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Message from State Senator Robert Hertzberg

March 20, 2020

Friends and Neighbors,

As the list of Valley communities with confirmed coronavirus cases grows, I only have two words: stay safe.

Please. The threat is real, especially to those of us who have been around longer than the 118 Freeway.

This will end, but it won’t end nearly as soon as we all would like. In the meantime, please know that my staff and I are here, on the job, doing our very best to help any way we can.

We’re in this for the long haul, however long that is. To share a specific question or concern, please use this link. And stay safe! – Bob Hertzberg

VALLEY CASES RISE AS PATIENTS CONFIRMED IN NEW COMMUNITIES 

The Los Angeles County Public Health Department has identified additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the San Fernando Valley and cities and communities throughout the region. In the San Fernando Valley, new cases have now been confirmed in Granada Hills, North Hollywood, Reseda, Tarzana, Sylmar and Woodland Hills in addition to previously confirmed cases in Encino, Northridge and Sherman Oaks. Updates to case reports are here.  

LA COUNTY OFFERS PENALTY WAIVERS FOR LATE PROPERTY TAXES

Los Angeles County property owners affected by COVID-19 may have late penalties waived if they are unable to pay property taxes before the April 10 deadline. People unable to pay on time due to COVID-19 related reasons can submit a request to cancel their late penalty online starting April 11. County buildings are closed due to COVID-19 and there will be no in-person payments. Property taxes can be paid online, via phone, or mail. For more information, call (213) 974-2111 or visit the website here.

VALLEY STORES SET SPECIAL HOURS FOR SENIORS AT RISK

A number of stores around the Valley have set special hours for seniors and others at high risk to shop when stores are less crowded. Here are some participating merchants:

Albertson’s: Senior shopping from 7 to 9 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Learn more here.

Gelson’s: Senior shopping on Wednesdays from 7 to 8 am. Make sure you bring your identification. Learn more here.

Target: Senior shopping on Wednesdays from 8 to 9 am (all locations). Mission Hills and Burbank locations open at 7 am. Learn more here.

Vallarta Markets: Senior shopping is from 7 to 8 am for shoppers 65 and older, pregnant women and those with disabilities. Learn more here:

Vons: Senior shopping from 7 to 9 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Learn more here.

Whole Foods Market: Senior shopping is from 7 to 8 am for customers 60 years and older to shop one hour before opening to the public. Learn more here.

CALIFORNIA LAUNCHES NEW COVID-19 WEBSITE

Governor Gavin Newsom has launched a new coronavirus website that includes ways to stay healthy and resources available to Californians impacted by the outbreak, including how to apply for unemployment benefits, disability benefits and paid family leave.  The website also serves as a central location for up-to-date and simple guidance, and is part of a broader public awareness campaign to provide information to further prevent the spread of the virus. Access the website here.

FEDERAL RELIEF PACKAGE FINALIZED

coronavirus relief package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, has been signed into law. It includes provisions offering paid emergency leave benefits, bolstered unemployment benefits and free diagnostic testing for the COVID-19 virus. The bill provides many workers with up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they are being tested or treated for coronavirus or have been diagnosed with it. Also eligible are those who have been told by a doctor or government official to stay home because of exposure or symptoms. However, those payments are capped at $511 a day. Workers with family members affected by coronavirus and those whose children’s schools have closed can receive up to two-thirds of their pay, though this benefit is limited to $200 a day. Learn more here.

LOS ANGELES TO OPEN EMERGENCY SHELTER BEDS FOR HOMELESS

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a partnership with the Los Angeles City Council to open thousands of temporary shelter beds to bring more unhoused residents indoors and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Activating a $20 Million City Reserve fund, the City will deploy 6,000 beds provided by the American Red Cross. By the end of the week, 1,600 beds will be set up at 13 City Park facilities. For more City of LA updates on COVID-19, go to https://corona-virus.la

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA) DISASTER LOANS NOW AVAILABLE

The application link is now open for any California business wishing to apply for a disaster loan related to economic damage from the COVID-19 health crisis. To apply, visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Those businesses that have suffered substantial economic injury and are one of the following types of businesses located in a declared disaster area, may be eligible for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL):

  • Small Business
  • Small agricultural cooperative
  • Most private non-profit organizations

The SBA can provide up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred. Learn more at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/EIDLLoans.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE, DISABILITY, AND PAID FAMILY LEAVE

The California Employment Development Department has developed guidelines for those who are ill, caring for sick family members, or whose job has been disrupted by the Coronavirus.  The guidelines address quarantine-related reduction of hours, missing work due to school closure-related childcare needs, and work loss due to age/underlying health-related isolation, among others. Learn more at https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/faqs.htm

KAISER PERMANENTE AND FACEY MEDICAL GROUP POSTPONES NON-URGENT APPOINTMENTS

To help ensure capacity and equipment to care for the most critically ill patients, Kaiser Permanente is postponing some elective or non-urgent surgeries and procedures. If you have an upcoming appointment scheduled for an elective procedure or a preventive check-up, it may be postponed for a few weeks. The hospital will reach out to you to postpone or reschedule if necessary.

