I want to share information, links with details on COVID-19 -- also known as coronavirus -- and what can be done to minimize risk to exposure. If you have questions or concerns about federal preparations and response, please don’t hesitate to contact my office. For more updates on the coronavirus and what's happening in Congress, subscribe to my newsletter.

Important Links

Assistance for Families, Workers and Small Businesses

The Cares Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides help for hardworking Americans, assistance for small businesses, help for harmed industries and protects access to healthcare.

Florida Recovery and Re-opening

On May 18, Florida moved to full Phase 1: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida's Recovery. This flier provides more information on what this includes.

The new executive order does not preempt Local Governments' decisions to restrict or close certain buildings or businesses. The Governor's full presentation is available hereClick here for an FAQ on this order. 

Governor DeSantis’ emergency order to protect our older population also remains in effect. Under this order, nursing homes and assisted living facilities will restrict for two weeks visitors who have symptoms of any respiratory infection, are sick, travel internationally, have been on a cruise chip, visited an area with community spread of the virus or living in an area with community spread.  

Florida Department of Health has an online dashboard that daily reports number of COVID-19 cases in our state, which has been praised by Dr. Deborah Birx for its transparency and detail. The Department also has a dedicated COVID-19 Call Center, 1-866-779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

Getting Tested

As of June 2, more than 1 million test had been performed in Florida, according to Florida's data dashboard

The United States has exceeded South Korea in the number of tests performed per capita. NIH also announced the launch of a Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative to speed innovation, development, and commercialization of COVID-19 testing technologies.

The CDC has provided updated guidance that expands testing to more symptomatic patients and has encouraged clinicians to work with state and local health departments to coordinate testing.  Medical professionals have said that if you are in good health, even if you contract COVID-19, it is unlikely you will suffer serious complications. Older adults and those with serious chronic medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. CDC recommends avoiding crowds, cruise travel and non-essential travel, while keeping away from those who are sick, liming close contact and washing hands often.

If you are feeling sick and believe you have been exposed to the virus, contact your local healthcare provider or county health department. 

On March 10, following a meeting with President Trump and Vice President Pence, insurance representatives agreed to waive all copays on coronavirus testing and extend coverage for coronavirus treatment in all of their benefit plans.

July Tax Filing Deadline

The April 15th tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15th. Additionally, all eligible taxpayers qualify for a deferral of their tax payment until July 15, 2020 with no penalties or interest. Relief applies to estimated quarterly tax payments due April 15. The IRS encourages all taxpayers that expect to receive a refund to file as soon as possible

Veterans

For latest information on VA's response and services provided relating to this coronavirus outbreak, visit www.va.gov/coronavirus

Veterans who are concerned they may have COVID-19 symptoms or are feeling sick should contact the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center at 1-877-741-3400 (toll-free) before going to a VA facility.

Students

On March 13. the Trump administration announced that federally held student loans would automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for at least 60 days. Each borrower also has the option to suspend their payments for at least two months to give them financial stability during this national emergency. Borrowers seeking to defer payments need to contact their loan service provider and ask for " loan forbearance."

The Department of Education has directed all loan service providers to grant forbearance to anyone requesting one at this time. For more information on forbearance for students- and borrowers visit this link.

Looking for resources as your K-12 aged child is at home.  We’ve compiled free learning resources from organizations and institutions across the state and country, check them out here.

Medicare

The Trump Administration has announced Medicare patients will now be able to be evaluated, receive preventative health screenings, and other services without leaving home. This increase in flexibility is not diagnosis specific, this allows Medicare beneficiaries to use telehealth for various healthcare concerns. This helps them avoid unnecessarily entering a healthcare facility while still getting their healthcare needs met. This is important to allow individuals to access healthcare while practicing social distancing and other guidance from the CDC to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

  • Click here for FAQs, including a list of providers who can provide this service. 
  • More information is available in a fact sheet posted at bottom of this page.

What You Can Do

Wash your hands! One of the simplest prevention measures one can take is proper hand-washing.

Travel

President Trump further expanded the temporary travel ban that initially applied to foreign nationals who had traveled to China; Iran; the 26 European Union Schengen Area, United Kingdom and Ireland; to now include Brazil. Americans coming home from one of these countries will be directed to specific airports for screening. Please heed the Department of State and CDC travel advisories before planning or embarking on any international travel. If you recently traveled, please consult the CDC's recommendations.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

This legislation provides paid sick leave, free testing of COVID-19, and assistance for states and those who are food insecure. 

  • $1 billion this year for emergency administration grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, under certain conditions. $500 million of that is for states that experience a 10% percent increase in unemployment.
  • $500 million is allocated for WIC and allows adult care centers to provide meals to go to eligible individuals.
  • $250 million for the Senior Nutrition program in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to serve approximately 25 million additional home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors who depend on the Senior Nutrition programs in their communities.
  • The Department of Agriculture is empowered to approve state plans to provide emergency EBT food assistance to households with children who would otherwise receive free or reduce-priced meals if not for their schools being closed due to the coronavirus emergency. Floridians can text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211 to find their closest participating Summer BreakSpot location, and can also call 2-1-1 to speak with a live operator 24 hours a day for additional locations.

Fact Sheets and Letters

Please download and share these fact sheets from the CDC with additional information. Also included below is a letter from the Florida Delegation to President Trump requesting resources be prioritized for Florida given our uniquely largely senior population and high tourism.