Covid-19

For doctors, nurses, and other health care workers, providing care around-the-clock is normal, and that’s never been more true than today. Whether they’re mending a broken bone or working together to stop a global pandemic, these Hospital Heroes stand ready to provide care whenever, and wherever, it’s needed.

So let’s take a moment to thank all the health care professionals working on the front lines to combat this public health crisis. Share this graphic to show the Hospital Heroes in your community that you appreciate the life-saving work they do.

Thank you, Hospital Heroes!

Domestic violence reports grow significantly as pandemic continues

If you or someone you know is being affected by domestic violence, help is available through the Statewide Domestic Abuse Helpline: 1-866-834-HELP

Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence
Through These Doors, Cumberland County, 1-800-537-6066 or 207-874-1973
Caring Unlimited, York County, 1-800-239-7298
Safe Voices, Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin counties, 1-800-559-2927
Immigrant Resource Center of Maine
Family Violence Project, Kennebec and Somerset counties, 1-877-890-7788
New Hope for Women, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties, 1-800-522-3304
Partners for Peace, Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, 1-800-863-9909
Next Step Domestic Violence Project, Hancock and Washington counties, 1-800-315-5579
Hope and Justice Project, Aroostook County, 1-800-439-2323

Online resources include:
• The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, mcedv.org

A Message from Marine Resources Commissioner Keliher Regarding USDA’s Announcement of USDA Trade Relief Program for US Fishermen Impacted by Retaliatory Tariffs

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MEDMR/bulletins/29ff310?fbclid=IwAR0ysyDa9rG6NfGl3Xhiv9Ene0f7U48njBmmy8mylaJOtcF499A5khd-80o

Maine Small Business Financial Assistance:

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/21/business/how-to-apply-for-small-business-aid-under-maines-new-200m-program/

Pandemic-EBT Support–posted by Representative Brian Hubbell

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2802830489950395/permalink/2854105474822896/

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/pua/

Message from Congressman Jared Golden–CARES Act

On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was passed by the House and signed into law by the President. While this law isn’t perfect, I supported its passage because it contained urgent public health and economic relief measures to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. I’ll discuss more of my thoughts on this law and the work that lies ahead for Congress, but I first wanted to provide you with information on some of the law’s programs that will most directly affect Mainers:

Public Health: In order for our economy to eventually recover, we first need a public health response that can bring this pandemic itself under control. That’s why the CARES Act provides $100 billion for struggling hospitals and waives certain restrictions on the Defense Production Act https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/21/business/how-to-apply-for-small-business-aid-under-maines-new-200m-program/to make it easier for the president to order the manufacture of items like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ventilators, and COVID-19 tests. The law also increases Medicare payments for telehealth and COVID-19 treatment, requires private health insurers to reimburse coronavirus testing costs, and expands the Strategic National Stockpile to include PPE and COVID-19 testing swabs. These provisions build on H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which passed on March 4 to support development of an affordable vaccine, address medical supply shortages, and help battle the global spread of this virus.

Paycheck Protection Program Loans & Loan Forgiveness: Perhaps the most promising section of the CARES Act is the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is meant to encourage employers to maintain payroll. Small and medium-sized businesses up to 500 employees, nonprofits, independent contractors, and the self-employed are eligible for these loans. A recipient could use a PPP loan to cover payroll costs, rent, utilities, and mortgage interest. These loans have no federal fees.If the PPP loan recipient retains or rehires their full payroll, eight weeks’ worth of covered costs before June 30th will be completely forgiven. For any loan principal that is not forgiven, repayment will be deferred for at least six months and interest is 1 percent. These loans will be administered by banks and other private lenders that already partner with the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA has announced that lenders may now begin processing loan applications. If you are interested in applying, please visit the SBA’s website at https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources or visit my office’s website at https://golden.house.gov/covid-19/small-business-resource-guide for more information.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Economic Injury Grants: Other SBA programs available for employers under the CARES Act include Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and Emergency Economic Injury Grants. EIDLs are lower interest (3.75 percent for for-profits and 2.75 percent for nonprofits) loans of up to $2 million, with principal deferment available for one year that are available to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses. Emergency Economic Injury Grants, a new program created by the CARES Act, are emergency advances of up to $10,000 provided within three days of applying for an EIDL. An Emergency Economic Injury Grant does not need to be repaid under any circumstances, and may be used for payroll, rent, and other covered expenses. To receive the advance, a business or nonprofit needs to request the advance as part of an application for an EIDL. To learn more about the EIDL program, please visit my office’s  website at https://golden.house.gov/covid-19/small-business-resource-guide for more information. The SBA is currently accepting EIDL applications online at https://covid19relief.sba.gov.