60-DAY GRACE PERIOD FOR INSURANCE PREMIUM PAYMENTS

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has asked all insurance companies provide customers with at least a 60-day grace period to pay insurance premiums so that policies are not cancelled due to circumstances beyond the customer’s control. This request applies to all companies that provide any insurance coverage in California including, life, health, auto, property, casualty, and other types of insurance. In addition, the Insurance Commissioner requests that all insurance agents, brokers, and other licensees who accept premium payments on behalf of insurers include alternate methods of payment, such as online payments, to eliminate the need for in-person payment methods to protect the safety of workers and customers. Learn more here.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR “SOCIAL DISTANCE”

Social distancing means keeping at least six feet of space between you and other people to stop or slow down the spread of contagious disease. This can include

  • limiting groups of 10 people or more coming together
  • limiting nonessential travel
  • working from home
  • closing buildings
  • canceling events and social gatherings
  • suspending in-person classes and going to web-based learning
  • modifying business operations to allowing people to come in only to pick up products that have been reserved or requested on-line or by telephone

The minimization of contact with other people will slow the spread of the disease and provide our community with the valuable time needed to be better prepared. Remember: these measures are important to follow, even if you are not exhibiting symptoms. Learn more here.

SELF-QUARANTINE 101

People who have been exposed to the new coronavirus and who are at risk for coming down with COVID-19 might practice self-quarantine. Health experts recommend that self-quarantine lasts 14 days, enough time to find out whether or not they will become ill and be contagious to other people.

You might be asked to practice self-quarantine if you have recently returned from traveling to a part of the country or the world where COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, or if you have knowingly been exposed to an infected person.

Self-quarantine involves:

  • Using standard hygiene and washing hands frequently
  • Not sharing things like towels and utensils
  • Staying at home
  • Not having visitors
  • Staying at least 6 feet away from other people in your household

Once your quarantine period has ended, if you do not have symptoms, follow your doctor’s instructions on how to return to your normal routine. Learn more here.

BEST PROTECTION FROM SCAMMERS: COMMON SENSE

Scammers depend on fear and confusion to perpetrate fraud. Your most effective weapon against scammers is your good common sense. Scammers push for an immediate response, stressing your urgent need to act. Always take a breath and think before responding to a text, email, phone call or in-person visit from someone you don’t know.

If a bank texts you with a fraud alert, for example, don’t click on any link in the text.  Instead call the bank, or use the official app or website to confirm whether the contact was really from your financial institution.  Never give out your account numbers, pins, passwords or social security numbers in texts, emails, or phone calls. Do not electronically transfer money to people you don’t know.

If someone knocks at your door claiming to be a utility or public health official, ask to see identification before opening your door.  You can also ask them to wait outside the door and call the entity they claim to represent for verification. The Federal Trade Commission has some helpful tips about COVID-19 scams on their website here and here, along with tips to safely work online from home.

DENTISTS CALL FOR URGENT VISITS ONLY

The California Dental Association is urging all seniors and those people with chronic conditions to stay home unless they need urgent dental care.  They also strongly recommend that dentists postpone all non-essential or non-urgent dental care at least for the next two weeks. They have urged dentists to continue to make themselves available for emergency care and other critical services.  All of us must make our own judgments about the urgency of our dental needs, and should continue to take all of the recommended precautions for protecting ourselves when we are out in the community.  Please make sure to cancel your normal dentist appointments if you do not need them.  If you want to keep on top of the Dental Association’s announcements, you can find them at: www.cda.org

L.A. CITY CREATES SMALL BUSINESS EMERGENCY MICROLOAN PROGRAM

The City of Los Angeles has established an emergency microloan program for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  Borrowers must be microenterprises or small businesses in the city that are low-income or will retain low-income jobs. Further eligibility is based on the following factors: good credit, sufficient cash flow, primary location in the city of Los Angeles, use of funds for reasonable and eligible working capital expenses, requirement for job retention, and all business owners who hold 20 percent or more ownership must guarantee the loan and a co-signer with good credit and sufficient income. There are no application fees.  Loans from $5,000 to $20,000 are available at zero percent interest for 6 months to 1 year or 3-5 percent for up to 5 years.  Learn more at http://ewddlacity.com/index.php/microloan-program.

SCHOOL RESOURCE GUIDES AVAILABLE TO HELP STUDENTS

LAUSD has released a resource guide for parents in both English and Spanish that provide over-the-air, online and other educational options to allow students to continue to learn during school closures. If you do not have home internet, some local internet service providers are offering free service for 60 days to K-12, and college student households. You can find information on how to sign up at https://achieve.lausd.net/itd.

LAUSD OPENING GRAB AND GO FOOD CENTERS

The Los Angeles Unified School District has turned its 40 family resource centers into grab-and-go food centers to provide meals for students. The centers will be open weekdays from 7 to 10 am, and each child can take home two nutritious meals. Locations of the centers can be found here. Free content with at-home learning opportunities is available here: http://bit.ly/lausdcovid19resources.

REMEMBER, WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER

If you have a specific question or concern, please click here to send an email or call my office at (818) 901-5588. And please connect with me on Facebook and Twitter as my office continues to provide more information regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Bob Hertzberg
Representing the San Fernando Valley