Coronavirus

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.

I want to thank our state, city, county, the Port of Oakland, health care workers, first responders, and all those who have stepped up tremendously to coordinate with the federal government to not only help rescue the passengers of the Grand Princess, but also prepare and respond to the spread of coronavirus. Their leadership and service is making a difference every single day as we work to respond to this growing pandemic. 

Unfortunately, Trump’s response to this crisis has been wholly inadequate. 

His latest budget actually cut funding for the very public health programs we are relying on to keep us safe from the virus. The Trump Budget called for slashing almost $700 million from the Centers for Disease Control, which is on the frontlines of this emergency.

But I have good news – real help is on the way. 

On March 4th, Congress passed an $8.3 billion funding package that was signed into law and providing $3 billion for the development of treatments and a vaccine, over $2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness and response, funding for community health centers, and allows an estimated $7 billion in low-interest SBA loans for small businesses impacted by the pandemic.   

And building on the resources provided in the supplemental spending bill, on March 14th, the House came together in a bipartisan way to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to help address the economic effects of this crisis. Our bill establishes paid leave, strengthens unemployment benefits, expands and protects food assistance programs for our seniors and children, provides free coronavirus testing, and additional Medicaid funding to address the evolving impacts of the pandemic.  

To address the food security of our most vulnerable, I worked to help include more than $1 billion to provide nutritious foods to low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children, help food banks, and provide meals to seniors. The bill also protects students’ access to school meals in the event of school closures. And importantly, we were able to block the administration from implementing their dangerous and cruel-hearted work and training requirements for SNAP for the duration of the emergency.

Please know that Congress and House Democrats will continue to put families first and deliver the resources needed to address this pandemic head-on.   

As the spread of coronavirus continues, the best way to keep your friends, family and community safe is by keeping yourself healthy. Remember to wash your hands often with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Most of all, stay home when you are sick and contact your primary care doctor for further guidance or if you are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

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.

Stay healthy!

Shelter in place:

Starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 6 Bay Area counties – San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda – have ordered a shelter in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order limits activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs. The guidance comes after substantial input from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and best practices from other health officials around the world. This order is in effect until April 7.

  • What does this Order do?
    • This Order requires that most people stay home starting as soon as possible, but no later than 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, unless they are engaged in certain “Essential Activities” which are discussed more below. 
    • For most people, this means you and those you live with should remain at home.
    • You are allowed to leave your home for specified reasons to make sure you have the necessities of life (discussed more below) such as getting food and medical supplies.
    • You are also allowed to go outside to take care of pets, go on a walk, and just get outside, so long as you do not congregate in a group and maintain at least six feet of distance between you and other people. 
    • If you are sick you should self-isolate, including, to the extent you can, from others you live with (more on that below).
  • What does it mean to “shelter in place?”
    • The term “shelter in place” means to stay in your home and not leave unless necessary for one of the designated exceptions listed in the Order.
    • Some reasons you would leave your home are to get food, to get a prescription, to see a doctor, to go to work if your work is essential as defined in this Order, to take your child(ren) to and from childcare that is authorized under this Order, and to help people you care for get the things they need to live and be healthy and safe.
  • Should I stock up on food, necessities like toilet paper, and on medicines?
    • No. You will continue to be able to purchase these items whenever you need them, as stores selling necessary items like grocery stores, pharmacies, and hardware stores will remain open. 
    • Please continue to buy normal quantities of these items on the same schedule you normally do. This will ensure that there is enough for everyone.
  • Am I allowed to leave my home while this Order is in effect?
    • The intent of this Order is to ensure that people remain in their residences and minimize social interactions outside of their immediate family unit.
    • However, you may leave your residence for reasons specified in the Order. These reasons include ensuring the health and safety of yourself and your family, engaging in outdoor activity that does not involve close contact with other people, obtaining services and supplies for yourself and your family, and to perform employment functions that are permissible under the Order.

Have more questions? Check out Alameda County's resource page, the City of Berkeley’s FAQ page, the City of Piedmont's resource pagethe City of Emeryville's resource pagethe City of Albany's resource page, and San Leandro's page for more guidance.

Symptoms

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you have visited China within the past two weeks and start to feel ill, call your doctor.

Prevention

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

  • Stay home except to get medical care 
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Wear a facemask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

For more information, visit the CDC's website, or one of the resource sheets below.

English - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html 

Español - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index-sp.html 

Mandarin - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index-Chinese.html

California K-12 School Closure Resources

Due to the severity of COVID-19 the state of California has closed public schools until further notice. The details of this decision are out lined in Executive Order N-26-20, which can be found here.

As result the following resources pertaining to childcare have been made available.

Resources to find open child care:

Resource and Referral (R&R) statewide consumer education hotline: 1-800-KIDS-793 and https://rrnetwork.org/ and https://rrnetwork.org/family-services/find-child-care

Regional Childcare Liscencing: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/CCLD/Community%20Care%20Licensing%20Division%20Child%20Care%20Offices.pdf.

Childcare Leave:

For adults that are unable to work due to school closures and childcare limitation they can file unemployment Insurance claims. More information is available here and here.

For Employers

Businesses can open temporary emergency child care facilities. Some the childcare requirements may be waived.  Please visit this website for more details about the process and requirements.

