Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. With more cases in the United States, including Florida, it is important to prevent illness by avoiding being exposed to this virus.
If you would like to receive periodic updates on the coronavirus, please fill out this form.
Click a topic below to find important updates and resources from local, state, and national officials about our united front against the coronavirus.
Every evening, I'll be live on Facebook giving you a daily update on our coronavirus response and highlighting some local leaders doing their part to help our community manage through this crisis. Visit my Facebook page to watch and join the conversation.
If you're concerned that you may have contracted Coronavirus, please contact your healthcare professional or county health department:
Broward County: 954-467-4700
Palm Beach County: 561-840-4500
Miami-Dade County: 305-324-2400
You can also call your county's hotline for assistance:
Broward County COVID Line: 954-357-9500
Palm Beach County Emergency Information Center: 561-712-6400
You can visit the Department of Health's COVID-19 webpage, call the dedicated call center at 1-866-779-6121 or email COVIDemail@example.com.
If you’re in need of food assistance, click here to find a Feeding South Florida partner pantry near you.
Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center: 561-833-7273.
Broward County's 24 Hour Sexual Assault Helpline: 954-761-RAPE
Click here for a U.S. Department of Labor FAQ sheet on assistance to employers and employees.
Please be aware of financial scams. You can learn more and report them here.
Communities in South Florida, including Broward County and a number of cities, are ordering their residents to wear masks when they are in public. This follows similar guidance from the CDC. Here is a video from U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams on how to make your own face mask.
Heroes Act (H.R. 6800)
House Democrats quickly went to work on the next stage of coronavirus relief legislation and passed the Heroes Act on May 15. The bill has not yet been taken up by the Senate.
The Heroes Act:
Honors our heroes by providing nearly $1 trillion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments to pay vital workers like first responders, health workers, and teachers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs.
Establishes a Heroes’ Fund with $200 billion to ensure that essential workers who have risked their lives working during the pandemic receive hazard pay.
Supports testing, tracing and treatment by providing another $75 billion for contact tracing and isolation measures and to ensure every American can access free coronavirus treatment.
Provides additional direct assistance with a second round of economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household.
Extends federal unemployment benefits of $600 through January 2021.
Ensures worker safety by directing OSHA to require that all workplaces develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise.
Supports small businesses and nonprofits by strengthening the Payroll Protection Program to reach underserved communities and nonprofits of all sizes and types and provides $10 billion for emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
Preserves health coverage for Americans who have lost their employer-provided health insurance with COBRA subsidies and by creating a special ACA enrollment period for uninsured Americans.
Bolsters housing assistance, helping struggling families afford a safe place to live with $175 billion to help renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments, and other housing-related costs.
Strengthens food security with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table.
Safeguards our democracy with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service.
The Heroes Act provides local communities on the frontlines of this crisis with robust, desperately needed funding to cover coronavirus-related outlays and revenue loss and pay our health care workers, police, fire, transportation, EMS, teachers and other vital workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs.
Interim Relief Package
On April 24, the President signed into law the latest interim relief package passed by Congress to support small businesses, hospitals, and all Americans.
It strengthened the Paycheck Protection Program with an additional $310 billion, of which $30 billion is reserved for community-based lenders, small banks and credit unions and $30 billion for medium-sized banks and credit unions. It also included $50 billion for SBA disaster lending and $10 billion in SBA disaster grants.
We directed $75 billion for hospitals to pay for vital resources for frontline workers, including personal protective equipment, and to help cover coronavirus-related expenses and lost revenue.
In addition, this package secured $25 billion for testing, a key element to reopening our economy.
Congress passed and the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a bipartisan plan to bring relief to millions of unemployed Americans, families struggling to pay bills, small businesses, student loan borrowers, and health care workers on the front lines of this crisis.
I will continue this work to ensure these programs approved by Congress are implemented as intended to reach those that need help the most. As well, I will continue to encourage robust support in Congress for students, families, and small businesses managing through this crisis.
What does the CARES Act mean for me and my family?
Direct financial assistance to individuals and families: U.S. residents with adjusted gross incomes up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) will receive the maximum benefit of $1,200 ($2,400 for couples), plus an additional $500 per child. The payments phase out up to $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for couples.
2020 Reembolsos: Respuestas a las preguntas más comunes
Full paycheck protection: Americans who lose their job during the crisis can receive an additional $600 per week for up to 4 months on top of state unemployment insurance benefits, and receive an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits.
Assistance for gig workers and freelancers: A new, temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will help gig workers, contractors, and self-employed individuals. I worked with Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to include this language to help these workers who make up a growing sector of the American workforce.
