The Latest on Coronavirus

Monday, June 1, 2020

As your representative in Congress, I want to keep you updated on the coronavirus pandemic, including what is being done to keep Hoosiers healthy, provide relief to workers, families, and small businesses, and safely reopen our economy.

Below you will find the latest updates on coronavirus, including:

We are fighting an invisible enemy, and together we will defeat it. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or if I can be of assistance.


THE LATEST

  • Congresswoman Walorski penned an op-ed in the South Bend Tribune on how Hoosiers have stepped up to help each other through the coronavirus crisis and what Congress is doing in response to this public health and economic emergency.
  • Walorski was appointed to serve as a member of the newly formed Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
  • Governor Holcomb announced a five-stage plan to safely reopen Indiana’s economy while we continue to fight this invisible enemy and keep Hoosiers safe. Learn more about how Indiana is getting back on track here.
  • Indiana launched the Small Business PPE Marketplace so small businesses and nonprofits can access the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to safely reopen and protect workers and customers.
  • Congresswoman Walorski introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure college students and adult dependents are eligible to receive federal relief funding in the form of direct payments under the CARES Act.
  • Congress passed and the president signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for small businesses, provide critical resources to hospitals, and expand COVID-19 testing.
  • Walorski introduced the bipartisan Medical Supplies for Pandemics Act, which would strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile to improve the federal ability to respond to future disasters and pandemics.
  • The IRS began sending coronavirus relief payments to American households via direct deposit and checks in the mail. You can check the status of your payment here. If you are not normally required to file a tax return, you can submit your bank information to the IRS here to receive your payment faster.
  • Veterans, Social Security beneficiaries, and Supplemental Security Income recipients will receive coronavirus relief payments automatically with no further action required.
  • Congress passed and the president signed into law the CARES Act, bipartisan legislation to provide immediate economic relief to workers, families, and small businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis.
  • Congress passed and the president signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act, bipartisan legislation to provide relief to workers and families affected by coronavirus, as well as additional resources to support response efforts.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT COVID-19

The global pandemic of COVID-19, a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus, began last December in Wuhan, China. As of June 1st, There have been more than 6.1 million confirmed cases and more than 370,000 deaths worldwide. In the United States, there have been more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has confirmed more than 34,000 cases of COVID-19 in the state, and at least 1,976 Hoosiers have died.

COVID-19 infection causes mild to severe respiratory illness, and symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you experience any combination of these symptoms, please remain at home and call your health care provider:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

The Indiana State Department of Health is conducting drive-thru testing sites throughout the state. Learn more about these clinics and who is eligible for drive-thru testing here.

If you have any of these emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

The virus is thought to spread mainly person-to-person between people in close contact (within about six feet) and through droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking. It may also spread from contact with surfaces and objects touched by a person infected with the virus. Recent studies have suggested the virus may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

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HOW TO STAY SAFE & PROTECT OTHERS

With COVID-19 spreading across the country, including in Indiana, it is critical that we take action now to slow the spread of coronavirus and keep ourselves, our families, and our fellow Hoosiers safe and healthy. All Americans – even those who are young or otherwise healthy – should take precautions to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus, including practicing social distancing of at least six feet, wearing a cloth face mask in public, and frequently washing your hands with soap and water.

WASH YOUR HANDS

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Maintain distance of at least six feet between yourself and other people whenever possible.
    • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
    • Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

WEAR A CLOTH MASK

  • You could spread COVID-19 even if you do not feel sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • Do NOT use a surgical mask or N95 meant for a health care worker.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Continue to keep about six feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

COVER COUGHS & SNEEZES

  • If you are in a private setting and you are not wearing a cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

CLEAN & DISINFECT

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. These include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.

Additional CDC recommendations for keeping homes, workplaces, schools, and other public places safe can be found at coronavirus.gov.

Travel plans? U.S. citizens are advised to avoid all international travel, with the U.S. Department of State issuing a Global Level 4 Advisory: Do Not Travel. Those who are currently traveling abroad in countries where commercial departure options remain available should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. If you or someone you know is abroad and needs assistance returning to the U.S., please visit travel.state.gov or contact my office. You can learn more about CDC recommendations regarding travel here.

Veterans should call their VA medical center before going to a clinic, urgent care, or emergency room, especially if experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Veterans are encouraged to sign into My HealtheVet to send a secure message to the VA or use telehealth options instead of an in-person visit.

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SAFELY REOPENING OUR ECONOMY

Over the last several weeks, Hoosiers have pulled together to slow the spread of coronavirus and help their neighbors through this unprecedented crisis. We have practiced social distancing and stayed safely at home. Our health care workers have risked their lives to care for others. Local businesses have stepped up to manufacture critical personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, face shields, and ventilators.

As a result of these efforts, our state is now safely and gradually reopening.