Free school lunch

Alameda County, the City of Oakland, and the City of Berkeley are all providing free school lunches to students during the school closures. To find locations the lunches are being passed out, click here for Alameda County, click here for Oakland, and click here for Berkeley.

Educational Resources for students

While students may be unable to attend class we want them to remain actively engaged. The state of California has complied a list of free resources that students and parents can access. Please visit this page to access the list of resources and more information about next steps for alternative forms of schooling.

Immigration Resources

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Effective March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is suspending in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The following are temporarily closed:

  • Field Office: San Francisco, San Jose
  • Application Support Centers: Oakland, Salinas, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa
  • Asylum Offices: San Francisco

In the meantime, USCIS will provide limited emergency services. Please call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.

According to USCIS, USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if your field office has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.   

Undocumented Communities

Undocumented families who plan to apply for documentation in the future should still seek testing and treatment for COVID-19. According to USCIS, COVID-19 is public charge exempt.

Hospitals and medical treatment facilities are safe to visit. Federal guidelines prohibit immigration/ICE agents from conducting arrests or other enforcement actions at “medical treatment and health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities.” “However, in exigent circumstances related to national security, terrorism, or public safety, or where there is an imminent risk of destruction of evidence material to an ongoing criminal case.” Please see ice.gov for more information. 

Health care workers should not ask for immigration status information.

Travel Resources

As of March 19, The Department of State has issued a Level 4 Global Travel Advisory, advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.   

The Presidential Proclamation – Travel from Europe (Issued on March 11 and 14) – the restrictions do not apply to U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents. Travelers who wish to return to the United States should continue to work with the airlines for return travel arrangements.

If you plan to travel internationally, you are strongly encouraged to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive important messages, alerts, updates, and travel advisories while you are there. The Department uses these Alerts to make it easier to locate you in an emergency, and to convey information about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, etc. 

If you are currently abroad and need assistance, contact the State Department at: 1 (888) 407-4747 (Toll Free in the US/Canada) or (202) 501-4444 or the local US Embassy

You can also request additional assistance from our office by visiting this page.

Resources for Small Businesses and Small Business Employees

SBA Loans 

The following counties are currently eligible for SBA disaster relief loans in California: Alameda, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma, Tuolumne

To apply for SBA Loans please visit: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/

Currently only counties listed above qualify for SBA disaster relief loans as of today, but Cal OES and SBA are working to have all of CA qualify for some relief. Please visit https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance for more information.

Filing for Assistance as a Small Business Employee 

If you are an employee of a small business and are sick or quarantined you can apply for disability benefits. Please visit the California State Department of Employment Development website for more information:https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

If you are an employee and have experienced reduced work hours you can apply for unemployment benefits.

Tax Assistance

CA Employers experiencing a hardship as a result of COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day extension of time from the EDD to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. A written request for extension must be received within 60 days from the original delinquent date of the payment or return. For questions, employers may call the EDD Taxpayer Assistance Center.

  • Toll-free from the U.S. or Canada: 1-888-745-3886
  • Hearing impaired (TTY): 1-800-547-9565
  • Outside the U.S. or Canada: 1-916-464-3502

Federal Tax Day is now July 15!

The Treasury Department and IRS announced that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.

Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.

Taxpayers are encouraged to use www.irs.gov to find answers to their tax questions.  Qualifying taxpayers can use the FreeFile program without cost. https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free 

City Specific Resources 

Oakland: https://www.oaklandca.gov/resources/coronavirus-2019-covid-19-business-and-worker-resources

San Leandro: http://sanleandro.org/depts/cd/default.asp

Alameda: https://www.alamedaca.gov/RESIDENTS/ALERTS/COVID-19-Business-and-Worker-Resources

Emeryville: http://emeryville.org/813/Business-Resource-Guide

Piedmont: https://piedmont.ca.gov/government/city_news___notifications/Covid_19_information

Albany: https://www.albanyca.org/our-city/city-news/coronavirus-updates-resources

Berkeley: https://www.cityofberkeley.info/coronavirus/

Veteran COVID-19 Resources

Veterans experiencing symptoms similar to the coronavirus should contact their nearest VA facility. To find your nearest facility, please visit: https://www.va.gov/ or https://www.va.gov/findlocations/ 

VA Health Locations in located in the East Bay are:

Oakland VA Clinic

2221 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Oakland, CA 94612-1318

Main Number: 510-267-7800 

Mental Health: 510-587-3400 

Twenty First Street VA Clinic

525 21st Street
Oakland, CA 94612-1605

Main Number: 510-587-3400 

 

You can also use My HealtheVet to contact veteran Affairs.

Further Information

Experts have been working hard to understand this new strain of coronavirus. Because new information is coming out every day, please visit the sites below to stay up to date.

The Centers for Disease Control provides updates on the virus and safety information for the public and healthcare professionals.

The Alameda County Public Health Department provides updates on the disease's spread in the East Bay, and the California Department of Public Health has frequently asked questions here.

The State Department provides a list of travel advisories for those who are planning to fly outside of the United States.

The safety of you and your loved ones is of the utmost importance. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call my office at (510) 763-0370.