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Message from Congressman Phil Roe: I know the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is unsettling and the response is unprecedented. As a nation, we will get through this public health crisis together and will emerge stronger. Until then, we must to do everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus. Our public efforts to slow its spread will affect everyone in some way – physically, financially or emotionally. I have voted for three pieces of legislation to help Americans during this immensely difficult time – the Coronavirus Assistance, Recovery, and Economic Support Act, which provides $2 trillion of assistance for individuals and businesses affected; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides paid sick leave for certain employees who are affected by COVID-19 and ensures free COVID-19 testing, and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provides necessary funding for medical equipment and vaccine and treatment development.

Below are resources you can use on steps you can take to help keep you and your family healthy; information and guidelines for businesses and other community entities; and updates from the CDC and Tennessee Health Department. My main priority is ensuring East Tennesseans are informed and ready to take on this virus.

Helping Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Certain Self-Employed Individuals:

I encourage all of our small businesses who are struggling to make ends meet due to the coronavirus pandemic to apply for assistance made available by the CARES Act. Learn about your options and apply: 

Paycheck Protection Loans

  • $350 billion has been made available for small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program. This loan program is now available to help small businesses pay for expenses, including payroll. Under the program, up to 8 weeks of cashflow, rent and utilities under the loan may be forgiven. The Paycheck Protection Program is available for:
    • Small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons)
    • Private 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19.
    • Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards
    • Hospitality and food industry small businesses with multiple locations could be eligible for each location employing less than 500 workers
  • Loans are disbursed through private lenders, so talk to your lending institution.
  • A summary of the program is available here.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance

  • Small businesses can apply for EIDLs through the Small Business Administration. As part of the loan, the Small Business Administration is able to provide an emergency advance of $10,000 that does not have to be repaid.
    • EIDLs can be taken out in addition to Paycheck Protection Loans – the only requirement is they must go for different purposes.
    • To learn more about these emergency loans from the SBA, click here.

Employee Retention Tax Credit

  • Businesses affected by COVID-19 may be eligible for a refundable Employee Retention Tax Credit covering up to 50 percent of wages up to $10,000.
  • To learn about the program and see if you are eligible, click here.

Helping Larger Employers

Employers of all sizes have been dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 economic shutdown. As part of the CARES Act, $454 billion was provided for the Exchange Stabilization Fund, through which the Department of Treasury can make loans and grant loan forgiveness to larger employers. Guidance is expected to be issued soon on the program. The program is directed to ensure businesses with between 500 and 10,000 employees have adequate access to capital under the program. To read the bill language describing the program, click here.

Unemployment Insurance

A record number of employees have lost their jobs as a result of the economic shutdown our country is undertaking to save lives from the coronavirus. Because of the unprecedented circumstances, the CARES Act expands Unemployment Insurance to include self-employed, independent contractors, and individuals who had exhausted their benefits – among others. It also extends unemployment insurance an additional 13 weeks beyond state programs. Finally, it grants an extra $600 per week to individuals who are laid off between now and July 31, 2020, which is likely to be the period of greatest uncertainty. To learn more about these benefits, click here. To apply for unemployment insurance benefits directly through the State of Tenessee, click here.

Department of Labor Paid Leave Guidance:

Employers and employees can learn more about how the coronavirus impacts requirements through the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act at:

Coronavirus Relief Payments:

Tax rebates are on the way thanks to the CARES Act. A $1,200/$2,400 tax rebate for individuals/couples making under $75,000/$150,000. Families who qualify with dependent children will receive $500 per child. The rebates phase out completely at $99,000/$198,000. Learn more about how coronavirus relief payments to individuals will work at:

Steps to Keep Yourself and Others Healthy:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer frequently
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or an elbow
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid discretionary travel
  • Put physical distance between you and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community
  • Limit group gatherings to 10 people or fewer
  • If you are 65+ years old or a person with an underlying health condition, here are some steps you should take
  • Do not visit nursing homes, retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance
  • For more information visit CDC’s page on how to prepare for COVID-19 spreading in your community.

If You Are Sick

  • Stay home, unless you are going to a doctor’s office or hospital
  • Monitor your symptoms; Fever, shortness of breath and cough are all symptoms of COVID-19
  • Call your doctor before you seek medical care, and explain your symptoms and circumstance
  • If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911, and notify the operator if you have or you think you might have COVID-19
  • If you are sick, wear a facemask when you are around other people
  • If someone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, keep the entire household at home and contact your medical provider
  • Designate a sick room if available, and do not share personal household items
  • Stay away from others
  • For more information on what to do if you are sick visit CDC’s page on steps when sick

Information and Guidelines for Community Entities

Other Resources for COVID-19

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