This fight is not over, and restarting our economy will not be like flipping a light switch. It will be a careful, phased, data-driven process in order to ensure the health and safety of Hoosiers. And it will require constant vigilance, widespread testing, a robust system to trace and isolate new cases, and continued adherence to social distancing guidelines.

Governor Holcomb has announced a five-stage plan to safely reopen Indiana’s economy while we continue to fight this invisible enemy and keep Hoosiers safe. The plan to get Indiana “Back on Track” relies on four guiding principles to determine if stages to reopen various sectors of the economy will move forward:

  1. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide has decreased for 14 days.
  2. The state retains its surge capacity for critical care beds and ventilators.
  3. The state retains the ability to test all Hoosiers who are COVID-19 symptomatic, as well as health care workers, essential workers, first responders, and others.
  4. Health offcials have systems in place to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and complete contact tracing.

Our state is now in Stage 3, although county and city governments may impose stricter limits based on local conditions. Statewide restrictions on non-essential travel have been lifted. Most businesses will be allowed to reopen, including retail stores and malls operating at 75 percent capacity, restaurants at 50 percent capacity and with bar seating closed, gyms and fitness centers with restrictions, and salons and spas by appointment only and with social distancing guidelines in place. Anyone who can work from home, such as employees in office settings, should continue to do so.

Hoosiers aged 65 and over, as well as high-risk individuals with underlying health conditions, should continue to stay at home. And every Hoosier should continue to take steps to protect themselves and others:

  • Maintain social distancing of at least six feet whenever possible;
  • Wear a cloth face covering when out in public, including in stores and other settings where social distancing is not possible;
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available; and
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Learn more about the five-stage plan at BackOnTrack.in.gov. Industry guidelines for safely reopening can be found here. Small businesses in need of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to keep workers safe can visit the Small Business PPE Marketplace.

We do not have to choose between protecting lives and protecting our livelihoods – we can do both through a responsible, gradual reopening process. As we move forward, we all must continue to do our part to slow the spread of coronavirus and keep ourselves, our families, and our neighbors safe and healthy.

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ECONOMIC RELIEF

Coronavirus and the steps necessary to stop it are having a devastating impact on our economy, and many of our friends and neighbors are suddenly facing hardship and uncertainty. That’s why Congress and the administration have taken action to provide immediate economic relief so Hoosiers can get through this crisis and be even stronger when it’s over.

We’ve passed three phases of bipartisan legislation in response to the coronavirus crisis, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, as well as additional funding. Here’s how these laws affect Hoosier workers, families, and small businesses:

WORKERS & FAMILIES

The CARES Act will provide every American household, except those with the highest incomes, with a one-time direct payment of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Treasury has started sending these payments via direct deposit. You can check the status of your payment here.
  • You are eligible if you have a valid Social Security number (SSN), you are not considered a dependent of someone else, and your income does not exceed certain thresholds. This means workers, welfare recipients, Social Security beneficiaries, and others are all eligible.
  • The full amount is available for individuals with income at or below $75,000 ($112,500 for heads of household), and couples with income at or below $150,000. Households with children will receive an additional $500 per child. The amount will be reduced by $5 for every $100 your income exceeds these income limits, phasing out completely at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for couples.
  • Veterans, Social Security beneficiaries, and Supplemental Security Income recipients will receive their payment directly with no further action required.
  • Others who are not normally required to file a tax return can get their payment faster by filling out this simple online form.
  • Additional information can be found here and at irs.gov/coronavirus.

The CARES Act also assists workers who are laid off by temporarily expanding unemployment insurance:

  • Makes unemployment benefits available to independent contractors and self-employed individuals;
  • Provides $250 billion to fund the temporary expansion through the end of the year;
  • Provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits beyond what states typically allow; and
  • Adds $600 per week across the board for each recipient for four months from through the end of July.
  • Unemployment insurance is administered at the state level. Hoosiers can apply for unemployment by visiting unemployment.in.gov.

Additionally, Congress recently passed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which:

  • Provides two weeks of emergency paid leave for workers who are quarantined, caring for a quarantined family member, or caring for their child whose school is closed; and
  • Provides 12 weeks of FMLA leave at two-thirds pay for workers whose child’s school is closed due to coronavirus.

SMALL BUSINESSES

There is a wide range of resources available to small businesses and non-profits impacted by the coronavirus crisis, including forgivable loans to maintain payroll and help pay bills like rent.