For more information or to apply for assistance in Florida, visit Florida's Reemployment Assistance website.
Click here for a Reemployment Assistance FAQ sheet.
The CARES Act also includes:
Support for our healthcare system: Provides an investment of about $200 billion to hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment like ventilators, n95 masks, gowns, and gloves desperately needed by our health care workers.
Relief for small businesses: 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.
Disaster Recovery: $45 billion to FEMA for response and recovery activities and reimbursement of state and local governments.
Housing Protections: 180 days of protection against foreclosure for federally-backed home loans and 120 days of eviction protection for renters in federally supported housing.
Investing in telemedicine: $200 million devoted to improving services and devices used to conduct health checkups remotely.
Funding for Florida: Over $8 billion to help the State of Florida respond to and recover from the COVID-19 outbreak.
Accountability and oversight: Special oversight requirements will be placed on financial assistance distributed to major companies and industries to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to benefit their employees rather than executives.
Phase I & II
On March 6, President Trump signed the first funding bill of $8.6 billion passed by a bipartisan Congress.
On March 18, President Trump signed into law the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which will make it easier for all Americans to do what it takes to work together to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including:
Free testing for coronavirus: All individuals who need a test, including those with private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, VA, FEHBP, and TRICARE, as well as the uninsured, will have access at no cost.
Paid emergency leave: The bill provides two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of job-protected leave to allow workers to follow quarantine recommendations and care for their family members impacted by the virus.
Click here for a U.S. Department of Labor fact sheet on employer paid leave requirements.
Click here for a U.S. Department of Labor fact sheet on employee paid leave rights.
Enhanced unemployment insurance: It extends emergency unemployment insurance to help cover workers who are furloughed or quarantined due to an outbreak in their workplaces
Food security: It expands food assistance through the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program, food banks, Meals on Wheels, SNAP, and provides electronic benefit transfer amounts to families who would usually receive free and reduced-price meals at school
Health security: It invests additional federal funding into Medicaid to give states the option to expand Medicaid coverage for COVID-19 testing.
Other Actions I’ve Taken:
This crisis requires all of us working together. That's why, from the start, I have been in regular contact with our local leaders, state leaders, and the White House. I worked with the White House to extend the tax filing deadline and to focus Justice Department efforts to stop scammers preying upon the vulnerable.
As many of you know, Florida's Reemployment Assistance program was ill-prepared for the surge in unemployment requests. Floridians who have lost their jobs because of the public health emergency have been unable to access the website to apply for these benefits. Every day they cannot submit their application is another day they go without crucial federal and state support.
Florida launched a mobile-friendly application to allow people to apply. Click here for more information.
You can also print a paper application and send it in. Click here for the paper application.
If you are self-employed, a gig worker, or contractor, you may still qualify for federal benefits. Click here for more detailed information of how to apply through FloridaJobs.org.
If you still have issues receiving your benefits, please call my office at 561-470-5440.
Testing for COVID-19
Click here for testing sites in Broward County.
Click here for testing sites in Palm Beach County.
The State of Florida continues to urge people to call their health providers or county health departments if they are concerned that they may have the virus.
National & State Guidelines
According to the Florida Department of Health, residents are advised to wear masks in public and socially distance, and avoid crowds, closed spaces and close contact.
Florida has transitioned to Phase 2 of reopening, however Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County remain in Phase 1. Answers to frequently asked questions about the order are available here: Florida Safer at Home FAQ.
I encourage you to stay up-to-date with your county's guidelines.
Track updates from Palm Beach County and Broward County via their Twitter pages.
Small Business Resources
Guidance for Small Businesses
Federal Tax Information
As part of the federal government's response to the coronavirus crisis, guidance has been issued that impacts all Americans' daily lives.
To help understand how the guidance impacts your business, the SBA has released this guidance.
The House Committee on Small Business published a "Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act."
Paycheck Protection Program
After the SBA quickly distributed the initial $347 billion to small businesses, Congress added $310 billion to this program and recently extended the deadline for applying for the program until August 8.
If you have not received your PPP assistance, please contact the bank you used to apply. As this program is managed by the banks, the SBA will not be able to view your application. Please know, you can always choose a different bank (including community banks and credit unions) to re-apply. Online entities like Intuit and PayPal are also servicing these applications. The SBA has assured me that if you re-apply, you will not lose your place in line. The SBA will review whichever application is received first.
Please continue to follow updates from my office as well as the SBA's website.
This program offers forgivable loans to small businesses to help them keep their employees on their payrolls during this crisis. In order for the loan to be forgivable, the business must keep all employees on the payroll for eight weeks and the loan must be used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program
Congress directed an additional $50 billion for SBA disaster lending, which will translate into more than $350 billion in loans.
