Coronavirus

COVID-19 Public Health & Economic Resources

Updated at 06/29/2021 at 8am PT

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan – which includes $1.9 trillion in economic and public health relief – into law.

As this public health and economic crisis continues, I want to ensure you have the best available information to protect and care for yourself and your loved ones as we learn more about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers the coronavirus to be a severe public health threat. It’s vital you’re aware of the disease and the efforts necessary to prevent its spread.

Please also know that CDC is releasing new guidance every day. Stay up to date on the latest guidance at CDC.gov, and I’m posting their information on my Facebook and Twitter regularly.

For general inquiries, please contact Alameda County at ncov@acgov.org or call (510) 268-2101 or call my office at (510) 763-0370.

Public Health Information:

As we work to contain the spread of COVID-19 and provide economic relief, I want to share the resources and information currently available at the federal, state, and local level. 

COVID-19 Symptoms: 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: 

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • New loss of taste or smell

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or develop symptoms, call your health care provider immediately for medical advice.

Resources:

COVID-19 Vaccination:

The American Rescue Plan provided $91 billion in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for a number of activities, such as research, development, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as testing and tracing. Over $20 billion will be solely dedicated to implementing an effective, coordinated, nationwide vaccination program to ensure every American is able to get inoculated quickly. 

The law includes a provision that would require coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments in the Medicaid program at zero cost-sharing and increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) to 100 percent for vaccine administration through one year after the end of the pandemic. It would also create a state option to provide the same coverage for the uninsured through the end of the pandemic. This provision is essential in ensuring an equitable and affordable system for vaccine distribution.

Resources:

District-Specific Vaccination Sites & Information 

Alameda County residents ages 12+ are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. To register for a vaccine appointment, visit https://myturn.ca.gov/. Please sign up and get vaccinated as soon as you can.

Resources:

Reopening California

On June 15th, California lifted all physical distancing, capacity limits and retired the county tier system.

The new public health order effective June 15th supersedes all prior health orders. The order has limited restrictions, only related to masking and mega-events, as well as settings serving children and youth pending an expected update to the K-12 schools’ guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new public health order mandates that mega-events are following requirements for the Beyond the Blueprint for Industries and Business Sectors issued by the Department of Public Health.

Health Care Coverage:

If you need health care coverage, you can find more information at Covered California’s website. If you have questions about health insurance, COVID-19 testing, or access to care, please click here.

The American Rescue Plan expands subsidies in Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces to cover more middle-class families and offer greater benefits. Under the new bill, no one will pay more than 8.5% of their income for a silver plan in ACA marketplaces. Individuals on unemployment can purchase an ACA silver plan for zero premium.

The bill also includes new incentives for Medicaid expansion for the 12 states that have not already done so, and provides COBRA subsidies to assist in lower the individual cost of health insurance.

Direct Payments:

In the American Rescue Plan, Democrats secured a new round of direct recovery rebates. The maximum rebate payment is $1,400 per eligible individual, totaling to $2,000 with the $600 down payment enacted in December. 

Single filers with incomes up to $75,000, head of household filers with incomes up to $112,500, and joint filers with incomes up to $150,000 will receive the full payment of $1,400.

For households who have already filed their income tax return for 2020, the IRS will use that information to determine eligibility and size of payments. For households that have not yet filed for 2020, the IRS will review records from 2019 to determine eligibility and size of payment.

Resources:

Golden State Stimulus

California will provide the Golden State Stimulus payment to families and individuals who qualify. This is a one-time $600 or $1,200 payment per tax return. You may receive this payment if you receive the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) or file with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

The Golden State Stimulus aims to:

  • Support low-income Californians
  • Help those facing a hardship due to COVID-19

Most Californians who qualify will automatically receive the stimulus payment.

Stimulus payments are issued twice a month after eligible 2020 tax returns are processed.

Unemployment Insurance:

Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: In the American Rescue Plan, Democrats pushed to extend the expiration date on federal unemployment benefits, specifically the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Both of these programs have been amended to run through September 6, 2021.

The law exempts up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 from federal income taxes for households making less than $150,000. The benefit amount will remain at $300 per week. 

If you are a constituent experiencing delays in receiving unemployment benefits, please contact my Oakland office at (510) 763-0370

Resources: 

FEMA FUNERAL ASSISTANCE

Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), people who lost loved ones to COVID-19 can apply for a reimbursement on funeral burial costs. The maximum reimbursement offered through FEMA will be $9,000 per burial. In order to apply, you will need to provide documentation such as a funeral contract and receipt.

FEMA is now accepting applications. To apply, call 844-684-6333 or TTY 800-462-7585, Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT. 

I was proud to sponsor similar legislation last year with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) in the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Act and I am glad to see it available for families during this difficult time.

Resources: 

Education: 

The American Rescue Plan allocates nearly $130 billion in school reopening and making up for lost learning. We have seen the disproportionate effect that school closures have had on low-income families and communities of color; this relief package is a big step in combating that form of injustice in education. California alone will receive $15 billion in relief for K-12 schools. 

