Coronavirus Guidance and Resources

Information for Families

Right now, the best thing we can do to contain the spread of this virus is practice social-distancing. This means avoiding any large crowds, minimizing contact with others and staying away from public spaces. By doing this, we can limit the number of new cases, allowing our health care system to treat those who need care most urgently. The Centers for Disease Control recently issues guidance urging Americans to wear cloth masks or face coverings when in public spaces. Information on this guidance can be found here. 

If you have non-medical questions about COVID-19, its effects in our community or resources available, I encourage you to call the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health's coronavirus hotline at (909) 387-3911 or email coronavirus@dph.sbcounty.gov.

Further guidance on how to best care for yourself and your loved ones, including what to do if you feel sick, can be found here:

The CARES Act

On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law. This bill provides resources to help Inland Empire residents navigate the coronavirus crisis.

The CARES Act provides a direct stimulus rebate payment to most Americans to help individuals and families pay their bills and support their local economies. Click here to track the status of your stimulus payment.

  • The bill gives every person who qualifies a payment of up to $1,200 and every couple who qualifies a payment of up to $2,400 and $500 per child.
  • A family of four could receive up to $3,400 in payments.
  • The full award is available to individuals making up to $75,000 and couples making up to $150,000.
  • For people making above those amounts, the rebate is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income over $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples.
  • Seniors on Social Security, individuals on disability, and people who do not file tax returns are eligible to receive rebate payments.The IRS portal for non-filers can be found here.
  • The IRS will deliver rebates automatically to qualifying individuals and families and will be based on the 2019 federal tax returns. If you haven’t filed 2019 tax returns, it will be based on 2018 tax returns.
  • You will automatically receive a direct deposit if you have a bank on file with the IRS, otherwise you will be mailed a check at the address the IRS has on file.
  • You and your children must have a social security number to qualify.
  • These payments do not count as income for other federal program. If you receive a rebate it will not interfere with your eligibility for SSI, SNAP, Medicaid, ACA premium credits, TANF, housing assistance, or other income-related federal programs.

To find out more about the status of your Economic Impact Payment, visit: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment-frequently-asked-questions

Scam Risks

Be wary of scams during the implementation of new federal programs and throughout quarantine. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau urges seniors to take precautions when paying strangers to run errands or provide other services. More information on this can be found here.

In addition, be wary of phone calls requesting personal information such as Social Security number or date of birth. The IRS is not making calls or sending text messages regarding federal stimulus checks or federal tax refunds.  If you receive one of these calls, you are advised to hang up. The AARP’s guidance to help seniors avoid phone scams can be found here. If you are having trouble contacting the IRS, please reach out to my office at (909) 890-4445 for assistance.

Information for Workers

There are options to help working people who have lost their jobs or seen reduced wages or hours as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. These options include Disability Benefits, Paid Family Leave Benefits, and Unemployment Insurance Benefits. Information on California’s options for filing for any coronavirus-related unemployment, leave, or disability benefits can be found here. The Governor of California recently established https://onwardca.org/, a one-stop website with resources for those unemployed due to the coronavirus crisis. 

The CARES Act includes vital support for workers affected by the economic downturn, including:

  • Expanded unemployment insurance that covers 100% of lost wages for the average American worker who lost their job, through a temporary Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation of $600 a week in addition to regular UI benefits.
  • Allowing more workers who have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic to access unemployment benefits, including those who do not normally qualify, like:
    • self-employed individuals
    • independent contractors
    • “gig economy” employees, and
    • individuals who were unable to start a new job or contract due to the pandemic.
  • Immediately extends the existing unemployment insurance program by an additional 13 weeks.
  • Encourages states to eliminate waiting periods for people applying for UI benefits.
  • Provides support to California’s Work Sharing Program, which gives partial unemployment benefits to workers with reduced hours when their employer agree to prevent layoffs.
  • Allows employers like non-profits, tribes, and government entities to provide unemployment insurance to their laid off or furloughed workers at a reduced rate, ensuring these employees have access to UI benefits.
  • Visit https://www.edd.ca.gov/unemployment/ to learn more about applying for UI in California.

Unemployment Insurance Information

Recently, Congress passed legislation to enhance states' unemployment insurance programs and to alter requirements to help workers affected by closures or lay-offs as a result of the coronavirus crisis.If you are temporarily out of work and plan to return to the same employer, you do not need to meet the usual requirement of looking for work while you are collecting UI benefits.

If you are self-employed or an independent contractor and are unable to work as a result of the spread of coronavirus, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance.

You may also be eligible to file a claim if your employer has reduced your hours or suspended operations due to coronavirus. To estimate your weekly benefit amount, use California's Unemployment Insurance Benefit Calculator. To learn more about Unemployment Insurance or file a claim, click here.

Disability Insurance Information

If you are sick with COVID-19 or are in a medically-advised quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19, and you have the necessary supporting medical documentation, you are eligible to file a claim for Disability Insurance. This benefit will help provide temporary income assistance to those who are eligible. Learn more here.

Paid Family Leave Information

If you have to care for a family member who is sick or quarantined as a result of COVID-19 and are unable to work, you may be eligible for paid family leave benefits. You may also qualify if your normal means of childcare have been disrupted due to COVID-19. Benefits amounts are approximately 60-70% of wages depending on income. Learn more about paid family leave benefits here. 

 
Information for Employers and Business Owners

For information San Bernardino County's COVID-Compliant Business Partnership Program, click here.

