February 23, 2021
Good news business owners! The Biden Administration has announced big changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which will re-focus the program on those who need it most. Starting today and ending March 9, PPP will be exclusively available to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Many of our local mom and pop shops have been elbowed out of the PPP by better-funded and better-connected big businesses, so this should help even the playing field. Likewise, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and the self-employed will also see a big lift thanks to much-needed changes in the PPP formula for calculating loan size. Due to the nature of self-employment, many self-employed individuals were locked out of the program or received loans worth as little as $1.
The updates also expand eligibility through clarifying guidance to ensure that business owners who use Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) are not discriminated against. Additionally, restrictions preventing individuals with delinquent student debt or non-fraud felony convictions from accessing the program are now eliminated. PPP was always intended to be a lifeline for the hardest-hit businesses with the least resources, not an easy opportunity for cheap capital. I applaud the Administration’s changes which will help address the widening economic disparities resulting from the pandemic. Additional information can be found here.
February 5, 2021
Numerous questions were submitted by consitutents during the previous tele town hall regarding when and where COVID vaccines will be available and who is elligible. Please refer to the following information and if you need further assistance, please call Congresswoman Speier's staff at (650) 342-0300.
While the vaccine was developed and approved last year, production only recently began and, at this time, vaccine supply is extremely limited. What this means is that not everyone who is eligible will have a vaccine or appointment immediately available to them. Information on this website will be updated as increasing supplies and changing circumstances warrant.
The State of California decides who is eligible for the vaccine and our local health departments alongside our major healthcare systems are responsible for getting the doses into arms. For the most up-to-date information on California’s vaccination plan, please visit: https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/
Please see your local public health department website below for more information on who is currently eligible in your county and how to schedule an appointment, if one is available
San Francisco County: https://sf.gov/get-vaccinated-against-covid-19
Note: Please scroll down to “Who can get the vaccine now” for health system contact information
If you are a San Francisco resident you can register to get a notification when you become eligible for the vaccine here: Get notified when you're eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine | San Francisco (sf.gov).
San Mateo County: https://www.smchealth.org/covidvaccine
If you are a San Mateo County resident you can sign-up to receive vaccination updates here: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=Nfb6DU2gzEin422hrwiD-S6Nu8Fm05tAlD6PWRPnVIxUOUo0N0NUM1VDRUtVMDlBMlZBNFFBOFVNVyQlQCN0PWcu&wdLOR=c539C3515-F3DE-944B-88F3-A8F48EC76AB3
Most providers will reach out to their patients proactively once supply and capacity allows. If you are 65 and older and a patient of one of the multi-county healthcare systems, you may also call the following numbers to request an appointment. Please note that providers report high call volume and long wait times. More detailed information can be found on the County Health Department websites above.
Appointments: (866) 454-8855
24/7 hotline with updates: (855) 550-0951
Appointments: (650) 498-9000
Appointments: (844) 987-6115
Appointments: (650) 615-6000
January 26, 2021
Starting this month, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service began sending approximately 8 million second Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) by prepaid debit card, following millions of payments already made by direct deposit and the ongoing mailing of paper checks that are delivering the second round of Economic Impact Payments as rapidly as possible. If you don’t receive a direct deposit and Get My Payment on IRS.gov shows a date that your payment was mailed, watch your mail for either a paper check or debit card. The prepaid debit card, called the Economic Impact Payment card, is sponsored by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service and is issued by Treasury's financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A.
Taxpayers should note that the form of payment for the second mailed EIP may be different than the first mailed EIP. Some people who received a paper check last time might receive a prepaid debit card this time, and some people who received a prepaid debit card last time may receive a paper check this time. Other details to keep in mind include:
- The cards can be used online or in stores anywhere Visa is accepted. Recipients can also use the cards to get cash from ATMs or transfer funds to a bank account.
- To avoid scams, recipients should carefully check their mail and card. EIP cards are sent in a white envelope with the US Department of Treasury seal. The card has the Visa logo on the front of the card and issuing bank name, MetaBank, on the back.
- People can check the status of both their payments with the Get My Payment tool at IRS.gov.
- If qualifying people don’t receive a second stimulus payment – or it’s smaller than what they believe they’re entitled to – they can claim the proper amount when they file their 2020 tax return under the “Recovery Rebate Credit” section.
- If payments went to a bank account that is closed, the best route to recover the payment is to file a 2020 tax return electronically with direct deposit.
For more details, click here.
December 27, 2020
The House last week passed a bicameral, bipartisan coronavirus relief and omnibus appropriations bill on a vote of 427 to 85, which has now been signed into law and which:
- Accelerates vaccine distribution by providing billions in urgently needed funds to accelerate the free and equitable distribution of safe vaccines to as many Americans as possible as soon as possible and implements a strong national testing and tracing strategy with billions reserved specifically for combating the disparities facing communities of color and to support our heroic health care workers and providers.
- Provides funds for rent and food assistance, extended unemployment insurance, and direct payment money by securing another round of economic impact payments worth up to $600 per adult or child, averting the sudden expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for millions and adding a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work through March 14. It also lengthens the number of weeks an unemployed worker can receive benefits by 11 weeks, includes $25 billion in emergency rental assistance and a one-month eviction moratorium, supports financial institutions that focus on underserved communities, includes a 15 percent increase to CalFresh nutritional assistance, and boosts child nutrition benefits to help relieve the historic hunger crisis that has left up to one in four children food insecure.
- Delivers key tax benefits for struggling families with improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit that help ensure that families who faced unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic are able to receive a strong tax credit based on their 2019 income, preserving these vital income supports for vulnerable families. To support workers, the agreement extends and improves the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help keep workers in their jobs during coronavirus closures or reduced revenue and also provides a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave, based on the Families First framework.
- Gives strong support for small businesses by securing critical funding and policy changes to help small businesses, including minority, women, and veteran-owned small businesses. The agreement includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans; dedicates set-asides for very small businesses and lending through community-based lenders that serve low-income customers and people of color; key modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits and provide larger benefits for independent restaurants; $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions; and $20 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which are critical to many smaller businesses on Main Street.
- Funds education, child care and students with $82 billion for colleges and schools, including support for ventilation system repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open. The package includes the largest expansion of Pell Grant recipients in over a decade, reaching 500,000 new recipients and ensuring more than 1.5 million students will now receive the maximum benefit, which has also been increased.
- Delivers more affordable broadband access with a $7 billion investment to increase access to broadband, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help millions of students, families, and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.
- Secures key funding streams for state/local/tribal/territorial governments. State and local governments need much more funding to prevent the senseless layoffs of heroic essential workers and critical service cuts; however, these new targeted funds for state and local government functions will help alleviate their overall budget burdens. Funding includes emergency resources for schools; $27 billion for state highways, struggling transit agencies, Amtrak, and airports; $22 billion for the health-related expenses of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments; and an additional year of eligibility for expenses under the CARES Coronavirus Relief Fund.
