Upholding her promise, Congresswoman Maxine Waters held another telephone town hall meeting with Los Angeles residents to detail more facts regarding COVID-19. The phone call was held Thursday, April 2, 2020, with nearly 15K listeners on the line.
“I am so pleased by the strong level of participation in our second 43rd District telephone town hall meeting discussing the coronavirus pandemic. During this unprecedented time of crisis, I am doing everything in my power to not only fight for policies that will provide relief for those who are in need of government assistance, but to also educate my constituents about the opportunities and resources that have been legislated by Congress on their behalf,” Congresswoman Waters said.
Congresswoman Waters and experts from LA County Health Department, IRS, California EDD, and the Small Business Administration discussed benefits and resources that will be provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The act passed by legislation aids citizens by offering direct cash payments of up to $1200 for adults and $500 for children; dramatically expanded unemployment benefits; $375 billion for small business relief; and emergency housing assistance for renters and homeowners. During the call, the experts addressed these resources, COVID-19 testing and prevention, unemployment benefits, housing assistance, direct payments via stimulus check and small business relief were discussed.
“I really believe we can slow the spread of this disease and eventually bring an end to this terrible pandemic,” Congresswoman Waters stated. Since the outbreak, the government has been working on several legislative acts to help ease the fall during this pandemic. Three weeks ago the Emergency Fund Bill was passed totaling to $8.3 billion in funding. The legislation also CARES Act which will assist Americans, small business owners and more.
Congresswoman Waters then welcomed Dr. Sylvia Prieto to share tips for keeping healthy. As it’s been mentioned, washing hands, staying home and social distancing are some of the best practices to ensure good health. She mentions calling healthcare professionals if you have mild symptoms. If you have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, self-quarantine for 14 days or until symptoms are gone.
“Social distancing does not have to result in social isolation,” she explained. “What we are trying to achieve is what’s called physical distancing, where at least six feet between us and the next person.” Dr. Gatto urged those who feel detached to meditate, reach out to family and friends via telephone and utilize resources available if in danger.
The LA County Department of Health was then followed up by a representative from the IRS, Anabel Marquez to explain the stimulus check and more. “The economic impact payments [stimulus checks] will begin to be issued in the next few weeks,” she stated. “They will be distributed automatically with no action required for most people, this includes Social Security recipients.”
Marquez also shared the IRS pushed back the income tax deadline to July 15, 2020. “As the congressional liaison, I will make sure to update Congresswoman Waters’ office as soon as [checks] are ready to go so that she can let her constituents know.”
The most important of all, “We know that with every crisis or disaster there are criminals out there who try to take advantage. I’m here to remind you that the IRS will not call you to request personal or financial information over the phone or by email, nor will the agency call you about economic impact payments,” she concluded. “Remember, those will be automatically deposited.”
Matthew Clark of California Employment Development Department shared information regarding unemployment benefits which since the pandemic, has widened allowing more residents to receive assistance. “There are over one million people who have filed new unemployment benefit applications in California in the last two weeks due to the unprecedented economic situation,” he stated.
“EDD has been making modifications to their online application system so that people can list coronavirus as the reason why they are out of work; that should streamline the application process.” Clark further urges self-employed or contract workers to check into the pandemic unemployment assistance program.
The last aspect discussed in the CARES Act regarded small businesses, which Victor Parker of the Small Business Association (SBA) addressed. Due to the pandemic, officials have now begun implementing the Economic Disaster Injury Loan which is administered by the SBA. “These loans will be used to pay fixed debts, payroll accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid due to the impact of the disaster.”
“The other program that the Congresswoman alluded to as a part of the CARES Act that we are going to be administering is the Paycheck Protection Program,” also known as PPP he stated. “Eligible businesses including nonprofit, veteran organizations, tribal concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals and independent contractors with 500 or fewer employees will be eligible for this loan.”
“We recognize the health and safety of yourself, of your employees and our community is of vital importance. We want to make sure that we can continue to provide resources that you can continue to employ your employees, as well as continue to move your businesses forward in these difficult times,” Clark concluded.
After allowing several questions, Congresswoman Waters reassured listeners that she will continue to push for further help. “We still need to advocate for more funding for homeless assistance. More robust rent relief, for assisted and assisted wretches alike. More robust assistance for homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments on time,” Congresswoman Waters stated.
“We want people to know that this is not the only opportunity that they have to hear about what may be available to them, but they must call and ask questions. They can call my office. They can call Legal Aid. They can call EDD. They can call the IRS,” she said, “I want to get people in the calling mode.”
“We have work to do,” she concluded. “While we have a good downpayment on many of the programs that we have shared with you, we do think there’s a lot more to do and that will be in package number four.”
For more information about updates regarding COVID-19, visit cdph.ca.gov/covid19.