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What You Need to Know: COVID-19 in North Carolina

Information on this page will be updated regularly, but you can get the latest news by following my Twitter account at @RepMarkWalker.

Telephone Town Hall

Our office hosted a telephone town hall with NC Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry and Wake Forest Baptist Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Erik Summers. If you didn't get a chance to tune in last week, you can listen to the entire recording below.

Latest News

While the number of confirmed cases in North Carolina continues to grow, we encourage everyone to follow the guidance on social distancing and to stay home when feeling sick.

Governor Cooper has announced that non-essential establishments will remain closed, including bars and restaurants. Take out and delivery will remain available. Public schools across the state will also remain closed through May 15 to help curb the transmission of the virus.

Our office will continue to keep you updated as there are new developments. If you are a small business owner looking for assistance, you can also visit Walker.House.Gov/SmallBusiness for information about low-interest loans and other resources.

There are ways you can give back to our community during this time whether you are interested in donating, volunteering or helping out with your private sector industry. For more information, please visit FEMA's webpage here.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

After more than a dozen hearings, briefings and committee meetings, I am confident in our people working around the clock to tackle the novel coronavirus (COVID19). Whether directly or indirectly, this virus is impacting all of us and it’s important to take precautionary measures.

Most importantly, everyone should keep track of the most updated information on how to protect themselves and their families from the effects of COVID-19. Please use the following resources to stay informed.

How Can Our Office Help You?

Our office is ready and equipped to help you handle federal issues during this time of crisis. Please contact our team at 336-333-5005 if we can be of assistance.

Some reminders:

  • Due to many families and businesses being unable to meet their tax obligations despite their best efforts, the Treasury Secretary has deferred tax payments and waived penalties. This means families and small businesses can defer tax payments for 90 days. This covers a broad range of Americans, including small businesses that file as individuals who owe up to $1 million, and other categories of small businesses, sole proprietors, and corporations owing up to $10 million.
    • Taxpayers should continue to file their taxes by April 15, as normal. Many taxpayers will get refunds and this will help provide additional funding to families that need it. But if an eligible taxpayer owes a tax payment, they have the option to defer. 
  • Many Social Security field offices are currently closed for in-person services. Please contact our Greensboro team at the above phone number if you need assistance with Social Security matters.

Filing for Unemployment in North Carolina

For those affected facing unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in North Carolina, resources are available to help lessen financial burdens. To apply for unemployment, please visit the N.C. Department of Commerce's website here.

Information for Veterans

To reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Salisbury VA Health Care System Pharmacies are making some changes. Effective immediately, outpatient pharmacy Check-In rooms will be closed and the dispensing window only open for urgent prescriptions. We ask that you only come to the hospital if necessary and that you receive your outpatient prescriptions through the mail. A pharmacist will be available to assist you if you have an urgent need for a prescription that can’t wait for mail delivery. However, we urge you to plan ahead and take full advantage of the mail delivery options to minimize potential exposure and spread of coronavirus.
 
To speak to a pharmacy representative, request a refill or check the status of your prescription: please call 1-877-354-5196 (select option 2), or log in to the online portal here.

Information for Small Business Owners

If you are a small business owner looking for assistance, you can also visit Walker.House.Gov/SmallBusiness for information about low-interest loans and other resources.

On Tuesday, our office hosted a telephone town hall for small business owners to address their unique needs and answer specific questions. If you didn't get a chance to tune in, you can listen to the telephone town hall here or below.

As part of the Trump Administration's whole-of-government efforts to combat the Coronavirus outbreak and minimize economic disruption to the nation's 30 million small businesses, the U.S. Small Business Administration issued revised criteria for states or territories seeking an economic injury declaration.

The relaxed criteria will have two immediate impacts:

  • Faster, easier qualification process for states seeking SBA disaster assistance: under the just-released, revised criteria, states or territories are only required to certify that at least five small businesses within the state/territory have suffered substantial economic injury, regardless of where those businesses are located.
  • Expanded statewide access to SBA Disaster Assistance Loans for small businesses: under the revised criteria, disaster assistance loans will be available statewide following an economic injury declaration. This will apply to current and future disaster assistance declarations related to Coronavirus. 

Process for Accessing SBA's Coronavirus Disaster Relief Lending

  • SBA's Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state or territory's Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance. Once a declaration is made, the information on the application process for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to affected small businesses in the state.
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can't be paid because of the disaster's impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
  • SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower's ability to repay.
  • For additional information, please visit the SBA disaster assistance website at SBA.gov/Disaster.

Keeping Yourself Safe

Congressional Action

On Friday, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to ensure all American families are properly prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation emphasizes testing capabilities, protects small businesses, allows Paid Sick and Family Medical Leave, and helps students get the school food they need.

H.R. 6201 - The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

  • Ensures free testing for all Americans and appropriates $1.2 billion to help cover the costs of coronavirus testing, including funds to eliminate copay requirements for service members and veterans.
  • Guarantees paid sick leave for impacted American workers by requiring businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide 14 days of paid sick leave to affected employees.
  • Provides $1.25 billion for emergency nutritional assistance for senior citizens, women, children, and low-income families, including funding and flexibility to ensure low-income students continue to have access to meals if schools are closed.
  • Bolsters $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance benefits.

Earlier this month, the House also passed legislation to approve $7.8 billion to confront the COVID-19 public health crisis. This bipartisan package included provisions to ensure resources for vaccine development and therapeutics and helps state and local governments purchase resources.

Presidential Action

  • President Trump is issuing a proclamation under section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to restrict travel to the United States from foreign nationals who have recently been in certain European countries.
    • Section 212(f) of the INA only applies to the movement of human beings, not goods or cargo.
  • The restriction applies to foreign nationals who have been in the Schengen Area, 26 countries in Europe with open borders agreements, in the last 14 days.   
  • Those who are exempt from these restrictions, such as American citizens, will be directed to a limited number of airports where screening can take place.
  • There is extensive travel back and forth between Europe that heightens the risk here in the United States. 

LOOKING OUT FOR AMERICAN BUSINESSES AND WORKERS: President Donald J. Trump is committed to protecting American businesses and workers from the impacts of coronavirus.

  • The President is announcing an economic assistance package to help support businesses and workers who have been harmed by this outbreak.  
  • President Trump has instructed the Small Business Administration (SBA) to exercise available authority to provide loans to businesses affected by the coronavirus.
    • These loans will help overcome disruptions caused by the coronavirus. 
    • The President is calling on Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion.
  • The President will be instructing the Department of the Treasury to defer tax payments for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus.  
    • This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy.
  • President Trump is calling on Congress to immediately pass payroll tax relief.  
  • The President announced that he will soon be taking emergency action to provide financial relief for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to the coronavirus.
    • The President also called on Congress to take action to extend this relief for workers.

LEADING AN AGGRESSIVE, WHOLE-OF-GOVERNMENT APPROACH: President Trump has taken unprecedented steps to protect the health of Americans in response to the coronavirus.

  • The President is leveraging all of our resources to respond to the coronavirus, bringing together government and private industry in a collaborative response.
  • The Trump Administration declared a public health emergency in January to bolster response efforts.
  • President Trump took early action to help curb the spread of the virus from other countries to the United States, providing important time for response and preparations.
    • In January, President Trump acted quickly to restrict travel from foreign nationals traveling from China.
    • In February, the President restricted travel for individuals recently traveling from Iran.
    • The Administration put into place mandatory screening for all travelers coming into the country from Italy and South Korea.
    • Travel advisories for severely impacted areas like Italy and South Korea have been raised to their highest level.
  • Today, the President directed his Administration to make general-use face masks available to our healthcare workers. 
    • The Administration’s actions will help make millions of general-use respirators available to keep healthcare workers safe and mitigate transmission of the virus.
  • President Trump signed into law more than $8 billion to fund response efforts.
  • The Administration has taken bold steps to incentivize the development of therapeutics and vaccines to treat and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Working across the public and private sectors, the Trump Administration continues to drastically expand testing capacity.
    • More than 1 million tests have been distributed nationwide, with another 4 million tests being shipped out by the end of the week.
    • Testing is now available in every State lab in the country and commercial labs are now deploying tests, which will help generate a dramatic increase in availability.
  • The Trump Administration has released guidance on how to keep businesses, schools, community gathering places, and families safe.
    • From the start, President Trump has made keeping the public informed a top priority.
  • The Administration has announced that health plans with health savings accounts will be able to cover coronavirus testing and treatment without co-payments.

State Action

  • On Saturday, March 14th, Governor Roy Cooper ordered all K-12 public schools in North Carolina to close for a minimum of two weeks in response to COVID-19.
  • This Executive Order also bans gatherings of more than 100 people.
  • The following websites include guidance and resources for a range of stakeholders. Information is changing rapidly and will be added and updated:

Businesses and Employers

Child Care Centers

Colleges and Universities

Community and Faith-Based Organizations

Community Events and Mass Gatherings

Correctional Facilities

First Responders

Health Care Providers, Hospitals, and Laboratories

Homeless Shelters

K-12 Schools

Local Health Departments

Long-term Facilities

Malls and Shopping Centers

Mass Transit

Migrant Farm Workers and their Employers

Public Facing Businesses and Agencies

Restaurants and Bars

Syringe Service Programs

Working with People with Disabilities

Background

This past December, the first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Subsequent cases were reported inside of China, then spreading to countries across the world, including the United States.

CDC established a COVID-19 Incident Management System on January 7, 2020. On January 21, CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to better provide ongoing support to the COVID-19 response.

The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.

For people who are ill with COVID-19, but are not sick enough to be hospitalized, please follow CDC guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others. People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness.

If you have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, you will face some limitations on your movement and activity. Please follow instructions during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow spread of this virus.