Coronavirus Updates: What You Need to Know
As we continue to learn more about coronavirus and its impact on our communities throughout Georgia, I have launched a new webpage to keep Georgians up to date on the latest developments as well as the steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your communities.
March 27, 2020 – Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, also referred to as “phase three” of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. This legislation provides:
- For American families, the CARES Act will provide immediate support by putting cash in your pockets. The CARES Act provides $1,200 for an individual, a maximum of $2,400 for a couple filing a joint return, and $500 per child.
- For American workers, the CARES Act expands unemployment insurance for individuals who are not typically eligible for unemployment, including gig workers, self-employed, and non-profit employees. It also adds an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance for those who need it.
- For healthcare workers and hospitals, the CARES Act provides $140 billion in support to ensure you have the resources needed to protect yourself and to continue saving lives. This includes new personal protective equipment and ventilators.
- For small businesses and non-profits, you will have access to 100 percent federally guaranteed loans for 8 weeks. If used to maintain payroll, a portion of the loan is forgiven.
If you think you may be eligible for a small business loan, please contact your lender for more information. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is experiencing extremely long wait times, which is why we are encouraging everyone to go through your lender.
March 18, 2020 – Congress passed and the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This supplemental package:
- Ensures free coronavirus testing for all Americans;
- Requires paid sick leave for impacted American workers;
- Includes a refundable payroll tax credit to reimburse—dollar-for-dollar—businesses for paid sick leave and family and medical leave wages paid to employees that are affected by COVID-19;
- Provides $1.25 billion to provide emergency nutritional assistance for senior citizens, women, children, and low-income families;
- Provides $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance benefits, under certain conditions.
March 6, 2020 – Congress passed and the President signed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act to ensure our country is equipped with the resources needed to fight the spread of coronavirus. This emergency funding:
- Provided more than $4 billion to make diagnostic tests more broadly available; to support treatments to ease the symptoms of those infected with the virus; and to invest in vaccine development and to procure vaccines when they are available;
- Allowed $1 billion in loan subsidies to be made available to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture producers, and nonprofit organizations which have been impacted by financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
- This funding enabled the Small Business Administration to offer low-interest federal disaster loans to small businesses throughout the entire state of Georgia. Read more information in the ‘Small Business Resources’ section below.
Economic Impact Payments
If you receive veterans disability compensation, a pension, or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or your income level does not require you to file a tax return, then you need to submit information to the IRS to receive an Economic Impact Payment.
On April 10, 2020, the U.S. Treasury and IRS launched a new registration tool for Economic Impact Payments for those who don’t normally file a tax return. The non-filer tool provides a free and easy option designed for people who don’t have a return filing obligation, including those with too little income to file.
You can access this resource on the IRS’s website here.
On April 17, once automatic payments begin, the “Get My Payment” tool will be available. This tool will provide the status of your payment, including when it is scheduled to be delivered, and will allow eligible taxpayers to provide their bank account information to receive payments by direct deposit.
Economic Impact Payments for Social Security Beneficiaries
The Department of the Treasury announced that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will NOT need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an economic impact payment. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will use the information from the SSA-1099 to generate economic impact payments to Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. Beneficiaries will receive their economic impact payment by direct deposit or paper check, just as they would normally receive their Social Security benefits.
Covering Your Face in Public
On Friday, April 3, 2020, President Trump announced that the CDC is now recommending wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (for example, grocery stores and pharmacies).
NOTE: the CDC is not recommending the use of medical grade or surgical grade masks, which should only be used by medical professionals as they work to save lives.
More information on the CDC’s new guidance can be found on their website here.
Federal Guidelines Extended Through April 30, 2020
On March 16, 2020, President Trump and his administration released new guidelines for Americans to follow through March 30, 2020, to continue to protect the health of our communities. On March 29, 2020, after consulting with doctors and medical experts on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, President Trump announced that he is extending the federal guidelines through April 30, 2020. By following these guidelines, every American can play a critical role in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Slow the Spread of Coronavirus
- Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible
- Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people
- Use pickup or delivery options and avoid eating or drinking in public
- Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits
- Do not visit nursing homes or long-term care facilities
- Practice good hygiene
Do Your Part
- Listen to state and local authorities
- If you feel sick, stay home
- If your children are sick, keep them at home
- Contact your medical provider if you or your children are sick
- If someone in your household has tested positive for COVID—19, keep your entire household at home
- If you are an older person, stay home and away from other people
- If you have serious underlying health conditions, stay at home and away from other people
The White House and the CDC partnered with Apple to launch a new coronavirus website and app that will provide a screening tool for coronavirus symptoms and share the latest information about the outbreak.
Click here to visit the website. To download the app, please visit the App Store and search for the ‘COVID—19’ app.
Remember, it is still the cold and flu season and seasonal allergies are active as well. To recognize the difference between these common illnesses and COVID-19, the symptoms for coronavirus can be viewed here.
How to Stay Healthy
While our government and public health officials continue working to keep our communities healthy, there are actions you and your families can take to stop the spread of this virus.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your face
- Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze
- Stay home if you are sick
If you believe you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms – fever, cough, shortness of breath – please be sure to contact your health care provider immediately. The CDC recommends calling your provider ahead of time for guidance on how the facility is handling cases. This will help your healthcare provider take the steps necessary to preventing other people from getting infected or exposed.
For more information on how to stay healthy, visit the CDC’s website by clicking here.
Georgia Specific Resources
- To stay up to date on the confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health, visit their website here.
Shelter in Place
On Friday evening, April 3, 2020, Georgia’s shelter in place took effect. Under this order, Georgians are encouraged to stay at home and limit their social interactions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This shelter-in-place remains in effect through April 30, 2020.
You can leave your house for essential activities, such as visiting the grocery store or pharmacy, attending medical appointments, and exercising outdoors. However, you are encouraged to stay at home unless it is absolutely essential that you leave.
Small Business Resources
The Paycheck Protection Program became available on Friday, April 3, 2020.
If you think you may be eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program, please contact your local lender for more information. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is experiencing extremely long wait times, which is why we are encouraging everyone to go through your local lender.
To learn more about the program, click here.
To download the Paycheck Protection Program sample application form, click here.
For faith-based organizations: The SBA and President Trump confirmed that faith-based organizations are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. Faith-based organizations can find answers to specific questions about the program here.
On March 18, 2020, Georgia received an official statewide disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), making small businesses in all 159 counties in Georgia eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans if they are suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications here.
Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email email@example.com for more information on SBA disaster assistance.
The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is December 18, 2020.
For more information about resources and services available for small businesses, please visit SBA’s website here.
Tax Filing and Payment Deadline Extended
The Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are providing special tax filing and payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to COVID-19 by moving Tax Day to July 15, 2020.
The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can't file by the July 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request an extension to file their return.
Read more information on the IRS website here.
Questions About Travel
*On March 19, 2020, the State Department issued a Global Level 4 Travel Advisory, advising all U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. Read more here.
If you or your families are planning to travel domestically or abroad, I encourage you to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of State.
- CDC travel health notices can be found by clicking here
- The State Department’s international travel guidance is available here
- Specific country advisories are listed on the State Department’s website here
- Questions about domestic travel can be answered on CDC’s website here
For additional resources, please visit the CDC’s website here or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.