March 05, 2020

Coronavirus Readiness

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As our nation continues efforts to mitigate both the spread and impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, I am committed to providing you with as much information and as many resources as possible to keep your family healthy and secure during, and in the immediate aftermath of this crisis. While I’m working on legislation that will provide resources for families hit by layoffs or other coronavirus-related challenges, I’m also working with state and federal leaders to get Florida every tool it needs to see us through this.

Below you’ll find a variety of resources and information. Please continue to check back here for updates.



The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions Monday - Friday, 8AM - 5PM. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours. http://www.floridahealth.gov/

As of April 2, Coronavirus (COVID-19) has now spread to more than 204 countries and territories around the world. Over 1,002,159 people have been infected worldwide, including over 213,144 in the United States, more than 8,694 in Florida, and over 330 in Florida’s 5thDistrict. The United States now leads the world in confirmed, reported coronavirus cases, surpassing China.

To find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19 in Florida, please visit the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), please visit the CDC COVID-19 website. For more information about current travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, please visit the travel advisory website.

 

MARCH 27, 2020 — Congress Passes Econimic Stimulas Package to Help Familes, Small Businesses 

The Package:

  • Creates a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Defers payments, principal and interest for all federally-owned student loans through September 30, 2020.
  • Includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four months, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.
  • Provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower-and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household. 
  • Provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.
  • Provides an investment of about $200 billion in hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment desperately needed by our health care workers, including ventilators, n95 masks, gowns, gloves, etc.
  • Provides More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency funding\
For more information, visit Congress Passes Historic $2 Trillion Families & Workers-First Coronavirus Legislation

UPDATE - 3/20/20: Free Meals for Children

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have partnered with 2-1-1 to activate a text line and call center, open 24/7, for families to find free meals for children under 18 during the current COVID-19 school closures. Floridians can call 2-1-1, text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211, or visit www.SummerBreakSpot.FreshFromFlorida.com, enter their address, and search up to 50 miles to find participating free meal locations near them.

Small Business Loans

Some relief is on the way for small businesses suffering financial hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida small businesses impacted by coronavirus can now apply for short-term, interest-free working capital loans. The application period runs through May 8. https://floridadisasterloan.org

Operating Status of Rep. Lawson's Offices

Following guidance from the Committee on House Administration and the House Sergeant at Arms, my office is implementing social distancing measures in the interest of everyone’s health. Our offices in Washington Tallahassee and Jacksonville are closed and staff are teleworking remotely — scheduled meetings will be transitioned to conference calls and all assistance will be provided digitally or via telephone.

Capitol Closed

Capitol Visitor Center will be closed to all tours, including those led by members and staff. The Capitol building itself will also be closed to all tours. The Capitol and Senate office buildings will remain accessible to members, staff and members of Congress. Beginning March 12, Rep. Lawson's DC Office will move all outside meetings to telephone or videoconference. 

Update: Congress Passes $8.3 Billion Coronavirus Response Package

Congress cleared an $8.3 billion emergency spending package Thursday that's intended to bolster public health resources as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the country.

Funding includes:

  • Nearly $6.5 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Nearly $1.3 billion to the State Department; and
  • $20 million to the Small Business Administration.

Florida Department of Health Launches New COVID-19 Case Dashboard

~137 positive cases in Florida Residents and 18 positive cases in non-Florida residents~

In the state’s ongoing efforts to provide transparency and clarity regarding COVID-19, the Florida Department of Health announced the launch of a new COVID-19 Case Dashboard. To keep Florida residents and visitors safe, informed and aware about the status of the virus, this dashboard will be updated twice daily.

 As of March 16, there are 155 total** Florida cases:

  • This includes 19 additional positive COVID-19 cases (14 Florida residents and 5 non-Florida residents) were reported to the Florida Department of Health.
  • There are currently 137 positive cases in Florida Residents and 18 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Your Mental Health

The coronavirus public health emergency can take its toll on our mental well-being. Taking care of your mental health is important during this emergency. Resources are available on how to keep your body and mind strong.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

 

Prevention

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Additional Resources

CORONAVIRUS: CDC Guidance on How It Spreads

CORONAVIRUS: CDC Guidance on Symptoms

CORONAVIRUS:  CDC Guidance for Businesses/Employers

CORONAVIRUS: CDC Frequently Asked Questions and Answers