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 Economic Impact Payment Registration Information (Updated Septmeber 17, 2020)
- Updated Guidance To Receive Individual Assistance (Updated April 17, 2020)
- Direct Financial Relief FAQs (Updated April 17, 2020)
- Information For Non-Filers (Updated April 17, 2020)
- Direct Economic Relief Timeline (Updated April 9, 2020)
- Information On How To Check Your Payment Status (Updated April 15, 2020)
- Information For Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients (Updated April 16, 2020)
- Information For Veterans Who Receive C&P Benefits (Updated April 17, 2020)
- Information On Claiming Dependents (Updated April 22, 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
- How To Request Backdated Benefits
- Unemployment Insurance FAQs (Updated May 4, 2020)
- Federal Lost Wages Assistance Program Eligibility (Updated September 9, 2020)
- Please do not hesistate to call us at 202-225-3026 with any questions. To help us process your request in a timely manner, please have the following information available, or include it in your voicemail if we are unable to take your call:
- Full Name
- Date of Birth
- Last 4 Digits of SSN
- Claimaint ID Number
- Phone Number
- Description of Your Issue
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)
- Updated Guidance For Paycheck Protection Loan Forgiveness (Updated June 18, 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 to help mitigate the spread:
- 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:
- 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 Health & Human Services Public Data Hub: This website provides high-quality, accessible, and timely information for entrepreneurs, researchers, and policy makers to help drive insights and better health outcomes for all.
- 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
Governor DeSantis announced the following updates on the status of openings and closings in Florida*:
- Phase II FAQs and Guidelines are available here.
- Restaurants may reopen with the following restrictions:
- Indoor seating is restricted to 50 percent capacity.
- Indoor and outdoor seating must follow 6-feet distancing guidelines.
- Bars may not serve alcohol on premises until further notice.
- Retail stores may resume normal operations up to 50 percent indoor capacity.
- Barber shops, salons, tattoo parlors and other personal services may operate with the following mandatory restrictions:
- All customers will be by appointment only.
- Allow at least 15 minutes between the conclusion of an appointment and the beginning of the next appointment for proper disinfecting practices.
- No group appointments are permitted.
- Masks must be worn by all employees while performing personal services.
- Rent and mortgage assistance is available. Click here to learn more.
- Museums and libraries may operate up to 50 percent capacity if permitted by local governments.
- Gyms and fitness centers may operate up to 50 percent capacity. Machines and surfaces must be santitzed after each use.
- Entertainment businesses, including but not limited to movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades may operate at 50 percent capacity with appropriate social distancing between groups and appropriate sanitation.
- Amusement parks may submit re-opening plan to the State.
- Professional sports venues may open and operate for games, events and training.
- Counties may seek approval to resume operations of vacation rentals. Vacation rentals remain prohibited until county government officials receive approval from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
- Essential operations and services will continue uninterrupted.
- Visitation is restricted at long-term care facilities and nursing homes.
- Elective surgeries and in-patient procedures can resume at hospitals.
- Vulnerable individuals should continue to avoid close contact with people outside the home.
- All individuals should continue to maximize physical distance from others in public.
- All individuals should continue to avoid social gatherings of 50 or more people when social distancing is not possible.
- Cloth face coverings are recommended for all face-to-face interactions when physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
- Students and parents are encouraged to visit their school district’s website for more information:
- The moratorium on evictions and foreclosures has been extended until September 1st.
- Individuals entering Florida from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut should quarantine for 14 days.
- Please be advised that a similar 14 day quarantine is in effect for anyone traveling from Florida to the following states: Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
*Please note that all individuals should continue to follow guidelines established by local and county officials until further anonuncements are made.
Guidance from Martin County (Updated August 5, 2020):
- Masks or facial coverings are required to be worn in public places throughout Martin County.
- Public parks, pavilions and restrooms will reopen.
- Playgrounds and playground equipment remain closed due to health safety concerns.
- Social distancing is required.
- Use of trails, pathways, boardwalks, fishing piers and open areas is permitted.
- Lap swimming will be reopened at Sailfish Splash Waterpark.
- Phipps Park Campground will remain open, but will not accept any new reservations.
- Public and private golf courses will reopen.
- Courses can allow two golfers per cart only if they belong to the same household.
- All players must follow 6-feet social distancing guidelines.
- Public boat ramps will reopen for recreational and commercial boating.
