As your Congressman, I will continue working with federal, state, and local officials to accelerate Louisiana’s response efforts and our capabilities in fighting the COVID-19 virus.
On March 6, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act into law. The bill provided $8.3 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for federal, state, and local responses to the Coronavirus.
H.R. 6201 – the second Coronavirus bill – was signed into law by President Trump on Wednesday, March 18th. This bill requires free access to coronavirus testing, ensuring there are no cost barriers to these tests. It also included $1.2 billion to help cover the costs of testing, including $142 million to directly help our servicemembers and veterans.
The CARES Act - the third Coronavirus bill - unanimously passed the Senate. This package will provide further assistance to our economy, including direct relief payments to most American taxpayers. Click here for the full text of the CARES Act.
On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases such as the Coronavirus, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
Information for Individuals
Direct Relief Payments
The CARES Act provides direct relief payments to most taxpayers, providing cash immediately to individuals and families. Individuals are eligible for checks up to $1,200 and married couples filing jointly are eligible for checks up to $2,400, with an extra $500 for each child. This phases out beginning at $75,000 for individuals/$112,500 head of household/$150,000 for joint filers. Eligibility will be based on 2018 and 2019 tax returns. For Social Security beneficiaries, including retirement and disability, eligibility will be based on information from the Social Security Administration.
- The IRS will post updates on the direct relief payments made available by the CARES Act here. Please continue to check the website for updates instead of calling the IRS.
Tax Filing and Payment Deadline Extended
- The IRS deadline for filing taxes has moved from April 15 to July 15 due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.
- The IRS has established a special website focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the Coronavirus.
- The Louisiana Department of Revenue is also extending the deadline for state income taxes to July 15, 2020 due to the Coronavirus. The extension applies to Louisiana individual, corporation, fiduciary and partnership income tax returns and payments.
Employee Paid Leave Rights
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick or family leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. Click here for more information from the Department of Labor.
Information for Small Businesses
Assistance in the CARES Act
- The CARES Act creates the Paycheck Protection Program, a nearly $350 billion program to provide eight weeks of cash-flow assistance to small businesses through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans will be forgiven, helping workers remain employed and allowing small businesses and our economy to come back after the crisis.
- The Paycheck Protection Program would cover payroll costs, paid sick leave, supply chain disruptions, employee salaries, health insurance premiums, mortgage payments, and other debt obligations to provide immediate access to capital for small businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.
- The CARES Act allows regulatory relief so banks can grant loan forbearance for otherwise healthy businesses struggling while business has been shut down.
Information from the Small Business Administration
- Louisiana small businesses experiencing a temporary loss of revenue due to Coronavirus are now eligible for low-interest disaster loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA). You can apply online here.
- You can contact the SBA at (800) 659-2955, or the New Orleans regional SBA office at (504) 589-6685.
- Click here for an overview of the resources available to small businesses.
Businesses Impacted by Previous Disasters
- The U.S. Small Business Administration announced changes to help borrowers still paying back SBA loans from previous disasters. By making this change, deferments through December 31, 2020, will be automatic. Now, borrowers of home and business disaster loans do not have to contact SBA to request deferment.
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Click here for more information from the Department of Labor.
- How the CARES Act impacts small businesses.
- The Louisiana Economic Development has launched a new hotline for Louisiana businesses. Companies can call 225-342-4321 between 8:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m. with their questions related to the impact of the coronavirus.
- Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations – Community Facilities
- DOL: Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for Coronavirus
- DOL: OHSA Resources for Workers and Employers on COVID-19
- WHO: Get Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19
- CISA: Risk Management for COVID-19
Information for Seniors
The CDC has specific guidelines for seniors and detailed information on how they can protect themselves from the Coronavirus.
For information on how Medicare is handling the Coronavirus outbreak, visit their website here.
- Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
- Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to the Coronavirus. These services expand the current telehealth covered services, to help you have access from more places, with a wider range of communication tools, to interact with a range of providers.
