COVID Community Update - December 15 2020
2021 General Assembly Session
As 2020 ends, we are looking forward to 2021, things will certainly be different in the General Assembly. The Session will begin on January 13th 2021, Leadership and public health experts have crafted a reopening plan to keep everyone safe. I will provide more details in a future newsletter.
For the most up to date information on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health's Coronavirus website & tracker.
COVID-19 vaccine: the first round of vaccines arrived, the hospital workers and nursing home residents/employees will receive the first shots.
COVID-19 testing results: The County Health Department has recognized that long delays have been experienced by residents waiting for test results, they have switched labs and are seeing a 48-hour turnaround for results.
Anne Arundel County Executive Orders: County Executive Pittman announced new Executive Orders to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Anne Arundel County. These new restrictions will go into effect on Wednesday, December 16 and last for four weeks, until January 13, 2021. You can review the Executive Order here.
Support Local, Small Businesses
Our local, small businesses are desperately in need of our patronage during this critical time, many are struggling. Please shop local to help these wonderful businesses stay in business in 2021.
Unemployment Insurance Update
My office continues to assist those who are unable to get through to a representative at the Department of Labor. From the start of the Pandemic, we have received over 471 requests for assistance with the Unemployment system from District 32 constituents. The Legislative branch has pushed the Department of Labor to be more responsive to the needs of Marylanders, it is unacceptable that many have been waiting weeks if not months for benefits.
If you require assistance or if you are continuing to have difficulties contacting Unemployment, please fill out our unemployment contact form. It requires your name, address, phone, claimant ID, email and a short description of your UI problem. Once we receive this information we will contact the Department of Labor on your behalf.
As you may be aware, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (PEUC) unemployment insurance programs program created by CARES Act will expire in Maryland on December 26, unless a new Federal Stimulus package is passed. Additional information is available on the Division of Unemployment website.
With the moratorium on evictions ending on December 30th , I wanted to share resources available in Anne Arundel County for anyone who may be facing eviction. Here is a link to our Eviction Virtual Town Hall where the District 32 Team was joined by Lisa Sarro, Kathy Koch and Kirk Murray. It remains a valuable resource and below I’ve included contact information for each. Click here to watch it.
The Anne Arundel County Eviction Prevention Program (EPP) will provide temporary rental and utility assistance for eligible renters whose employment income has been impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis. This emergency assistance is to prevent evictions and utility turn-off, and is subject to funding availability. You can learn about the Anne Arundel County Eviction Prevention Program HERE
Arundel Community Development Services
Maryland Legal Aid
(Free Service for Low Income renters)
Maryland District Court Help Center
(Free Service for all)
Glen Burnie Office
7500 Ritchie Hwy
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
Anne Arundel Lawyer Information and Referral Service
Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation
Other Available Resources
COVID CARE Warmline 410-222-3663
There are resources available in Anne Arundel County for food assistance, behavioral health, domestic violence, Utility assistance, financial support and child support. Check out the helpful guide below or call the COVID Care Warm line to get additional information 410-222-3663.
Please continue to stay safe this holiday season and wear a mask,
Eviction Town Hall Resources
Thank you to Lisa Sarro, Kathy Koch, and Kirk Murray for joining us for tonight's Virtual Town Hall. I encourage anyone who missed it to watch our discussion on eviction resources and job opportunities. The video will remain up on my Facebook page. You can watch it here - https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=572993213384939
COVID-19 Update July 13th
I hope this newsletter finds you and your family in good health. This year has been challenging for all of us, our collective efforts have enabled Maryland to keep one another safe during this unprecedented pandemic. Let’s continue to work together and reduce Maryland’s numbers.
This newsletter contains resources you may need to continue to weather the pandemic including: COVD-19 testing and prevention, a critical health insurance enrollment deadline of July 15th, food access, eviction protection, utility assistance, unemployment insurance, small businesses, schools, libraries, workforce opportunities, and filing your taxes.
As always, thank you to everyone who have been socially distancing and wearing masks, and to all our small businesses who have found innovative ways to serve the public. While we still have work to be done, Maryland is poised to bounce back from this pandemic stronger than ever.
Thank you for the privilege of representing you in the Maryland Senate.
Helpful Resources and Information
COVID-19 Testing and Prevention
No cost, no symptoms, and no doctor's note required testing is available:
Every Monday through Friday | 9:00am til noon
Every Saturday | 10:00am til 11:30am
Department of Health
1 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis
For appointment call: 410-222-7256
Wednesday and Friday only | 8:00am til noon
721 E. Ordnance Rd., Curtis Bay/Glen Burnie
For more information: https://aahealth.org/covid-testing-calendar/
Text JOIN COVID to 30890 to receive regular updates on testing sites.
The County Executive issued a new public safety order requiring face coverings to be worn in outdoor public spaces where six-foot social distancing is not feasible. Masks are a proven, safe way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the easiest way to show that you care about the health and wellbeing of your friends and neighbors.