Unemployment Insurance: The CARES Act also expands unemployment benefits to help workers in this painful period of job loss. This means that an unemployed worker in Maine will be eligible to receive at least one of the following benefits:

  • Unemployment Insurance (UI): Under current Maine law, anyone who is monetarily eligible and is laid off or has another qualifying job loss is eligible for UI benefits for up to 26 weeks. There is also an emergency UI available to workers on an unpaid leave of absence due to COVID-19, which is available through May 14, 2020.
     
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): For individuals who still meet UI eligibility criteria but have exhausted their UI benefits, the CARES Act established the PEUC program, which provides benefits for up to 13 weeks after UI.
     
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): For self-employed individuals and others who are ineligible for state UI, the CARES Act also established the PUA program, which provides benefits for up to 39 weeks until December 31, 2020.
     
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): And for anyone receiving benefits from any of these programs—state UI, PEUC, or PUA—the CARES Act established the FPUC program, which adds $600 to their weekly benefit through July 25, 2020.
     

This patchwork of unemployment benefits can be complicated to understand, but the Maine Department of Labor has compiled a short, helpful table explaining these and other unemployment programs online at https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/docs/2020/Unemployment%20Programs%20COVID19%202020-03-30.pdf. As of April 8, applications for the new CARES Act unemployment benefits (PEUC, PUA, and FPUC) are not yet available. However, to learn the most up-to-date information about these unemployment benefits and apply for benefits as they become available, please visit https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/.

Short-Time Compensation: Workers who have not been laid off, but have seen their hours reduced by between 10 percent and 50 percent, may be eligible for WorkShare. WorkShare, which is administered by the Maine Department of Labor with costs covered by the CARES Act, is an unemployment option that helps businesses retain their workforce during a temporary slowdown in work. Benefits are paid on a percentage equal to the hours reduction. For example, a worker who has lost 25% of their hours would receive 25% of their normal weekly unemployment benefit. Applications for WorkShare must be filed by the employer, who should call (207) 623-6783 for more information.

Individual Payments: In addition to assistance for businesses and unemployed workers, the CARES Act provides direct payments for individual adults. To automatically receive a rebate, a person must file a tax return for 2019 or 2018 or receive Social Security benefits. Individuals who neither receive Social Security benefits nor typically file an income tax return will likely need to file a simplified tax return to indicate their filing status, number of dependents, and direct deposit bank account information. Information on these simplified returns will be announced on IRS.gov/coronavirus. The individual payments will be $1,200 for an individual with an income of $75,000 or less, $1,200 for a head of household with an income of $112,500 or less, and $2,400 for a married couple whose jointly-filed income is $150,000 or less. For individuals whose income exceeds those levels, the payments phase out on a sliding scale. In addition, individuals will receive $500 for each dependent child younger than 17. Each individual will receive their rebate via either direct deposit or mailed check, depending on how they typically receive their tax refund or Social Security benefit. Direct deposits will be sent out within approximately 3 weeks, while mailed checks could take as long as 20 weeks. All recipients will receive a paper notice in the mail no later than a few weeks after their payment has been disbursed.

Retirement Account Rules: Many seniors have seen the value of their savings plummet due to the financial markets’ fall. To address this issue, the CARES Act amends the law so that there is no required minimum distribution (RMD) from a 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for the year 2020. This will help give seniors the flexibility to ensure their savings last for many years to come.

Assistance for Fishermen and Farmers: The CARES Act provides $300 million for assistance to fishery participants, including Tribes, individuals, fishing communities, certain aquaculture businesses, processors, and other fishery-related businesses who have incurred a specified level of losses as a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus pandemic. This fishery assistance will be administered by the Commerce Department. In addition, the CARES Act provides $9.5 billion to support agricultural producers impacted by coronavirus, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools, and livestock producers, including dairy producers. This agricultural assistance will be administered by the Department of Agriculture. 

Many of these provisions reflect priorities for Maine for which I had advocated in two letters to House leadership while this legislation was being drafted. Only time will tell whether this behemoth law will fully deliver on its economic promises. It won’t fully stop the deepening recession. However, it will provide assistance to hospitals, frontline healthcare professionals, and those whose jobs have been sacrificed to save lives. The small business loans have real potential to help stave off higher and higher unemployment, but only if they are implemented rapidly by the Small Business Administration. And only if the money flows to Main Street America — to the small businesses that truly need it to survive.

