The outbreak of the coronavirus is a serious, global public health concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and White House have released social distancing guidelines to control spread of the disease. The guidelines, which were initially in place for 15 days, have now been extended until the end of April.
Individuals and small businesses across our country have made tremendous sacrifices in an effort to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. In response, Congress has passed critical legislation to provide direct financial relief to American families, support small businesses and their employees, as well as help our hospitals and medical professionals combat this virus. Read the details of the legislation here.
Below you will find helpful resources related to this legislation and other coronavirus response measures. Additionally, for more information on the latest health developments, please visit CDC.gov/coronavirus. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office at 202-225-3026. I am more than happy to help work through your individual circumstances!
I. Help For Individuals
Direct Financial Assistance
The CARES Act authorized direct financial assistance for individuals up to $1,200 per individual and $500 per child. For the vast majority of Americans, no action is needed to obtain the assistance because it will be distributed autmoatically; however, there are some unique circumstances that require action. The following resources are available to explain the details of how this money will be distributed:
- Updated Guidance To Receive Individual Assistance (Updated April 2, 2020)
- Direct Financial Relief FAQs (Updated April 2, 2020)
The CARES Act also included $250 billion in expanded unemployment insurance benefits. While Florida's unemployment system is administered by a state-level agency, not the federal government, I am in daily contact with the State of Florida doing all that I can to urge them to fix the widespread issues with the Florida unemployment system. Congress has provided state agenices with an addition $1 billion to fix these issues, which are absolutely unacceptable. You may also find these resources helpful:
- How To Apply
- Unemployment Insurance FAQs (Updated April 1, 2020)
- Please do not hesistate to call us at 202-225-3026 with any questions
Help For Veterans
Veterans who are concerned they may have symptoms of coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath) are encouraged to contact:
- 1-877-741-3400 or visit va.gov/coronavirus
- You can also contact our local West Palm Beach VA medical center by calling 561-422-8262
- Additional resources for veterans are available here
Help With Medicare
The following changes have been made to assist those with Medicare:
- Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
- Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations related to COVID-19.
- These benefits also apply to those with a Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Telehealth services have been expanded to give you access to healthcare providers from the safety of your own home.
- Click here for a full list of Medicare resources.
Help With Social Security
The following information may be helpful to those receiving social security benefits:
- Social Security payments will continue to be delivered as scheduled.
- Local offices are closed to in-person visits, but help is still available by phone at 1-800-772-1213.
- Additional information is available here regarding stimulus check distribution for social security beneficiaries.
- Click here for a full list of resources from the Social Security Administration.
How To Help
If you are in a position to help those who have been hurt by this economic downturn, here are a couple resources:
- Volunteer Florida is the State of Florida’s official portal to learn more about opportunities to support those in need in our state.
- FEMA has information online about how you can help, including where companies can donate medical supplies, equipment and services to assist with the COVID-19 response.
II. Help For Small Businesses
Both the federal government and the state have resources available to help small businesses. For an overview of the federal resources available, click here. For an overview of the state resources, click here. Additional resources you may find helpful are below:
Paycheck Protection Program
The CARES Act created the Paycheck Protection Program and allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed. This section of the bill provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses, which will then be paid off by the federal government if the loan is used to maintain payroll (and certain other eligible expenses). Here is some information you may find helpful:
- For a top-line overview of the program, click here.
- Updated Guidance On The Paycheck Protection Program (Updated April 3, 2020)
- Small Business Relief FAQs (Updated April 3, 2020)
- If you’re a lender, more information can be found here.
- If you’re a borrower, more information can be found here.
- A sample application for borrowers can be found here.
- Find a lender using the SBA's online database.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The Small Business Administration is also offering low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans to small businesses and private non-profit organizations that have been financially impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Small businesses in Florida who meet the eligibility criteria are qualified for this assistance as of March 18:
- Loans are available up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses.
- Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
- You can see if your business qualifies and apply for assistance at disasterloan.sba.gov.