- Creates good-paying jobs in clean energy & infrastructure to fight the climate crisis with sweeping clean energy reforms, R&D enhancements, efficiency incentives, and an extension of clean energy tax credits. It also includes the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2020, creating more good-paying jobs and strengthening the vital water infrastructure that Americans rely on. It also phases out Superpollutant HFCs, positioning the U.S. to get back on track to limit global warming. In the Bay Area, we’ve secured nearly $9 million for San Francisco Bay restoration and a broad authorization for the U.S. Army Corps to study sea level rise and coastal infrastructure projects.
- Ends surprise billing. Patients deserve the peace of mind to know they will not be hit with crushing, surprise medical bills for out-of-network treatment beyond their control. The agreement includes bipartisan legislation that will end surprise bills for emergency and scheduled care, so patients are only responsible for their usual cost-sharing amounts and deductibles. With patients protected, the legislation establishes a fair process for health care providers and health plans to sort out the out-of-network costs between themselves, without the patient stuck in the middle.
- Supports the global fight against COVID by securing an additional $3.36 billion for a total of $4 billion for GAVI, the international vaccine alliance, recognizing that we are not truly safe until the whole world is safe from the coronavirus.
This emergency relief agreement is an important initial step, which must be built on under the Biden-Harris Administration to include additional funds for state and local governments, child care, rental assistance, and emergency paid leave and paid sick days. We must move forward in a science-based way to meet the needs of the American people during this time of great suffering. When President-elect Joe Biden enters the White House, more help will be on the way.
December 14, 2020
The news that the Pfizer vaccine began shipping from Michigan yesterday and that CDC Director Robert Redfield has signed off on use of the vaccines today is reason for optimism and celebration amid this dark time. With more than one million new cases per week—and likely many more going undetected—and more than 15,000 Americans perishing due to COVID-19 every week, the suffering throughout the nation is overwhelming. While the promising results from vaccine trials represent a light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic, the journey to the other side will be challenging. The Ensemble model projects that between 15,100 and 18,200 Americans will die of COVID-19 each week for the next 4 weeks.
The CDC recommends that long-term care residents and health care workers be first in line to receive any authorized vaccine. However, even with the Pfizer vaccine authorized to begin today and Moderna vaccine expected to be authorized later this month, it will take many months before enough is available for everyone. If more vaccine candidates, such as those in Phase 3 trials from AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson, yield positive results and win authorization from the FDA, this process will move faster. But many Americans will likely have to wait until the spring or later in 2021 to be vaccinated for the coronavirus.
We are not powerless. Until then, we can—and must—do many things to protect ourselves, our family, and friends. We can continue to wear masks when in public. We can continue to distance ourselves physically from others outside of our household, and we can avoid indoor gatherings. Those who can work remotely should do so, and employers should continue to support remote work as much as they can.
These actions not only protect us and our loved ones, they also protect the essential workers—doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, bus drivers, and many more—who we rely on and who cannot work remotely. For the next several months, we must not let up so that as many of us as possible can make it past the end of the pandemic. The light at the end of this long, dark struggle is in sight. By working together, I am confident that we will emerge stronger and more united.
December 3, 2020
UCSF has been chosen by state public health officials to receive and distribute the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as soon as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes the emergency use of the treatment and is on track to distribute other treatments, such as the Moderna vaccine, when or if they receive FDA clearance.
The first round of vaccinations will go to health care workers – clinical and nonclinical – and first responders, such as UCSF police, who are at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19. These include employees who work with patients with COVID-19 in the emergency room, urgent care centers, and certain inpatient units and clinics. A short time later, they will begin vaccinating high-risk groups, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.
UCSF is one of seven hospitals in California to be chosen for this task, which is a testament to the expertise and dedication of the UCSF vaccine and therapeutics task force and the many individuals who contribute to the task force’s work to keep our community, state, and country safe and healthy. To learn more about the distribution of the vaccines once they are available or review the most frequently asked questions, click here: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/ucsf-update-on-covid-19-vaccines.
December 3, 2020
Last week, I hosted a tele town hall with my constituents to discuss the latest federal response to the Coronavirus pandemic. I was joined by Dr. George Rutherford, UCSF Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and we discussed the best practices for all of us to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19 during the holiday season. Several people left messages after the event asking excellent questions that we were unable to get to during the hour long call. Those questions and the answers are listed below.
For those who missed the tele town hall and would like to listen to the audio recording, please click here.
Questions from the November 24th Tele Town Hall on COVID-19 Updates
Q: Are we continuing to produce N95 masks?
A: Yes, domestic production of N95 masks has grown from about 40 million per month in March to about 160 million per month. However, given the stress on the health care system from the pandemic, supply is still not sufficient to meet demand. The Biden-Harris administration could help expand production by making full use of the Defense Production Act to compel production increases, providing long-term contracts for purchases of domestically produced PPE, and expanding and improving the operations of the national strategic stockpile.
Q: What are the immunization plans for the country?
A: The U.S. government has made advance purchases of vaccine from several manufacturers with options to purchase more. The U.S. government is also coordinating and paying for distribution of vaccine to the states. The CDC will make recommendations about which groups will receive priority for available vaccine. If and when a vaccine is granted authorization by FDA, the U.S. government will distribute that vaccine to the states, with the goal of having vaccines available for administration within 24 hours of authorization. Ultimately, the state of California will decide where in the Bay Area to distribute the vaccine and who will be vaccinated first. The coronavirus vaccine will be made available free of charge to those receiving the vaccine.
Q: What are the side effects of the vaccine?
A: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines resulted in side effects like fever, fatigue, headache, joint pain, and sore arms. These are caused by the immune response to the vaccine and should resolve within a day or so. More here: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/370/6520/1022
Q: How does the vaccine affect people of different ages and races?
A: Based on the data published so far, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines appear to be highly effective across age, racial, and ethnic groups. FDA will scrutinize the clinical trial data closely for different effects across demographic groups and will incorporate those findings in any decision to grant emergency use authorization.
Q: What are the main ethnic and age groups getting and dying from coronavirus in San Mateo County?
A: San Mateo County Health reports daily data on COVID-19 cases and deaths separated by race/ethnicity and age group. Latinos/Hispanics in San Mateo County are disproportionately represented in the number of cases and deaths proportional to their share of the population and currently have the highest number of total reported cases of any ethnic group in the county, however whites having experienced the sharpest increase. While we are now seeing more cases among the 20-29 and 30-39 age groups, the greatest numbers of deaths are among those 80 years and older.
Q:How effective will the vaccine be?
