On Wednesday afternoon, Ihosted a Telephone Town Hall for folks across the First District on COVID-19. I held this call alongside special guests, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee, and Dr. Richard Williams, Director of the Three RiversHealth District, Virginia Department of Health, to answer the most pressing questions from folks in our region. In case you were unable to join us on that call, click here to listen to the call in its entirety on my Facebook page where it was streamed live.
Additionally, I wanted to provide you with a highlight of four questions that we received live on the call with answers below. I appreciate everyone who participated on the call, and in case we were unable to get to your question, click here for frequently asked questions on Coronavirus from the CDC and click here for comprehensive information regarding the economic response, vital resources, and more to address the Coronavirus outbreak. You can also submit your question through my website and we will get back to you with an answer.
In case you missed the call, click here to be added to my telephone town hall call list, and if you missed the invitation to join the call, click here to receive the latest news, information, and updates on this developing story in your inbox.And be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter to get information as it breaks.
1. I am in a group that is vulnerable to COVID-19, and I believe that people in my neighborhood/apartment complex/housing unit/etc. are not taking the warnings of the CDC and various agencies seriously and/or are not practicing social distancing, putting me at greater risk. What can I do?
That is a very difficult situation and one I have unfortunately heard from a few folks in our region. Dr. Williams suggests contacting your local health department to let them know of your concerns; from there, the health department can contact local law enforcement to determine if a warning is necessary or potentially greater education on the risks that arise from not adhering to CDC and health department guidance.
Additionally, the best course of action to take is to practice the right steps yourself. Knowing the right thing to do is key to ensuring our communities stay safe and healthy during this time. Be sure to check out the guidance for high risk groups below, but click here for comprehensive guidance for everyone, and be sure to share electronically with people in your community.
If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should:
- Stock up on supplies.
- Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds as much as possible.
- Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
- During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.
Click here for further guidance from the CDC on at-risk group preparations
2. A member of my household is a healthcare worker. What can I do to limit the risk to members of our household when they come home from work?
According to Dr. Williams, it is best to establish a system to limit the number of viral particles that come into your home. For example:
- If possible, have the healthcare professional in your family take off their work clothes, or clothes that they have worn home from work, outside of the home in a private/screened place.
- Place the clothes into a trash bag.
- The healthcare professional should immediately take a shower and the clothes should immediately be washed in the washing machine.
Additionally, if possible, social distance as much as you are able even while at home, especially if anyone is exhibiting symptoms.
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:*
- Shortness of breath
*This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses.
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Take steps to protect yourself
Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
3. How long will it be until I receive the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) funds I’ve applied for?
For those applying for EIDL, the Small Business Association (SBA) has informed us that applications are being processed on a first-in, first-out basis and it is estimated that it will take 2-3 weeks to approve an application. Additionally, the initial disbursement of funds will be within 5 business daysafter the approval of your application. For a status on their loan application, applicants should contact the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955(TTY:1-800-877-8339) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. According to my bank, they are not issuingPaycheck Protection Program (PPP)loans because the SBA hasn’t gotten them the proper information and/or resources.When will the SBA get resources or guidance to local banks to issue PPP loans?
Our office has been in constant contact with local banks to ensure that they are connected to the information and resources they need to begin issuing these PPP loans as soon as possible.
According to Rep. Chabot, the sheer volume of applications has resulted in a few glitches in the system. However, if any banks are having difficulty with their systems, including ETRANS, they can call (833) 572-0502, a helpline specifically for lenders relating to the SBA loans. This will allow banks to get the direct assistance they need to help small businesses in their areas.
The most important thing for small businesses is to get your application in to your local lender so you are in line. Below I have listed several helpful links to answer further questions you may have about the SBA EIDL loans and the PPP:
Click here to apply for an SBA Disaster loan
Click here for the application form for the PPP
Click here for information on the Paycheck Protection Program
Click here for more information from the SBA
Click here for small business guidance on loan resources
Click here for the Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act
Click here for Small Business Assistance from the Treasury Department
Click here for Paycheck Protection Program FAQs from the Treasury Department
Answers to these questions and more can be heard by clicking here to watch the call on my Facebook page. I will continue to keep you updated regularly through emails, social media posts, and telephone town halls as this outbreak and the response to it continues to develop over the coming days.
As always, I encourage you to share this information with your family, friends, and neighbors and encourage them to sign up for my updates so they never miss a piece of breaking information.