Coronavirus Guidance and Resources

 

Information for Families

As you may know, COVID-19 hospitalizations in our region recently reached an all-time high. Right now, the best thing we can do to contain the spread of this virus is to continue staying home as much as possible, wearing masks in public settings, and avoid gathering in groups or with people not part of our immediate households. The Centers for Disease Control recently issued 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:

Recent Congressional Action

In December, Congress passed H.R. 133, a comprehensive legislative package that funds the government in Fiscal Year 2021 and provides relief to the American people during the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Some of the bill’s key provisions include:

  • Direct payments of up to $600 for each adult and child in a household, including citizens in mixed-status families;
  • $25 billion for rent-assistance programs and a federal ban on evictions through January 2021;
  • $13 billion for nutrition assistance programs;
  • $10 billion for child care assistance to help child care providers open;
  • More than $300 billion in small-business assistance funding through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), including dedicated funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs);
  • An extension of Unemployment Insurance and an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits;
  • Tax credits to support employers providing paid sick leave;
  • An expansion of Pell grants that will reach more than 500,000 new students and ensure more than 1.5 million students can access the maximum benefit;
  • Funding to accelerate the distribution of vaccines and ensure vaccines are free for everyone.

Economic Impact Payments

Congress recently approved a second round of direct payments to most Americans. Adults who meet the requirements for these payments will receive $600 via direct deposit or a mailed check, depending on their tax filing status.

To track the status of your payment, use the IRS’s Find My Payment tool.

If you do not receive a payment but were eligible for one, you will be able to claim your payment when you file your taxes for 2020.

For more information, 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 included 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

Congress recently passed legislation to invest more than $300 billion into small business assistance programs. This includes funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), including dedicated funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs).

PPP

  • Eligibility: Businesses with 500 employees or fewer can access PPP loans.
    • The new bill allows businesses with 300 employees or less and who have seen business revenues fall at least 25% to get a second round of PPP.
    • The new relief bill expands eligibility to nonprofits, local newspapers and TV and radio broadcasters.
  • Forgiveness: Originally, loans would be forgiven if the business spends at least 75% of the loan on payroll costs. The other 25% can be used to pay for rent, mortgages or utilizes.
    • In June, the Paycheck Protection Act reduced the amount that needed to be spent on payroll to 60% for forgiveness.
    • The new relief bill also allows funding spent on PPE and health equipment to protect employees, human resources or accounting equipment, or “supplier costs” to be eligible for forgiveness. For restaurants, supplier costs can include lost perishable food items.

 

EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program)

  • Eligibility: Small businesses, nonprofits, and some agricultural businesses with 500 employees or fewer.
  • Funding cap: In May 2020, the SBA capped loans at $150,000. Before this cap, loans could be provided up to $2 million. This is because EIDL established to provide immediate relief to small business following localized disasters and was not intended to be a country-wide disaster loan program.
  • EIDL Advance: The CARES also created a new Emergency EIDL Grant program, also called EIDL Advance.
    • SBA can provide EIDL advance loans up to $10,000. These funds have to be used to retain employees, provide paid sick leave or pay for rent or mortgages
    • EIDL Advance loans are forgivable.

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.

Vaccine Distribution Information

The county is currently distributing vaccines based on a tier system. More information on vaccine distribution cam her 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