A: Data published so far indicates that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are about 95% effective, making these among the most effective of any vaccine. As we move forward, FDA career (meaning non-political) staff and an independent advisory committee that advises the FDA will review the clinical data very closely to learn more about the effectiveness of vaccines in subpopulations and to confirm the validity of the statistical results. That analysis will inform FDA’s decision about whether to grant emergency use authorization. Importantly, the clinical trial results can indicate whether or not the vaccine provides protection from experiencing disease or severe disease from the coronavirus. The clinical trial data cannot tell us how long protection from the vaccine lasts, and it does not indicate whether individuals who were vaccinated can or cannot transmit the coronavirus.
Q: What is the likelihood of getting coronavirus from an animal?
A: At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. More studies are needed to better understand the relationship between people, animals, and COVID-19. More here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html
Q: Is it possible to get the coronavirus from surfaces?
A: Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through objects and surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, keyboards, toys, etc. However, current evidence suggests that the virus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses. More here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html#:~:text=Transmission%20of%20coronavirus%20occurs%20much,a%20variety%20of%20materials.
Q: Is a two week quarantine prior to Christmas a sufficient way to protect family from the virus and still get together with loved ones?
A: Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Although you may quarantine beforehand, you can still be exposed to the virus while travelling. Your chances of getting COVID-19 while traveling depends on the mode of travel and how well you protect yourself and others. It’s difficult to properly socially distance in airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops. The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay at home and avoid gatherings, even small ones. More here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/thanksgiving.html
A: How can we encourage people to wear masks?
Q: Masks are the easiest way to protect yourself and others from becoming infected with COVID-19. Unfortunately, President Trump has politicized masks and regularly downplayed their efficacy. One recent survey found that comparing masks to safety measures already widely adopted, like helmets and seat belts, can be an effective way to persuade more Americans. Public shaming may feel like a tempting option, but studies have shown that shaming often doesn’t help prevent risky behavior. In fact, it can result in people lying about their participation or otherwise hiding the behavior we’re trying to address. Business owners should refer to San Mateo County’s Health Order Violation Reporting & Appeals for Businesses to ensure that they’re in compliance with the latest safety requirements. Members of the public may also file a complaint using the link above or call 211 in San Mateo County to report a business where an employee or customer is not wearing a mask.
Tomorrow, at 6 p.m. PST, I will hold my 13th tele town hall on the coronavirus to provide my constituents with an update on the federal response to the pandemic and the CDC’s guidelines for Americans not to travel or host guests that they don’t live with this Thanksgiving. It will include UCSF’s Dr. George Rutherford, a Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Director of the Prevention and Public Health Group. Dr. Rutherford will help answer constituents’ medical questions and discuss best practices for this Thanksgiving and holiday season.
To sign up for the tele town hall, please go to https://speier.house.gov/live and register at least one hour before the event begins. You can also tune into the livestream of the tele town hall on my website and on my Facebook page and post your questions in the comment sections, or just listen along with us.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I know many of us want nothing more than to enjoy a big Thanksgiving feast with our families and loved ones. However, over 1 million cases of COVID-19 were reported in the past week alone. Over 250,000 Americans have already died from COVID-19 and the virus shows no signs of stopping. In California, COVID-19 cases are projected to increase by 45%—and deaths by 42%—over the next 4 weeks.
We’re all fatigued from the pandemic, but this Thanksgiving the best thing you can do for your loved ones is to follow the CDC’s recommendations and cancel any travel plans or planned gatherings with members outside of your household. No amount of turkey or stuffing is worth risking your health or the health of others. With flu season upon us and cases steadily rising, this is a turning point in the pandemic. It’s more important than ever that we continue to follow the science in order to get this virus under control and save lives.
I urge you to please review CDC’s recommendations below for a safe Thanksgiving.
If you are considering traveling, there are several important questions you should ask yourself and your loved ones before making a decision:
- Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?
- Are cases high or increasing in your community or your destination?
- Are hospitals in your community or your destination overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19? To find out, check state and local public health department websites.
- Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Check state and local requirements before you travel.
- During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don’t live with?
- Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or air which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?
- Are you traveling with people who don’t live with you?
If you do plan on travelling, please make sure to do the following:
- Check travel restrictions before you go.
- Get your flu shot before you travel.
- Always wear a mask in public settings, when using public transportation, and when around people who you don’t live with.
- Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who does not live with you.
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
- Delay your travel if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or have come in contact with a person with COVID-19.
- If you are a student, make sure to isolate for 14 days before leaving campus.
If you plan on attending a gathering:
- Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
- Wear a mask and safely store your mask while eating and drinking. CDC recommends dirty masks go in a plastic bag, and clean masks in a paper bag.
- Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
- Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.
- Have the meal outdoors if possible and limit the number of guests.
- Have guests bring their own food and drink. If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.
September 30, 2020
On Monday, September 28, I spoke with restaurant and bar owners from across my district who shared the unique challenges facing their businesses and workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The independent restaurant industry employs over 11 million Americans – more than the auto manufacturing and airline industries combined – and its success is integral to our local economy. If Congress fails to provide targeted assistance, more than half of our independent restaurants will not survive this pandemic.
That is why the House Democrats’ updated HEROES Act includes the RESTAURANTS Act, which would establish a $120 billion restaurant revitalization grant fund. The inclusion of the RESTAURANTS Act is a testament to the tenacity of restauranteurs across the nation who worked hard to shine a spotlight on their industry’s struggles.
To further help restaurant owners navigate the resources available to them, I’ve included answers to questions brought up during our recent online discussion here. A summary of small business assistance provided in the updated HEROES Act is also provided here. If you have any other questions, please feel free to call my office or email Sera.Alptekin@mail.house.gov.
August 31, 2020
Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) publicly released its assessment of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus. This disturbing report underscores the Trump Administration’s sheer incompetence in its handling of the virus and the President’s inability to respond to this deadly pandemic, providing little hope for improved behavior moving forward.
Between January 1st and June 13th, there were 125,000 more deaths from all causes than expected. The additional deaths reflect the pandemic’s severe impact on access and utilization of health care services during this time. It’s also possible that undiagnosed coronavirus cases constitute a portion of the deaths, which only further underscores the need to expand testing – including testing for asymptomatic cases. Combined with coronavirus fatalities, this pandemic has indirectly or directly led to the deaths of over 300,000 Americans – a staggering loss of life – and more than 6 million confirmed cases.
Additionally, the GAO has recommended that the Small Business Administration (SBA) develop an oversight plan for the $512 billion in taxpayer funds used to issue thousands of small business loans. For an unprecedented program of this magnitude, it’s outrageous that SBA states it has only begun to develop oversight plans for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and has not finalized or implemented them. Just a few weeks ago there were reports of fraud within the EIDL program, yet GAO found that SBA is not prepared to address fraud risks. There are still millions of businesses that are on the brink of collapse and desperately need the money. SBA needs to get its act together and start taking this issue seriously.
