Subscribe Donate

Tag: disaster response

Home | Newsroom |

COVID-19 information, response, and considerations

OVERVIEW

  • FOOD
    • The California Department of Education has posted a list of all school districts and locations offering grab-and-go meals during the COVID-19 school closure. They’ve also created an app to help families locate meals.
    • No one will be cut off from CalFresh food stamp benefits at this time.
    • In April, CalFresh recipients will receive an Emergency Allotment (EA) on their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card. There will be two EA’s issued; one on April 12th and one on May 10th. The first EA will be for any household that received CalFresh in March and the second EA for any household that received CalFresh in April.
    • California is approved to proceed with online purchases for SNAP, allowing the California Department of Social Services to finalize tech so purchases can begin next month.
  • HEALTH
    • COVID-19 testing is already free for the majority of Californians with private insurance or Medi-Cal. Testing and treatment will not be used against anyone in a Public Charge analysis.
    • Applications for Medi-Cal will be accepted without proof of income documentation during the COVID-19 crisis. This is also true for those seeking to renew existing coverage – your Medi-Cal will not be cut off if you are unable to provide paperwork right now.
  • HOUSING
  • FINANCIAL SECURITY
    • The President signed the $2 trillion CARES Act, the Coronavirus relief package. Our analysis can be found here.
    • An executive order has been issued to allow current recipients of safety net programs in California (CalWORKs, CalFresh, In-Home Supportive Services, Medi-Cal, and Cash Assistance for Immigrants) to continue receiving them without interruption during this time.
    • The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued new guidance to counties intended to help CalWORKs families maintain income during the COVID crisis. Our explanation of that guidance can be read here.
    • Governor Newsom signed an executive order restricting water shutoffs for homes and small businesses while the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order also directs water agencies to restore water to those who had it cut off as of March 4th.
    • To ensure households keep essential Lifeline wireless and home phone service, the California Public Utilities Commission has temporarily suspended its rule requiring people with low-incomes to re-enroll in the Lifeline program. This will allow hundreds of households to retain service for the next 90 days.
    • If an employee’s hours are reduced or their employer shuts down, Unemployment Insurance is available, and if a medical professional says someone is unable to work due to the virus, Disability Insurance is available.
    • As of March 17, Social Security Administration (SSA) offices are closed to in-person visits, but you can contact them by phone and access online services.

Health care

Medi-Cal covers all testing and treatment for the virus. For those with private insurance, current policy directives from the state of California say COVID-19 tests will be covered free of cost under all health plans regulated by the state. We want to see Medicare provide no-cost testing as well. For care related to COVID-19, you should CALL your health plan for instructions. If you do not have a health plan, contact a local community clinic, or the Health Consumer Alliance hotline at 888‑804‑3536.

If you need health coverage right away, you can apply for Medi-Cal online at Covered California, and learn about more coverage options here. To receive information on options for testing and screening for the COVID-19, contact county public health departments.

Applications for Medi-Cal will be accepted without proof of income documentation during the COVID-19 crisis. If you have documentation, you should provide it, but it is not mandatory at this time. This is also true for those needing to renew existing coverage – your Medi-Cal will not be cut off if you are unable to provide paperwork.

Everyone is encouraged to seek care if they are sick, regardless of income or immigration status.

Housing 

California Courts have issued rules that suspend most evictions during shelter-in-place.

The new rules include procedural protections for tenants that will achieve the priorities expressed by the Governor’s March 27th Executive Order, which states that a public health crisis is not the time to proceed with evictions. The rule suspends tenants’ obligation to quickly file a response to eviction cases, states that no default judgments for eviction will be issued against tenants during shelter-in-place, and suspends trials for eviction cases. Our summary of the rules on evictions and foreclosures can be found here.

Additionally, many local leaders have recognized the particular threat this crisis poses to low-income households, and have responded with local moratoria on evictions.