For information on how the Social Security Administration is handling the Coronavirus outbreak and to find information for Social Security beneficiares, visit their website here.
- Social Security beneficiaries will continue to receive their full monthly benefits.
Assistance from The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $250 million in grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help communities provide meals for older adults.
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, provided the additional funding for the nutrition services programs authorized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965.
- Funding has been provided to states, territories and tribes for subsequent allocation to local meal providers. Grant amounts are determined based on the population-based formulas defined in the Older Americans Act.
Older adults who need assistance can contact the Eldercare Locator to find services available in their community. The Eldercare Locator can be reached at 1-800-677-1116 or https://eldercare.acl.gov/.
Information for Parents and Students
- The Louisiana Department of Education has several resources for families, including a list of school meal sites and a toolkit to support learning at home, as well as the most accurate information and guidance for schools and learning centers.
- The U.S. Department of Education has several resources for elementary and secondary schools.
- The U.S. Department of Education has also released new information clarifying that federal law should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities.
- The National Association for the Education of Young Children has several online resources to assist with the significant impacts COVID-19 s is likely to have on child care and early learning programs, including educators, families, and children.
- Interim Guidance for Administrators of U.S. Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools
- Resources for Institutes of Higher Education
- Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations – Community Facilities
Information for Veterans
- The Department of Veterans Affairs has a dedicated website for its Coronavirus response, as well as Coronavirus FAQs: what veterans need to know.
- Any Veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should immediately contact their local VA facility. VA urges Veterans to call before visiting – you can find contact information for your closest VA facility.
- If you currently get your prescription sent to you by mail, you’ll continue to receive your refills as normal. If you usually pick up your prescriptions in person, the VA encourages you to use the online prescription refill and tracking tool. To make sure you have your medicine in time, request your refill at least 10 days before you’ll run out of your current prescription.
- On March 21, 2020, President Trump signed into law S.3503, which will enable the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue providing the same level of education benefits to students having to take courses online due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Information for Local Governments
- The Louisiana Department of Health continues to closely monitor this outbreak and shares twice-daily updated case numbers online.
- CDC: Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 911 Public Safety Answering Points.
- CDC: Interim guidance for state and local public health information officers, health communication specialists, health educators, and other public health professionals responsible for planning communication strategies before, during, and after an outbreak of COVID-19.
- CDC: Resources for Correctional and Detention Facilities
- CDC: Resources for Clinics and Healthcare Facilities
Testing and Supplies
Ochsner Health has designated three urgent care centers to serve individuals in Southeast Louisiana experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The following Ochsner Urgent Care Centers are now designated for COVID-19 assessment and testing, if recommended by the Louisiana Department of Health and the patient’s provider.
- Bayou Region
Ochsner Urgent Care – Houma
5922 W. Main St., Suite A
Houma, LA 70360
Ochsner Urgent Care – Mandeville
2735 US-190, Suite D
Mandeville, LA 70471
- New Orleans
Ochsner Urgent Care - Mid-City at Canal
4100 Canal St, New Orleans
New Orleans, LA 70119
Three new drive-through COVID-19 “Community-Based Testing Sites” made available by the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Greater New Orleans area. The sites will initially focus on testing health care workers and first responders. Beginning Sunday, March 22, the testing locations will be available to any symptomatic individual, with a cap of 100 tests per day, per site. The sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily. Please click the links below for more information on each testing location.
- Mahalia Jackson Theater Parking Lot
1419 Basin Street, New Orleans, LA 70116
- University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena Parking Lot
2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans, LA 70148
- Alario Center
2000 Segnette Blvd, Westwego, LA 70094
- Department of Homeland Security’s Ready.gov
- CDC Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
- National Institutes of Health
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Disinfectants for use against Coronavirus
- CDC Travel Health Notices
- Federal Government Response to Coronavirus
- FAQ: Coronavirus Legislation
How to Help
- For companies looking to sell or donate medical supplies, equipment or services as part of the COVID-19 response, please click here.