As we continue to combat this virus, below is information, links with details on COVID-19, 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.
- Florida Department of Health
- Citrus County Health
- Hernando County Health
- Lake County Health
- Marion County Health
- Sumter County Health
Assistance for Families, Workers and Small Businesses
On December 21, 2020, Congress passed a $900 bipartisan agreement to provide additional relief to hardworking Americans. Among other items, this historic package includes extensions of unemployment relief programs enacted under the CARES Act that were set to expire at the end of the year, expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program and a restart and expansion of the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
- Help for Small Businesses
- Increased Unemployment Benefits
- Tax Rebates for Individuals, Families, and Seniors
- Paid Sick and Family Leave
Florida Recovery and Re-opening
Encouraging news - there has been a steady decline in the number of reported Florida resident deaths who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data reported to the Florida Department of Health. Additionally, comparing the second week of August to the second week of September, shows a 74 percent decrease in the average number of reported COVID-19 related deaths.
On September 25th, Governor DeSantis announced that Florida would be entering Phase 3 of the Smart. Safe. Step-by-Step recovery. The governor's full executive order is available here. Phase 3 is the final phase in Florida's re-opening plan. Under phase 3, business restrictions placed by the State of Florida are lifted, allowing restaurants to operate at 100% capacity. Local governments may only restrict capacity between 50%-100% should they have proper justification. Local governments may not shutter businesses or collect fines or fees on individuals or enforce mask mandate rules.
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. As of November 30, more than 7.2 million test had been performed in Florida with 992,660 positive cases, and 18,500 deaths, according to Florida's data dashboard.
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.
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. If you are feeling sick and believe you have been exposed to the virus, contact your local healthcare provider or county health department.
For testing information in your county, visit the links below:
Donate Blood and Plasma
According to the FDA, if you have recovered from COVID-19, the antibodies in your blood plasma could help others who contract the virus. Public health information suggests that “convalescent plasma” has the potential to lessen the severity or shorten the length of illness caused by the coronavirus. Please consider donating today. Visit my web-page for location and eligibility information: https://webster.house.gov/convalescent-plasma
Operation Warp Speed
The FDA has appoved two vaccines - one developed by Pfizer and another by Biotechnology company Moderna. The White House recently announced that Pfizer entered a purchase agreement with Health and Human Services to distribute 100 million initial vaccine doses and up to 500 million additional doses. Through Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration has worked to quickly develop a safe and effective vaccine and a rapid distribution process. By December 26th, approximately 7.9 million vaccine doses will have been distributed nationwide.
Governor DeSantis recently announced Florida has identified 5 hospitals with the current ability to store the vaccine at required temperatures and administer it to qualifying individuals.
Additionally, a monoclonal antibody cocktail developed by Eli Lilly recently received FDA approval for emergency use as a treatment for COVID-19. According to experts, this therapeutic is best used on those who are high-risk of severe complications from COVID-19. Data from clinical trials found a 70% reduction in hospitalized patients who utilized this treatment.
Protecting our Seniors
Friday, October 16th, President Trump, along with the Secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DOD) announced they had reached an agreement with CVS and Walgreens to provide and administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities (LTCF) nationwide with no out-of-pocket costs.
As vaccine doses are available, CVS and Walgreens will coordinate to schedule on-site clinics with long-term care facilities to administer vaccine doses to residents and staff who choose to receive it. Nursing homes, skilled-nursing facilities, assisted-living facilities, residential care homes and adult family homes will also be eligible for this program. Rural areas that may not have easy access to a pharmacy will also be able to participate.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will begin COVID-19 vaccinations at additional sites using the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. The Villages VA Outpatient Clinic in my district is one of the sites that will receive vaccine doses.
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.
The Trump Administration has announced Medicare patients can be evaluated, receive preventative health screenings, and other services without leaving home. This increase in flexibility is not diagnosis specific and 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
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, limiting close contact and washing hands often.
Wash your hands! One of the simplest prevention measures one can take is proper hand-washing.
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.
- Leave Chart.png (254.7 KBs)
- Rep Webster Children & Elderly COVID19 Info Sheet 2020.pdf (496.8 KBs)
- COVID-19 - Infected Instructions.pdf (120.0 KBs)
- COVID-19 Factsheet.pdf (111.7 KBs)
- Medicare Telemedicine Factsheet 3.17.2020.pdf (428.7 KBs)
- FL Delegation Coronavirus Letter 04 March 2020.pdf (4.9 MBs)