COVID-19 Response and Constituent Resources
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all in ways large and small and the entire nation cannot wait to put this unprecedented nightmare behind us.
My colleagues in Congress and I are working hard to bring relief to all Americans, especially those who have been laid off, are fearful they will be unable to afford treatment if they become ill, or own a small business that is treading water.
The good news is that there are many resources available to District 24 residents to help you weather this storm.
I am hopeful that we will soon be able to turn the tide on this public health crisis, but in the meantime we must all remain vigilant and do our part to prevent the spread of coronavirus. That means following the advice of public health officials, washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, taking care not to touch your face, and avoiding large gatherings.
Only by taking the necessary precautions and protecting those who face a heightened risk due to age or pre-existing medical conditions, will we defeat this invisible foe.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson
Free Food Distribution
As unemployment numbers rise, so too is the number of families that are having a hard time keeping food on the table. Please click the link below to learn where you can get free groceries this week.
The historic, $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, provides one-time direct payments to nearly every American. The process could take approximately four months.
Individuals who earned less than $75,000 in 2019 will be eligible to receive $1,200. An individual who filed as head of household and earned $112,500 or less also will receive $1,200. Couples who filed jointly and earned less than $150,000 will receive $2,400. Households with children under age 17 will receive an additional $500 per child. College students whose parents claim them as a dependent on their taxes are ineligible to receive the $500 payment. Students who work and file taxes independently, however, may qualify.
For individuals who earned more than $75,000, payments will be reduced by $5 for every $100 of income that exceeds the limit. If you're a family of four, you’ll be eligible for a maximum of $3,400.
Individuals whose only income is Social Security or who don’t earn enough to file a tax return and disabled veterans who don’t pay taxes will still qualify for a stimulus check. Individuals who owe back taxes will still receive stimulus payments. Only those who are in arrears on child support payments may have stimulus payments withheld.
There's no sign up. The payments, which will be based on 2019 earnings, or 2018 earnings if you did not file last year, will be automatic for people who have filed a tax return or received Social Security benefits. Do not call the IRS. If you have questions, visit this website for periodic updates about the program as they become available.
Checks will be mailed to the address where you last received your tax refund or your last known address. If you received your refund by direct deposit, it will be deposited into that same account. People who have moved recently should notify the IRS as soon as possible.
If you have not filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, the IRS recommends that you do so as soon as possible so that your most up-to-date information is on file.
RELIEF FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
The CARES Act provides relief for small business owners. Here are some of the benefits you may be able to access:
Payment Protection Program (PPP) Loans will provide cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans would be forgiven.
Small Business Debt Relief Program will provide immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. SBA will cover all loan payments on these programs, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. The advance does not have to be repaid under any circumstance and may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations.
Contracting agencies will be able to modify the terms and conditions of a contract and also reimburse contractors at a billing rate of up to 40 hours per week of any paid leave, including sick leave. Eligible contractors are those whose employees or subcontractors cannot perform their duties on site or telework due to federal facilities closing because of COVID-19.
For more information, visit http://www.sbc.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=guide-to-the-cares-act.
EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BENEFITS
The current maximum benefit for the state of Florida is $275 per week. Under the CARES act, all Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipients will be eligible for an additional $600 a week.
An average worker who received a state UC benefit and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation would have 100 percent of their wages replaced until July 31, 2020.
Individuals who are still working but whose hours have been reduced, are generally not eligible for UC benefits. However, the CARES Act makes a substantial federal investment in supporting Short-Time Compensation (STC) or “work sharing” programs, which allow employers to make an agreement with the state UC office to reduce hours, instead of laying people off, so that workers can receive partial UC benefits for their lost hours.
To apply for unemployment benefits, visit https://connect.myflorida.com/Claimant/Core/Login.ASPX
SERVICES FOR SENIORS
Miami Fire-Rescue is offering free, in-home COVID-19 testing for homebound Miami residents, age 65 and older, who are experiencing symptoms and don’t have access to transportation. For assistance, call 305-960-5050.
