Published On: Wed, Apr 1st, 2020

FLORIDA COVID-19 RESOURCE GUIDE

By: Robert S Weinroth

As you can imagine, our office has been inundated with call from our county stakeholders seeking assistance in navigating the bureaucratic labyrinth to secure information or assistance as our community copes with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following is a guide to many of the services available to you. As always, we are available to help guide you as you seek the services necessary to weather this crisis. Our staff (Lucia Bonavita and Alexandria Ayala) are on the job and ready to help you at 561.355.2204 or email at [email protected]

GOOD NEWS: We are expecting to begin mobile testing for COVID-19 at the South County Civic Center early next week. Stay tuned for the details but please remember this will be by appointment only. Testing is currently progressing at the FITTEAM Ball Park of the Palm Beaches.

This information will be updated on a regular basis. As we receive additional information from the federal, state and county government, we will endeavor to disseminate it as quickly as possible.

Please … continue to exercise Social Distancing and heed the directives being promulgated. The bottom line is you are Safer at Home. If you do not need to be out, please stay home. We will get through this, together!

FLORIDA RESIDENTS CONSUMER SUPPORT

Automated Community Connection to Economic Self Sufficiency (ACCESS). Provides eligible low income families with stat economic assistance, such as food assistance (SNAP), temporary cash assistance (TANF), and Medicaid. Families who are eligible should not experience any disruption in their services during this time. In addition, DCF waived work requirements for individual participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and no Medicaid recipient will lose Medicaid eligibility during the state of emergency. Eligibility criteria and application process for families interested in applying can reach an agent at 850-300-4323 or (TTY) 1-800-955-8771 or visit website. DCF is also extending the timeframe for individuals applying for Medicaid, beginning with applications received in February 2020, to submit any necessary paperwork to 120 days from the date the application was received. If the Medicaid application is approved, the individual’s Medicaid eligibility effective date will still be the first day of the month that the initial application was received.

Child Support Program. The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) provides online resources to assist families in handling their child support case without visiting a local Child Support Office. For updates and case information, customers can call (850) 488-5437 (for all counties, except Miami Dade County). Miami Dade County residents should call 305-530-2600.

COVID-19 Updates. 

For the most up to date information on COVID-19 in Florida, please visit https://floridahealthcovid19.gov. For federal updates related to COVID 19 in the US, please visit https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus

Economic Impact Payments. As part of the federal CARES Act, economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. However, some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.

Eligibility Criteria: Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible. Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child. For additional information, please visit the IRS website by clicking here.

Insurance. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is encouraging all insurers it regulates to be flexible in collection premium so as to avoid cancelling coverage. Insurers have been encouraged to work with policyholders and consider relaxing due dates, extending grace or reinstatement periods, waiving late fees and penalties, and allowing payment plans with premium payments to avoid the cancellation of insurance coverage. The insurance commissioner has also strongly recommended that insurers seeking to perform inspections related to underwriting or claims use virtual options to do so. Please reach out directly to your insurance provider for any updates available to your policy related to COVID-19. Additionally, the recently passed Federal CARES Act and Family First Coronavirus Response Act included expanded insurance provisions related to testing and telemedicine. Please consult directly with your health insurance provider on any updates available to you policy related to COVID-19.

Insurance Consumer Helpline. The Insurance Consumer Helpline can be reached at 1-877-413-3089 and is available Monday through Friday (8am- 5pm EST) to address insurance related inquiries. The Florida Relay Service provides communications assistance to individuals with hearing, speech or vision disabilities and can be reached by dialing 711.

Price Gouging. The Attorney General’s NO SCAM Price Gouging App can be downloaded free of charge through Apple and Android stores by searching NO SCAM. A price gouging hotline is available toll-free at: 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (866-966-7226). Frequently Asked questions about Price Gouging available are available online. Click here for more information.

Scam Alert. Anyone who suspects a scam or believes a product is being falsely marketed as protection against the virus should contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (866-966-7226) or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com

ELDER CARE SUPPORT

Allowing Non-Congregate Meals. The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved Florida’s waiver request to allow non-congregate meals and meals outside of set hours to be provided to clients in the Adult Care Food Programs (ACFP). The process may start immediately and allows providers to offer meals for pick-up, drive thru, or delivery to clients. This is especially important in the light of Adult Day Care closures throughout the state.

Eligibility Criteria: Centers eligible to participate in ACFP include private non-profit and certain for-profit centers, as well as some publicly funded centers. To be eligible, for-profit centers ensure that at least 25 percent of their participants receive Title XIX funding. All centers must provide services to adults age 60 or older, or to adults age 18 or older with a functional disability. Click herefor more information or call 850-414-2000.

