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ALERT: FOR INFORMATION AND RESOURCES RELATING TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC,

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Dear Neighbor,

As our city, nation and the entire world continues to grapple with the outbreak of COVID-19, I want to share some information and resources with you.

Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure, though it is possible to be asymptomatic.

If you believe you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and are seeking treatment or a test, please call your healthcare provider or 311 before you go in to allow them time to prepare for your visit.

Testing

Get tested if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Find a test site near you here.

Testing capacity is much larger now than the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to increase. There is no charge for a test at a site run by New York State, but check with the test site about charges if it is run by local governments or private companies.

Prevention

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. CDC recommends you take the following preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
  • Wash your hands often and vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

Vaccine

While supply of the vaccine is limited in these initial stages, more and more people will become eligible as the supply increases. Check your eligibility for a vaccine here. Learn more about the approved vaccines here.

It is important to continue following health guidelines until you have been vaccinated. These include wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding small and large gatherings.

Individuals eligible to receive a vaccine should schedule an appointment by contacting their affiliate network or employer and fill out a provided screening form with proof of employment and a statement of eligibility. As of January 4, 2021, the following groups are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine: 

  • All outpatient and ambulatory frontline, high-risk health care providers who provide in-person patient care or other staff in a position where they have direct contact with patients of any age. This includes hospital and community-based ambulatory care, primary care, and outpatient behavioral health service providers; phlebotomists; physical and occupational therapists; and specialty clinics, including dialysis centers. 
  • All frontline, high-risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients 
  • Health care workers at COVID-19 testing sites 
  • High-risk hospital and Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) staff 
  • Dentists
  • Emergency medical service (EMS) personnel 
  • Medical examiners and coroners 
  • Funeral workers who have direct contact with infectious material and bodily fluids 
  • Staff and residents in congregate living facilities run by the NYS Offices for People With Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, and Addiction Services and Supports  
  • Urgent care providers 
  • Staff administering the COVID-19 vaccine 
  • Staff at dental practices of all types

Resources and Information

For Information from the State of New York, please visit the New York State Department of Of Health’s website or call the State’s 24/7 hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

To sign up for alerts from New York City text COVID (or COVIDESP for Spanish) to 692-692. You can always call 311 for New York City resources. 

Here are some more resources from federal agencies, New York State and New York City:  

Information from the CDC:

Information from New York State:

Information from New York City: 

Information from the U.S. Department of State:

Information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

Information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):

Information from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

Information from the U.S. Department of Labor:

Information from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA):

Information from the U.S. Department of Education:

Information from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Information from the Federal Bureau of Prisons:

Information for Unemployed Individuals:

With the passage of the second COVID-19 relief bill in December, more laid-off and furloughed workers than ever before are eligible for Unemployment Insurance. 

The New York State Department of Labor will immediately make $300 in additional weekly unemployment benefits available to all New Yorkers, through March 14, 2021. New York is also extending the period covered by unemployment benefits to accommodate this crisis response. A reminder for those who have difficulty enrolling for UI: any claim you file will be backdated to the date you became unemployed. If you are eligible, you will be paid all benefits due.


You may file for unemployment from New York State here. New York State has also prepared a helpful video on unemployment insurance. It is online here.

Information for Small Business Owners:

The second COVID-19 relief bill contained an additional $284 billion in relief for small businesses, creating new access to capital and reinforcing existing Small Business Administration (SBA) operations and programs. The following SBA programs may be of assistance to your business:

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans: Provide access to capital to cover the cost of retaining employees. Up to 100% of PPP loan principal can be forgiven if borrowers follow the PPP forgiveness guidelines. For more information from the SBA, click here. Round 2 of the program will begin soon.
  • Emergency Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants Loans: Low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million, with quick access to small amounts of capital to cover your costs right now. For more information from the SBA, click here. To apply, click here.

For assistance and guidance for businesses impacted by COVID-19 from the NYC Department of Small Businesses Services, please click here

Information about Economic Impact Payments: 

Individuals making up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married workers) will receive payments of $600 with an additional $600 payment per minor child under 17 years old. The payments decrease ratably and stop altogether for single workers making more than $87,000 ($174,000 for married workers.)

If you make under the above limits and have a valid Social Security number and cannot be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer, then you are eligible for a payment. 

Most eligible U.S. taxpayers will automatically receive their Economic Impact Payments including:

  • individuals who filed a federal income tax for 2018 or 2019;
  • individuals who receive Social Security retirement, survivors, or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits; or 
  • individuals who receive Railroad Retirement benefits.

These payments will be issued by the IRS via direct deposit and will be based on your 2019 or 2018 tax return or 2019 Social Security statement. 

If you did not file taxes in 2019 because you were not required to do so, you can still submit your payment information to the IRS to receive a direct deposit. Click here to learn more.

If you receive Social Security, retirement or other social safety net benefits, you may still qualify for a payment. You can learn more about the coronavirus response and Social Security here

These payments will not be taxable nor represent “resources” for program eligibility purposes. Click here for more information from the IRS. 

