April 01, 2020

Coronavirus Information for Hoosiers


***Click HERE for the latest information from the CDC***

Governor Holcomb issued a Stay-At-Home Order for Indiana effective Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The order ends on Monday, April 6, at 11:59 p.m. ET, but could be extended if necessary. It is important that all Hoosiers do their part to help stop the spread of the virus. Learn more about what activities are permitted here: https://www.in.gov/gov/3232.htm

Coronavirus Assistance Toolkit

Now that the CARES Act has been signed into law, immediate relief is on the way to Hoosiers. To help navigate the CARES Act, and the relief it will provide, Senator Young's office created a comprehensive toolkit to help individuals, small businesses, health care workers, and patients understand the relief measures that are available.

Resources in the toolkit are hyperlinked below: 

Hoosiers can email COVID_19@young.senate.gov for additional assistance. 

Indiana has also established a tollfree number for Hoosiers to call with questions about the coronavirus: (877) 826-0011. If you are calling with general questions about coronavirus, please press 1; if you are a healthcare provider, please press 2.

Small Business Administration Assistance:

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced that the state of Indiana will be offered low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Hoosier small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus.  Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.  Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Federal Action:

On March 27, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, the Senate's phase 3 coronavirus emergency relief package.

Highlights of the CARES Act include:

  • 2020 Recovery Rebate payments of $1,200 for rank-and-file Hoosiers subject to income limitations plus an additional $500 for each child under the age of 17.
  • Indiana will receive a minimum of $1.25 billion to aid its response to the pandemic. Indianapolis will be eligible for additional direct funds as a result of its significant population size.
  • $11 billion in funding to advance the manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other medical needs of the American people.
  • $16 billion to procure personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other medical supplies for the strategic national stockpile.
  • $100 billion to support hospitals and health care providers.
  • Over $30 billion is allocated to help America’s agriculture industry continue to keep food in our stores and on our tables.
  • Relaxation of rules for withdrawals from retirement accounts without penalty.
  • Payroll tax credit for employers that retain their workers.
  • $14.4 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs to respond to the increased demand for healthcare services at the VA. $2.1 billion for veterans to receive care in the community. And $606 million to upgrade VA Medical Facilities to better respond to pandemics.
  • Rolls back regulations to allow veterans to use tele-health services to reduce the risk of leaving the house and being exposed to the virus.

Senator Young’s efforts helped to secure provisions that:

  • Expand Medicare telehealth authorities to allow seniors to access a broader range of physicians and other providers from safety of their homes.
  • Expand Medicare telehealth for home dialysis patients.
  • Encourage the use of telecommunications systems for patients in home health.
  • Allow Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics to furnish telehealth services.
  • Increase access to post-acute care facilities, like long-term acute care hospitals.
  • Address the high demand for qualified nurses in underserved areas by allowing nurses at health care facilities with critical nursing shortages to benefit from the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program, regardless of the facility’s tax status. This provision was modeled off of Senator Young’s Nursing Where It’s Needed (WIN) Act.
  • Increase funds for the Child Care and Development Block Grant that will keep child care providers in business and support access for working families – especially those in the health care workforce.
  • Provide funding for resource partners to provide education, training, and advising to small businesses and employees on available federal assistance.
  • Waive the affiliation rules for businesses in the hospitality and restaurant industries, franchises that are approved on the SBA’s Franchise Directory, and small businesses that receive financing through the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program.

Click HERE for more details. 

Additional Senate action: 

PHASE 1:

On March 5, the Senate took swift, decisive action to provide Americans with a 7.7 billion dollar emergency funding package to help prepare and respond to the health effects of the virus. This includes:

  • Approximately $4 billion for medical supplies; research and development of vaccines, treatments; diagnostic tests; and support preparedness for hospitals and health systems:
  • $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
    • $1 billion for state and local governments.
    • $300 million for HHS to respond quickly to threats like coronavirus.
    • $300 million to continue CDC’s support for global health security, which improves public health systems around the world so that diseases can be contained sooner.
  • The package also allows Medicare to lift telehealth restrictions so our seniors will be able to receive care at home to avoid contracting the virus and allow health systems to mitigate transmission of the virus. 

 
PHASE 2:

On March 18, the Senate voted to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which is now law. This package provides relief to families, workers, and businesses affected by the coronavirus, including providing free testing, food aid, and unemployment assistance.

Food Assistance

  • Provides funding for nutrition assistance programs, including:
    • 500 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
    • $400 million for the emergency food assistance program to help states and food banks distribute food for low-income people through local agencies
    • $250 million for nutrition programs for seniors, including home-delivered meals.
  • Allows states to provide additional, temporary SNAP benefits to families with children whose schools have closed due to the public health emergency.
  • Permits certain school meal program requirements to be waived to ensure food is provided despite school closures.
  • Waives federal SNAP work requirements temporarily


Sick and Emergency Leave

  • Creates emergency paid sick leave for eligible employees who are sick or quarantined; as well as for caregivers of quarantined family members or children.
  • Full-time workers will be guaranteed 80 hours of paid leave, prorated for part-time workers. Payments will be capped at $511/day for sick employees, or at two-thirds of pay for those caring for family members capped at $200/day.
  • Provides temporary paid family leave for an additional 10 weeks to care for children whose school or daycare facility has closed due to the health emergency.
  • Payments will equal two-thirds pay with a cap at $200/day.
  • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may apply for hardship exemptions.
  • Provides refundable payroll tax credits for employers to offset payments for sick leave and family leave requirements


Fighting Coronavirus

  • Requires private and public health plans to provide full coverage for COVID-19 visits and testing.
  • Provides $1 billion to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to allow for COVID-19 testing for the uninsured.
  • Gives states additional emergency federal medical assistance.
  • Provides liability protection to certain personal respiratory protective device manufacturers to increase the production of devices in high demand.


Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus

On March 16, the first coronavirus fatality was reported in Indiana. This underscores how important it is that Hoosiers, and all Americans, remain vigilant and listen to the experts. We all have an important role to play to prevent the spread of this virus. Practice social distancing, look out for our elderly, and take precautions to avoid inadvertently spreading the virus.

Governor Eric Holcomb has announced additional steps to slow the spread of coronavirus. Indiana will adhere to the CDC guidance for large events and mass gatherings, including no in-person events of more than 50 people. Indiana bars, nightclubs and restaurants are also required to close to in-person patrons and may provide take-out and delivery services through the end of March. More here.

Information for Veterans:

My office remains available to assist veterans. For help with casework from a member of my team, click here. For the latest public health updates from the VA, please click here.

Price Gouging and Scams: 

During the coronavirus pandemic, Hoosiers should be cautious of price gouging and charity scams. The Indiana Attorney General’s office advises Hoosiers to exercise caution when making charitable donations, and report any suspected price gouging or charity scams to the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General here: https://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/3523.htm. Consumers who need additional information regarding the Office’s Consumer Protection Division are encouraged to call 1-800-382-5516.

Supplies:

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is looking for companies with the capability to manufacture masks and gowns for COVID-19.The following link is an assessment so DLA & other Federal agencies are able to coordinate production & distribution of supplies: docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAI…

Additional Resources:


About the Coronavirus:

In December 2019, a newly discovered respiratory virus – the 2019 Novel Coronavirus – caused an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Similar to the common flu, the virus is thought to be transmitted from person-to-person via close contact or through droplets when a person sneezes or coughs. It may also be spread through contact with infected surfaces or objects. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, and a general feeling of being unwell.   

U.S. public health agencies are closely monitoring the situation and are aggressively working on a response strategy, but it is important to take daily precautions to prevent the spread of germs. 

On January 29, Senators Young and Merkley urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the international coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). To read the letter, click here

On February 11, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the current outbreak of coronavirus disease, COVID-19. 

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. This follows a bipartisan letter Senator Young wrote calling for the elevated designation of this international outbreak.

Presidential Proclamations on Novel Coronavirus

On March 13, President Trump issued a national emergency declaration to free up more federal aid for state and local governments to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

On January 31, President Trump signed a proclamation barring entry to the United States of most foreign nationals who traveled to China within the past 14 days. The proclamation is in effect as of February 2. This action follows the declaration of a public health emergency in the United States related to the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China. The full text of the presidential proclamation is available on the White House website at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-nonimmigrants-persons-pose-risk-transmitting-2019-novel-coronavirus/.

On February 29, President Trump expanded this entry ban related to the COVID-19 outbreak to include any non-U.S. resident who had traveled to Iran in the prior 14 days. View the presidential proclamation here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-nonimmigrants-certain-additional-persons-pose-risk-transmitting-coronavirus/

On March 11, President Trump announced that the United States would suspend incoming travel from Europe for the next 30 days. The United Kingdom and its citizens are exempt from the travel restrictions. The restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, green card holders or the family of U.S. citizens. The travel ban goes into effect Friday, March 13 at midnight. View the presidential proclamation here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-nonimmigrants-certain-additional-persons-pose-risk-transmitting-2019-novel-coronavirus/ 

The following guidance is provided by the U.S. Department of State:

On March 19, the State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory applying to all countries. The advisory instructs Americans not to travel internationally and urges U.S. citizens abroad to return home amid the coronavirus pandemic. More information here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/travel-advisory-alert-global-level-4-health-advisory-issue.html

If you decide to travel abroad or are already outside the United States:

  • Consider returning to your country of residence immediately using whatever commercial means are available.
  • Have a travel plan that does not rely on the U.S. Government for assistance.
  • Review and follow the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus.
  • Check with your airline, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
  • Visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security, and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
  • Visit our Embassy webpages on COVID-19 for information on conditions in each country or jurisdiction.
  • Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the United States
     

Information from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division:

March 24, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published its first round of implementation guidance pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The guidance addresses critical questions such as:

  • How does an employer count its number of employees to determine coverage?
  • How can small businesses obtain an exemption?
  • How does an employer count hours for part-time employees?
  • How does an employer calculate wages employees are entitled to under the FFCRA?

 The initial WHD guidance is available in three-parts:

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced special Federal income tax return filing and payment relief in response to the ongoing Coronavirus in Notice 2020-18 (PDF). Additional information for taxpayers can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus 

Other Helpful Information:

Here are helpful links to information about coronavirus, including important steps Hoosiers can take to prevent the spread of the disease:

·        Guidance on Prevention and Control

·        Guidance for Travelers

·        Guidance for Ships

·        Transmission

·        Information for Health Care Providers

·        Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs)  

·        Symptoms & Complications

·        Information for Laboratories

·        2019-nCoV Infection Control Guidance

·        Frequently Asked Questions and Answers