Passage of this emergency bill is just the tip of the iceberg. The hard work is still ahead of us, making sure resources are delivered quickly and effectively to the people who need it most.  Clearly more will need to be done to build upon and expand these initial actions in the coming weeks, which is why I believe Congress should be in session and working with the administration, our colleagues across the aisle, and the Senate to address the ongoing needs of our constituents. I hope that opportunity will come sooner rather than later.

Other Actions to Address COVID-19

The CARES Act builds on two other laws Congress recently passed to address COVID-19 and its economic consequences. On March 14, I helped pass H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This bipartisan legislation increased our ability to provide virus tests, expand paid sick days for certain categories of impacted workers, and strengthen unemployment assistance for individuals who lose their job due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

This legislation follows an additional law—H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act—passed on March 4 that provided a first round of emergency funding to support development of an affordable vaccine, address medical supply shortages, help battle the global spread of this virus, and provide low-interest loans for small businesses affected by the coronavirus.

In addition to this legislation, I and the rest of the Maine delegation have repeatedly urged the federal administration to provide Maine with an adequate amount of PPE. We first wrote to the Secretary of Health and Human Services about Maine’s PPE shortage on March 20, and again to the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security on March 30. The administration’s response to Maine’s urgent need for PPE has been inadequate so far, and I will continue to press this issue until Maine gets the PPE we need.

Personal and Public Health

To slow the spread of this disease, Governor Mills has issued a Stay Healthy at Home order, requiring Mainers to stay home except for essential trips like obtaining food or medicine, or engaging in outdoor exercise with sufficient social distance. This order will be in effect until at least April 30, 2020. More information about Maine’s Stay Healthy at Home directive is available online at https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/news/governor-mills-issues-stay-healthy-home-mandate-2020-03-31.

The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. We should also practice frequent handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds and regularly disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, and learn to recognize the symptoms of coronavirus: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Federal and state agencies continue to provide updated guidance on how to prepare and respond to coronavirus. My office has pulled together this information on our website at https://golden.house.gov/coronavirus-be-prepared.

It is critical that Mainers make these changes to our daily routines to protect the lives of our families, friends, and neighbors. These measures may be challenging, but there is no way for our economy and social life to resemble life as normal while this disease continues to be such a threat to the health and safety of our community. This physical distance can still coexist with social connection. We should make sure to take care of ourselves and look out for our families, friends, and neighbors.

Changes to our Office Policies

I also wanted to let you know that we are now serving all constituents remotely and our Bangor, Caribou, Lewiston, and Washington offices will not be open to the public. Drop-in and scheduled meetings with me and my staff will be moved to phone or video conference. If you planned to come into one of our offices in person, please give us a call instead and we’ll find the best way to answer your question or resolve your issue.

My staff and I are making these changes to our office policies to do our part to protect the health of our fellow Mainers from coronavirus.

None of these changes will impact the services we provide to constituents or our focus on helping Mainers. We will continue to:

  • Promptly respond to phone calls, emails, and other correspondence from constituents;
     
  • Help constituents resolve problems with federal agencies and programs, like Medicare, Social Security, the VA, and others;
     
  • Connect constituents with helpful resources and information.
     

If you need help or have a question, call my nearest office:

  • Lewiston: 207-241-6767
     
  • Bangor: 207-492-6009
     
  • Caribou: 207-249-7400
     

Or send me an email: https://golden.house.gov/contact/email-me.Also, for the present, our DC office is no longer accepting physical mail. The best way to send us physical mail is to send it to one of our Maine offices: 

https://golden.house.gov/contact/offices

***

The coming weeks and months will challenge Mainers as we all take steps to limit the spread of the coronavirus, protect our families and our communities, and lean on each other to withstand this pandemic and economic hardship. My staff and I stand ready to assist Mainers as we work through these challenges together.

Respectfully,

Jared F. Golden
Member of Congress

Public Assistance Funding

Maine has been approved for Public Assistance funding regarding non-congregate sheltering in certain circumstances. Please see below and the attached letter for more information.

Approval for non-congregate sheltering for individuals meeting the following criteria:
– First responders and healthcare workers who need to quarantine safely without exposing their families.
– First responders and health care workers who are at reasonable risk of having been exposed to COVID-19 and cannot return to their usual residence because of the risk of infecting other household members.
– Individuals in congregate shelters where remaining in said setting poses a risk to other residents.
-Homeless families, with at least one member who tested positive for COVID-19, who live in congregate shelters and will require isolation.
– Homeless individuals who require quarantine or isolation.


