COVID-19 Public Health & Economic Resources
Updated at 04/14/2021 at 10:59 AM PST
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan – which includes $1.9 trillion in economic and public health relief – into law.
This deal comes four months after the House and Senate agreed on the second COVID relief package, the Omnibus Appropriation and Coronavirus Relief package, and eight months after the first COVID relief package, the CARES Act.
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.
For general inquiries, please contact Alameda County at email@example.com 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.
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.
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
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- 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.
- The Centers for Disease Control provides updates on the virus and safety information for the public and healthcare professionals.
- The California Department of Public Health has frequently asked questions here.
- The Alameda County Public Health Department provides updates on the disease's spread in the East Bay.
- The State Department provides a list of travel advisories for those who are planning to fly outside of the United States.
- Food and Drug Administration: Emergency Use Authorization
Health Care Coverage:
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.
Blueprint for a Safer Economy
- Every county in California is assigned a tier based on its positivity rate, adjusted case rate, and health equity metric
- Restrictions on activities have been loosened and tightened in certain communities based on this blueprint
More information on the Blueprint for a Safer Economy is available here.
Orange Tier County
- As of March 30, 2021, Alameda County has been moved to the Orange Tier per the state’s COVID-19 reopening guidelines
- Businesses and activities permitted to open, with capacity restrictions and modifications include: bars, gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, museums, offices, places of worship, restaurants, retail, and more. Regulations on industries that are allowed to reopen can be found at: https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/
- On April 1, 2021, outdoor sports, live performances, and amusement parks will be allowed to reopen with limited capacity and advanced reservations
- Alameda County must remain in the Orange Tier for at least three weeks before moving into the next, less restrictive color tier
More information on the Orange Tier regulations is available here.
Staying at home and practicing social distancing during this crisis does not mean that anyone should face domestic violence, sexual assault, or abuse.
- If you feel unsafe at home, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
- To report child abuse, please call Alameda County Social Services at 1-510-259-1800.
The American Rescue Plan includes funding to help get the coronavirus under control, keep our communities safe, and get our economy working again. This relief package invests $91 billion 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.
- CDC COVID vaccine resource page
- Department of Health and Human Services: Vaccine Distribution Process
District-Specific Vaccination Sites & Information
Appointments are now available for select groups in Alameda county. In Alameda County, as of April 1, 2021, the vaccine is currently available for anyone in the following groups:
All people ages 50 and up; essential workers in healthcare, food/agriculture, education/childcare, and emergency services; people with complex health conditions; people who work or live in a high-risk congregate living setting; public transportation personnel; and people experiencing homelessness.
Alameda County has opened a number of vaccination locations, including a mass vaccination site at the Oakland Coliseum.
The vaccine is rapidly becoming available for more of the public. To check when it is your turn to get vaccinated and register for the vaccine, visit https://myturn.ca.gov/. Please sign up and get vaccinated as soon as you are allowed to.
- Alameda County vaccine
- CA Statewide Vaccine Info Page
- CA Department of Health vaccine page
- Alameda County Health Care Services vaccine comparison table
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.
The IRS and Department of Treasury are working to ensure that payments will be able to start being sent out in March. 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.
I will keep you updated with more information on how to check when you will receive a direct payment and how much you are eligible to receive.
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.
- CA Employment Development Department – Overview of Unemployment Insurance
- CA Department of Labor Resources for Employers and Workers during COVID-19
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.
- Department of Education Office of Elementary & Secondary Education Relief
- Department of Education student loans and forgiveness
- California Department of Education Coronavirus Response and School Reopening Guidance
- CA Early Learning and Care COVID-19 Guidance
- Federal Student Aid information regarding COVID-19
COVID-19 Emergency Relief Flexibilities Extended Through at Least Sept. 30, 2021
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 issued in advance and parents could receive monthly payments rather than just at tax time.
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.
In addition to the massive disparities in our education system, COVID-19 has exacerbated our child care system. The child care 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.
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.
- Department of Housing & Urban Development information on homelessness grantee guidance
- Department of Housing & Urban Development mortgage relief for homeowners
- Department of Housing & Urban Development assistance programs for renters
- Housing Resource List (ACPHD)
- City of Alameda Rent Relief
- CA Governor’s Office: Help for renters, homeowners, and small landlords
- House Committee on Financial Services Fact Sheet on the American Rescue Plan
- CA Utility Consumer Protections During COVID-19
- CA LIHEAP information
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.
- USDA fact sheet and effects of the American Rescue Plan
- SNAP assistance page
- State guidance on Coronavirus Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)
- County of Alameda COVID-19 Food Distribution & Services Map
- Alameda County Community Food Bank/CalFresh
- School meal services in Alameda County
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.
- Apply for a PPP loan
- SBA COVID-19 Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources
- Resources and services for small businesses collected by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development
- Tax relief and extensions from the Department of Tax and Fee Administration
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.
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.
- House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs COVID-19 resources
- Department of Veterans Affairs COVID-19 resources
- COVID-19 vaccines at the VA
- VA Palo Alto Health Care System
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.