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COVID-19


Quick Links to Outside Information

Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Information Webpage
How to get tested for COVID-19 in Pennsylvania
CDC COVID-19 mitigation plans for community locations
Pennsylvania Department of Education school closings FAQ

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) FAQ from the U.S. Small Business Administration
Mental health resources
Information on arrival restrictions to the U.S. from abroad

On this page

Unemployment Compensation

Critical unemployment assistance programs that were created in the CARES Act have been extended, including:

  • Enhanced federal unemployment insurance, providing an additional $300 per week for all workers receiving unemployment benefits through March 14, 2021;
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which covers the self-employed and gig workers to March 14, 2021 with a phase-out period until April 5, 2021;
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides addition weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits for those who exhaust their regular state benefits, to March 14, 2021 with a phase-out period until April 5, 2021; and
  • An increase in the maximum number of weeks an individual may claim benefits through regular state unemployment and PUEC or PUA to 50 weeks.

Resources:

For information on how to file an initial unemployment claim and determine which programs you are eligible for, visit this page.

To apply for unemployment compensation, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry UC application portal.

For more information on Unemployment Compensation, visit this resource page, and see the COVID-19 FAQs for more guidance on eligibility.

Economic Impact Payments

The omnibus coronavirus relief and government funding bill authorizes $166 billion for direct Economic Impact Payments (EIP) of $600 to individuals making up to $75,000 per year, and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 per year, plus $600 for each child dependent. The provisions include direct payments to mixed-status households.

Direct payments are issued based on information on 2019 tax returns. Those individuals that provided tax information through the non-filer portal in the first round of stimulus checks from the CARES Act will also receive Economic Impact Payments.

Economic Impact Payments will be issued for Social Security Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance beneficiaries, and VA beneficiaries who did not file 2019 tax returns based on information from the Social Security Administration, the Railroad Retirement Board, and the Veterans Administration.

Resources:

For more information on the second round of direct Economic Impact Payments (EIP 2), visit this page at irs.gov.

To check the status of your direct Economic Impact Payment, visit the Get My Payment portal at irs.gov.

For more information about the second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP 2), see the EIP 2 FAQs that are updated regularly at irs.gov.


Rental and Housing Assistance

Emergency Rental AssistanceThe legislation appropriates $25 billion to state and local governments for emergency rental assistance. Grantees may use the funds to provide direct financial assistance or services to eligible households for rent, utilities and energy costs, and other housing expenses. Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional 3 months to ensure housing stability.

Resources:

For more information on how to apply for emergency rental assistance, visit this page.

Eviction Moratorium Extended: The eviction moratorium is extended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through March 31, 2021.


Emergency Family and Medical Leave

Both the federal government and the Pennsylvania state government have taken measures to allow employees to stay home if they have been exposed to the Coronavirus or to care for a family member. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been extended through March 2021, allowing an extension of credits for paid sick and family leave. Under this legislation, some employees are required to be paid if they are not able to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this law, employees may receive full or partial pay if:
  • An employee is quarantining based on a law or the advice of health care provider or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis,
  • An employee is caring for someone who is quarantining based on a law or the advice of a healthcare provider, or
  • An employee is caring for a child whose school or child care provider is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food assistance

The legislation provides increased support for SNAP and EBT recipients:

  1. Increase SNAP’s monthly benefits for 6-months
  2. Suspends work requirements for SNAP-eligible college students
  3. Allows Pandemic EBT to cover each child under 6-years old in SNAP households where a local school or covered daycare has been closed or has reduced hours

Resources:

  • To apply for SNAP or Pandemic EBT benefits, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services application portal through dhs.pa.gov.
  • For more information on the SNAP program, and other nutrition assistance programs in Pennsylvania, visit compass.state.pa.us
  • To report a problem with your Pandemic EBT benefits, call the resource line at 484-363-2137

Small business relief

Extending and Improving PPP: The legislation includes $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which is extended through March 31, 2021. Eligible businesses can request up to $2 million.

Eligibility:  Designed for smaller, harder-hit businesses that:

  1. Employ not more than 300 employees,
  2. Demonstrate a loss of 25 percent of gross receipts in any quarter during 2020 when compared to the same quarter in 2019, and
  3. Have used the full amount of their first PPP before a second loan is disbursed.