President Trump’s ineptitude has let this pandemic spiral out of control. Even more damning is the fact that when he has taken action – like peddling hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus remedy – it’s made the situation significantly worse. The worst part is knowing it didn’t have to be this way. Other countries are not struggling like the United States is. Every day that President Trump fails to act or acts only in his own interest, more lives are unnecessarily lost.
August 27, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued new guidelines that suggest that individuals who have been exposed to COVID, but are not exhibiting symptoms, do not need to be tested. For months the CDC has emphasized testing, testing, testing, so this change has rightly left many health experts and the general public confused and alarmed. Reports that the CDC was facing pressure from the “top down” to change its testing guidelines are deeply troubling and would seem to confirm fears that the decision was not based solely on scientific evidence, as it should be. Additionally, an Administration official misled the public when asked whether Dr. Fauci had signed off on the change. Dr. Fauci himself stated that he had been in surgery when the decision was made and expressed concerns that people may now have the wrong impression about the serious danger posed by asymptomatic spread. To better understand why the CDC has issued this new guidance, I joined several of my colleagues in the House in sending a letter to the CDC asking for further clarification in their decision-making process.
Following public outrage and scrutiny by medical experts, including Dr. Fauci, CDC Director Dr. Redfield attempted to walk back the new guidance. However, Dr. Redfield’s comments don’t provide any meaningful changes to the policy. As of August 27, the guidelines on the CDC website’s have not actually changed. It still only recommends that asymptomatic individuals may get tested if a doctor recommends it – not that they should. Asymptomatic individuals have the potential to unknowingly spread the virus to others and the CDC does not go nearly far enough in making that clear.
Rest assured that Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that California will not be following the new CDC guidelines. This is the right call and a decision supported by scientific evidence. We know that asymptomatic individuals play a meaningful role in the virus’s spread. In fact, a recent study conducted in South Korea, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, provides evidence that individuals without symptoms can carry just as much of the virus in their nose, throat, and lungs as people with symptoms and for almost as long. The study also demonstrated that an estimated 30 percent of asymptomatic individuals still spread the virus. While Governor Newsom’s decision will help protect millions of Californians, Americans in other states will no doubt still suffer the potentially deadly consequences caused by this reckless change in policy.
It’s a sad reality that many Americans do not trust their own government. Given the actions of this Administration, it’s also understandable. The President is more concerned with falsely deflating the number of coronavirus cases leading up to the November election than actually working to lower the number of infected people and gain control of the virus. Scant transparency in the Administration’s decision-making process leaves Americans to fend for themselves to figure out what’s true and what’s false – and when dealing with people’s health and survival we must not have any ambiguity. Please know that I will continue to keep up with the latest scientific findings related to the virus and push for evidence-based solutions. I will also continue to fight to hold this Administration accountable and keep my constituents informed. We will get through this.
June 11, 2020
I had the distinct honor to host my 10th tele town hall on the coronavirus pandemic with Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnessota. If you missed this outstanding conversation, you can listen here. You can also find his weekly podcast here.
May 19, 2020Testing for COVID-19 is now available in Daly City and East Palo Alto as well as San Mateo. Testing is available Monday through Saturday on a rotating basis through the three cities and free to any resident without the requirement of a doctor’s note, symptom screening or medical insurance. See all three locations and how to schedule an appointment at https://www.smcgov.org/covid-19-testing.
April 30, 2020
Last night, I hosted my eighth tele town hall in response to the coronavirus outbreak and my second such event focused specifically on the needs of small businesses and nonprofits in California’s 14th Congressional District. Despite Congress’s appropriation of nearly $3 trillion in COVID-19 relief funding, including $670 billion in Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans administered by the SBA, many of our local businesses and workers who are most in need are still awaiting assistance and struggling to survive. That is why I hosted this discussion with Julie Clowes, the District Director of SBA's San Francisco District Office, who explained what resources are available and held a tutorial on how to apply for PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
Julie also provided a list of Northern California lenders and their email contact information, which you can find here, and a handy FAQ guide created by the SBA in conjunction with the Treasury Department on how to how to calculate maximum loan amounts, by business type, which you will find here. You can also see Julie's slideshow on my Facebook page here.
If you have any questions or require further assistance, please feel free to contact me via my website here or call my San Mateo Office at (650) 342-0300 or my Washington, DC Office at (202) 225-3531.
April 28, 2020
I’ve heard from numerous constituents who are wondering when their $1,200 rebate checks will arrive. If you haven’t already registered on the IRS’s online tool, go to Get My Payment now and make sure that they have all of your information to ensure the fastest payment possible.
As of April 17th, the IRS sent out 88.1 million Economic Impact Payments (EIP) worth nearly $158 billion, including over nine million rebates worth more than $15 billion to Californians. The IRS has issued an adjusted timeframe for when the remaining rebates will be made, either through direct deposit or mailed as checks. Please note that the below information reflects the IRS’ anticipated timeline and is subject to change.
Tax filers in 2018 or 2019:
- The IRS has already begun distributing EIPs to tax filers for whom it has direct deposit information on file. Some people have reported delays in receiving their rebate, and the IRS is working to address this issue.
- If the IRS does not have your bank information on file, a check will be mailed to the address you provided on your tax return. The IRS has begun mailing out weekly batches of checks based on Adjusted Gross Income. This is anticipated to continue through the beginning of September. Those with lower AGIs can expect to receive their EIP sooner.
- If the IRS does not have your bank information on file and your check has not been mailed yet, you can use the Get My Payment application to receive your rebate more quickly through direct deposit.
Social Security retirement, disability, or survivor beneficiaries who did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019:
- Social Security recipients who typically receive their benefits through direct deposit to a bank account should start seeing payments by April 29.
SSI beneficiaries and veterans with benefits who did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019:
- SSI and veteran beneficiaries should begin seeing payments in early May via the method by which they typically receive their benefits. Those who receive their benefits through direct deposit can expect to see their EIP sooner than those who receive their benefits through other means.
- If you do not typically receive your benefits through direct deposit but would like to provide the IRS with bank information in order to receive it sooner, you can use the Get My Payment tool on the IRS’ website.
- If you are an SSI or veteran beneficiary and have qualifying children under 17, you have until May 5th to use the Non-Filer Portal to enter their information and receive the additional $500 per child. If you miss this deadline, you will still receive the rebate
All other Non-filers:
- If you did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019 and do not receive Social Security benefits (retirement, disability, survivor), SSI, veteran, or Railroad Retirement benefits, you must use the Non-Filer Portal in order to receive your EIP.
If you use the IRS’ online tools to enter your direct deposit information, you should expect to receive your rebate to your bank account on the Saturday that follows the Tuesday after you submit the information. If you enter bank information later than Tuesday on a given week, you will not receive your rebate until the following week.
April 15, 2020
Today, I hosted my seventh Coronavirus Tele Town Hall and focused on the issue of mental health, for children and adults, with Stanford Medical Center's Dr. Shashank Joshi. Dr. Joshi shared a wonderful resource that helps him cope with stress during these uncertain times -- The Six Daily Questions to Ask Yourself in Quarantine.