Here are a few helpful resources from our partners:

In the video below for the Community Action to Fight Asthma Network and Health Leads’ Bay Area Healthcare for Healthy Communities Learning Initiative, Western Center’s Madeline Howard provides an update on new and COVID-specific tenant protection laws and policies. Shortly after this recording, the Judicial Council, the policy making body of the California court system, issued new rules on evictions and foreclosures that effectively suspend nearly all evictions across the state.

Food Security

Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to allow current recipients of safety net programs (CalWORKs, CalFresh, In-Home Supportive Services, Medi-Cal, and Cash Assistance for Immigrants) to continue receiving them without interruption or need for re-certification, and it stops CalWORKs time clocks. The governor also issued an executive order making it so that when schools are closed because of COVID-19, school districts must safely provide school meals through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option.

The California Department of Education has posted a list of all school districts and locations offering grab-and-go meals during the COVID-19 school closure. They’ve also created an app to help families locate meals.

The President has signed H.R. 6201, The Families First Coronavirus Act, including Pandemic EBT, which will prevent hunger among children during school closures. Learn more here. We are grateful for the several provisions in H.R. 6201 that will provide flexibility in SNAP and additional anti-hunger resources, and we look forward to implementing the new law in California with the Department of Social Services and County Human Services Agencies.

In April, CalFresh recipients will receive an Emergency Allotment (EA) on their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card. There will be two EA’s issued; one on April 12 and one on May 10. The first EA will be for any household that received CalFresh in March and the second EA for any household that received CalFresh in April. This benefit was authorized by House Resolution 6201. CalFresh recipients will not need to take any action in order to receive their EA. This benefit will be automatically loaded to their EBT account. CalFresh applicants are encouraged to submit their applications quickly so that they, too, can be determined eligible in April and receive an EA for that month.

On March 13th, a federal judge blocked a rule that would have forced 700,000 people off of SNAP food benefits (CalFresh in California) beginning April 1st. That is really good news.

Financial Security

The President signed the $2 trillion CARES Act, the Coronavirus relief package. It includes some direct payments, expanded unemployment benefits, and additional help for low-income communities and the organizations that serve them,  but it was passed without important benefits and considerations raised to address concerns for the poorest Americans, especially those who are living in deep poverty, people who are disabled or advanced in age, and people who are undocumented. The bill invests significantly more government aid for corporate America than it does for the people hit hardest by the crisis. We are hopeful that the fourth aid package, expected to be worked on by leaders while Congress is in recess for the next couple of weeks, will address these significant gaps.

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) has suspended collection on debt imposed by state and local governments, including the juvenile and criminal legal systems and superior courts (traffic violations, infractions). This policy is in effect immediately.

Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order to expand child care for essential workers, and help prevent child hunger by taking steps to ensure a broad take-up of Pandemic EBT authorized by the federal Families First Act.

California Child Support Services is temporarily stopping the automatic placement of bank liens and suspension of drivers’ licenses, effective on March 17, 2020. Note that there may be instances where actions were already in the process and you will need to contact the agency handling your case.

To ensure households keep essential Lifeline wireless and home phone service, the California Public Utilities Commission has temporarily suspended its rule requiring people with low-incomes to re-enroll in the Lifeline program. This will allow hundreds of households to retain service for the next 90 days. The Lifeline program is also loading phones with apps to allow customers to apply for CalFresh food stamps and gain access to free school lunch programs and food banks through their mobile device.

California Courts have issued new rules that set bail for people accused of a misdemeanor or low-level felony at $0 during the emergency.

Additional Resources:

**IMPORTANT: In this time of increased race-based discrimination in work, school, housing and community, and with reports of hostility directed toward people of Asian descent due to COVID-19, we call on our leaders to condemn hate speech and action, and to dispel myths about the relationship between race and the virus. State and local leaders, as well as public agencies, have a responsibility to correct the misinformation that people of Asian descent are more likely to transmit COVID-19. For an example of leadership in this area, see this letter issued by the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.