Message from Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

Dear Friend,

As we make adjustments to comply with Maine’s new stay-at-home orders and to keep our physical distance from others, we do not need to be emotionally disconnected from one other.  I encourage you to stay connected to friends, family, and your community virtually. You are not alone in weathering this storm. We are in this together.

This is my second weekly COVID-19 newsletter. I’m committed to sending these newsletters each Friday in order to provide you with up-to-date resources about the federal government’s coronavirus response, answers to frequently asked constituent questions, and information about what’s happening in communities throughout the 1st District. If any of your friends are interested in hearing from my office, please have them sign up 
here.

My website is also updated with resources and congressional actions on COVID-19, which you can find at pingree.house.gov/coronavirus. You can also check out my FacebookInstagram, and Twitter pages for the latest updates.

Please take care of yourselves and each other . Do not hesitate to contact my office if there is anything I can do to support you and your families during this difficult time.

Wishing you good health,

Chellie


Image

Spotted on Route 1 in Falmouth.

 

Update from Maine

This week, Governor Mills took steps to protect Mainers from the coronavirus pandemic by mandating all non-essential businesses and operations in Maine close their public-facing operations. This mandate went into effect on March 25. Read more about the executive order signed by the Governor here.

Effective today, Friday, March 27th, the State of Maine also closed 10 state parks and beaches to stop the spread of coronavirus. Read more here

Portland, South Portland, and Brunswick also issued stay-at-home orders, which closed all but essential workplaces. Leaders are calling for residents to stay at home and leave only when necessary. You can still go outside while maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from others and to shop at the grocery store or pharmacy.

Image

Spotted in the Deering neighborhood in Portland by Peggy Grondin.

 

How Congress and the Federal Government Are Working to Combat COVID-19

Image

This week, Congress passed a third coronavirus response bill, focusing on economic relief. As a refresher, here's the legislation that Congress has passed in response to the coronavirus:

PHASE ONE: Congress's first response to COVID-19 was to pass a $8.3 billion emergency package, which passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law on March 6. This legislation provided major funding to state, local, and tribal public health agencies and dedicated $3 billion toward the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

PHASE TWO: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18. This coronavirus response legislation makes coronavirus testing free for most patients, secures paid emergency leave, enhances unemployment insurance, strengthens food security initiatives, and increases federal Medicaid funding to states. 

PHASE THREE: This week, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, legislation to provide economic relief to workers and small businesses across our nation. The legislation includes, among other things:

  • A one-time cash payment of $1,200 for each individual adult earning up to $75,000 per year, with an additional $500 per child. 
  • Expanded unemployment insurance, including for part-time, self-employed, or gig economy workers. 
  • Forgivable loans for 8 weeks of payroll for employers with fewer than 500 employees, including a reduction in forgiveness if the company reduces employees or pay
  • Requirement for private insurers and Medicare to cover coronavirus prevention and treatment
  • Expanded healthcare access for veterans
  • Funding to support hospitals and healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic
  • Stabilization funds to support elementary and secondary school systems as well as higher education institutions, including support for the transition to remote learning and funds to support those with student loans

I'm proud to support these critical pieces of legislation, but I know there's more to do. This week, I continued my work to protect Maine's 145,000 small businesses. I joined my colleagues to introduce the Too Small to Fail Act, a bill to provide cash advances and zero-interest loans during these unprecedented times. 

I also doubled down on my efforts to force President Trump to implement the Defense Production Act. I joined my House colleagues in introducing the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act, which would federalize the manufacturing and distribution of in-demand medical supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and first responders. Supplies are low and need is growing. We don't have time to waste.

