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Coronavirus Outbreak Response

INFORMATION ON THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK RESPONSE

As your federal representative, I want to ensure you and your family have the latest accurate information on the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by the federal government. My office has compiled some information and resources below on efforts being taken at both the federal and state level to keep Georgians safe and healthy.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Resources

Virtual Visits for Coronavirus

Telemedicine and telehealth have really come into the foreground in the fight against coronavirus as these innovations enable doctors to continue serving patients without risk of exposure. Through the Augusta University Health System, patients now can receive free, virtual screenings for coronavirus (COVID-19) 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no appointment required. To receive one, simply visit the AU Health COVID-19 Virtual Screening website or download the AU Health Express Care app for Apple or Android devices. For those without access to technology, please call their COVID-19 hotline at 706-721-1852.

Services, like these, make it safer for physicians and can help slow the spread and flatten the curve through limited exposure. For more information on Augusta University’s virtual screening, click here.


Asymptomatic Georgians may now be tested. A healthcare professional will schedule the test at one of the state’s designated testing locations near your home. Click here for the full list of Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 testing sites, which includes several locations within our district.


COVID-19 Legislation Summaries

As you may already know, Congress has enacted a three-phase response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Phase One, the Coronavirus Preparedness & Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, H.R. 6074, was signed into law on March 6. This first of the three coronavirus-related bills provided $8.3 billion in funding to federal agencies to ensure that they have the resources needed to combat COVID-19. This bill directs funds for purchasing essential equipment and supplies, assisting state and local health departments, making diagnostic tests more broadly available, and accelerating the development of a vaccine. To read a summary of the supplemental spending bill, click here.

Phase Two was the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201. This legislation, signed into law on March 18, bolsters unemployment insurance, provides emergency nutritional assistance to vulnerable Americans, ensures free COVID-19 testing for all Americans, and requires paid sick leave be provided to impacted workers, among other provisions. For a summary of the bill, click here.

Phase Three, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Support (CARES) Act, H.R. 748, is the largest of the three bills and is a massive $2.2 trillion emergency relief bill to support families, workers, and small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act provides grants and loans to small businesses, sends direct checks to individuals up to $1,200, and rushes resources to hospitals and medical providers on the frontlines, among many other provisions. For a section by section summary of the bill, click here. For a one page summary of the bill, click here. 

Phase Three Supplemental, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, H.R. 266, acts as supplemental appropriations to the CARES Act to extend further federal aid related to the present pandemic (created by the SARS-Cov-2 virus and the disease it causes (COVID-19)) and its economic consequences. Specifically, this bill would add $321 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $10 billion for Emergency Economic Injury Disasters Loan (EIDL) grant program, and $50 billion for the SBA Disaster Loans Program, and would provide an additional $75 billion in funding for health care entities and for the development, production, and distribution of testing for current infections and prior exposure to the virus. For a section by section summary of the bill, click here. For a one page summary of the bill, click here.

Small Business Resources

If you or someone you know owns a small business and are in need of economic relief, I encourage you to visit this SBA website to see the variety of new programs that are now available since the passage of the CARES Act.

For example, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is aimed at prioritizing the millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion towards keeping folks employed and covering operating expenses. Small businesses, certain nonprofit organizations, veterans’ organizations, self-employed entrepreneurs and independent contractors could all be eligible.

For a top-line overview of the program, click here.  

If you’re a lender, more information can be found here

If you’re a borrower, more information can be found here

The application for borrowers can be found here

On May 15, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released information about the loan forgiveness application that is part of the Paycheck Protection Program. The documents released will help small businesses seek forgiveness at the conclusion of the eight week covered period, which begins with the disbursement of their loans. Click here to view the application and instructions.

Small businesses across of Georgia’s 159 counties can be eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the Small Business Administration. To apply for these loans, click here

The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is December 21, 2020.

The Small Business Administration's activities and support efforts are rapidly developing in response to Coronavirus. The best public information is available here

For additional information or to obtain help preparing the loan application, please contact the Georgia SBA Offices in Atlanta.

The CARES Act included numerous provisions to support small businesses. For more information on small business provisions in the CARES Act, click here.

The Department of Labor has information for employers regarding paid sick leave requirements, which you can find here

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has put together a Small Business Guide and Checklist, which you can access here.

The University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center has teamed up with the GA Department of Community Affairs and GA Department of Economic Development to provide our small businesses with critical information and assistance – including hosting regional webinars to answer questions and provide support. You can find all of this information by visiting here.

If you're looking for ways your business can help, visit FEMA's website

Assistance to Employees & Families

The Families First Act and the CARES Act provide significant resources for individuals and families. Here is a quick overview of key information on what’s available to folks.

PAID LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS

Generally, employers covered under the Act must provide employees:

Up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of their regular rate of pay, or the applicable state or Federal minimum wage, paid at:

  • 100% for qualifying reasons #1-3 below, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total;
  • 2/3 for qualifying reasons #4 and 6 below, up to $200 daily and $2,000 total; and
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 for qualifying reason #5 below for up to $200 daily and $12,000 total.

A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES

In general, employees of private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers, are eligible for up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons.

Employees who have been employed for at least 30 days prior to their leave request may be eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of partially paid expanded family and medical leave for reason #5 below.

An employee is entitled to take leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, because the employee:

  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons; or 6. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS TO INDIVIDUALS

As part of the CARES Act, the Federal Government will distribute Economic Impact Payments to individuals and families to help bridge the gap on lost wages as a result of COVID-19 business closures. 

Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible. Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return are also eligible and will not be required to file a return. 

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child.

For more information, or to find answers to specific questions related to how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will know where to send your payment, or how to receive a payment if you are not typically required to file a tax return, please click here.

EXPANDED UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

The CARES Act expands the size and scope of unemployment benefits for laid-off Americans during this unprecedented time. The bill makes benefits more generous by adding a $600/week across-the-board payment increase to existing unemployment insurance amounts through the end of July. In addition, for those who need it, the bill provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits beyond what states typically allow.

The expansion in unemployment benefits expires at the end of 2020 in recognition of the temporary nature of this challenge.

Self-employed, gig workers, and contractors are eligible for unemployment.

The bill expands unemployment benefits to cover more workers including self-employed and independent contractors, like gig workers and Uber drivers, who do not usually qualify for unemployment. The bill also includes support to state and local governments and nonprofits so they can offer unemployment benefits to their employees.

Please contact the Georgia Department of Labor to apply or for specific eligibility information.

GEORGIA RESOURCES 

FEDERAL AGENCY RESOURCES

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Help with a Federal Agency

One of the most important things I do as a U.S. Representative is help constituents work through issues with federal agencies. Although I cannot override the decisions made by a federal agency, I can often intervene on a constituent’s behalf to get answers to questions, find solutions, or just cut through the red tape. Below you will find a list of agencies with which I can help you. However, regardless of which agency you need help navigating, you must complete a privacy authorization form to comply with the provisions of the Privacy Act. Please download this printable version of the casework authorization form and then fax or mail to the address listed under the agency from which you are seeking assistance.

Casework Authorization Form