In addition to the individual requirement, agencies, organizations, and municipalities must meet the following:
– The approval is limited to emergency non-congregate sheltering costs that are reasonable and necessary to address the public health needs resulting from FEMA-3444-EM-ME.[1]
– The approval is limited to costs associated with sheltering individuals through May 3, 2020, unless the public health needs should sooner terminate. The State of Maine must obtain FEMA’s approval for any time extensions, which should include a detailed justification for the continuing need for emergency non-congregate sheltering.[2]
– The state and local governments must follow FEMA’s Procurement Under Grants Conducted Under Exigent or Emergency Circumstances guidance and include a termination for convenience clause in its contracts for sheltering and related services, such as food, security services, and care for those with disabilities or access and functional needs.[3]
– FEMA will not approve Public Assistance funding that duplicates funding by another federal agency, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
– State and local governments must comply with, and enable FEMA to comply with, applicable environmental and historic preservation laws, regulations, and executive orders or funding may be jeopardized.[4]

The State of Maine, and subsequent municipalities, agencies, organizations, etc. must maintain tracking mechanisms to provide sufficient data and documentation to establish the eligibility of costs for which it is requesting Public Assistance funding (including the need for non-congregate sheltering of each individual, length of stay, and costs).

Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding this process. Additionally, Public Assistance information can be found from FEMA at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/90743 or Maine Emergency Management at https://www.maine.gov/mema/grants/public-assistance-grant-program

Thank you,

Financial Assistance for Fishing Industry Employees

It has been more than a month since President Trump agreed to set aside $300 million in COVID-19 bailout money to help the struggling U.S. fishing industry, but regulators have yet to say who is eligible for financial rescue, much less distribute money.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Maine fishermen are growing desperate, and lawmakers impatient, for the U.S. Department of Commerce to announce who qualifies for the bailout, how much money they can get, and how it can be spent. They want the president to release the $300 million immediately.

“With each day that passes absent this assistance, the frustration and economic damage mount,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. “These disruptions have harmed the entire seafood supply chain … and the countless Maine communities whose cultures and economies are anchored by fisheries.”

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

The Commerce Department refers reporters asking about the bailout delay to its website, which has remained virtually unchanged since Trump signed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that includes the seafood industry bailout into law.

The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, a Brunswick-based nonprofit that has been helping Maine’s fishermen seek financial relief during the pandemic, warned that its distribution is unlikely to save Maine’s fishing fleet, the Press Herald reports.

“The money really isn’t going to go very far,” said director Ben Martens, who is helping self-employed fishermen apply for forgivable federal COVID-19 loans and state unemployment. “Agriculture got close to $20 billion. Seafood got $300 million. It just isn’t enough.”

According to the CARES Act, fishing industry members can qualify for the March 27 funding if they can show a 35 percent revenue loss from their five-year average. But questions remain about how current revenue is calculated.

“Relying on upon comparative ex-vessel losses for the early part of this year would not appropriately reflect seasonal fishery, supply chain or aquaculture business losses,” wrote U.S. Sen. Angus King, Pingree and Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, in an April 3 letter to the Commerce Department.

Maine’s most valuable fishery, lobster, isn’t usually hauling during the late winter and early spring, but those who do usually earn the highest prices for their catch during the months of the COVID-19 restaurant shutdowns, according to Maine state data.

King, Pingree and Golden urged the Commerce Department to give coastal states “reasonable latitude” in distributing their bailout money. Accountability could occur through advance agency approval of state spending plans, they said.

Nearly 70 percent of all seafood eaten in the U.S. is consumed in a restaurant, most of which have been forced to close by government-mandated quarantine orders. Simultaneously, international sales have dried up as trade and transportation channels have shut down, the Press Herald reports.

Other nations rushed relief to affected workers. The delays in the US are deliberately being used to make people desperate and thus pave the way for civil unrest.

Self Employment  Pandemic Unemployment Assistance tips:

select NO and make sure the box for Maine is NOT check marked to advance to the next screen.  

Unemployment 1.jpeg

people need to be activating the PUA application portion of their claim. You need to select at least one option from the PUA page of the application. 

Unemployment 2.jpeg

People are receiving  the message below because your income hasn’t been verified yet. MDOL will send a request for documentation at the end of the month.

Until then everyone will receive the minimum benefit of $772/wk ($172 state / $600 federal.)

Once you have submitted documentation if your earnings reflect that you are eligible for additional benefits, it will be adjusted and you will be paid retroactively. The max benefit is $1045 per week.