1. What am I grateful for today?
Last month, I heard recently-freed Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera speak at UC Berkeley. Someone asked how he survived 36 years in prison, 12 in solitary confinement. López Rivera responded that every morning he sang Violeta Parra’s song (later popularized by Mercedes Sosa) “Gracias a la Vida” (thank you to life). Our incarcerated family have much to teach us about how to survive extended physical and social isolation, including cultivating a daily gratitude practice, even in the most cruel of conditions. What are you grateful for today? Take two minutes every day to make a list. Add to it throughout the day. If you’d like to record your gratitudes online and share them with others, consider using the Greater Good Science Center’s online journal, Thnx.4.org.
2. Who am I checking in on, or connecting with, today?
As many have rightly reframed it, it’s not social distance we need, but rather social solidarity while we maintain physical distance. Pick three people each day to check in on. Call your grandma. FaceTime your mom. Text your friends (but not your ex!). Check on the neighbors. If you have more to give, the Disability Justice Culture Club is pairing minimally risk-exposed allies with disabled people of color and elders in the San Francisco East Bay who need extra support. Similar mutual-aid networks exist elsewhere.
3. What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today?
We’re facing down a global pandemic. The nightly news is the stuff of nightmares. Whole states are on lockdown. You’re suddenly either out of work or working from home while simultaneously running a homeschool for rebellious “coworkers” and frantically disinfecting surfaces. It’s OK if you don’t get to inbox zero by the end of the workday. It’s OK if the kids don’t learn anything today, but are still loved and alive by bedtime. Figure out what is actually important to you in this moment and focus on that. Science fiction novelist Octavia Butler, who wrote about resilience and adaptation in dystopian times, tells us, “The only lasting truth is Change.” The faster we let go of expectations of “normal,” the faster we adapt.
4. How am I getting outside today?
Nature, fresh air, and sunshine are good for our nervous systems. While not all of us may be able to get to the redwoods or the ocean, simply leaving the house is helpful. Can you sit in the sun for 10 minutes? Step outside briefly to see the moon as it rises? Even if you cannot physically get outside, can you open a window for fresh air? Or bring flowers inside?
5. How am I moving my body today?
Crisis heightens fear and anxiety. The more we can shift out of our heads and into our bodies, the more grounded we’ll feel. Take a 10-minute walk around the block. Run the stairs in your building. Do five push-ups. If you have limited mobility or fitness, can you roll your ankles in a circle while seated? Massage the tension out of your jaw? Put a hand on your heart to feel its beat?
6. What beauty am I creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?
Beauty is a powerful antidote to despair. Recognizing the beauty in the world and bringing it into our lives is an affirmation of the life that still exists and is worth fighting for. Becoming creators, not just consumers, of culture gives us agency and power. Grace Lee Boggs, the late philosopher and social activist from Detroit, taught us that “a revolution that is based on people exercising creativity in the midst of devastation is one of the great historical contributions of mankind.” So, let’s write about our lives, draw our dreams, sing our sorrows, plant gardens, cook for our neighbors, build rainwater harvesting systems and compost toilets, repair our clothes, and create culture to survive the hard times wherever and however we can.
April 15, 2020'
The IRS's new “Get My Payment” application allows you to check the status of your CARES Act rebate and input bank account information to receive it faster! Accessing information through this tool requires a valid SSN, DOB, and address and does not require a download.
Go to Get My Payment App at https://sa.www4.irs.gov/irfof-wmsp/.
Also, please note that if you filed 2018 or 2019 tax returns or you receive SSA, SSI, or railroad retirement benefits and have no qualifying children, you should receive your Economic Impact Payment automatically. And this application is separate from the IRS portal that non-filers must use in order to receive their rebate. If you have not recently filed taxes and do not receive the above benefits, or if you are a beneficiary with qualifying children, you must input some basic information through the portal to get an accurate rebate.
Portal users are asked to provide:
- Name, mailing address, and an email address
- Bank account information
- Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN), if you have one
- Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
- Basic information on any qualifying children
For IRS Portal for non-filers, go to: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here
Resources for coping and promoting wellbeing during COVID-19
2. California Surgeon General's Playbook: Stress Relief during COVID-19
3. Teen Guide to Mental Health and Wellness (San Diego County Office of Ed)
4. Strategies for Stress and Coping (CDC)
• COVID-19 Resources: Mental Health and Stress Management
(650) 579-0350 (San Mateo)
(415) 781-0500 (SF)
1-855-278-4204 (Santa Clara)
CRISIS TEXT LINE: Text START to 741-741
Other Tips for teachers, staff, and parents/caregivers
April 4, 2020
San Mateo and San Francisco counties have closed their tax offices until May 3rd, effectively postponing the property tax deadline until May 4th. If you have trouble meeting the May 4th deadline, you can still submit a request for a penalty waiver online and explain how COVID-19 has impacted your ability to meet the new deadline. For those in San Mateo County, you will find that penalty waiver online form here. For those in San Francisco City and County, the online waiver form is here. I encourage those who are able to pay their property taxes to do so in a timely manner to ensure that critical government services continue to have adequate funding.
April 2, 2020
Today, I held a tele town hall with small business and nonprofit leaders to help answer their questions about how to apply for financial assistance during the coronavirus outbreak and shelter at home order. I was joined by the U.S. Small Business Administration Disitrict Director for San Francisco Julie Clowes. Click here to watch a recording of the tele town hall.
March 31, 2020
arch 31, 2020I have added a page to my website to provide small businesses and nonprofit organizations in my district with a breakdown of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act initiatives, including more than $375 billion in small business relief that includes $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants. Click here or select the link in the sidebar on the right.
March 30, 2020
Today, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi put out her Families First - COVID 19 Constituent Resources Took Kit, outlining House Democrats' action thus far in ensuring our nation’s federal response to the coronavirus crisis puts workers and families first: their health, their wages and their well-being.
We have already passed and signed into law three sweeping pieces of legislation:
- The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- And the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Together, these laws dramatically expand critical financial lifelines for families, establish new benefits and protections for workers, create new tools for small businesses to meet payroll and other expenses, and provide relief for students and schools.
This Families First Coronavirus Constituent Service Resource Toolkit will help you understand all the benefits that are available to you and your community and how to use them. Click here.
March 27, 2020
This afternoon, Members of the U.S. House of Representatives passed the sweeping and historic Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a bipartisan package providing more than $2 trillion to address the needs of hardworking Americans and their families, including small business owners who are the backbone of our local and state economy. The bill package was signed into law by the President soon after it passed.
This is by no means a perfect solution and there are many areas that House Democrats are still fighting to address, including providing universal access to paid sick days and family leave, increasing funding for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and holding bad actors like the cruise industry accountable. But the direct cash assistance to all Americans, expansion of unemployment compensation, small business loans and grants, and funding for our hospitals and state and local governments are critically needed.
House and Senate Democrats were able to defeat Senate Republicans who attempted in the eleventh hour to claw back benefits for the unemployed and under-employed, sending a clear message to the American people that Congress is united in its efforts to save lives and help hardworking Americans, families, and small businesses first. We have learned from our mistakes of the past and are fighting efforts to defraud the government during this unprecedented crisis and to ensure that big banks, major corporations, and the financially elite do not profit from this disaster while others are left to foot the bill.
The package initiatives include, but are not limited to:
- A $150 Billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund: Creates a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that California will receive approximately $15.3 billion in desperately needed funds to benefit our state’s residents.
- $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: Includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four months, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.
- Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower and Middle-Income Americans: Provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower-and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to gradually phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for joint filers. These payments will provide individuals with the cash they need right now to survive with much of the economy currently shut down.
- More Than $375 Billion in Small Business Relief: Provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.
- Approximately $200 Billion for Our Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research: Provides an investment of about $200 billion in our hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment desperately needed by our health care workers, including ventilators, N95 masks, gowns, and gloves.
- More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency Appropriations, Including the Following:
- Transit Agencies: Provides $25 billion to transit agencies, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented. This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency. California will receive $3.7 billion under this program.
- Airports and Airlines: Provides $10 billion in aid contingent on retaining 90 percent of their workforce. It also prohibits airlines from stock buybacks and CEO bonuses, secures direct payroll payments to keep airline workers employed and receiving paychecks and collective bargaining agreements negotiated by workers will also be protected.
- HUD Emergency Solution Grants: Provides $2 billion for HUD Emergency Solution Grants to states that will be distributed by formula. These grants are designed to address the impact of the coronavirus among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance. Of this $2 billion, our state will receive over $237 million. In addition, the bill provides an additional $2 billion for these grants that will be allocated by HUD to the most hard-pressed areas.
- Child Care and Development Block Grant: Supports child care and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Our state will receive over $347 million under this emergency appropriation.
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Provides $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. Our state will receive more than $74 million for this purpose during this public health emergency.
- Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program: Provides $850 million for this program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency. Our state will receive more than $96 million under this appropriation.
- CDC Coronavirus State, Local and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards: Provides about $750 million in CDC State, Local, and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency. The minimum award for our state is over $41 million. In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs.
- School Systems and Higher Education Institutions. Provides $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions to continue to provide educational services to their students, including students with disabilities, English language learners and homeless students, and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions. That includes helping college students by dealing with increased costs and challenges meeting basic needs, like housing and food.
- Election Assistance: Provides $400 million for Election Assistance Grants for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections. Coronavirus is already resulting in the postponement of some primaries and this funding can help states make voting safer for individuals. Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting, and expand online registration. Our state will receive over $36 million for these purposes.
PREVIOUS CONGRESSIONAL ACTION
The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplementary Appropriations Act was signed into law on March 6, 2020 AND provided $8.3 billion in funding for vaccination developments and research, masks and other protective gear for health care agencies, increased testing across all levels of government, implementation of measures to control the virus’ spread, and loan subsidies for small businesses.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18, 2020 NS provided food assistance for children reliant on school meals in light of school closures, unemployment insurance for laid-off workers, Medicaid funds for state and local government workers, free Coronavirus testing for those who need it but cannot pay, and reeimbursements for businesses who give workers paid sick leave.
Are there any San Mateo or San Francisco residents who have tested positive? As of Friday, March 27, in San Mateo County, there were 239 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 6 deaths. In San Francisco County, there were 279 positive cases and 3 deaths reported. Unfortunately, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase as testing becomes more widely available. To find daily updates on the number of confirmed cases in your region please visit, San Mateo County Health’s website or the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s website.
Where did the virus come from? Coronaviruses, including COVID-19, are a large family of viruses found in humans and animals. It’s rare for animal coronaviruses to infect people, but like SARS and MERS, this appears to be the case with COVID-19 as well. It’s believed that all three of those coronaviruses have their origins in bats. Many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, China had some link to a seafood or live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread.
Can someone be asymptomatic but pass the virus to others? It’s possible for the virus to be transmitted by someone who is infected with COVID-19 but not presenting symptoms, although the chances appear to be lower. This is because the virus is spread through respiratory droplets which are expelled when an infected person coughs and sneezes.
What should you do if you get sick? The CDC recommends that you stay home and call your health care provider about your symptoms. If you think you have COVID-19, you should tell them so they can better take care of you and keep other people from getting infected or exposed. If you are not sick enough to be hospitalized, you can recover at home. Follow CDC instructions for how to take care of yourself at home, but know when to get emergency help.
How can you get the disease? People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small respiratory droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 3 feet away from a person who is sick. Although it is not certain how long COVID-19 survives on surfaces, it appears to behave like other coronaviruses, suggesting that the virus persists on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.
Are the hospitals in our district prepared for a surge? A "health care surge” is an excess in demand for health care services and resources. Each hospital has a surge capacity plan in place to allow them to stretch or reconfigure their existing capacity in an emergency. Health officials estimate that the surge in COVID-19-related hospitalizations may come as soon as the next two weeks in the Bay Area. Many hospitals report that they currently lack the space and supplies to attend to all the patients who may need acute care and intubation and they are working to order emergency supplies and hire additional personnel now to prepare. California currently has a surge capacity of 8661 beds and the State is in the process of identifying hotels and other spaces where people who don’t require acute care can stay. An agreement has been reached to keep Seton Hospital open to care for COVID-19 patients (currently 120 beds, which will slowly increase as additional floors are opened). Individual health systems are also exploring options for utilizing decommissioned hospitals.
What is being done to ensure access to personal protective equipment (PPE)? The Strategic National Stockpile is the nation’s largest supply of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out. The third COVID-19 package passed on Friday includes $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile supplies of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies, $1 billion for the Defense Production Act to bolster domestic supply chains, and $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus, including for the purchase of personal protective equipment.
California began receiving shipments from the Strategic National Stockpile to disseminate to Counties and local health systems and the week of March 23rd. An additional 20 million N95 masks and 10,000 ventilators among other necessary supplies. The Congresswoman speaks with our regional hospitals daily and is collaborating with our state and county officials to advocate for our hospitals’ growing needs for PPE, testing materials, and sanitation supplies. That includes a list she sent of emergency items needed by all our hospitals to both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Governor’s Office.
On March 18th, President Trump signed an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) which allows the federal government to compel production of medical supplies like PPE, FEMA announced on March 24th, that they will use the DPA for the first time to secure 60,000 test kits and will add “DPA language” to existing contracts for 500 million masks. The President also encouraged car manufacturers to begin producing ventilators but has thus far not enforced the DPA to compel companies to do so. General Motors announced it was partnering with Ventec Life Systems, a medical device company, to increase production of its respiratory care systems, rather than making ventilators on their own.