If you were unable to receive your payment because the bank account associated with the IRS was closed, the government will be reissuing your payments directly later in January, in the form of a paper check or a direct deposit. No action is required; the payments will be handled automatically.

If you are eligible but do not receive your payments, you claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 taxes to still receive the benefit.

For answers to frequently asked questions about these payments, click here

Information for Seniors: 

The NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA) has expanded its direct delivery of meals to all clients in all five boroughs. Because of this change, grab-and-go meals for seniors will no longer be offered.

The best way for seniors to access direct delivery meals is by contacting their local senior center. Seniors can also call DFTA’s Aging Connect at 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469) or 311.

Homebound individuals already receiving home-delivered meals through DFTA’s case management agencies will continue to receive their meals as usual. If you are interested in signing up for home-delivered meals, please call DFTA’s Aging Connect at 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469) to see if you are eligible.

Information for Homeowners, Renters and NYC Public Housing Residents: 

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is being implemented. Rental households can receive up to 12 months of assistance plus an additional 3 months if needed to ensure housing stability and funds are available. Among those who qualify are those receiving unemployment or experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, or have a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median. Details can be found here.

New York State has instituted a moratorium until May 1, 2021 on all evictions for tenants enduring a COVID-related hardship. Tenants must sign and deliver a “Hardship Declaration” to their landlord. Landlords can still evict people without a Hardship Declaration Form. The form can be found here

In addition, the second COVID relief package that the U.S. Congress passed and that was signed into law on December 27 extended a moratorium for qualified tenants unable to pay rent. Learn if you qualify and other FAQs here.

NYCHA encourages households experiencing a loss of income to access their rent hardship program. You may qualify for a rent reduction if you meet all the following conditions.

  • There is at least a 5% reduction to gross income
  • Current rent is more than 30% of net household income

Residents can initiate an Interim Recertification via the NYCHA Self-Service Portal or by requesting a paper form to be mailed to their residence by calling respective Management Offices.

Households that experience a complete loss of income may qualify for NYCHA’s Zero Income Policy. If a household reports zero income, they will participate in an interview with a NYCHA Housing Assistant and will complete a Zero Income Questionnaire. The interview can be held over the phone. If you need further assistance, please call your property management office or Customer Contact Center at 718-707-7771.

You can learn more about NYCHA’s program here

NYC Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) has coronavirus resources online here. HPD Section 8 tenants experiencing a rent hardship due to a decrease in income may contact HPD via DTRAI@hpd.nyc.gov or by fax at 212-863-5299

Homeowners with FHA, USDA, VA, or Section 184 or 184A mortgages and those with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac have the right to request forbearance on their payments for up to 6 months, with a possible extension for another 6 months without fees, penalties, or extra interest, until January 31, 2021. Homeowners should contact their mortgage servicing company directly. 

The New York State Department of Public Service has suspended public utilities from cutting off service, including power and heat, to customers affected by COVID-19 until March 31, 2021. The State’s major utilities will take immediate action to suspend service shutoffs to households during the COVID-19 outbreak and will continue to offer deferred payment plans for customers struggling financially due to the outbreak. If your service has been cut off and you need assistance, please contact my office.

Information for Parents and Students:

The NYC Department of Education (DOE) is providing updates here. Check the daily case map for NYC schools here. You can get blended learning resources here. To keep students connected and able to learn from home, the DOE is lending 300,000 internet-enabled iPads to students. Families that want to request a device should fill out the Remote Learning Device Request form, here. Teachers and school staff should use this same form to request devices on behalf of their students.

Information for Federal Student Loan Borrowers

Federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment. This suspension of payments will last until Jan. 31, 2020, but you can still make payments if you choose. Click here to learn more.

Information for New Yorkers Seeking Mental Health Assistance: 

For mental health assistance, you can call the state’s emotional support helpline at 844-863-9314. NYC also has valuable mental health resources you may access from home online here or by calling 1-888-NYC-Well (692-9355) or texting “Well” to 65173.

Information about Nutrition Assistance:

The New York City Department of Education has made three free meals available daily to all New Yorkers. Meals can be picked up at a Meal Hub from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. These locations will operate for children and families from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. No registration or ID is required. All three daily meals can be picked up at the same time, and parents and guardians may get the meals for their children. You can find a Meal Hub here.  

You may qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. The SNAP program is designed to ensure that Americans receive the food they need, especially if they are newly unemployed. To find out more and to apply for SNAP coverage, please click here.

Also, you may qualify for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC). To see if you are eligible for WIC benefits click here. To learn more about how to apply for WIC click here.

Contact Me

The safety of the constituents of the 8th Congressional District and your loved ones is of the utmost importance to me.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my offices at (718) 237-2211, (718) 373-0033 or CongressmanJeffries08@gmail.com.

Be safe and well.  

Sincerely,

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries