COVID-19 Updates

Visit the CDC's website HERE for more information.


How to prevent infection


How the virus spreads:
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the novel coronavirus is spread from person-to-person. This includes people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms and best practices:
High fever, cough, and shortness of breath are all signs of the novel coronavirus, and these symptoms may appear anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure. If you exhibit any of these symptoms, it’s essential that you immediately self-quarantine. This means staying home from work and limiting your exposure to friends and family. If you need to seek medical care, avoid using public transportation and keep your distance from crowds.

How to prevent infection:
- Wash your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and face.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with tissues.
- Practice social distancing for at least 15 days to slow the spread of the virus.
- Avoid groups of more than 10 people.
- Seniors and those with underlying health issues should stay at home and away from those who are sick. 

Actions to take:
Please visit the CDC’s latest guidance on stocking up on prescription medications, over the counter materials and other items you may need if you need to self-quarantine: CLICK HERE

Local and state resources


Washington State Resource Center
Frequently asked questions
WA DOH Blog "Public Connection"

Washington Department of Health Hotline (6:00am-10:00pm): Call 1-800-525-0127 and press # for COVID-19 questions.

Clark County Public Health  
564-397-8000

Lewis County Public Health 
360-740-1223

Klickitat County Public Health 
509-773-4565

Pacific County Public Health
360-875-9407 or 360-642-9407

Small Business assistance


There’s no doubt that small businesses throughout Southwest Washington have already felt the impact of COVID-19. We stand ready to help our small businesses through this public health crisis. Below you will find links and information about applying for disaster loans, sick leave wages, unemployment insurance, health and safety in the workplace, and more.


Small Business Administration disaster assistance:
Small businesses in all counties throughout Southwest Washington may now apply for disaster assistance loans by going here

Frequently Asked Questions and Resources


U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division information:
Published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, when it takes effect on April 1, 2020

Fact Sheet for Employees
Fact Sheet for Employers
Questions and Answers


Additional employment information:
The Washington State Employment Security Department emergency rules were enacted to relieve the burden of temporary layoffs, isolation, and quarantine for workers and businesses. Below are two ESD programs that can be helpful during this difficult time.

- SharedWork Program allows employers to cut hours rather than cut jobs. Employers can reduce the hours of full-time and part-time employees by as much as 50 percent; employees can collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.

- Standby Program allows employers to place employees on a temporary standby status for up to eight weeks with an anticipated return to work date. While on standby, employees can collect unemployment benefits and are exempt from job search requirements. 

Small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to promptly and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. (IRS announcement from March 20, 2020)

Social Security assistance


Social Security recently announced it will be closing its offices due to guidelines of ‘social distancing’ from the CDC. However, Social Security still has their secure, online services available at www.socialsecurity.gov. Local offices will also continue to provide critical services over the phone.

If you need help from Social Security:*
  • First, please use our secure and convenient online services available at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter, and much more – from anywhere and from any of your devices. We also have a wealth of information to answer most of your Social Security questions online, without having to speak with a Social Security representative in person or by phone. Please visit our online Frequently Asked Questions at www.socialsecurity.gov/ask.
  • If you cannot conduct your Social Security business online, please check our online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact your local office. Your local office still will be able to provide critical services to help you apply for benefits, answer your questions, and provide other services over the phone.
  • If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, we will call you to handle your appointment over the phone instead. If you have a hearing scheduled, we will call you to discuss alternatives for continuing with your hearing, including offering a telephonic hearing. Our call may come from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. Government phone. Please remember that our employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment.

If you cannot complete your Social Security business online, please call our National 800 Number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Our National 800 Number has many automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative. A list of automated telephone services is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/contact/phone.html.

*Courtesy of Social Security Administration


Social Security Benefit Suspension Scam: 
The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail Ennis, is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security Benefits due to COVID-19 related office closures.

There are reports that Social Security beneficiaries have received letters through the U.S. mail stating their payments will be suspended or discontinued unless they call a phone number referenced in the letter. Scammers may then mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of COVID-19 office closures.


Any communication you receive like this is a scam.