For the $8.3 billion appropriated by Congress for the coronavirus response, how do we know President Trump won’t reallocate the money for a different purpose? The bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the President makes clear that the President cannot use funds appropriated for any other purpose.
What is the Congresswoman’s position on waiving all fees related to Coronavirus testing and treatment? I believe that in order to control the spread of this outbreak, all coronavirus testing must be free. The federal government should also take meaningful action to subsidize out-of-pocket costs for treatment. People should not have to worry about going bankrupt in order to take care of themselves or help contain the spread of this virus.
Does the Congresswoman support direct cash transfers? What direct cash transfers are in the coronavirus stimulus? Democrats worked hard to negotiate a regular paycheck that working Americans can rely on for as long as this pandemic lasts. The amount that Senate Republicans ultimately agreed to and voted on March 25th does not go as far as the relief that would have been provided by Speaker Pelosi’s bill, but it will provide some stability to families during a difficult time. Single taxpayers who earn $75,000 or less will get $1,200, with an additional $500 per child. Joint filers who earn under $150,000 will get $2,400, plus $500 per child. If you make between $75,000-$99,000, the amount you receive will be reduced by 5% of your income above $75,000. The assistance completely phases out at $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers if you have no children. Unlike the first Senate proposal, all taxpayers would receive this amount. The assistance will be an advance against a tax credit. The House bill included a larger amount: up to $1,500 ($3,000 for joint returns) plus an additional $1,500 for each qualifying child. The phaseout over $75k was more complicated in the Speaker’s bill – you would have to return an amount equal to the ratio of your income above $75k to one half of $75k (32.5k).
What is being done regarding cleaning BART, SFO and the busses? The recommendation from State and County officials is to stay at home as much as possible and limit your movement. However, many essential workers must still take public transit. Due to a decrease in ridership, many public transit systems have modified hours and routes. They have also increased deep cleaning of their cars, handholds, and vehicles and are using medical-grade disinfectants to wipe down frequently touched surfaces.
What precautions have been put in place for people in prisons in California? At least two inmates and five state prison employees had tested positive for COVID-19 as of March 24, 2020, though none were located in our district. Governor Newsom announced that same day that the intake and transfer of adults and youth into the state’s 35 state prisons and four youth correctional facilities will be suspended. Instead, they will remain in county custody for the next 30 days. Further, Board of Parole Hearings will move to video conferences. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office has temporarily suspended all visits to correctional facilities, arrestees will be screened outside of the correctional facilities, and newly arrived inmates will be housed in the Intake Housing Unit for several days before being transferred to the jail’s general population. Visitation at the Youth Services Center are temporarily suspended as well. All staff coming in and out of correctional facilities are being closely monitored. In the event that an incarcerated individual shows signs of COVID-19, correctional staff will collaborate with Correctional Health Services to implement a quarantine plan as necessary.
What is the timeframe when an infected person is contagious? Can someone spread COVID-19 during the incubation period? Much about the virus is still unknown. The current understanding is that people can transmit the virus before they develop symptoms but it is not yet known what role asymptomatic infection plays in transmission or the length of time that someone remains contagious. Public health experts’ initial findings indicate that those infected by the novel coronavirus develop symptoms about five days after exposure, and almost always within two weeks. The CDC has used that standard in encouraging those who have potentially been exposed to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Can the test for COVID-19 detect virus when no symptoms are apparent? Yes. The tests detect the virus’ genetic material. However, the detection of viral RNA does not necessarily mean that infectious virus is present.
What should apartment managers be doing to reduce the risk of transmission? The National Apartment Association and HUD have resources on their websites directed toward public housing authorities, landlords, non-profits, and shelters which mostly refer to the CDC’s recommendations for individual prevention. HUD also released new Infectious Disease Toolkits for Continuum of Care and Emergency Solution Grant that include information on preventing and managing the spread of infectious disease, including COVID-19, for people experiencing homelessness here.
What does the FEMA major disaster declaration mean for California? The President invoked the Stafford Act by authorizing both an emergency declaration and a major disaster declaration for California. By invoking the Stafford Act, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be able to utilize the $43.6 billion currently available in the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) to assist state and local governments in their efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health. Reimbursable activities typically include emergency protective measures, such as the activation of State Emergency Operations Centers, National Guard costs, law enforcement and other measures necessary to protect public health and safety. FEMA assistance will be provided at a 75 percent Federal cost share. The major disaster declaration also made crisis counseling services available for reimbursement, and other Individual Assistance programs such as disaster UI and SNAP are under consideration.
What is being done to help the homeless?
Currently, the CDC has provided guidelines for best practices for local homeless shelters. In addition to helping the homeless, we must protect individuals and families who are on the brink of homelessness. The third Coronavirus stimulus bill passed on March 27th includes:
- $ 4 billion in Emergency Solution Grants to assist those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
- $5 billion in funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. $2 billion of this funding will be provided to cities and counties based on the prevalence and risk of COVID-19 and related economic and housing disruption. The additional funding will also help support the expansion of community health facilities, child care centers, food banks, and senior services.
- $3 billion for rental assistance protections for low-income Americans. The funding will allow housing providers to help the more than 9.6 million individuals currently assisted by HUD to remain in their homes or access temporary housing assistance.
- FEMA expedited the transfer of 109 disaster mobile home units to support COVID-19 housing initiative for impacted individuals.
At the state and local level, San Francisco has identified over 8,000 empty hotel rooms to possibly use to house people. Priority will be given to those who have tested positive and those who are awaiting test results but don’t have a home where they can quarantine. The city has also allocated funding to clean shelters and resource centers and will also use the money to increase meal offerings and expand shelter hours. Governor Newsom announced that the state would spend up to $150 million in emergency funding to lease hotel rooms and purchase trailers to house homeless individuals. San Mateo County is also utilizing hotels as a means of shelter. And Project WeHope operates a mobile hygiene center dubbed “Dignity on Wheels” that make stops throughout the region.
Additional details and guidance can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/plan-prepare-respond.html
How will you help the unemployed and under-employed? The House recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes numerous provisions to help the unemployed, underemployed, and homeless. First and foremost, this package provides free testing for the coronavirus for everyone, including the uninsured. This is critical for providing care and diminishing further spread of the virus.
Unfortunately, many have lost their jobs due to business closures as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. To alleviate the economic stress, the House bill provides the following:
- Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits will be expanded to an additional 26 weeks in qualifying States. Additional funding will also be provided to help States process UI benefits faster.
- Employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers are to provide employees two weeks of paid sick leave.
- Employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers, will be provided up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
- Refundable tax credits equal to 100 percent of qualified paid sick leave wages paid by an employer.