Local Area Agency on Aging. To locate a local area agency on aging, contact 1-800-963-5337.

EDUCATION SUPPORT

Remote Connection for K-12 School Districts. Following the closure of Florida’s K-12 schools, in order to facilitate the remote connection between teachers and students, school districts are permitted to redirect unspent Title 2 funds to help low-income students purchase digital devices and establish Internet services. Click here for more information.

Resources for Educators, Parents, and Students. The Florida Department of Education (DOE) established a resource website for educators, parents, and students to utilize free resources to help students with distance learning. Click here for more information. In addition, DOE has a webpagededicated to information and resources related to COVID-19.

Virtual and Telephonic Mental Health Counseling Services. K-12 school districts are permitted to redirect unspent 2019-2020 funds from the Safe Schools and Mental Health allocations to virtual and telephonic mental health counseling services for students who need emotional support due to COVID-19. Click here for more information.

FOOD SUPPORT

Commodity Supplemental Food Program. Monthly distribution of food packages and nutritional information to elderly in need. Available in 20 counties.

Criteria for eligibility: Must be 60 years of age or older; household income must fall at or below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level; must reside in the county where their local distributing agency is located. Click here for more information.

Emergency Food Assistance Program. A US Department of Agriculture food distribution program that provides foods to low-income households and distributes food to participating food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, and other feeding sites. Available in all 67 counties.

Criteria for eligibility: Organizations that distribute food for home use must determine household eligibility by applying income standards; organizations that provide prepared meals must demonstrate that they serve predominately low-income persons. Click here for more information.

Free Meals for School Age Children. Alternative meal spots available to students while school is out. Any child 18 or younger can come during meal times to receive a meal. Additional information on websiteor Dial 211 or text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211.

HEALTH CARE SUPPORT

Abuse Hotline (24/7).The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports of known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment and reports of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Report onlineor by calling 1-800-962-2873.

COVID-19 Call Center (24/7). COVID-19 hotline: 866-779-6121 or email [email protected]

Early Prescription Refills. The Governor and the Insurance Commissioner have required all health insurers and HMOs that are licensed in Florida to authorize up to a 30 day supply of most prescription drugs and to waive time restrictions on prescription drug refills. Click here for more information.

Local County Health Department & Testing Sites. Consult with your referring healthcare provider on available testing site locations. However, you can search for your local county health department online, where you can inquire about testing available at their location or elsewhere in the community (if known).

Suicide Prevention. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call 800-273-8255 right away. More crisis support information is also available online.

VOTER REGISTRATION SUPPORT

Voter Assistance Hotline. Available Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm at 888-308-6739. Floridians can register to vote online at www.RegistertoVoteFlorida.govand can check the status of their voter information. PLAN NOW TO VOTE BY MAIL! The Primary election will be held on August 18th. Voting by Mail is the best way to ensure you can do your civic duty from the safety of your house. This year, all Vote by Mail ballot come with a business Reply Envelop – in other words, the postage will be paid by the County.

FLORIDA BUSINESSES & EMPLOYEES

BUSINESS SUPPORT

Agricultural Business Support. The federal CARES Act has allotted resources for the USDA to address the economic effects of a COVID-19 downturn on sectors of agriculture ranging from livestock producers dealing with volatile markets to farmers who are losing business as states and localities close farmers markets and restaurants. The Act included other agricultural support dollars. Details have still not been released by the USDA, but please visit https://www.usda.gov/for information on disaster resources and information they have available as a result of COVID-19.

Business Damage Assessment Survey.The Business Damage Assessment Survey is activated to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by DEO, will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement appropriate relief programs can begin. The Business Damage Assessment Survey can be taken online at https://floridadisaster.biz/BusinessDamageAssessments

Business and Professional Regulation. For licensure renewals, emergency orders, protocols and information during COVID-19 for businesses and professions licensed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, please click here.

Division of Corporations Annual Reports Filing Extension. The annual report filing deadline for Florida business entities has been suspended until June 30, 2020 per Department of State Emergency Order 2020-01.This includes any corporation, limited liability company, limited partnership or limited liability limited partnership entities required to file an annual report with the Florida Division of Corporations. For more information, please visit the Division of Corporations website.

Employee Paid Leave Rights. Effective April 1, 2020, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires private employers with 500 employees or less to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. For more information, please visit the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website.

Small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is also provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. For more information on relief, please click here.

Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program (Federal). This pilot program allows SBA Express Lenders authority to deliver expedited SBAguaranteed financing on an emergency basis for disaster-related purposes to eligible small businesses, while the small businesses apply for and await long-term financing. Click here for more information.

Paycheck Protection Program Loan Guarantee (Federal). With the passage of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, $350 billion was allotted for this new program where the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) backs small-business loans through local lenders. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.

