While any virus needs to be taken seriously, the data tells us that precautions similar to those wisely taken to prevent more-commonly know influenza viruses are appropriate to also protect against Coronavirus (COVID-19). Current and previous steps taken to prevent widespread expansion of COVID-19 appear to have been wise and effective. Additionally, the advanced health system in American puts us in a much better position to respond to large scale health concerns than any other nation in the world. 

Recently, I have attended multiple briefings regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) by officials from the CDC, HHS, NIH, FDA, and State Department. I want to keep you updated on the situation and let you know about the resources that your state and federal government can provide.

If you do not already subscribe to my e-newsletter, but would like to continue receiving updates on the coronavirus, opt in to my e-newsletter here

If you or a loved one are having trouble returning to the United States from China, please contact our office by email here or call 202-225-6611. 

CORONAVIRUS FAQ'S

  • What is Coronavirus? COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
  • What are the symptoms of the virus? Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
  • How can I minimize risk to exposure? To minimize the risk of exposure to Coronavirus, avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, stay home when you are sick, and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. 
    • A note about face masks: The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A face mask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. 

          Source: Center for Disease Control


U.S. GOVERNMENT ACTIONS

  • A public health emergency has been declared in the United States.
  • The U.S. travel advisories for China and Iran, and parts of Italy and South Korea are at Level 4, meaning that no American should travel at this time. The travel advisory for Japan is at Level 2, urging high-risk travels to take precautions.
  • A travel ban is currently in effect for foreign nationals who have been in China or Iran in the previous 14 days.
  • In addition, individuals traveling to the U.S. from certain countries will be screened before boarding the flight and upon landing in the U.S.

PANDEMIC AND ALL-HAZARDS PREPAREDNESS AND ADVANCING INNOVATION ACT

  • On June 24, 2019, President Trump signed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAIA) to reauthorize our nation's public health preparedness and response programs to give our federal, state, and local officials the tools they need to respond quickly and effectively to ongoing threats. 
  • This includes, creating a framework for how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) leads public health emergency preparedness and response; Establishing an Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) to advice the HHS secretary on federal public health and medical preparedness and response; and authorizing programs and initiatives concerning medical surge capacity at health facilities and capacity of states and localities to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies.

FEDERAL TAXES

The filing deadline for federal tax returns has been extended from April 15 to July 15.  If you are owed a refund, the IRS urges people to file as soon as possible to obtain the money earlier.  Any money owed to the IRS will be delayed until July 15, 2020.  All penalties and interest costs are waived. For more information, visit the IRS Coronavirus website here.


SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

The Social Security Administration has expanded telework across the country, and their offices are currently closed to the public. The local office locator tool for field offices is here: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp. Each office will have a message indicating that they are closed, but will include a phone number for that office that you can call. 


FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS

All federal student loans (Direct Loans, Grad PLUS, Parent PLUS, and Perkins Loans) will have a zero percent interest rate for 60 days.  If a student has a Federal Family Education Loan and it was purchased back by the federal government during a 2008 financial crisis, then this one will also qualify for the zero interest rate for 60 days. Borrowers can also suspend their payments for two months with no interest accruing.  Secretary DeVos directed loan servicers to provide this “administrative forbearance” for 60 days to any borrower who requests it.  This went into effect on March 13, 2020. For more information, visit the Department of Education Coronavirus website here.


VETERANS


USDA

  • First Waiver allows parents to pickup meals from the program without the kids having to be present. This helps families continue to keep social distance requirements and specifically helps families with immunosuppressed individuals from having to be exposed.
  • Second Waiver second allows programs to serve meals that do not meet the meal pattern requirements if there is a disruption to the food supply due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

CONSTITUENT RESOURCES

  • Before traveling outside of the United States, please refer to the CDC Risk Assessment Map to determine the severity of the outbreak in the country you are visiting.
  • Governor Brad Little has set up a website for Idaho-specific Coronavirus information. To learn more, visit https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/.
  • Additionally, you can contact your local public health district if you have more questions. Find your local health district's information below:
District 1 – Panhandle
https://panhandlehealthdistrict.org
208-415-5100

District 2 – North Central 
https://idahopublichealth.com
208-799-3100

District 3 – Southwest 
https://phd3.idaho.gov
208-455-5300

District 4 – Central
https://www.cdhd.idaho.gov
208-375-5211

District 5 – South Central
https://www.phd5.idaho.gov
208-734-5900

District 6 – Southeastern Idaho
https://www.siphidaho.org
208-233-9080

District 7 – East Idaho
https://eiph.idaho.gov
208-522-0310