Meals on Wheels South Florida provides meal delivery to homebound seniors, age 60 and older, in Broward County. The organization also offer emergency meals, food for pets, and grocery shopping assistance. To receive this aid, fill out a form at www.mowsoflo.org/home-meal-delivery and a social worker will contact you for an assessment. You also can call 954-714-6946 to speak with a representative who will help seniors fill out the application by phone.
Miami-Dade County’s “Meal on Wheels” provides meals delivery to low-income and ill individuals who are at least 60 and have disabilities or are homebound. They provide seven frozen meals a week, as well as fresh fruits, milk and other food items.
Some grocery stores have adjusted their store hours to allow seniors to stock up while avoiding crowds:
- Albertsons is reserving two hours every Tuesday and Thursday morning for vulnerable shoppers, including senior citizens, pregnant women and individuals with compromised immune systems.
- Dollar General is dedicating the first open hour of each day to seniors.
- Fresh Market is offering a reserved shopping hour for seniors and the at-risk between 8 and 9 a.m.
- Sedano’s is reserving 7 to 8 a.m. daily to serving seniors and more vulnerable customers.
- Target is exclusively serving” vulnerable guests, including the elderly and people with underlying health concerns” during the first hour of shopping each Wednesday.
- Walmart is opening stores an hour early for customers 60 and older every Tuesday through April 28.
- Whole Foods is serving customers who are 60 and older one hour before opening to the public.
SERVICES FOR STUDENTS
Although in-person classes are canceled, South Florida students can still receive hot meals at their local schools. For more information for Miami-Dade students, visit http://api.dadeschools.net/WMSFiles/223/pdfs/RLS%20-%20M-DCPS%20Supports%20Community%20-%203-15-20%20-%20FINAL.pdf
For more information about free meals in Broward, click here.
Comcast is offering free WiFi via Xfinity hotspots so that students can continue their studies at home during this public health crisis. More information about distance learning and free Internet can be found at http://distancelearning.dadeschools.net.
School may be out, but learning is in! Beginning March 30, WLRN-TV will broadcast an at-home learning educational schedule with age-appropriate programming blocks for students in pre-k through 12th grade. These programs, which are aligned to state standards, are free and accessible on WLRN-TV, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 a.m.
For more information, visit https://whut.pbslearningmedia.org/
FOR ESSENTIAL, FRONT-LINE WORKERS
Several YMCAs in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties are providing childcare services for the offspring of first responders, health-care workers and city and county employees. More information is available at https://ymcasouthflorida.org/schools-out/.
COVID-19 TESTING IN SOUTH FLORIDA
I am extremely proud to be the lead sponsor of a measure that ensures free coronavirus testing for everyone, including people who are uninsured. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by the president, included my measure, which mandates commercial payers selling individual or group health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act to cover all COVID-19 testing.
CDC FACT SHEETS
During times like this, there will be people who will try to take advantage of our vulnerability. If you witness or suspect such behavior, please call one of the following hotlines:
- Miami-Dade State Attorney Price Gouging Hotline: 305-547-3300
- State Attorney General Price Gouging Hotline: 1-866-966-7226
Please gather as much information as possible. Include your name, contact information, nature of complaint, location, product name and price. Take photographs of the advertised prices, receipts, signs or price tags, and keep copies of any estimates, invoice receipts or bills.
The following items are covered under Florida’s price-gouging law during the current state of emergency:
- Protective masks used to protect you from others if you are sick
- Sanitizing and disinfecting supplies, like hand sanitizer, wipes, surface cleaning supplies and all commercial cleaning supplies
- All personal protective equipment, including gowns, booties, gloves and other protective gear.
HOW TO SPOT, AVOID, AND REPORT CORONAVIRUS SCAMS
Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is sharing the following Federal Trade Commission tips to help you fight back.
For more information, visit:
Report suspicious claims or questionable practices at: https://www.fdacs.gov/Contact-Us/File-a-Complaint, or by calling: 1-800-435-7352