Eligibility Criteria: Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount. Loan payments will be deferred for six months. If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expense following loan origination. Click hereto learn more. The application and further information is also available at this link.

SBA Debt Relief Program (Federal). The CARES Act also provided for debt relief for small businesses with certain SBA loans. The principal and interest of new loans issued prior to September 27, 2020, will be paid as will the principal and interest of current loans for a period of 6 months. The SBA has not issued formal guidance on its website at this time. It is recommended that borrowers reach out to their lenders or contact a small business development center for more information. A list of small business development centers are located in this section for your convenience.

Expected eligible loans: An SBA 7(a) loan is a loan of up to $5 million for borrowers who lack credit elsewhere and need access to versatile financing, providing short-term or long-term working capital and to purchase an existing business, refinance current business debt, or purchase furniture, fixtures, and supplies. A 504 loan is a loan up to $5.5 million for small businesses that provides long-term, fixed-rate financing used to acquire fixed assets for expansion or modernization. A microloan loan is a loan up to $50,000 to help small businesses and certain not-for-profit childcare centers to start up and expand. EIDL, Express Bridge Loans, and Paycheck Protection Loans are not eligible, but these programs already provide for deferred payments or loan forgiveness.

Short-Time Compensation Plans. Employers can work with DEO to enter into short-time compensation plans. Under such plans, employers reduce hours for a group of employees (no more than 40% reduction) instead of resorting to temporary layoffs. Partial benefits are paid to employees. Note: Employers with higher experience with the system may not chose this option because the employer’s potential maximum rate increases to 6.4% when participating in this program.

The federal government’s stimulus plan may provide for federal payment of benefits paid under the short-time compensation program. If the U.S. Department of Labor adopts guidelines for this program, it may help to keep employer tax rates down, especially for tax year 2021. Click here for more information.

Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans (State). The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program is currently available to small business owners located in all Florida counties statewide that experienced economic damage as a result of COVID-19. 

Eligibility Criteria: Applications will be accepted by qualified for-profit, privately held small businesses that maintain a place of business in the state of Florida. All qualified applicants must have been established prior to March 9, 2020, and suffered economic injury as a result of the designated disaster. Qualified small business applicants must be a business with 2 to 100 employees. Applicants may also contact the SBDC for free help with completing the application. Applications will be accepted from qualified. Florida small businesses under this program through May 8, 2020, contingent on the availability of funds. Click here for more information.

Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan or Loan Advance (Federal). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid. The recent passage of the federal CARES Act allots $10 billion in additional funding for this program. If you have questions about this or other federal SBA programs please contact the Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) [email protected]. More information can be found at: SBA Disaster Loan Assistance.

Small Business Development Centers. Small businesses can reach out to local entities for assistance with programs listed above and other resources at:

Florida Small Business Development Center – find the local center at this link.

Local Women’s Business Center – search for a local center at this link.

Minority Business Development Agency Business Centers – find the nearest center at this link.

REEMPLOYMENT SUPPORT

Employ Florida. Florida’s official online resourcefor employers and career seekers seeking recruiting, hiring and training assistance.

Pandemic Unemployment Benefits (Federal). While guidance is forthcoming, the CARES Act included provisions to provide $600 a week to individuals who are unemployed due to COVID-19. This is an additional payment to individuals who are eligible for state unemployment compensation benefits; and is a new payment available to individuals who are ineligible – those who have already exhausted state benefits in their benefit years, self-employed individuals, independent contractors and others. The process for application and payment of these benefits is currently under development by the U.S. Department of Labor working with the states and U.S. territories. As soon as information is available, this document will be updated. A timeline is currently unknown, however benefits should be available for weeks of unemployment on January 27, 2020, until December 31, 2020.

Reemployment Assistance Program (State). If your employment has been negatively impacted as a result of the mitigation efforts in Florida to stop the spread of COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive Reemployment Assistance. For more information, review the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Reemployment Assistance FAQS. In addition, Governor DeSantis directed the DEO to waive job search requirements for claimants (i.e., individuals who file for Reemployment Assistance), therefore, claimants are not required to submit to DEO the information on the number of employers they contact each week. Reemployment Assistance benefits, formerly known as unemployment compensation, can be filed by accessing CONNECT online via http://www.floridajobs.org/in the Reemployment Assistance Service Center or call 1-800-681-8102.

Eligibility Criteria: If you have a history of wages in the state of Florida, you are actively able and available to seek and accept new employment, and you are currently unemployed or work reduced hours through no fault of your own, you may be eligible to receive Reemployment Assistance benefits. Eligibility may also include those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency; those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer due to COVID-19 concerns; and those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Temporary Layoff Program (State).This is part of the Reemployment Assistance program. Individuals on a “temporary layoff,” which means a job separation due to lack of work which does not exceed 8 consecutive weeks and which has a fixed or approximate return-to-work date, may be eligible if they were temporarily laid off due to the virus and remain available to work. Click here for more information.