Image

Seen at the Hannaford in Portland, Maine by Peggy Grondin.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it possible for the VA to transfer my prescriptions to a local pharmacy so I can avoid visiting Togus?
    • At this time, VA Maine Pharmacy is switching to an all mail-order system in order to limit exposure to COVID-19. Outpatient Pharmacy will only honor emergent prescription needs for in-person pick up. Emergent prescriptions include post-surgical, emergency department and discharge medication needs. All other medications and supplies will be mailed. Additional operational information here.
    • Veterans may request refills and renewals by:
      • contacting the refill line at 207-623-5770
      • mailing in refill slips
      • Pharmacy Call Center at 1-207-623-8411 option 1
      • requesting them through My HealtheVet (www.myhealth.va.gov)
  • May I still go to Togus for care?
    • Face-to-face outpatient visits for ALL clinical services, including Primary Care, Mental Health, and Specialty Care, will be assessed for conversion to virtual care. In order to accomplish this goal, clinical staff will review all scheduled appointments to determine if the appointment can be switched to a VA Video Connect (VVC) or telephone appointment. If the type of care is not appropriate for VVC or telephone (i.e., dental care or endoscopies), the provider should follow up with the Veteran to reschedule his/her appointments for no sooner than 60 days in the future of the cancellation date. If a Veteran is at risk of imminent harm by not seeing a clinical provider face-to-face, then a face-to-face appointment will remain in place. Additional operational information here.
  • Is there any relief for student loan repayment?
    • Yes, only for FEDERAL student loans: All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for a period of at least 60 days. In addition, each of these borrowers will have the option to suspend their payments for at least two months to allow them greater flexibility during the national emergency. To request this forbearance, borrowers should contact their loan servicer online or by phone. This week, I joined with several of my colleagues in sending letters to the top student loan servicers in the country asking them to apply the same standards to all loans in their portfolio, including private loans. If they don’t comply, I hope to see legislative action taken soon. Additional information for students (not just loans) from the US Department of Education here.
  • I know federal income tax payments are delayed until July 15. Are state taxes also delayed?
    • Yes: Governor Mills announced the deadline for state taxes is pushed back until July 15.
  • Are there resources for elderly or immunosuppressed individuals to assist with grocery shopping, medicine pickup, or other necessary errands?
    • Call 211: if your phone number has a 207 area code, you can just dial 211.  If not, here's the website. Also, if the caller is mobile, some grocery stores and pharmacies provide online ordering with curbside or drive-thru pick-up, as well as special shopping hours for elders, pregnant women and the immunocompromised. Call or check the website to see if the service is available at your local store.
    • Hannaford Supermarkets: Effective Tuesday, March 24, its stores will offer dedicated shopping hours for people aged 60 and older, as well as those with compromised immune systems. Stores will open early from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Tuesday through Thursday. Hannaford-to-Go service is currently suspended. 
    • Shaw's: On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 a.m., all Shaw's stores will be reserved for at-risk shoppers. Delivery is available.
    • Whole Foods: Customers 60+ are welcome to shop beginning one hour before stores open to the general public. The Portland store opens for 60+ at 7:00am. 
    • Rite Aid: Home-delivery service from Rite Aid is available upon request and the company will waive delivery-service fees for eligible prescriptions. Customers should contact their local Rite Aid pharmacist for details. Controlled substances and/or refrigerated medications are not eligible for delivery. 
    • Walgreens: Every Tuesday from 7:00am - 9:00am is Seniors (+55) Only Hour. Drive-thru Shopping: Select products available at Walgreens locations with drive-thrus. 
    • CVS: Offering free delivery on prescriptions.

 

Resources and Updates from Our Community

The Maine Department of Education has posted a list of schools providing meals to students. Check it out here.

Want to help your community during this time? Governor Mills has launched a new site that can point you in the right direction More here.

ImageThe Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Maine is providing a bagged meal for students younger than 19, plus parents or family members if need be. This service is available at the Portland, South Portland, and Auburn locations. They are also providing activities for kids. More here.

If you're a small or midsized direct-to-market farmer whose business has been affected by COVID-19, American Farmland Trust is offering cash grants to help you out. Applications began on March 26: click here for more information.

The Maine Secretary of State's office has extended expiring car registrations during the coronavirus outbreak.

There has been an uptick in fraud attempts from bad actors, including fake emails and counterfeit equipment. If you see anything suspicious, report it to your local police.

Emergency food boxes are available every day from 1:30 to 4 pm at the Preble Street food kitchen.

LL Bean is using their shipping warehouse to help the Good Shepherd Food Bank distribute food to those in need.

Don't forget to fill out your census during this extended time at home. It is even available online!

It's especially important to engage with the arts during this time. Many of Maine's artists have banded together to move their shows online. More here.

Homeowners who have lost income or their jobs because of the coronavirus will be eligible to have their mortgage payments reduced or suspended for up to 12 months if their loans are guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. More here.

The IRS has a new site with tips for taxpayers and tax pros. You can find that site here

All Social Security field offices are currently closed; however, online services remain available.

Unsubscribe | Privacy Policy