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.
Guidance on cloth face coverings 

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 & 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

Cowlitz County Public Health
1-888-683-8676 or 360-636-9595 

Wahkiakum County Public Health
888-452-0326 or 360-795-6207

Skamania County Public Health
509-427-3850


If you would like to donate resources, please contact the following:

Clark and Skamania Counties

covidsupplies@cresa911.org

Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties
Cowlitz County EOC - 360-577-3171

Pacific County
pceocOps@co.pacific.wa.us
Pacific County Emergency Management Agency information

Lewis County
chamberway.com/first-responders-donations/


Washington Connection:
Washington Connection is a great resource for families and individuals to apply for services like food and cash assistance. Visit their website to see if you qualify.

Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce Info

Small Business assistance



Small Business Administration disaster assistance:
Small businesses in all counties throughout Southwest Washington MAY NOW APPLY HERE for disaster assistance loans. You can also access Frequently Asked Questions and Resources.


Paycheck Protection Program:

The Payroll Protection Program, created by the phase 3 emergency response package Congress approved and the president signed into law on March 27, will help small businesses maintain payroll over an eight week period. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for those eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

Important Update: Congress passed legislation to extend the deadline to apply for PPP loans to AUGUST 8th.



Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for both the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program?
Answer: Borrowers can apply for both an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program loan. However, the Paycheck Protection Program loan funds and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan funds cannot be used for the same purpose. The Paycheck Protection Program loan must be used for payroll (minimum of 75% of the funds received) for it to be eligible for a forgivable loan and the remaining is used for different purposes. Borrowers who accept both loan funds should document the uses of the funds appropriately.

FUNDING OPTIONS


Where do I submit an application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

Answer: Like the SBA Loan Guarantee Program, the SBA doesn’t lend money directly to small business owners for the Paycheck Protection Program. Instead, it sets guidelines for loans made by partnering lenders.

Small businesses with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, 501(c)(19) veterans organizations, or Tribal businesses (see sec. 31(b)(2)(C) of the Small Business Act) affected by coronavirus/COVID-19 can find a lender using the SBA lender finder tool. 

FIND A PPP LENDER

Alternatively, you can contact your current bank or lender to see if they are offering PPP; or, view a list of SBA lenders on your local SBA district office website who may also be offering PPP: Seattle District (Washington and northern Idaho); Portland District, page 30 (Oregon and southwest Washington); Boise District, page 30 (southern Idaho and eastern Oregon); Alaska District.


How do I check the status of my Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and/or my EIDL Advance application?
Answer: The application process for the EIDL program was updated March 30 with a new streamlined application that allows you to simultaneously apply for both the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and/or EIDL Advance. 

For those who submitted a COVID-19 EIDL application prior to March 30, unless you have already been approved or are currently working with a loan officer, you should re-apply using the new streamlined application if you have not done so already.  The new application is streamlined and faster.

If you already submitted an application in the new streamlined system, keep your confirmation number handy and you'll hear from the SBA soon. You can also contact the SBA Office of Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov

APPLY FOR EIDL


Do religious organizations qualify for SBA funding programs related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) relief?
Answer: 
The SBA issued guidance clarifying all faith-based organizations impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19) are eligible to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, without restrictions based on their religious identity or activities, to the extent they meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the CARES Act.

READ THE NEWS RELEASE
READ FAITH-BASED FAQs


ADDITIONAL PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM FAQs



Small Business Administration local contact information:
SBA Portland District Office
(services Southwest Washington)
Phone: (503) 326-2682
www.sba.gov/or


Small Business Assistance Customer Service Center:
Open from 8am - 8 pm EDT, 7 days a week
Phone: (800) 659-2955
Email: disastercustomerservice@sba.gov


Columbia River Economic Development Council

Workforce Southwest Washington



U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist takes a small business step-by-step through the process of preparing to file for a loan. 


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 & 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.

Unemployment eligibility check list



Under the CARES Act that Congress passed and I supported, unemployment benefits will be expanded in the following ways:

- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance - expands benefits to those directly impacted by COVID-19 who are not otherwise eligible for Unemployment Insurance in Washington State. This will be available until December 26, 2020 and is retroactive to February 2, 2020.

- Pandemic Unemployment Compensation - increases the weekly benefit amount by $600 for unemployment assistance recipients (including those already on Unemployment Insurance or participating in SharedWork). It runs until July 25, 2020 and retroactive to March 29, 2020.

- Pandemic Emergency Compensation - adds 13 additional weeks of benefits on top of the standard 26 weeks (if needed). It runs until December 26, 2020 and is retroactive to March 29, 2020.

CARES Act: Unemployment Insurance Questions Answered

Employee Paid Leave Rights


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 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 

IRS Online:
Help
Tax Questions
Filing
Refunds
Payment
Tools


Economic Impact Payments

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Department of the Treasury announced that for folks who have yet to receive their Economic Impact Payment (EIP), they will received a prepaid debit card, instead of paper check. 

- EIP Card recipients can make purchases, get cash from in-network ATMs, and transfer funds to their personal bank account without incurring any fees. 

- They can also check their card balance online, by mobile app, or by phone without incurring fees.

- The EIP Card can be used online, at ATMs, or at any retail location where Visa is accepted.

This free, prepaid card also provides consumer protections available to traditional bank account owners, including protections against fraud, loss, and other errors.

EIP Cards are being distributed to qualified individuals without bank information on file with the IRS, and whose tax return was processed by either the Andover or Austin IRS Service Center.

