public hotline for Americans abroad who are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. For callers in the U.S. and Canada, the number is 888-407-4747. For those dialing from overseas, the number is 202-501-4444. Travelers are also strongly encouraged to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and make it easier to locate them in an emergency.

Additional Resources

As the situation continues to develop, click here for some helpful resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/coronavirus.

The Georgia Department of Health has created an online resource for the coronavirus in Georgia. Click here for this resource.

For information and alerts on the coronavirus for U.S. citizens abroad or considering travel abroad, click here.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, click here for more information and how to report it. 

If you need assistance or have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact our office in Savannah at 912-352-0101 or in Brunswick at 912-265-9010.

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