4/24 Weekly Update: COVID-19 Updates and Information
COVID-19 Updates and Information
For the most up-to-date information and resources about COVID-19, please visit my website here.
Voting to Replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, Provide Additional Funds to Hospitals, Expand COVID-19 Testing, Make Ag Businesses Eligible for EIDL Assistance
Yesterday, I voted to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, provide additional funding for hospitals, fund EIDL small business disaster loans and grants, and fund expanded COVID-19 testing. Additionally, following my advocacy, this legislation gives agriculture businesses eligibility for EIDL assistance. This is phase four of Congress’ response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Paycheck Protection Program provided critical relief to many small businesses in the North Country, but many more are still in need of loans. The House once again came together to provide much-needed relief for the American people – small businesses, hardworking families, farmers, hospitals, and healthcare workers. This legislative package replenishes the PPP, provides additional funding for hospitals and further testing for COVID-19, and makes agriculture businesses eligible for EIDL assistance – a provision I called for weeks ago that is critical to the North Country. As always, I encourage constituents with questions and concerns to reach out to my office. Together, we will combat and ultimately beat COVID-19.
Protect Yourself from Scams
Congress recently passed the CARES Act for COVID-19 relief to help individuals and businesses. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have raised concerns about scammers and fraudsters that impersonate federal employees and ask you to verify personal account information in order to receive a payment. Here are some helpful security facts:
To protect your personal information:
Be diligent and ask yourself: Why would your financial institution or the government need to contact you for personal information to make or receive a payment—they already have it! Please do not hesitate to reach out to any one of my offices if you have questions or concerns.
Advocating for our Correctional Officers to Receive Continuation of Pay
I have been been in contact throughout the COVID-19 crisis with the families of Correctional Officers at FCI Ray Brook who have tested positive for COVID-19, but were denied their request for continuation of pay. I worked with the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs to highlight that Correction’s Officers should be considered high-risk employment when filing claims under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, which simplifies the process for claims to get approved. After my advocacy, the Department of Labor worked with the Bureau of Prisons to address the issue, and concluded that the Correctional Officers continuation of pay claims will be approved. Our Correctional Officers have been working in high risk environments with exposure to COVID-19. I have consistently advocated for them and worked to secure this result at the federal level to ensure they receive their rightfully earned compensation. I will continue to work to provide relief to our Corrections and law enforcement communities and their families, many of whom have sacrificed their personal health and safety to protect our communities throughout this challenging time. Read more here.
Requesting Funding for School-Based Health Centers
This week, I sent a letter to House Leadership as well as members of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education requesting $100 million in funding for a new grant program within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support School-Based Health Centers (SBHC’s). Indefinite school closures have created a gap in health services as some SBHC’s that operate in school facilities have been forced to close. In rural areas, SBHC’s address the needs of adolescents and their families, especially when the nearest hospital or clinic can be located a county away with no public transportation. This letter outlines the need for more funding to support SBHC’s in New York, where many have lost revenue and been challenged with providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter has been signed by members of New York’s Congressional Delegation. Many communities in the North Country rely on SBHC’s to address their immediate primary and behavioral healthcare needs. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many of these centers have been forced to close or limit the services they provide. I am leading this effort, along with my New York colleagues, to urge leadership to include funding for these centers in the fourth federal stimulus package. Supporting our SBHC’s correlates directly to taking the burden off of our hospitals and community health centers, who have seen an unprecedented challenge during the COVID-19 outbreak. I will continue to advocate for community-based health centers and their unique needs. Read more here.
Supporting a Regional-Based Approach to Reopen the Economy
I have consistently advocated for a regional-based approach when it comes to reopening New York's economy. I am pleased that New York State has recognized that the challenges and circumstances of the North Country are different than New York City when it comes to reopening our economy and getting people back to work. I believe our local county public health officials and hospitals will help guide these decisions. Additionally, in my role on President Trump’s Task Force to Reopen the Economy, I will be working with my bipartisan colleagues on this regional approach to ensure we balance both public health and the need to get people back to work safely. Read more here.
Resources for Small Businesses
This new loan program will offer significant relief to North Country small businesses by providing working capital to allow these businesses to keep operations running and people employed.
Tax Relief for Small Businesses
County Public Health Resources
Introducing the Bipartisan Equity in Student Loan Relief Act
This week, I introduced the Equity in Student Loan Relief Act, a bipartisan bill that would extend the temporary relief from student loan payments to Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) borrowers who have been left behind. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided much-needed student loan relief during this global pandemic, suspending all monthly payments and interest accumulation for federally held student loans through September 30, 2020. However, about 7.2 million borrowers who took out loans under the FFEL program, which was discontinued in 2010, are ineligible to benefit from this temporary relief since their federal student loans are not held by the Department of Education. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA-3), Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-11), Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), and Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV-3) are co-leading the bill. The Equity in Student Loan Relief Act directs the Department of Education make the interest payments for FFEL borrowers and enter into agreements with the current holders of FFEL loans to suspend student loan payments obligations, as well as cease all involuntary collections, through September 30, 2020. As provided for federally held loans in the CARES Act, each month a loan payment is suspended will still be counted as a payment for the purposes of loan forgiveness programs. The participating holders will notify borrowers of the changes within 15 days and provide at least six notices prior to the return to normal payment obligations. While the CARES Act lifted the weight of student loan payments from millions of Americans whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, too many borrowers are still being left behind. All students who have federal student loans should have their monthly payments suspended, no matter which type of loan they have or when they borrowed the money. Our bipartisan bill is a major step towards achieving parity and will deliver relief to the over seven million borrowers under the old FFEL program. I will continue to work on a bipartisan basis to develop additional legislation that extends these benefits to the Perkins borrowers who are also in need of immediate relief. Read more here.
Urging Secretary Pompeo and Attorney General Barr to Bring China to the ICJ
This week, I sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo and Attorney General Barr urging them to bring a case against China to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for their cover-up of COVID-19, which has since caused nearly two hundred thousand deaths worldwide and has cost trillions of dollars. Specifically, China violated their agreement to abide by the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), which leaves them liable to legal action in the ICJ. The Communist Party of China knowingly withheld critical information on the threat of COVID-19, and thousands of people have died because of their attempt to cover-up the virus. I am joining my colleagues in urging Secretary Pompeo and Attorney General Barr to bring a case against China to the ICJ. The International Health Regulations – which China agreed to abide by – require countries to provide timely information to the WHO about public health emergencies in order to prevent global pandemics. China must be held accountable for the devastating loss of life they have caused by lying and intentionally suppressing critical facts needed to combat COVID-19 early on in this pandemic. Read more here.
In Case You Missed It: Weekly Media Round-up
In case you missed it, I have done various interviews and calls with local media over the past few weeks on coronavirus, its impact on seniors and small businesses, local farmers, prisons and corrections officers, local hospitals, the PPP program, the CARES Act, and steps that members of the community should be taking to protect themselves. As always, I will continue to do interviews with the local media to ensure the public is fully informed on the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Stefanik says she helped FCI Ray Brook COs with COVID get paid
Sun Community News: Stefanik Sends Letter Requesting Funding for School-Based Health Centers
Press Republican: Stefanik votes for relief legislation
Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Stefanik presses for new hospital aid formula
On behalf of our entire district, I want to thank the incredible leadership, courage, and resilience of so many at this difficult, unprecedented time as we work together to combat and beat COVID-19.
As always, thank you for subscribing to my weekly updates!