The SBA is reviewing and processing applications in the order in which they were received.Please be sure to check your spam and junk filters in your email to ensure SBA emails were not caught.
If you have further questions, please contact the Disaster Relief Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, or email DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov.
Para información en español, haga clic aquí.
SBA Express Bridge Loans
The SBA Express Bridge Loan program makes it easier for businesses with existing business relationships with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. This loan is meant to help small businesses in urgent need for cash while waiting for disbursement of other loans. It can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap as you apply for a direct SBA EIDL loan.
Visit the South Florida District Office's website to find an Express Bridge Loan Lender.
The deadline to file federal income taxes for families and small businesses has now been moved to July 15, 2020. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. More information here.
Mental Health Resources
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Crisis Text Line: 741741
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990.
In Broward and Palm Beach Counties, you can dial 2-1-1 for a community helpline and crisis hotline.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Stress & Coping Guidance
FL Department of Health Mental Health Resources
Broward County Public School Mental Health Resources
Children's Services Council of Broward County Mental Health Resources
Broward Addiction Recovery Center: 954-357-4880
Palm Beach County Public School Behavioral and Mental Health
Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County Mental Health Resources
Palm Beach County Community Services - Substance Use Disorders
Mental Health America Mental Health And COVID-19 – Information And Resources
National Alliance on Mental Illness Information & Resources
Eagles' Haven (JAFCO) 24/7 hotline: 954-618-0350
I have been encouraging insurers to cover telehealth to help improve access to care during this crisis.
Medicare: Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to the current Public Health Emergency. Learn more here.
Florida Blue: Florida Blue’s network of primary care doctors and specialists will be able to treat patients virtually at their normal office visit rates. Visit the Florida Blue website, the Florida Blue app, the Teladoc app, or by calling Teladoc directly at 800-835-2362.
Baptist Health: Baptist Health is offering FREE online urgent care services through its Baptist Health Care On Demand telehealth app. If you or someone you know has cold or flu-like symptoms, visit here and use code CARE19.
Cleveland Clinic: Cleveland Clinic Florida is encouraging the use of its Express Care Online Virtual Care services as much as possible during the outbreak. Click here for more information.
Cigna: Cigna is offering COVID-19 specific resources for enrollees. Click here for more.
Humana: Humana has agreed to waive telemedicine costs for all urgent care needs for the next 90 days. This will apply to Humana’s Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and commercial employer-sponsored plans and is limited to in-network providers delivering synchronous virtual care. More information here.
Particularly during public emergencies, scammers take advantage of people's confusion and fear to lure them into giving up bank accounts, social security numbers, and other sensitive information.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody created a "Senior Protection Team," an inter-agency group of experts "specialized in fighting civil, criminal and health care fraud together to develop strategies to protect Floridians 60 and older." Her office published frequently asked questions on how to guard seniors from fraud. Floridians can report scams at MyFloridaLegal.com or call (866) 9NO-SCAM.
For more tips, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website.
If you think you have been the victim of a scam or fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The National Elder Fraud Hotline is 1-833-FRAUD-11.
To strengthen our response to these scammers, I introduced the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act last year. The bipartisan bill would create an office within the Federal Trade Commission charged with tracking fraud schemes targeting seniors, distributing the information to the public, and referring cases to local and state law enforcement agencies including State Attorneys General.
Rent & Mortgage Questions
If you have been financially impacted by the pandemic and are having difficulties paying your mortgage, it is important to call your lender to find out what options are available to you and what steps you need to take.
Under the CARES Act, homeowners with federally-backed mortgages have a right to defer or reduce their mortgage payments for up to 180 days, and then can request an additional 180 days. In addition, there is a moratorium on foreclosures until August 31, 2020.
For more information, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's website here.
Renters in federally supported housing are granted 120 days of eviction protection for renters in federally supported housing.
For more information, visit the House Committee on Financial Service's FAQ sheet.
School Meal Programs:
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with county school boards across the state to launch meal sites that will help feed hungry families while schools are closed. Families who receive free and reduced-price meals may search for the most convenient location by using the Summer Breakspot website.
I strongly urge everyone to continue to monitor updates with your local news organizations and follow the CDC's guidelines regarding proper hygiene and how to protect yourselves and your families.
We are working hard to ensure everyone can respond to the coronavirus threat appropriately and keep themselves and their families safe, while protecting Americans from the costs of care and loss of pay. I will continue to work with state and local officials in South Florida to monitor the impact of this virus and support the efforts to contain it.
Please call my office at 561-470-5440 if we can be of any assistance. You can also follow my updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.