Small businesses are also eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available following a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. More information is available here.
Florida Emergency Bridge Loans
Governor DeSantis has also activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program:
- Florida small business owners with 2 to 100 employees impacted by COVID-19 are eligible for short-term, interest free loans up to $50,000.
- Learn more and apply at floridadisasterloan.org.
III. Federal Guidelines and Resources
Updates From The White House
President Trump announced the following updates:
- The following guidelines are in effect until April 30, 2020:
- Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.
- If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.
- If your children are sick, keep them at home. Do not send them to school. Contact your medical provider.
- If someone in your house has tested positive for the coronavirus, keep the entire household at home. Do not go to work. Do not go to school. Contact your medical provider.
- If you are an older person, stay home and away from other people.
- If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition that can put you at increased risk, stay home and away from other people.
- Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people
- Do not travel unnecessarily, especially on airlines
- Work or engage in schooling from home
- Do not visit nursing homes
- The deadline to file federal taxes has been extended to July 15 with no penalty.
- Federal student loan interest and payments have been temporarily suspended.
- Medicare patients can now be evaluated, as well as receive preventative health screenings and other services without leaving home through expanded telehealth services for no additional charge.
Guidance From The CDC
The CDC has also issued guidance on staying healthy:
- Make sure you wash your hands.
- Refrain from touching your face.
- If you’re feeling sick, stay home.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Additional information is available here.
More tips are available on the CDC’s website.
The federal government has made several changes to taxes for this year, including:
- A refundable payroll tax credit is available to reimburse small businesses for paid sick, family and medical leave paid to employees that are affected by COVID-19.
- The deadline to file federal taxes has been extended to July 15 with no penalty.
- More information can be found at irs.gov/coronavirus.
The following resources provide guidance on travel:
- The CDC has issued a domestic travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The CDC is urging residents of these states to refrain from non-essential domestic travel.
- A complete list of CDC travel notices can be found here.
- International travel guidance issued by the Department of State is available here.
- State Department or specific country advisories are listed here.
Other Important Resources
You may find these additional resources helpful:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: This website gives updates on the coronavirus in the United States, gives best practices for prevention and treatment and offers background information on the virus.
- The World Health Organization: This website gives information on the global status of the spread and response to coronavirus.
- The State Department: This website offers resources and background on the coronavirus, specifically in China. For those considering travelling abroad, please review the State Department’s list of travel advisories.
- The Food and Drug Administration: This website offers information on the FDA’s actions to care for and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including information for laboratories to get access to diagnostic tests.
- The Small Business Administration: This website has resources for small businesses, including guidance for business-owners and information on government contracting, exporting assistance, the economic injury disaster loan program and access to capital.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs: This website offers guidance for veterans and information about the VA’s response to COVID-19. Veterans going to the VA should be advised that they need to arrive early, due to screening procedures.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: This website has resources for Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP coverage of coronavirus, including waivers and frequently asked questions.
IV. Florida Guidelines and Resources
Updates From The Governor
In order to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus across the state of Florida, Governor DeSantis has issued the following guidelines:
- An executive order implementing a “Safer At Home” policy for all Florida residents will be in effect starting at 12:01am on April 3rd. Under this policy, senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions must stay at home. Everybody else must limit their movements to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services, such as food or medication. This policy will remain in place until April 30th. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here (Updated April 4, 2020).
- All restaurants, food establishments, gyms and fitness centers should suspend operations until further notice. Delivery services will remain available. Grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and gas stations will stay open.
- All state parks are closed.
- A mandatory 14-day self-isolation period is in effect for anyone traveling by plane to Florida from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
- Anyone entering Florida from Louisiana is expected to self-isolate for 14 days. Highway patrol checkpoints have been established to enforce this protective order. Individuals entering the state from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut also must still quarantine for 14 days or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter.
- Vacation rentals across the state are suspended for two weeks, effective March 27. People already in a vacation rental will be allowed to complete their stay.
