News from Congressman Ted Lieu

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Dear neighbor,                                   

Yesterday, the House passed an interim emergency aid measure to replenish small business relief funds and provide additional funding for hospitals and testing. The package provides more support for small businesses with $310 billion to strengthen the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $50 billion for emergency disaster lending, and $10 billion in emergency disaster grants. Democrats fought hard to expand access to the PPP to more small businesses, and to ensure the legislation also included $75 billion in aid for hospitals and $25 billion to bolster the nation’s testing capacity, which will be crucial to reopening the economy.

I’ve been meeting virtually with various chambers of commerce about the PPP and the emergency disaster lending program. This week I was pleased to speak with the Calabasas Chamber of Commerce. Although I’m glad we passed the interim legislation, it is an intermediate step while Congress works to put forth another more comprehensive coronavirus relief package in the coming weeks.

Earlier this week, I joined Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Representative Joe Neguse in highlighting the issue of price gouging. In this time of increasing economic uncertainty, the last thing Americans need is to face a spike in the price of essential goods and consumer products. We discussed the bill I introduced with Rep. Neguse, Senator Warren and Senator Harris, the Price Gouging Prevention Act to prohibit this predatory practice. The bill was modeled after the California anti-price gouging statute, which made it illegal for a person or business to raise the price of an item by more than 10% after an emergency has been declared.

Here are some updates on COVID-19:

Testing

As testing becomes more widely available across California, frontline workers in LA County are now eligible to receive tests – regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms. This includes health care workers, grocery store workers, first responders, critical government personnel and other essential workers.

If you are not a frontline worker but are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you are also eligible to receive a test. To schedule an appointment for a test, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.

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Californians For All

As we continue to stay home and save lives, we can find more ways to safely support our community. On April 21, Governor Newsom announced a new #CaliforniansForAll service initiative to connect Californians with safe volunteer opportunities. Through #CaliforniansForAll, you can volunteer to help those in need by supporting local food banks and shelters, delivering meals to seniors, donating blood, and more. To sign up to volunteer, go to californiansforall.ca.gov.

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Free Food Resources

The County and City of LA are mobilizing to provide free meals for those in need. If you need help with food expenses or don’t have access to food, please visit this LA County webpage to sign up for the free food program.

If you’re pregnant or a caretaker of a child under five and your economic situation has been impacted by COVID-19, you may qualify to receive free, nutritious food through the California Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. To apply, visit phfewic.org/apply or text APPLY to 91997. For more information, call WIC at 1 (888) 942-2229.

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Alternatively, if you’re in the position to donate food and/or volunteer, please click here to see how you can lend a hand during this crisis.

Critical Delivery Service

If you need essential items such as groceries or other vital necessities but are unable to leave your home, LA County Workforce Development, Aging & Community Services (WDACS) can deliver items right to your door. Deliveries can be made 24/7. To request services, call 1-888-863-7411.

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Friendship Line for Older Californians

The Institute on Aging (IOA) has a 24-hour phone line to serve older adults and caregivers during this isolating time. If you’re feeling lonely and would like someone to talk to, please call the Friendship Line at 1 (888) 670-1360.

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Food Sector Workers and Consumers

Our food sector workers are serving every day on the front lines of this crisis. On April 16, Governor Newsom signed an executive order providing paid sick leave benefits for food sector workers impacted by COVID-19. The order provides two weeks of paid sick leave for workers employed by large businesses such as grocery store chains and fast food restaurants, filling a gap in the federal relief program which provides similar benefits for workers in businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

The order also established additional safety protections for workers and consumers. For more information on grocery store best practices, see the recently issued guidance by Cal/OSHA for the grocery industry.

Consumer Information and Resources

The California Department of Justice has made available more resources to protect consumers. If you have questions about price gouging, avoiding scams, paying your mortgage or federal student loans and more, visit oag.ca.gov/consumers/covid-19 for the latest consumer information from the office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

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Unemployment Insurance: New Call Center Hours

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more and more Californians lose their jobs due to circumstances caused by COVID-19. To assist those applying for unemployment insurance, Governor Newsom announced that the Employment Development Department (EDD) will open new call center hours. The call center will now be open 7 days a week from 8AM – 8PM at 833-978-2511.

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In addition, starting April 28, the EDD will operate a one-stop shop for those applying for unemployment insurance and the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, where benefits will be issued in 24-48 hours.

Independent contractors may also be eligible to receive unemployment compensation. If you’re an independent contractor unsure of whether you can receive benefits, file a claim on the EDD website and EDD professionals will help you find out.

Economic Impact Payments

The CARES Act provides adults making less than $75,000 in annual adjusted gross income (and families making less than $150,000) a $1,200 stimulus check and $500 per child. The IRS is working to deliver these payments as quickly as possible. To check on the status of your payment, go to irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments. If you are eligible to receive the payment and filed your tax returns in 2018 or 2019, you will receive the payment automatically. If you don’t normally file taxes, you can still receive the payment by entering your information through the non-filer portal on the IRS website. For more information, take a look at these FAQs.

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Homelessness

LA County and LA City are expanding their interim shelter systems for those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this effort, Los Angeles County is working to secure 15,000 hotel rooms as temporary isolation spaces to protect vulnerable seniors and those with chronic illnesses from contracting the virus on the streets.

The County is also setting up medical sheltering for those who are homeless or cannot safely quarantine in their own home. These sites primarily serve those who have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19. If you or someone you know is in need of outreach services, please visit the LA Hop website.

As of April 16, Los Angeles County has moved more than 900 people into temporary shelter spaces through medical sheltering and Project Roomkey and that number continues to grow.

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Child Support

If you’re unable to pay your child support because you’ve had a loss in income due to COVID-19, you can request a modification in your case. Please call (866) 901-3212 or go to cssd.lacounty.gov to get your case reviewed. 

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Helping Immigrant Families

I’m pleased that last week Governor Newsom announced a $125 million disaster relief fund to support immigrant families impacted by the coronavirus. This money will be used to assist undocumented immigrants who are ineligible to receive federal relief because of their immigration status. About 150,000 undocumented Californians will receive a one-time payment of $500 per adult with a limit of $1,000 per household. The fund will be allocated to individuals through regional nonprofits that typically serve undocumented communities.

California has created an immigrant resource guide with information on public benefits and services available to immigrants. 

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FEMA Coronavirus Emergency Management Best Practices

FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are collecting and sharing best COVID-19 response practices from all over America. To explore lessons learned from state and local governments, the private sector, academic institutions and other organizations, visit fema.gov/coronavirus/best-practices.

 

We are all in this together. I am confident we will come out of this crisis stronger if we continue to each play our role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. As always, you can find more information on my coronavirus webpage and my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts. If you need help with a federal agency, please call my Los Angeles office at (323) 651-1040. My staff is working full-time and can assist you.

Please remember to stay home, wash your hands, maintain social distance, and support one another. I look forward to updating you again soon.

Sincerely,

Ted W. Lieu
Member of Congress
                                               

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