Why have I received a letter indicating I haven't activated a debit card for my Economic Impact Payment?

Taxpayers who were mailed a debit card for their Economic Impact Payment but haven’t activated it yet will receive a letter in early July reminding them that they can activate it to access their money or obtain a free replacement card if needed.

The debit cards were originally mailed in May and June to about 4 million people who were eligible for an Economic Impact Payment and would have otherwise received a check. The debit cards were issued by MetaBank®, N.A. and came in a plain envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services.

For the reminder mailing, the Treasury Department logo will be visible on the envelope and letter. The left front of the envelope will clearly include this notation: “Not a bill or an advertisement. Important information about your Economic Impact Payment.” The inside of the letter will include instructions for people who haven’t activated their card yet and includes a picture of what the debit card looks like.

People expecting EIP payments should look for this mailing and activate their debit cards as soon as possible. Once the card is activated, people can transfer the funds to a bank account, get cash surcharge-free at an In-Network ATM or use in other ways.

For more information, visit EIPcard.com. Additional information, including answers to frequently asked questions and other resources is available at IRS.gov/coronavirus.

More details available here


Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?

Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

How will the IRS know where to send my payment?

The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.

For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.

The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?

Treasury has developed a web-based portal you can access here to provide banking information to the IRS online, so individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail. 

I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?

Yes. The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099 to generate Economic Impact Payments to recipients of benefits reflected in the Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099 who are not required to file a tax return and did not file a return for 2018 or 2019. This includes senior citizens, Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are not otherwise required to file a tax return.

Since the IRS would not have information regarding any dependents for these people, each person would receive $1,200 per person, without the additional amount for any dependents at this time.

I have a tax filing obligation but have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?

Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?

For those concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return, these economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.

I rely on means-tested programs like SNAP and federal housing assistance - will this impact my eligibility?

No. These funds are not considered taxable income so they will not impact your ability for means-tested programs.

I don't recognize the bank information shown on my Payment Status. What can I do? What will happen to my payment?

If you received your refund via a prepaid card or through your tax preparer, you may not recognize the information shown. In some cases, your preparer may have used an account number similar to your Social Security number.

Your bank account information for your Economic Impact Payment is captured from:

  • the most recently filed tax return if you received a refund by direct deposit in 2018 or 2019, or
  • the bank information you provided on our Get My Payment application, or
  • the bank information you provided on the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool.

I applied my 2019 refund toward my 2020 estimated tax (or 2018 refund toward my 2019 estimated tax if based on your 2018 return). What should I enter for the refund amount?

If you requested that all or part of your refund be applied toward your estimated tax, you should enter the total amount of your refund from line 21a of your 2019 tax return (or line 20a of your 2018 tax return).


When will Get My Payment provide a payment date after adding bank information?

If you enter your bank information in Get My Payment any day until noon on Tuesday, your payment date will be available beginning the following Saturday in Get My Payment.

If you enter your bank information after noon on Tuesday, your payment date should be available beginning the Saturday after next in Get My Payment.

There may be times when your payment may be sent by mail because the payment was already in process before the bank information was entered. If this is the case, then typically it will take up to 14 days to receive the payment (standard mailing time).


Why am I getting "Payment Status Not Available"? 

The Get My Payment application will return "Payment Status Not Available" for several reasons, including:

  • You are required to file a tax return, but:
    • We haven't finished processing your 2019 return
    • The application doesn't yet have your data; we’re working on adding more data to allow more people to use it.
  • You don't usually file a return, and:
    • You used Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here but we haven’t processed your entry yet
    • You receive SSI or VA benefits; information has not been loaded onto our systems yet for people who don’t normally file a tax return.
  • You’re not eligible for a payment (see Eligibility).

If you receive “Payment Status Not Available”, you will not be able to provide direct deposit information at this time.  We’re working on updates to allow more people to use this feature.

We update Get My Payment data once per day, overnight so there is no need to check more often. If you are eligible for a payment and have provided your information either through a recent tax return or the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here application, please check back for updates.


My bank account information has changed since I filed. Can I update it using the tool?

To help protect against potential fraud, the tool also does not allow people to change direct deposit bank account information already on file with the IRS. 

If we issue a direct deposit and the bank information is invalid or the bank account has been closed, the bank will reject the deposit. We will then mail your payment as soon as possible to the address we have on file for you. Get My Payment will be updated to reflect the date your payment will be mailed. Typically, once the payment is mailed, it will take up to 14 days to receive the payment, standard mailing time.


I think the amount of my Economic Impact Payment is incorrect. What can I do?

If you did not receive the full amount to which you believe you are entitled, you will be able to claim the additional amount when you file your 2020 tax return.  This is particularly important for individuals who may be entitled to the additional $500 per qualifying child dependent payments. For VA and SSI recipients who don’t have a filing requirement and have a child, they need to use the Non-Filer tool (link) on IRS.gov by May 5 in order to have the $500 added automatically to their $1,200 Economic Impact payment. We encourage people to review our “How do I calculate my EIP Payment” question and answer (See question 11).


Where can I get more information?

To see the full list of FAQs, please click here
The IRS will post all key information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available. 

Emergency housing & 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

- Asking the FCC & DOJ to crack down on COVID-related scams

- Pressing Treasury and the SBA for improvement to PPP

- Urging FEMA & DHHS for additional COVID-19 testing kits




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