Unemployment 3.jpeg
Self Employment  Pandemic Unemployment tips
select NO and make sure the box for Maine is NOT check marked to advance to the next screen.  
Unemployment 1.jpeg

people need to be activating the PUA application portion of their claim. You need to select at least one option from the PUA page of the application. 
Unemployment 2.jpeg

 

People are receiving  the message below because your income hasn’t been verified yet. MDOL will send a request for documentation at the end of the month.
Until then everyone will receive the minimum benefit of $772/wk ($172 state / $600 federal.)
Once you have submitted documentation if your earnings reflect that you are eligible for additional benefits, it will be adjusted and you will be paid retroactively. The max benefit is $1045.
Unemployment 3.jpeg

COVID-19 Rental Relief Program


Program Summary

The MaineHousing COVID-19 Rent Relief Program is for renters who cannot afford to pay their rent due to circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic. The program is designed to provide a one time payment of up to $500, until the federal relief funds get to the individuals who need them.

The applicant is the renter and the benefit is paid to the landlord. If the landlord agrees to participate in the program, the landlord is postponing the balance of the payment, not forgiving it. In addition the landlord is agreeing not to evict the renter for non-payment of rent during the month in which the rental relief payment is made. 

Eligibility

You may qualify if you are unable to pay your rent due to circumstances related to the coronavirus. Examples include being laid off, having your place of employment closed, reduced hours of work, having to stay home to care for your children because your day care or school has closed, or other loss of income due to the pandemic.

You may qualify if you pay market rent and your current monthly income is less than:

  • $3,696 for an individual
  • $4,833 for a two person household
  • $5,971 for a three person household
  • $7,108 for a four or more person household

If you can afford to pay your rent from income of any sort or from savings or other liquid assets, you are not eligible for this program.

If you live in housing that receives any kind of subsidy, you are not eligible. Examples of this include: 

  • If you receive a Section 8 Voucher, live in a Section 8 apartment or receive Rental Assistance from USDA’s Rural Development you are not eligible.
  • If your live in a housing development with a mortgage financed by MaineHousing or a federal agency you are not eligible. 
  • If you live in a development/property using low-income housing tax credits you are not eligible.
  • If you life in public housing you are not eligible.

More Info

In order to fill out the Rental Relief Program Application you will need a pdf reader. Adobe Acrobat offers a free reader software for desktop and mobile devices.

To apply for the COVID Rental Relief Program download and fill out the applicationLink Icon. Once completed submit the application to  .

Applications will be processed by Community Action Agencies. When you submit your application to MaineHousing, we will forward it to your local Community Action AgencyLink Icon who will process it. They will likely contact you and your landlord. 

Applications


In order to fill out the Rental Relief Program Application you will need a pdf reader. Adobe Acrobat offers a free reader software for desktop and mobile devices.



Program Resources


Maine State Housing Authority (“MaineHousing”) does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, age, familial status or receipt of public assistance in the admission or access to or treatment in its programs and activities.  In employment, MaineHousing does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability or genetic information.  MaineHousing will provide appropriate communication auxiliary aids and services upon sufficient notice.  MaineHousing will also provide this document in alternative formats upon sufficient notice. MaineHousing has designated the following person responsible for coordinating compliance with applicable federal and state nondiscrimination requirements and addressing grievances: Louise Patenaude, Maine State Housing Authority, 353 Water Street, Augusta, Maine 04330-4633, Telephone Number 1-800-452-4668 (voice in state only), (207) 626-4600 (voice) or Maine Relay 711.

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Commissioner Blasi was contacted for an interview about opening the economy by the Bangor Daily News on April 15th.  Here are part of his comments: My concerns are for the health and safety of the people who live in Hancock County. We have no health department.  If there’s anything that commissioners can do it’s listen 1st to the Maine CDC, the governor, and science.
There are likely many undiagnosed infections and unfortunately  a severe lack of available testing.  If elected [to the Legislature] I would be able to do more as a state rep than as a county commissioner. I would work to introduce a bill  that would test everyone and then the contact tracing, and beyond that ensure that a vaccine be available at no cost to Mainers. I can visualize shipments of vaccine coming into clinics and  everyone getting themselves to a clinic or health care workers would do visits.  One of the initiatives I would pursue is [legislating] the recommendations from the state climate council [to be]  implemented as  Maine’s version of the Green New Deal. I would expect there be opportunities for people to retrain to get union-scale wages and benefits.
… I think they understand; they’re very worried about their incomes… the county does not fund any training programs…all we do is keep our services going like 911, sheriff, emergency management.  EM bases its operations on the CDC recommendations so we want to make sure all of  the available money that we have in our budget goes to make sure the emergency management has all the equipment, has people in the field, in each town there’s an emergency management officer and I want to make sure they have everything they need.  EM is distributing personal protective equipment that they get from the state government.

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