STATE EMPLOYEE SUPPORT

Building Closure. Due to COVID-19, some state and county government buildings may be closed to the general public. For updates on building closures, please call DMS Emergency Information Hotline at 888-FDMS-EIL (888-336-7345) or visit DMS website.

Division of State Group Insurance. People First Contact: 866-663-4735 or 866-221-0268 TTY

Division of Retirement. Phone: 850-907-6500; Toll-free Phone: 844-377-1888; T.T.D. Phone: 800-955-8771; Fax: 850-410-2010; Email: [email protected]

TAX SUPPORT

Federal Tax-Related Support. Under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, small and midsize employers (fewer than 500 employees) can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. Click here for more information.

Federal Tax Extensions. The United States Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service extended the filing deadline and federal tax payments (regardless of amount) to July 15. Click herefor more information.

State Tax-Related Support. Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) established a dedicated team to address tax-related issues pertaining to COVID-19 and created an email address, [email protected], where taxpayers can send questions and concerns. The Department encourages all taxpayers to use e-services applications to file and pay taxes or contact the call center at 850-488-6800.

State Property Taxes. DOR has extended the final due date for property tax payments for the 2019 tax year. The Department also extended the due date to file railroad, railroad terminal, private car and freight line and equipment company property tax returns. Property tax is normally due by March 31 in the year following the year the taxes are assessed. The Department waived the due date so that payments remitted by April 15, 2020, for the 2019 tax year will be considered timely paid. Property tax returns for railroad, railroad terminal, private car and freight line and equipment company property are normally due by April 1. Returns will be timely filed if filed by April 15, 2020. Property taxpayers should contact their county property appraisers and tax collectors for information.

State Sales Taxes. Taxpayers who have been adversely affected by COVID-19, have an extended due date to April 30, 2020, for sales and use tax, as well as other related taxes, collected in March. Taxpayers who were unable to meet the March 20 due date will have penalty and interest waived for taxes collected in February if the taxes are reported and remitted by March 31, 2020. Taxpayers who fall within the definition of adversely affected but who are able to file and pay on time are encouraged to do so. For more information, and to determine if your business calls under the formal definition of adversely affected, please visit floridarevenue.com

ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY & VETERANS

MILITARY SUPPORT

Ongoing programs (subject to available private donations).

Air Force Aid Society. Financial Loan Assistance for all types of financial shortfalls Supports Air Force members. Click here for more information.

Army Emergency Relief. Financial Loan Assistance for all types of financial shortfalls. Supports Army members. Click here for more informationor call 1-866-878-6378.

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. Financial Loan Assistance for all types of financial shortfalls. Supports Coast Guard members. Click herefor more information or call 1-800-881-2462.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. Financial Assistance for all types of financial shortfalls. Supports Navy and Marine members. Click herefor more information or call (800)-654-8364.

VETERAN SUPPORT

Veteran Employment Assistance. Veterans Florida provides resume assistance and job placement for veterans and spouses seeking employment in Florida. Typically, the jobs are full-time and permanent; however, due to COVID-19, Veterans Florida is working with employers who are retooling and seeking temporary help at this time, as well. Click herefor more information.

Federal GI Bill Benefits. On March 21, President Trump signed into law SB 3503 which continue providing the same level of education benefits to students having to take courses online due to the coronavirus outbreak. Education Call Center at: 888-442-4551 between 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.

Homeless Veterans. For a VA Homeless Veteran Coordinator in Florida, call toll free 1-800-827-1000.

Veteran Benefits. All Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Regional Offices are closed to the public. Veterans can continue to get information about benefits or file a claim for benefits by visiting www.va.gov. Veterans with claims specific or other questions may request information via Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS) or telephone at 1-800-827-1000.

Veteran Legal Help Line. 1-866-486-6161

Veteran Support Line. 1-844-693-5838

Virtual Appointments.VISN 8 facilities are transitioning to virtual appointments to the fullest extent to allow veterans to stay at home, avoid exposure to others and reduce their risk; Veterans with appointments will be contacted several days beforehand to discuss virtual appointment options available to them. Click herefor more information.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Fact Sheets


 Small Business Administration (SBA) Recovery Webinars

Latest information on how the SBA is helping small businesses with their economic recovery from the effects of COVID-19. Free to attend. Each call is limited to the first 750 callers.

Again – please head the directives — Stay Home and Stay Safe!

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Commissioner Weinroth serves as County Vice-Mayor and has been appointed Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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