Rep. Hern's response to COVID-19
As COVID-19 continues to impact our lives, I wanted to share some information that may be helpful on how to detect and prevent the spread of this respiratory illness. On this page, you'll find links to helpful resources, and information from the local, state, and federal level;
My offices are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 illness and will be sure to provide updates as needed.
Any upcoming virtual town halls will be posted here and on my Facebook page. Sign up here to be automatically dialed on our next town hall.
Governor Stitt announced that Oklahoma would begin the process of reopening on May 1 with the Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) Plan. The phases of the recovery plan are based on scientific models from experts and are intended to help us reopen the economy and return to our lives while limiting the risk of another outbreak and keeping our community safe from further spread of COVID-19. We are currently in Phase 3.
More information on the OURS Plan can be found here.
Following local & national guidelines for social distancing, my office in Washington, DC, is partially staffed at this time with most staff working remotely. My office in Tulsa is open, but we are restricting walk-in guests to comply with social distancing guidelines. Please call (918) 935-3222 to set up an appointment.
The United States Capital Building is closed to all but essential staff. There are no tours allowed at this time. Please contact my office to set up tours later in the year when the Capital reopens.
Oklahoma COVID-19 Hotline: 877-215-8336
Tulsa Department of Health: https://www.tulsa-health.org/COVID19
Oklahoma Department of Health: https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
U.S. State Department Travel Advisories: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus
Department of Veterans Affairs: https://www.va.gov/coronavirus/
Resources for Business Owners
CARES Act Emergency Loans for Small Businesses Explained
Apply for an SBA loan here.
More Small Business Administration Resources
Tax Filing Deadline Extended to July 15
At President Trump’s direction, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced that the tax filing deadline will be extended to July 15. Treasury is still asking those who can file by the typical April 15th deadline to please do so. You can find more information on the IRS website by clicking here.
Agricultural Labor Issues
USDA would like to hear from farmers with agricultural labor concerns. If you are a producer impacted, you can share your concerns by emailing AgLabor@USDA.gov or through https://www.farmers.gov/manage/h2a.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed, please contact your primary care doctor, an urgent care facility, or your local health care center. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and/or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It is also possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a face mask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
In early March, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations:
- More than $4 billion to make diagnostic tests more broadly available; to support treatments to ease the symptoms of those infected with the virus; and to invest in vaccine development and to procure vaccines when they are available. Funds are also made available for the Food and Drug Administration to protect the integrity of medical products manufactured overseas and identify and prevent potential shortages.
- $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a robust response, including: Nearly $1 billion exclusively for state and local response efforts; and $300 million for CDC’s Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund to prevent, prepare for, and respond to diseases – keeping our nation prepared and positioned for any health threat.
- $20 million to administer disaster assistance loans for small businesses impacted by the virus.
- $1.25 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to protect Americans abroad and prevent the spread of the virus worldwide, including: $264 million to evacuate Americans and maintain consular operations overseas; and $200 million for USAID’s Emergency Response Fund to prepare for and respond to emerging health threats – working to prevent the spread of illness and infection before it reaches U.S. soil.
- Rep. Hern's statement can be found here.
On March 14, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to assist Americans and their families through the COVID-19 outbreak. This legislation was voted on in the middle of the night, with barely 10 minutes for Representatives to read it before voting. Following the passage of the bill, the House took an additional four days to fix the mistakes in the legislation with a 90-page amendment. Rep. Hern voted against the original bill, but supported the changes in the amendment. Those changes ensured that the bill would provide:
- Free tests for Americans who should be tested
- Paid Sick & Family Medical Leave for those that need it
- Ensures students receiving school meals still get them
- Protections & relief for small businesses
- Rep. Hern's statement can be found here.
On March 27, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, as amended by the U.S. Senate. Highlights include:
On April 23, the House voted to replenish the funds in the Paycheck Protection Program. Rep. Hern voted in favor.
- Agriculture: $9.5B to the Agriculture Secretary to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 by providing support for agricultural producers including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools, and livestock producers, including dairy producers.”
- Businesses: The bill establishes a fully refundable tax credit for businesses of all size that are closed or distressed to help them keep workers on the payroll. The goal is to get those employees hired back or put on paid furlough to make sure they have jobs to return. The credit covers up to 50 percent of payroll on the first $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits, for each employee. For employers with more than 100 full-time employees, the credit is for wages paid to employees when they are not providing services because of COVID-19. Eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees could use the deduction even if they aren't closed.
- Food Assistance: $15.81B for Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) contingency fund, $8.8 billion to give schools more flexibility to provide meals for students, and $450M for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).
- Hospitals and Community Health Centers: $100 billion for hospitals responding to the COVID-19 and $1.32 billion in immediate additional funding for community centers that provide health care services.
- Individual Recovery Rebates: All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married), who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible social security number, are eligible for a $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate. In addition, they are eligible for an additional $500 per child. This is true even for those who have no income, as well as those whose income comes entirely from non-taxable means-tested benefit programs, such as SSI benefits. For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required in order to receive a rebate check as IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return, if filed, or in the alternative their 2018 return. This includes many low-income individuals who file a tax return in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children
- Insurance Coverage: The bill requires all private insurance plans to cover COVID-19 treatments and vaccine and makes all COVID-19 tests free.
- Medical Equipment: $16 billion to the Strategic National Stockpile to increase availability of equipment, including ventilators and masks.
- Rural Businesses: $20.5M to the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee program to provide guarantees to loans made by private lenders to rural businesses, similar to SBA loans for rural communities.
- Small Businesses: $10 billion for grants of up to $10,000 to provide emergency funds for small businesses to cover immediate operating costs and $350 billion for the SBA to provide loans of up to $10 million per business. Any portion of that loan used to maintain payroll, keep workers on the books or pay for rent, mortgage and existing debt could be forgiven, provided workers stay employed through the end of June.
- Temporary Student Loan Relief: All loan and interest payments would be deferred through Sept. 30 without penalty to the borrower for all federally owned student loans.
- Vaccines and Tests: $11 billion for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines and $80 million for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prioritize and expedite approval of new drugs.
- Rep. Hern's statement can be found here.