Improvements:

  1. Expands PPP eligibility to certain local newspapers, TV and radio stations, public broadcasters, housing cooperatives, and 501(c)(6) nonprofits.
  2. Creates $60 billion in borrower set-asides: $35 billion for borrowers who were unable to apply for an initial PPP loan, of which $15 billion is for smaller borrowers with up to 10 employees or loans of up to $250,000 in low-income areas; and $25 billion for second PPP loans for the same small borrower category.
  3. Enhances borrower flexibility by allowing borrowers to select their loan forgiveness covered period between 8 weeks and 24 weeks.

Resources:

To learn how apply for a PPP loan and for more information, visit the Small Business Administration website.

To find local SBA assistance near you, click here.

Support for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance program: The legislation provides $20 billion in additional targeted funding for eligible entities in low-income communities. Eligible entities can receive an amount equal to the difference of what the entity received under the CARES Act and $10,000. It also provides $10,000 grants to eligible applicants in low-income communities that did not secure grants because funding had run out.

Eligibility (for COVID EIDL): Entity must be a small business, nonprofit organization of any size, or a U.S. agricultural business with 500 or fewer employees that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entity must be in a low-income community, meaning the poverty rate is at least 20 percent.

Resources:

For more information on eligibility for EIDL and the process, visit Small Business Administration website here.

To apply for the COVID-19 EIDL Advance program, visit this application.

Student debt relief

The U.S. Department of Education has suspended debt collection and waived interest on student loans through September 2021, meaning that individuals with student debt held by the U.S. Department of Education do not have to make payments until October 1, 2021. More information on this temporary deferment can be found here. If you anticipate needing student debt relief after the deferment period ends, you can apply for an income-driven repayment plan.

While the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) student loan deferment period has ended, if you still need relief, you can call 1-800-233-0557 to speak with a customer service representative who can help you explore repayment options.

Information About COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19

For confirmed COVID-19 cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. The CDC believes that symptoms could appear between 2-14 days after exposure.

What to do if you believe you have been infected

The CDC instructs those who believe they have been infected with COVID-19 to call their primary health care provider. If you do not have a primary care doctor, Pennsylvanians who have potential exposure and symptoms should call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

Often, people are able to isolate at home while experiencing these symptoms during illness, as long as they are minor. While your doctor or the DOH helps determine next steps, the CDC recommends people who experience symptoms to stay home and keep distance from other members of your household, including pets. When around other people, it is recommended that the symptomatic person wear a facemask. And, of course, people who experience symptoms and other members of the household should be diligent about washing their hands frequently, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and cleaning high-touch surfaces often.

Preventing COVID-19

Until enough of the American populace is vaccinated for COVID-19, the best way to prevent this disease is to avoid being exposed. In general, the CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases not only like the novel coronavirus, but also the flu and the common cold. Preventive actions include:

  • Wear a mask when out in public.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often and vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

It is currently flu season, so please get your flu vaccine if you haven't already. These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.

The CDC maintains a webpage with more information on how to prepare and take action for COVID-19 in your home, workplace, school, etc.

COVID-19 and Mental Health

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the launch of a statewide Support & Referral Helpline staffed by skilled and compassionate caseworkers who will be available 24/7 to counsel Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency and refer them to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs. Pennsylvanians should simply call: 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

Many other resources remain available to Pennsylvanians in need of support, including:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Línea Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “PA” to 741-741
  • Safe2Say: 1-844-723-2729 or www.safe2saypa.org
  • Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
  • Get Help Now Hotline (for substance use disorders): 1-800-662-4357 

Additionally, the CDC has helpful information on ways to manage stress and anxiety on its website, including for parents, first responders and health care professionals. Find out more here.

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For Veterans Receiving Care at VA Facilities

If you are a veteran receiving care through the VA, please consult the VA's website www.va.gov/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information. Guidance from local VA medical facilities about their current operating status is available on each facility’s website, which can be found through VA’s facility locator tool: https://www.va.gov/find-locations.

What should veterans do if they think they have COVID-19?

Before visiting local VA medical facilities, community providers, urgent care centers, or emergency departments in their communities, veterans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms—such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath—are encouraged to call their VA medical facility or call MyVA311 (844-698-2311, press #3 to be connected). Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet, VA’s online patient portal. VA clinicians will evaluate veterans’ symptoms and direct them to the most appropriate providers for further evaluation and treatment. This may include referral to state or local health departments for COVID-19 testing.