  • Paycheck Protection Program – The CARES Act provides $350 billion for forgivable loans to keep small businesses from going under and prevent workers from losing their jobs. Congress recently replenished this program with an additional $310 billion. These federally guaranteed loans will be available to small employers through private lenders to provide eight weeks of cash flow assistance to maintain payroll and pay rent. Independent contractors, self-employed individuals, and 501(c)3s are also eligible. If the employer maintains their payroll, the portion of the loans used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven. There is also flexibility to rehire workers who have already been laid off. Additional information can be found at sba.gov/coronavirus.
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit – The CARES Act creates an Employee Retention Credit, a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in wages per employee (including health benefits) paid by certain employers during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans – The Small Business Administration recently approved the State of Indiana’s request to make Hoosier small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak eligible for disaster assistance. Congress replenished this program with an additional $60 billion. To apply for loans or receive more information about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, visit sba.gov/disaster.
  • Indiana Small Business Restart Fund – Gov. Holcomb approved $30 million in federal funding made available through the CARES Act to small business restart grants, helping accelerate the speed of economic recovery activity by providing working capital to cover certain expenses related to the global pandemic. Eligible Indiana small businesses can seek reimbursement for up to 80 percent of qualified expenses, such as rent/mortgage payments, utilities, lease payments for real or personal property, and safety investments, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and infrastructure improvements. Apply here.
  • Additional Main Street Assistance – SBA will pay all principal, interest and fees on all existing SBA loan products including 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, and Microloan programs for six months. The CARES Act provides grants and funding to offer training, counseling, and assistance to small businesses affected by COVID-19. It provides $10 billion to expedite access to capital for small businesses that have applied for an SBA Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grant. And it includes a tax reform technical correction to ensure businesses like restaurants can take advantage of full and immediate expensing for investments in improvements.

For additional guidance and information, visit the SBA resource page for small businesses affected by COVID-19.

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PREPAREDNESS & RESPONSE

I have been in daily contact with state and local officials, including public health authorities and health care providers across Indiana’s 2nd District. Working with state and federal officials, we recently secured deliveries of critical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, including N95 masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment for health care providers in Indiana. I will continue working to ensure health care workers on the front lines of this fight have the resources and information they need to keep Hoosiers healthy and safe.

With my support, Congress has passed three phases of legislation that strengthen preparedness and response efforts.

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act:

  • Provides $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers fighting COVID-19.
  • Provides $25 billion to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act:

  • Provides $16 billion for personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other supplies to be distributed to the states;
  • Expands testing capabilities by allowing the Strategic National Stockpile to purchase swabs necessary for test kits;
  • Increases Medicare reimbursement rates, including an add-on payment to hospitals for treating COVID-19 patients, and allows for accelerated payments;
  • Provides $340 billion in funding to combat the pandemic, including $150 billion for state and local governments; and
  • Boosts funding for research into new treatments and vaccines and allows the FDA to quickly approve the use of new medications.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

  • Ensures diagnostic testing for coronavirus is free for patients;
  • Maintains pro-life protections; and
  • Gets vital resources to health care workers faster.

$7.8 billion in emergency funding for coronavirus preparedness and response efforts, including:

  • More than $4 billion to expand availability of diagnostic kits, support treatments to ease coronavirus symptoms, and invest in vaccine development;
  • $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including nearly $1 billion for state and local response efforts; and
  • $1.25 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to protect Americans abroad and prevent the spread of the virus worldwide.

President Trump also declared a national emergency in order to make additional resources available and allow for certain regulations and laws to be waived so coronavirus testing and care can be delivered more quickly. In Indiana, Governor Eric Holcomb has declared a public health emergency in order to ensure coordination among all levels of government.

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Learn more about COVID-19, CDC recommendatinos, and the federal response at coronavirus.gov.

Get the latest information about coronavirus in Indiana at coronavirus.in.gov.

Learn more about the VA’s efforts to keep veterans safe at va.gov/coronavirus.

Find the best way to donate, volunteer, or provide critical supplies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic at fema.gov/coronavirus.

The Social Security Administration has closed local offices and will offer services by phone and online. Learn more at ssa.gov/coronavirus.

Learn more about overseas travel advisories at travel.state.gov.

If you’re an Indiana homeowner unable to make mortgage payments due to the coronavirus crisis, you can apply for up to six months of mortgage payment assistance by calling the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network at 1-877-GET-HOPE or visiting 877gethope.org.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has offered guidance for parents of school-aged children and child care providers related to COVID-19 at brighterfuturesindiana.org.

The State of Indiana launched Be Well Indiana, a new initiative to help Hoosiers manage, assess, and learn more about their mental health.

If you have additional questions or would like information about the local response to coronavirus, you can contact your county’s department of health:

  • Elkhart: (877) 523-2283
  • Fulton: (574) 223-2881
  • Kosciusko: (574) 372-2349
  • LaPorte: (219) 326-6808
  • Marshall: (574) 935-8565
  • Miami: (765) 472-3901
  • Pulaski: (574) 946-6080
  • St. Joseph: (574) 235-9750
  • Starke: (574) 772-9137
  • Wabash: (260) 563-0661

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