Other federal programs will also be adjusted or expanded to meet communities’ needs during the outbreak. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will receive an additional $500 million to assist pregnant women or mothers with young children who lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will suspend work requirements and increase flexibility in administering benefits. Supplemental funding will also be provided to distribute home-delivered, pre-packaged meals to an additional 25 million low-income seniors, and make certain that students can continue to access nutrition assistance.
Please note I am also a co-sponsor of legislation to provide individuals earning less than $100,000 with at least $1,000 to help offset the financial stress caused by the coronavirus outbreak. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the federal government has a responsibility to ensure accessible and affordable health care for everyone, and to provide meaningful support and relief to help Americans through this unprecedented time.
How will you strengthen food security? The closure of schools has had a significant impact on food security since many students relied on the free and reduced lunch program as a primary source of their meals. In response, school districts have set up community sites where families can still go and pick up meals. Please contact the San Mateo County Office of Education or your child’s local school district for more information on accessing school meals. The Families First Coronavirus Response aid package provided over $1 billion in aid for food security, including $500 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). It also eased SNAP eligibility rules, expanded meals for low-income seniors, and provided additional support to local food banks. The Senate aid package that is scheduled to be voted on in the House on March 27th includes:
- An additional $15.5 billion for SNAP
- $8.8 billion for Child Nutrition Programs
- $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). This funding is critical for supporting food banks.
- $9.5 billion to assist food producers who support local food systems like farmers markets, schools, and restaurants.
The proposed House coronavirus aid bill would expand on these efforts by further expanding SNAP funding, increasing the maximum SNAP benefit by 15 percent, and increasing the minimum benefit from $18 to $30.
What is the vulnerability of infants and children? Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported. It’s not known yet whether some children may be at higher risk for severe illness, for example, children with underlying medical conditions and special health care needs. There is still much more to be learned about how the disease impacts children.
Why haven't our 2nd installment property tax payments been postponed past April 10? The CA state taxes for 2019 filing and payments have been postponed. How is property tax any different?
It’s critical that the government work to relieve unnecessary financial burdens while families face unprecedented challenges related to COVID-19. Both the federal government and California recently postponed the filing and payment deadlines for the 2019 tax season until July 15, 2020. If you are unable to file your taxes by the July 15th deadline, you can request an automatic 6 month extension by filling out Form 4868. The IRS will continue to process tax returns on an ongoing basis. It is important that those who are able to file their taxes online do so in order to receive any refund for which they may be eligible.
On April 4th, San Mateo and San Francisco counties closed their tax offices until May 3rd, effectively postponing the property tax deadline until May 4th. If you have trouble meeting the May 4th deadline, you can still submit a request for a penalty waiver online and explain how COVID-19 has impacted your ability to meet the new deadline. For those in San Mateo County, you will find that penalty waiver online form here. For those in San Francisco City and County, the online waiver form is here. I encourage those who are ble to pay their property taxes to do so in a timely manner to ensure that critical government services continue to have adequate funding.
If you are unable to file your taxes by the July 15th deadline, you can request an automatic 6 month extension by filling out Form 4868.
When will COVID 19 testing be made available to everyone? COVID-19 testing is drastically expanding as more private companies and health care systems step in with their own diagnostic tests, labs, and drive-through testing sites.
There are currently 22 Public health labs in CA testing samples and in our district:
- SMC County Lab
- Verily/Project Baseline
San Francisco-based primary care and urgent care clinic systems include:
Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19 in order to slow transmission and the advice is the same whether you know you’re infected or not—stay home. Right now, we are prioritizing tests for: first-responders, health care workers, and those who are in high risk categories or experiencing serious symptoms like trouble breathing. The debate over the utility of widespread testing largely depends on context and the ability of the local health care systems to contend with a large influx of sick patients. Ideally, we would be testing as many people as possible, but many now agree we missed the window when testing would have been most effective in helping to contain the virus. We are now in a phase of mitigation where resource allocation is critical, which is why our shelter in place is so essential. Testing not only involves the test kits, but also reagents, swabs and tubes to collect samples, PPE to protect health care workers and the healthcare providers themselves to screen and provide care. As more people become ill, conserving these resources is ever more important.
My family members are stuck abroad. How do I get them home? The State Department and U.S. Embassy staff on the ground are working around the clock to help thousands of U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents return home. This requires negotiating special clearances for flight and in-country travel with the host governments. Their first recommendation is to enroll in the STEP program. This notifies the DOS to your whereabouts and allows them to send you timely updates and warnings. Second, visit the U.S. Embassy’s website, you will find a list of all the embassies here, to obtain their contact information and provide necessary information including documents for repatriation flights. If your loved one requires emergency assistance, please complete a general privacy release form found on my website and email my staff member, Alexandra at firstname.lastname@example.org so that she can liaise with the U.S. Embassy on your behalf.
Coronavirus Resources and Links
State and local public health authorities are on the front lines of the response to COVID-19 and often have the most up-to-date and detailed information on cases in their jurisdictions. State and local public health officials are the experts best positioned to inform your constituents about the COVID-19 response in your state or locality.
- Situation summary and how CDC is aggressively responding
- What we know about COVID-19 so far
- How to prepare yourself, your home, and your family
- The latest travel information
- Preventing COVID-19 spread in communities
- Resources for providers, health care facilities, health departments, and laboratoriesGuidance for schools, businesses and employers
- CDC Fact Sheets:
- What the Public Should Do, English
- Stop the Spread of Germs, English, Simplified Chinese, Spanish
- CDC posted information outlining steps people at higher risk can take. CDC also posted more information regarding people who need to take extra precautions and other at-risk populations.
- CDC published Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Dental Settings.
- CDC posted Screening Guidance for Dialysis Patients to help dialysis facilities limit the spread COVID-19.
- CDC updated the information for Pediatric Healthcare Providers.
- CDC published a statement on self-quarantine guidance for Greater New York City Transportation and Delivery Workers.
- Publications: CDC published an article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): Asymptomatic and Presymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infections in Residents of a Long-Term Care Skilled Nursing Facility – King County, Washington, March 2020.
- Videos: CDC published downloadable videos that share information about COVID-19.
- Translation: CDC added content to the website in four languages:
- Spanish: https://espanol.cdc.gov/enes/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Chinese: https://chinese.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Vietnamese: https://vietnamese.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Korean: https://korean.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Travel: CDC issued a Global Level 3 advisory recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential international travel.
* as of February 15, 2021.
COVID-19 cases in the United States: 27,645,547
States reporting cases: All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Confirmed Cases Globally: More than 108 million as of February 15, 2021.
- Number of Global Locations with Confirmed Cases: Over 150 (view locations with confirmed cases here).
- Local transmission of COVID-19 has been reported in numerous countries throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas.
FEMA Coronavirus Rumor Control page:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has created a coronavirus rumor control page to help combat the spread of disinformation, myths and distortions about the virus and related issues, including federal government action. Go to https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus-rumor-control to learn more.