News from Congressman Ted Lieu

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Dear neighbor,

I hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy as we continue to navigate this public health crisis.  

As the weather continues to warm up across Southern California, please remember that all Los Angeles County and Orange County beaches are closed until further notice. This decision was made in an effort to reduce crowding on beaches thus reducing infections so we can continue to flatten the curve. My hope is that we will soon be able to once again enjoy the peace and tranquility our beaches offer, but for now it’s important we stay committed to our goal of staying home to save lives.

I’m pleased that this week, the Small Business Administration reopened applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) after critical funds were replenished by an additional $310 billion through the interim emergency aid measure signed into law last week. If you own a small business and are seeking relief, please go to the SBA website for more information on available loans. If you’d like to receive regular updates from the SBA district office nearest to you, enter your zip code here to subscribe to the SBA newsletter.

In addition, California recently launched the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) to help businesses, self-employed individuals, independent contractors and others who are out of work because of the coronavirus. As part of the federal CARES Act, the program helps unemployed Californians with up to 39 weeks of benefits and a federal extension for those who have run out of their regular state-provided UI benefits. For more information on how to file a claim, visit the CA Employment Development Department (EDD) website and take a look at these FAQs

Earlier this week, I joined a virtual meeting with city councilmembers and mayors within my district to provide updates on the work being done in Congress and hear from local leaders about key issues their cities are facing. I also participated in a virtual town hall hosted by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi and CalNonprofits to discuss resources for nonprofit organizations as they help provide relief for Californians, and give updates on federal assistance programs. I was pleased to learn about the various community initiatives in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its impact on businesses and families.

I recognize this is an especially difficult time for smaller communities as they grapple with drastic changes in funding, which is why I will do my best to ensure their concerns are heard in Congress as we work on a more comprehensive relief package.  Today, I spoke with my colleagues from the California delegation in the House of Representatives during a regional press call. We discussed provisions we’re hoping to see in the next CARES coronavirus package, including more funding for state and city governments.  

Here are some additional COVID-19 updates and resources:

COVID-19 Data

The state of California launched a user-friendly webpage, update.covid19.ca.gov, to track the progression of COVID-19 cases across California and in individual counties. The site also outlines the distribution of COVID-19 cases based on gender, age, and ethnicity, and provides an update on testing and hospitalizations. The data on this portal will be updated daily.

Reopening

As you may know, Colorado and Nevada have joined California, Oregon and Washington in their West Coast pact to work together to reopen our economies when it’s safe to do so. California will make modifications to the Stay-At-Home order by working through 4 Roadmap Stages defined by scientific results and data. Additionally, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently approved a plan outlining the framework for economic recovery and development in Los Angeles County following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Testing
 
The City of Los Angeles, in partnership with the County of Los Angeles, is now the first major city in America to offer free COVID-19 testing to ALL Los Angeles residents, regardless of whether you have symptoms. Priority will still be given to those with symptoms and frontline workers. To learn more about the testing process and to sign up to receive a test, visit Coronavirus.LACity.org/testing.

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Face Coverings

Please remember to wear facial coverings when working in or entering an essential business where others are present. You can make these masks at home with a piece of fabric or an old t-shirt. The recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks on N95 respirators, which are reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders.

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Plasma Donations

People who have recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks are encouraged to consider donating plasma, the liquid component of blood. Individuals who have recovered from the virus may have developed antibodies in their plasma as part of the immune system’s response to COVID-19. By donating plasma, you may be able to help others currently fighting the virus.

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211 Services

211 LA is the main source for information and referrals for health and human services in LA County. If you have questions about the coronavirus or need help finding medical care, please dial 2-1-1 to speak to someone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you cannot directly dial 2-1-1, call (800) 339-6993.

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Food Pantry Resources

During this crisis, LA County and LA City are committed to ensuring residents have access to affordable and nutritious food. To explore food pantry options, student meal distribution sites, senior meal programs and more, visit the LA County COVID-19 food resources webpage.

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Meals for Seniors

On April 24, Governor Newsom announced a new free meal program for older Californians. The program will enlist local restaurants to deliver 3 meals a day to seniors isolating at home. To see if you or someone you know may be eligible, call 211 or visit the Great Plates Delivered webpage

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On a more local level, LA City also announced a new meal program for seniors, the Senior Meal Emergency Response Program. The initiative will bring home-delivered, healthy meals to seniors who are unable to leave their homes during this crisis. It will also support restaurant and hospitality industries who have been hard hit by COVID-19. Seniors who qualify for this program can receive up to 10 meals per week. To see if you are eligible to participate, fill out this questionnaire or call (213) 263 – 5226. If you are a restaurant looking to prepare meals, you can find out if you’re eligible by filling out this form, and reviewing the guidelines for meal preparation, packing and transport.

Tips for Restaurants and Food Businesses

LA County has created new tools for restaurants and other food businesses to inform their customers of steps they’re taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The graphic below can be found here, along with similar digital resources to reassure your customers that safety is your top priority. You can post these outside your businesses, online or on your social media accounts.