If you received a suspicious letter, text, call or email about a problem with your Social Security number, account, or payments, hang up or do not respond. Everyone is encouraged to report Social Security scams using the dedicated online resource at https://oig.ssa.gov.

Social Security will not suspend or decrease Social Security benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments. 

Employment scenarios and benefits


Washington State’s Employment Security Department has offered the following resource for those who need unemployment assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak:

Residents can also help their unemployment assistance application process by doing these four things:

  1. Start with the website first before calling. We are updating the information regularly on our website and making it much easier to understand.
  2. Apply online if you can and read the information on the website before you apply. It will help applicants from getting stuck.
  3. Sign up for ESD’s COVID-19 action alerts for the most up-to-date information and changes.


Please refer to the Washington State Department of Employment Security’s infographic below which will help you in determining the scenarios and benefits available that pertain to paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, paid family & medical leave and industrial insurance.


Tax filing deadline update


The deadline for filing taxes has officially been moved from April 15th to July 15th this year. This is something I was formally pushing for, and I know it will help our small businesses and workers during this difficult time. Read more here 

Latest on COVID-19 Tax Relief - IRS.gov/coronavirus

IRS Online:
Help
Tax Questions
Filing
Refunds
Payment
Tools

Emergency housing and foreclosure information


Due to the COVID-19 outbreak that is putting tremendous strain on families, HUD is suspending all evictions and foreclosures for single families that have a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured mortgage for the next 60 days. This will help ensure families in Southwest Washington won’t lose their homes during this uncertain time. Read more here 

Helping Americans abroad


For Southwest Washington residents who are traveling abroad or are trying to come back into the United States – we are here to help you. While we can’t guarantee an outcome, we will do what we can to make sure you are safe and back in the United States.

Travelers abroad:
Please register through the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to alert local embassies of your location. This program allows the State Department to send out daily updates regarding those specific areas travel conditions in the country you are visiting, and help embassies inform you of travel accommodations back to the U.S. in the case of an emergency.

Additional Resources:
CDC Materials for Incoming Travelers from High-Risk Countries
State Department Capabilities in a Crisis
Country-Specific Information/Health Alerts
Embassy-Specific COVID-19 Information
Reducing Stigma
CDC’s Travel Website

STATE DEPARTMENT CONSULAR AFFAIRS 24/7 EMERGENCY HOTLINE
Callers located in U.S. and Canada: 1-888-407-4747
Callers located overseas: 1-202-501-4444


Actions in Congress


While you play a central role in prevention, please know that I’m working to provide resources and hold officials accountable to make sure the government is working effectively to fight this disease on the front lines. From my position in Congress, I’ve taken several steps to help protect folks in Southwest Washington from the novel coronavirus:

Securing CDC funding directly to Washington:
The CDC is sending $11.48 million directly to Washington to fight the novel coronavirus, ensure access of test kits, set up of quarantine units & transportation of individuals to quarantine locations. I worked to secure this funding to support Southwest Washington communities already impacted by this outbreak. READ MORE HERE


Pushing for more PPE for Washington:
In order for our front line health care workers to do their jobs effectively, they must be equipped with personal protection equipment. Our state and Southwest Washington desperately need these resources, which is why I've been pushing the federal government to bring more PPE to Washington now. READ MORE HERE 


Pressing for expanded economic assistance, medical personnel and more:
From my position in Congress, I’ve been pushing federal officials to expand economic assistance to small businesses, pressing FEMA to provide appropriate medical personnel and equipment, and more.

Pressing FEMA for medical personnel & equipment

Pushing to expand economic assistance for small businesses

Urging POTUS to declare a major disaster for WA

- Pushing administration for additional ventilators for WA



Legislation introduced in Congress:
I've also been working on legislative solutions in Congress to help curb the effects of the virus and support hard-working families and small businesses:

- A bill to encourage rapid innovation and approval of a treatment or cure to COVID-19

- A bill to expand critical nutrition assistance, unemployment assistance and more

- A bill to ensure workers impacted by COVID-19 can access unemployment benefits