- All recreational boats must be at least 50 feet apart. No vessel should have more than 10 people on board. More information can be found here.
Guidance from Martin County:
- Martin County has declared a Local State of Emergency, including recommendations by the CDC for modifications, postponements and cancellations of mass gatherings of more than 50 people and smaller gatherings that may bring persons together from multiple parts of the country; and for organizations who serve high-risk populations, consider cancelling gatherings of more than 10 people.
- All county beaches, playgrounds and restrooms in parks are closed to the public.
- All county-operated tennis, pickleball and basketball courts are closed to the public for organized and pick-up play.
- Boat ramps will be open to the public Monday - Friday. Boat ramps at Jensen Beach and Sandsprit Park will be restricted to commercial marine activity licenses on weekends.
- All public K-12 schools are closed through May 1, 2020. Additional guidance is available on the
- Martin County School District website
- More information is available here.
St. Lucie County
Guidance from St. Lucie County:
- Businesses that are unable to maintain the required physical distancing (6 feet) to keep employees and customers safe, should close. Businesses who have questions about how the order impacts them can call the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County at 772-336-6258.
- In an effort help slow the spread, all St. Lucie County offices and facilities will be closed on Fridays only - through April 24. Several county departments have closed or have shifted to limited public hours and access.
- All county beaches on North and South Hutchinson Island are closed.
- St. Lucie County is looking to build a reserve of qualified medical professionals to deal with an increase in COVID-19 cases if the need arises. The Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County operates a Medical Reserve Corp that can be activated in emergencies such as the pandemic that is impacting Florida and the rest of the world. Any licensed healthcare professional who is willing to volunteer in the event there is a need for additional doctors, nurses, EMTs and other healthcare experts are encouraged to register here.
- All public K-12 schools in St. Lucie Counties are closed through May 1, 2020. Additional guidance is available on the St. Lucie County School District website.
- More information is available here.
Palm Beach County
Guidance from Palm Beach County:
- An executive order implementing a “Safer At Home” policy for residents in Palm Beach County is in effect. Under this policy, you should leave your homes only to perform essential work duties or pick up groceries and medication.
- All beaches, movie theaters and other recreational spaces are closed.
- Additionally, all boat ramps and marinas are closed to all recreational boating activities, including boat launching, storage activities and rentals until further notice.
- All public K-12 schools in Palm Beach County are closed until further notice. Additional guidance is available on the Palm Beach County School District website.
- More information is available here.
Information On Getting Tested
Those with the associated risk factors and symptoms of COVID-19 may be eligible to be tested. Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Risk factors consist of close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case, travel to or from a Coronavirus affected area, recent history of international travel, age 65+ with chronic conditions and a weakened immune system. If you believe you have symptoms you should immediately contact your healthcare provider.
Additionally, the following locations are conducting testing:
- Florida Community Health Centers, Inc. (FCHC) at 1505 Delaware Avenue in Fort Pierce and at 15858 SW Warfield Boulevard in Indiantown. Testing is by appointment only. Individuals must call to setup an appointment for screening, evaluation, and testing at (772) 597-3596. Telehealth appointments are also available. For additional information, click here.
- Cleveland Clinic Martin Health is performing drive-thru testing for COVID-19 by appointment only at Martin North Hospital (200 SE Hospital Avenue in Stuart) and Tradition Hospital (10000 SW Innovation Way in Port St. Lucie). Testing will only be performed for individuals who meet FDOH criteria for COVID-19. If individuals do not meet criteria, testing will not be performed. The CDC provides the testing guidelines. For an appointment, individuals who may have symptoms must call (772) 419-3360 between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Testing hours for both locations is from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. For additional information, click here.
- Palm Beach County is conducting drive-thru testing located at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (5444 Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach). Individuals requesting testing must be approved through telephone screening conducted by the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. Call (561) 642-1000 to schedule an appointment between 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Additional information is available here
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