- An order by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has directed that recreational vessels shall have no more than 10 people on board and maintain a 50-foot distance between each vessel.
- All Martin County public beach access points will reopen on Monday, May 4 with the exception of Hobe Sound and Bathtub beaches. Beach access is restricted to Martin County residents, and beachgoers must follow CDC guidelines and park in designated spaces.
- Public K-12 schools in Martin County are granting the option of in-person or distance learning for the upcoming school year. Additional guidance is available on the Martin County School District website
- More information is available here.
St. Lucie County
Guidance from St. Lucie County (Updated August 5, 2020):
- Masks or facial coverings are required to be worn in public places.
- In an effort help slow the spread, all St. Lucie County offices and facilities will be open with limited public hours and access.
- St. Lucie County is reopening its public beach accesses with restrictions to help continue to the spread of COVID-19, effective Tuesday, April 28 at 7 a.m. The following restrictions will be in place:
- Social or recreational groups of 10 or more persons are prohibited;
- Persons using the beach shall practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away whenever practicable from another person;
- Activities that do not maintain social distancing requirements, such as congregating, partying, picnicking, camping, volleyball, Frisbee, football or other organized group activities are strongly discouraged;
- No coolers, tents, blankets, umbrellas, beach chairs or sunbathing are allowed.
- Equipment supporting people with disabilities is allowed.
- Beaches will remain open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., as long as social distancing requirements are followed.
- There is a 10 person occupancy cap for vacation rental units. St. Lucie County's plan for vacation rentals is available here.
- 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.
- Public K-12 schools in St. Lucie County are granting the option of in-person or distance learning for the upcoming school year. 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 (Updated August 5, 2020):
- Palm Beach County has been cleared to begin phase one re-opening. Restaurants and businesses must follow guidance from the Governor's Office and local county officials.
- Masks or facial coverings are required to be worn in public places throughout Palm Beach County. Exempted are persons age 2 and under and individuals with respiratory conditions that preclude the use of a mask. The order applies inside all buildings and outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
- Parks and natural areas will be open sunrise to sunset for the following activities:
- Walking and running
- Equestrian riding
- Canoeing and kayaking
- Public basketball, volleyball, pickleball and tennis courts are open for singles play only.
- Playgrounds and dog parks remain closed until further notice.
- All Palm Beach County beaches remain closed.
- Boat ramps are open, with limitations on capacities, based on size of the boat:
- All vessels on the water, including but not limited to boats, shall remain at least 50 feet apart at all times.
- There should be no more than 10 people on a single vessel at any time. A full list of capacity restrictions can be found here.
- Overnight parking, whether vehicles or vessels, at boat ramps is prohibited.
- Rentals of jet skis, boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards may resume operations provided that CDC Guidelines, including all social distancing guidelines, are adhered to.
- County-operated golf courses are open with significant modifications for single play:
- Play shall be set-up for walking, single-rider golf cart, or shared cart for families living in the same household.
- Clubhouses shall remain closed, and no indoor events will be conducted.
- When playing, golfers shall practice social distancing per the CDC Guidelines.
- Pool capacity shall be limited to ensure that social distancing is maintained at all times.
- Locker room and shower facilities remain closed.
- Pool deck seating or lounging shall be restricted.
- All individuals must practice social distancing, maintaining 6-feet distance from others when possible. Face coverings are also strongly encouraged.
- You can read the Palm Beach County executive order here.
- All beaches, movie theaters and other recreational spaces remain closed.
- All public K-12 schools in Palm Beach County will continue distance learning for the upcoming school year 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. Appointments will only be given to individuals who have had contact with someone who has either tested positive or is pending results for the coronavirus. Additional information is available here.
- Cleveland Clinic Florida is offering coronavirus testing at South County Civic Center (16700 Jog Road in Delray Beach). For an appointment, individuals must be symptomatic and age 16 or older to schedule by calling (561)804-0250 between 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Testing hours for this location is from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Monday - Friday) and 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Saturday). Additional information is available here.
- The Primary Care Clinic at Lakeside Medical Center is testing for coronavirus Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m – 2:00 p.m. Individuals who believe they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and would like to be tested are invited to walk up and see a provider for screening. If the provider determines they are a candidate for screening, they will be registered on-site and tested. Results will be communicated by a Health Care District provider as soon as they are available.
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