As we continue to face this outbreak, here’s what Congress is doing to counter the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its effects.
After the President declared a national emergency, the House passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This bill is a first step and will help in a few key areas:
- Free Testing for Coronavirus
– Under this bill, you will have access to testing for COVID-19 at no cost, whether you have private insurance, Medicare Advantage, Original Medicare, CHIP, VA, FEHBP, and TRICARE, or even no insurance.
– Locally, the next step is ensuring we have enough tests for the community. We are working to ensure there are enough tests for the people who need it most, the at-risk population. Different officials ranging from the county, hospitals, and a private company (Quest) are helping to provide tests to healthcare professionals. These efforts will help ensure we can test as many people as possible.
- Compensation for Sick Days
If you are feeling sick, you should stay home to avoid potential spread of COVID-19. We recognize that staying home can mean critical loss of income for many Americans. That’s why this bill establishes an Emergency Paid Sick Leave Program to provide employees 14 days of paid sick leave to quarantine or seek medical care. The bill also ensures people can receive paid leave to care for family members during this time.
- Unemployment Aid
The bill gives states the resources and flexibility to provide unemployment benefits to laid off and furloughed workers. It includes $1 billion for emergency grants to states for processing and paying unemployment insurance benefits. These funds will replace a significant share of lost wages so that those impacted can pay their bills. Click here for resources for employers and workers from the State’s Labor & Workforce Development Agency.
Small Business Administration updated guidance
Additionally, the Small Business Administration has issued updated guidance to help businesses and employers to plan and respond to the coronavirus emergency. To learn more about the federal resources available to help small businesses manage this difficult time, click here.
School Meals During Closures
Schools around the country are taking proper caution by suspending in-person learning. Unfortunately, this means that many students who rely on school meals to stay healthy, may not have access to nutritious meals while schools are closed. This bill includes funding to ensure we have adequate resources to help those impacted by the ongoing coronavirus emergency. Specifically, this bill approves state plans to provide emergency assistance to feed students who receive free or reduced-price meals in the event of school closures. It also gives USDA authority to issue nationwide school meal waivers which will help schools adapt quickly and be more flexible.
Protection for Healthcare Workers
The House also passed emergency temporary standards to protect healthcare workers against this disease. Within one month, new standards would require health care facilities to implement comprehensive plans to keep front-line health care workers safe.
Source: Congresswoman Susan Davis
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