Resources:

COVID-19 Emergency Relief Flexibilities Extended Through at Least Sept. 30, 2021 

Child Tax Credit:

The American Rescue Plan offers an expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), among other tax relief measures. The CTC will be fully refundable for 2021 and the annual amount is increased to $3,000 per child, and $3,600 per child under the age of 6. CTC payments will be start hitting bank accounts and mailboxes July 15th, 2021.

The potential effect of the ARP could cut child poverty in half. This is an effort that I, as Co-Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, have been working diligently on. It is unacceptable that millions of children in the wealthiest nation on earth are going to bed hungry; this law takes a huge step towards ending child poverty. 

Child Tax Credit Non-Filer Sign-up Tool

Families who do not typically file tax returns can use the IRS non-filer tool to help access Child Tax Credit payments. To access the non-filer tool, click here.

Childcare: 

In addition to the massive disparities in our education system, COVID-19 has exacerbated our childcare system. The childcare crisis our country is facing poses a significant threat to the financial security of women across America, as child care providers are almost entirely women and 40% are people of color.

The American Rescue Plan provides a crucial $39 billion in funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant. The bill increased the annual funding level for child care entitlements that states are able to claim and bolsters the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

Lastly, the bill provides a supplemental $1 billion for Head Start to prepare and equip facilities with the resources to stay open and continue providing services to families. These are much-needed funding actions that will save our crumbling child care system.

Resources:

Housing Assistance:

The affordable housing crisis has been intensified by economic conditions provoked due to COVID-19. That is why the American Rescue Plan commits to providing $27.5 billion in emergency rental assistance to help ensure that families have a safe and stable place to live. Of this sum, $22.5 billion will serve as a stabilizer by directly funding rental and utility assistance for renters and property owners.

The remaining $5 billion is dedicated to housing for particularly vulnerable communities, including: those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking. Furthermore, there is an additional $4.75 billion devoted to supporting solutions for Americans experiencing homelessness. These funds will be provided for state and local governments to fund safe, affordable shelter spaces.

The bill provides $10 billion for the Homeowner Assistance Fund, which helps address the ongoing needs of struggling homeowners by providing assistance with mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and other housing related costs. 

Resources: 

 

Food Assistance:

During a period of widespread and extreme economic hardship, millions of families are struggling to put food on the table. The American Rescue Plan addresses food security through a wide variety of measures, including: a 15% extension of SNAP maximum benefits, $1.1 billion in additional SNAP funds to meet increased demand, and $800 million for WIC – a program that provides vital support for low-income women and infants. 

The bill also invests over $5 billion in Pandemic-EBT, expanding school meals for low-income families. Furthermore, eligibility for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) will also be expanded at homeless shelters to offer nutritional support.

To apply for food assistance through CalFresh, click here.

Resources:

Alameda County 

Berkeley

State-wide

 

Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Workers:

Small businesses – a backbone of the American economy – have been decimated by the effects of COVID-19. The American Rescue Plan seeks to invest in small businesses to get old businesses back on their feet and new businesses up-and-running. The bill includes an additional $7.25 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and drastically expands the eligibility for nonprofits to qualify for financial assistance through PPP. The bill also establishes a state-operated small business credit initiative that will offer relief.

Restaurants, which have been particularly impacted by COVID-19, will benefit from the creation of a new program at the Small Business Association that will offer at least $25 billion in assistance to restaurants, particularly smaller establishments and businesses owned by economically disadvantaged individuals.

During a public health crisis, workers’ safety is an elevated concern. The American Rescue Plan strengthens workplace protections for essential workers by increasing the Department of Labor funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Eligibility for medical benefits, survivor benefits, and lost wages will be expanded to ensure workers’ compensation coverage for frontline federal employees.

Resources: 

Native Americans / Tribal Governments:

Native communities have been hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19, dealing in life-or-death situations with both health and economic impacts. The American Rescue Plan offers a guarantee of $20 billion in direct relief to federally recognized tribal governments to reduce health inequities and improve economic opportunities, while combating COVID-19.

The bill includes $6 billion for the Indian Health Service to focus on equitable access to vaccines, testing, tracing, and other health concerns. The Bureau of Indian Affairs will receive a $900 million to further address such disparities. Additional assistance for housing, small businesses, and education in tribal communities will total over $2 billion. 

Veterans 

The American Rescue Plan offers support to veterans and service-members by establishing copay reimbursements for preventative treatment or services related to COVID-19. The bill also includes more than $14.5 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide health care services, including suicide prevention and Women’s health services.

Resources: 

Additional Provisions:

The American Rescue Plan provides $4 billion for expanding behavioral and mental health services, including $1.5 billion specifically for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant program. 

The American Rescue Plan provides an additional $1 billion in funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for states to cover additional cash assistance.

The American Rescue Plan includes $50 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund for reimbursements to state, local, Tribal and territorial governments dealing with ongoing response and recovery activities from COVID-19. FEMA will also receive $400 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program and $110 million for humanitarian relief to migrant families. 

The American Rescue Plan invests in transit systems with $30 billion for transit agencies across the country that are working with low ridership. Funding will also allow Amtrak to remain fully operational. Over $25 billion will be provided to airports, aerospace, and airline agencies to support employees through wage coverage and layoff prevention. 

The American Rescue Plan provides over $10 billion in assistance to address health disparities, including funding for Community Health Centers, the Indian Health Service, the Older Americans Act, and more.