I hope you are hanging in there at the end of another tough week. As you may have heard, we are dealing with some mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in the Moulton household, so our doctors have ordered us to stay home. We’re doing fine, but it means that I wasn’t able to travel to D.C. today to vote on the CARES Act, an important relief bill that will help health care workers in desperate need of personal protective equipment, support people who have been laid off or struggling to make payroll, and assist kids who are trying to learn from home.
Well before I started showing symptoms, my team and I started practicing social distancing as our office policy to do our part to reduce the spread of the virus. I spoke out about being sick this week primarily because I thought I might miss votes, but also because I think it’s important to let people know that the vast majority of people who get the coronavirus will have mild symptoms and feel like they can keep living daily life. Yet, it’s vital to follow the guidance of your doctor and state officials. You might feel well enough to go out in public with mild symptoms, but you can still transmit the disease. And that would be putting others, especially senior citizens, at risk. So, like we’ve been saying in these weekly emails for the past month: If you’re not feeling 100 percent healthy, do your part to fight this virus by staying home.
My team and I are teleworking, and we can field your questions through my website and by phone.
In the last few days, I have heard from so many of you who are facing this illness as well. I heard from front line medical professionals and public servants who go to work every day despite the personal risk and people who are sick or know someone who has contracted the virus. It’s been tough, but we’ll get through this together and we’ll be stronger on the other side.
Member of Congress
Getting Things Done
Today the House passed a landmark bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. I wasn’t in D.C. to vote for it because my doctor has ordered me to quarantine through tomorrow, but I would have voted for it if I was able.
My team and I have been hard at work all month, and we were able to directly secure funding in the bill for the following things:
- Community Health Centers: $1.32 billion in supplemental funding for FY2020 to community health centers on the front lines of testing and treating patients for COVID-19.
- Mental Health Support: $425 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to increase access to mental health services through Community Behavioral Health Clinics, suicide prevention programs, and emergency response spending.
- Amtrak and Transit System Funding: $1 billion to Amtrak and $25 billion to public transit operators to protect public health and safety while ensuring transportation access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essential services remain available during the COVID-19 response.
- Fishing Industry Assistance: $300 million to help fishermen struggling due to disappearing markets caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
- Higher Education: Prohibits forced collections and negative credit reporting through Sept. 30, 2020 for unpaid student loans and cancels payments for all federal student loan borrowers with federally-held loans through the end of FY20, while suspending interest accrual.
- LIHEAP: $900 million for increased demand for LIHEAP funding.
- Manufacturing: $50 million to assist manufacturers to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
In addition to securing these things in the bill, I had a helpful call with my Coronavirus Advisory Team this week. We talked about ways to help get protective equipment where it is needed, how we’ll know when it is time to start returning to normal, and how testing will work in the future as we turn from diagnosing symptoms to identifying who is resistant to the virus in the future.
I also spoke to local business owners, fishermen, and community college presidents about ways I can help them manage the disruption and economic fallout the virus is causing.
Sending Financial Help
Our economy is frozen right now because people are doing the right thing and staying home. That’s led to layoffs and a massive spike in unemployment. If you have recently found yourself unemployed, my last update includes all the info you need to apply for benefits.
The CARES Act includes immediate, direct cash payments of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child for Americans who make $75,000 or less. People who make more than that will receive money as well, but the amount decreases as income level rises. The bill also provides for $260 billion in expanded unemployment benefits, more than $375 billion in small business relief, $200 billion for our hospitals and healthcare workers, $150 billion to a state and local relief fund, and many other critical provisions to protect Americans’ health and financial status.
I supported Congress’s plan to make direct payments to American families, because I think that’s the best way to help the economy as a whole quickly. You can calculate how much you should expect using this payment calculator from The Washington Post. The New York Times also answers some key questions about the payments, such as how long it will take (Sec. Mnuchin says 3 weeks for most Americans) and whether you need to apply (you do not).
You can find more details about the CARES Act here:
- A Fact Sheet On The Unemployment Provisions
- How Rebates will Work
- Detailed Funding Available to Local Entities & Non-profits
- Small Business Resources
- Section-by-Section Explanation of the Entire Bill
Nonprofits across the country like the local Y, the Goodwill and the YWCA are providing emergency support to people in need. For example, a lot of families who normally count on schools to feed their kids lunch can get help from the YMCA. Women who live in dangerous homes can still find shelter at the YWCA, and the Goodwill runs job training programs which will be vital when the economy gets rolling again. But many of these organizations are working at a loss because the ways they bring in money have been cut off. For example, the YMCA isn’t bringing in new gym members right now.
Today, I partnered with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Pennsylvania, to introduce the Supporting Organizations that Serve America Act, or the SOS America Act. The bill would provide $60 billion in emergency funding to nonprofits and allow Americans to immediately write off donations to nonprofits in their 2019 taxes. We also plan to use the bill to help nonprofits access the Small Business Administration loans that businesses have access too, which is key for keeping the lights on. We’re working to get this included in the next relief bill, so stay tuned for that.
Answering Your Questions
I recently hosted two virtual town halls on Facebook Live to keep in touch with you. Thank you to everyone who has tuned in so far. I have appreciated your insightful questions and ideas. It’s a great way to stay connected while I’m stuck at home! If you haven’t caught one yet, I hope to hear from you soon. In the meantime, you can always contact my office, send questions about the coronavirus, or get help with a federal agency.
This pandemic is an unprecedented experience for all of us. Whether you are working from home, taking care of your kids, worried about student loan payments, or facing unemployment, my team has compiled our best resources and tips in my online resource guide:
This resource guide is updated daily with new information and resources. Even if you have visited before, you may find something new that’s helpful.
One of our most-used resources is the daily reading list curated by Team Moulton’s Science & Technology Policy Fellow, Sarah. She’s been helping people stay in the loop with some of the articles my team is providing me daily to keep me up to speed with the latest on the pandemic. I hope it helps you filter through the misinformation and scams that are out there, and helps answer some of the questions we are facing.
Remembering the Basics
Here are few tips to help you take care of yourself and your community during this challenging time:
- Get plenty of sleep. It boosts the immune system.
- Focus on your mental health. This is a scary time, but we can get through it together. Here are a few tips from a psychologist and acts of kindness that lifted our spirits.
- If you can, give blood during the outbreak. The need has not changed, and the Danvers Red Cross Donation Center is open.
- Wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20-30 seconds.
We must all remain vigilant about our own hygiene and take steps to prevent the spread of the virus to others. The worst may be yet to come.