Federal Reosurces for Businesses:

The CARES Act included over $375 billion in relief to small businesses, and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act included an additional $350 billion to:

  • Create and fund the Paycheck Protection Program to establish forgivable loans to small businesses to keep staff on payrolls and help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities.
    • These are available to most businesses under 500 employees, including non-profits, independent contractors, self-employed business owners, tribal concerns and veterans organizations. Businesses with more than 500 employees may qualify in certain industries.
    • These loans are 100 percent guaranteed, low interest, no fee loans of up to $10 million with repayment deferred for at least six months. Up to 100% of the loan can be forgiven if the borrower has retained the same number of employees as when they received the loan.
    • Existing SBA “affiliation rules” are waived for this program, allowing businesses with multiple locations and businesses that don’t normally meet the definition of “small,” like restaurants and hotels, to quality.
    • You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender to see if it is participating.
    • Businesses may apply through June 30, 2020, but funding is capped so apply early.
      • Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply.
      • Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply.

To find an eligible lender, click here. A list of lenders accepting PPP applications without a pre-existing relationship can be found here:https://sba.app.box.com/v/SBACovidResources 

What if I have to cut wages or hours for my employees?

The Unemployment Insurance Work Sharing Program can help business owners avoid potential layoffs. The program allows employers to retain employees and offset wage reduction with unemployment insurance benefits. To qualify, hours and wages must be reduced by no more than 60%. More information on the program is available here.

What happens to employees who are temporarily laid off?

Employees can file for unemployment benefits as long as they are unemployed and otherwise eligible. Workers who expect to return to their jobs are not required to actively seek work during the time they're unemployed. Contact the Employment Development Department to learn more.

Is tax relief available for my business?

The Governor's office recently issued guidance stating California business owners may request an extension of up to 60 days to file payroll taxes. To learn more about requesting this extension, click here.

The IRS has also delayed the federal tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15, 2020.

How do I protect my employees and customers?

On March 21, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order stating that all non-essential businesses should be closed at this time. You can find a list of businesses considered essential here

If your business is staying open, the State of California has updated guidance on keeping employees and customers safe here.
 

Meal Services for Students

While schools in our region remain closed, many school districts are still offering meal services for the students. Information on each district's meal services is available at the following links:

Social Security Information

All Social Security Administration offices are currently closed, but beneficiaries can continue to expect their regular benefits via mail or direct deposit. To learn more about Social Security benefits during the coronavirus crisis, click here.

Resources for Veterans

To help limit the spread of COVID-19 throughout our veterans' health system, veterans feeling symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, or fever should call the Loma Linda VA at (909) 825-7084 ext. 5085 prior to visiting a medical center. More information for veterans can be found here.

Housing Information

Governor Newsom’s recent stay-in-place order authorized cities and counties to create policies to temporarily halt evictions. San Bernardino has announced the suspension of evictions. The state also provided $100 million to local governments, which will support emergency housing for homeless people affected by COVID-19. For information on homelessness resources in San Bernardino County, call (909) 501-0610,  or email HomelessRFP@hss.sbcounty.gov.

The federal government is also providing relief to many homeowners through the Federal Housing Finance Agency. If your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be eligible to delay making your monthly mortgage payments for a temporary period. If not, I encourage you to reach out to your lender to see what types of accommodations they’re making to help homeowners during this crisis. You can visit FHFA.gov to learn more.

The CARES Act includes several provisions to help families stay in their homes and to help state and local governments respond to the homeless population, including:

  • A temporary, four-month moratorium on evictions for people who receive federal subsidies or assistance, like public housing, Section 8, USDA rental assistance, and Low Income Housing Tax Credits. It also applies to renters in properties that have a mortgage issued or guaranteed by a federal agency, including FHA and USDA, or Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • A temporary, four-month foreclosure moratorium for homeowners with federally backed loans and mortgage forbearance for up to a year, including a prohibition on fees and additional interest during the term of the forbearance.
  • Access to mortgage forbearance for 90 days for multifamily rental property owners with federally backed mortgages if they comply with requirements to halt evictions and late fees for the duration of the forbearance.
  • $4 billion in funding for emergency homeless assistance to enable state and local governments to finance housing and health-related services for the hundreds of thousands of people currently experiencing homelessness.

Information on Student Loan Payments

The Department of Education has granted a temporary deferment of payments on federal student loans for anyone who requests to defer payments. The Department has also set interest rates on all federal loans to 0% for at least 60 days. More information on student loan payments can be found here.

Tax Filing Information

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is extending the tax filing deadline for 2020 to July 15, 2020. More information can be found here.

Answers to frequently asked questions about tax filing during the COVID-19 crisis can be found here.

Food Assistance Information

Through federal funding and grants, local nonprofits are working to make sure there are food assistance programs available in our community. If you live in the Inland Empire and need information on food assistance, visit www.capsbc.org/food-pantries to learn more.

As this situation continues to evolve, I urge you to take the necessary precautions to keep you and your family healthy. Remember, we're all in this together, and will come out the other side stronger than ever. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact our team at (909) 890-4445 or by email at RepPeteAguilar@mail.house.gov. Our staff is still available to help Inland Empire residents during this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance.

Resources for the Undocumented Community 

There are resources available to the undocumented community, including food banks and economic aid for laid-off employees. More information can be found here.

More information regarding resources for your well-being can be found here.

If you have any additional questions, you can contact our team here at 909-890-4445 or contact me here.

Thank you,

Pete Aguilar
Member of Congress