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Stimulus Checks

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.

These checks are providing much-needed relief for Californians during this difficult time. To ensure this assistance is going directly into the pockets of Californians, Governor Newsom signed an executive order to stop debt collectors from garnishing stimulus checks. The order works retroactively, meaning any debt collectors who have already garnished stimulus checks will have to pay them back. Funds may still be garnished for child support, spousal support or payments to a victim.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients

The IRS recently issued updated guidance for SSI recipients with qualifying dependents eligible for a COVID-19 economic impact payment. If you are a SSI recipient with children under 17 and are eligible to receive a stimulus payment, and you did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, you must submit additional information through the IRS non-filer portal by Tuesday, May 5 to receive the full amount of your stimulus payment as soon as possible. Eligible SSI recipients will begin receiving payments directly from the Treasury Department early this month. For more information, visit ssa.gov/coronavirus.

If you have a Direct Express account, please note that you will not be able to receive the payment on your Direct Express card. To get the payment via direct deposit, you’ll need to provide non-Direct Express bank account information or wait to receive a physical check in the mail.  

Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits

If you have recently become unemployed due to circumstances related to COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. To file a claim, visit UI Online. If you have questions around how to use UI Online or if you need assistance filing your claim, call the numbers below for support.

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Temporary Eviction Moratorium

Several weeks ago, the LA County Board of Supervisors enacted a temporary moratorium on residential and commercial evictions for those unable to pay their rent because of COVID-19 through May 31. If you cannot pay your rent because of financial losses resulting from the virus, it’s important to let your landlord know as soon as possible in writing. You can use this template to notify your landlord of your inability to pay rent no later than 7 days after the date your rent was due. You will then have up to 12 months to repay the amount due. For more information on LA County’s temporary eviction moratorium and rent freeze, as well as guidance on moratoriums from individual cities within LA County, click here and take a look at these FAQs.

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Free Accommodation for Health Care Workers

On April 17, LA County, Airbnb, and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) announced a partnership to provide frontline hospital workers access to book safe, free accommodations through the Airbnb Frontline Stays program. The program will give health care professionals the opportunity to stay close to their patients while safely distancing from their loved ones. If you are a health care worker in need of a place to stay, you can book through the Airbnb platform. Alternatively, if you’re an Airbnb host interested in providing much-needed relief to some of our health care heroes, click here for more information on how you can help

Job Opportunities

The SBA is hiring temporary employees to assist with COVID-19 disaster response efforts. Remote opportunities are available in many areas including call center customer service, document preparation and legal review, loan processing and more.

The EDD has also begun a mass hiring effort to increase the department’s capacity as unemployment insurance applications rise in response to COVID-19. If you are interested in helping fellow Californians and have experience in accounting, tax, and fact-finding interviewing, please consider applying at CalCareers.ca.gov.

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Student Loans

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for those with student loans to keep up with their payments. That’s why I’m pleased that last week, Governor Newsom announced a deal to expand student loan relief for 1.1 million Californians. Most private student loan servicers in California have agreed to a 90-day forbearance on student loan debt, meaning borrowers won’t incur any late fees or fines during this time. The initiative fills a gap in the federal CARES Act, which provided relief for students with federal loans but left out the student loan borrowers with loans not owned by the U.S. government or loans made by private lenders. 

Educational Resources

As schools have closed across the country, it’s important we invest in the digital learning tools needed to keep our students on track. On April 20, Governor Newsom announced a cross-sector partnership with companies, business leaders, and philanthropists to secure laptops, tablets, and Chromebooks for more than 70,000 California students. In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission will use $30 million to improve internet access in school districts across the state. This effort will help address the inequities in access to technology across communities and safeguard against students falling behind because of circumstances outside of their control.

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To give LA County residents access to learning materials from home, the LA County Library is issuing free digital library cards to those who do not already have a card. To sign up and gain access to eBooks, movies, and music, fill out this form.

Family Resources

LA County has released a resource guide to support pregnant women and single mothers during the COVID-19 outbreak. The guide includes food resources, emotional support services, tele-health care options and more to help mothers protect themselves and their children. To learn more about the risks of COVID-19 to pregnant women, visit COVID-19: Advice to Pregnant Women

I recognize how challenging this time can be for families with young children. For guidance on how to protect your family from the virus, keep a safe household, and talk to your children about the coronavirus, visit the CA Department of Public Health’s Protecting Your Family webpage.

For guidance for your K-12 child, including educational resources and FAQs, click here.

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As your member of Congress, I will continue to update you with the latest on the coronavirus outbreak. For more information on how to protect yourself and others from the virus, please visit my coronavirus webpage and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. You can also visit covid19.ca.gov and covid19.lacounty.gov for additional updates from California and Los Angeles County.

Please remember that we’re all in this together and we will get through this if we continue to stay home, practice good hygiene, and maintain social distancing. I look forward to updating you again soon.

Sincerely,

Ted W. Lieu
Member of Congress
                                               

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