Health and Healthcare
State of Maryland Department of Health updates: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov
The Maryland Health Connection has extended the COVID-19 Special Enrolment Period for uninsured Marylanders who need health coverage. The New deadline is July 15th. Visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov. Free help is available by calling 1-855-642-8572 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Food Access, Eviction Protection, Utility Assistance
Maryland 211 (https://211md.org) is a phone number, text service, and website connecting Marylanders to some of the most essential services - food, eviction prevention, housing and shelter, utility assistance, mental and behavioral health, etc. If you need help and don't know where to start: call 211, send a text message of your zipcode to 898-211 or chat with a representative at https://211md.org/chat-with-us/ to get to the right place for help.
The Anne Arundel County Eviction Prevention Program (EPP) will provide temporary rental and utility assistance for eligible renters whose employment income has been impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis. This emergency assistance is to prevent evictions and utility turn-off, and is subject to funding availability. More information here.
Foreclosures of all kinds are on hold until at least Friday, July 24 at 5pm. After this time, foreclosures will resume for homes with privately-backed mortgages. Foreclosures for homes with federally-backed mortgages are on hold until August 31.
The hold on evictions ends on July 24 at 5pm. The exception is for tenants living in properties with federally-backed loans. The hold on evictions for those tenants extends until August 31. For more information check out the Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Services website and the ACDS eviction prevention program.
The moratorium on utility late fees and shut-offs for non-payment is in effect until August 1, 2020. If you are struggling to pay your utility bill, reach out to your utility company now to try and negotiate a payment plan. The Office of People's Counsel Website has a lot of COVID related financial information that you may find useful.
If you are unemployed or underemployed and having trouble with bill payments, you may be eligible for assistance through the Department of Human Services. Find out more information at this link in English y en español by clicking here.
Apply for both at mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us.
Request Information by Phone at the local AA County Dept of Human Services: 410-269-4500
Apply by Mail: Call 1-800-332- 6347 Mon- Fri, 8 AM-4:30 PM to request an application by mail.
Call the Anne Arundel County Food Access Warm Line at 410-222-FOOD (3663) to find food resources that meet your needs.
My office along with all of Team 32 have been working hard to make sure District 32 residents get the unemployment insurance benefits they are entitled to. We know that It has been a long and difficult process and many people still have not received the help they need. My office continues to assist those who are unable to get through to a representative at the Department of Labor. Please fill out this form HERE if you require assistance or if you are continuing to have difficulties. Please provide updated information and we will pass it along to the Division of Unemployment Insurance.
Small Business Resources
For business owners looking for guidance on how to plan for a safe re-opening: Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has released operational toolkit. You can find it HERE.
The Maryland Business Relief Wizard is a tool that helps connect businesses with the resources and programming for which they’re eligible, streamlining the process of finding support. You can access it at https://reliefwizard.net
Anne Arundel County small businesses (with 50 or fewer employees) can apply for the Small Business Customer & Employee Protection Grant Program(CEP) grant of up to $10,000. Find out more and apply at https://www.aaedc.org/business/financing-and-tax-credits/small-business-customer-employee-protection-grant/
Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation is working to compile information about businesses and organizations affected or impacted by COVID-19 through an online survey. This information will be provided to county, state, and federal resource partners. Your participation is greatly appreciated.
Schools, Summer Learning and Fall Planning
Statewide School updates can be found at this link, including Maryland's Recovery Plan for Education and the additional funding for distance learning. Public Comments are being accepted and reviewed on a continuous basis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County received an update from Superintendent George Arlotto and members of his staff regarding summer learning opportunities and efforts to close the opportunity gap as well as discussions about plans to reopen in the fall. The meeting can be viewed live on AACPS’ YouTube channel.
The current AACPS planning information and Fall learning committee members can be found here.
AACPS is hosting a number of summer enrichment programs. See more information and register here.
Anne Arundel County Updates
Most Anne Arundel County Libraries are now open Monday - Saturday. Download the AACPL Checkout App for contactless service or find out more information at https://www.aacpl.net/. Virtual programming is still available. Masks required, free masks available while supplies last.
Community Meetings - The Office of Planning and Zoning's Community Meetings are going virtual starting July 20th. You can access the current calendar linked here or find more information about the new process at https://www.aacounty.org/departments/planning-and-zoning/development/community-meetings/
Today the County Executive announced three new Workforce Development Initiatives:
The Excluded Worker Humanitarian Fund will provide cash assistance in the form of a $500 debit card to up to 4,000 laid off workers who do not have access to state unemployment benefits.
The Rapid Re-employment program will bring on additional staff to provide traditional job readiness and placement services and pay for the cost of occupational training programs in high-growth industries.
The Youth Employment Program will offer opportunity to 100 young people (age 16-24). Some will participate in an online job readiness program and others will work with county agencies in the community. All will be paid a stipend of $11 per hour.
“The economic impacts of this pandemic have hit the hard-working families who are the foundation of our economy - the low wage workers,” said County Executive Pittman. “These workforce assistance programs, particularly our Excluded Worker Humanitarian Fund, offer direct support to the people who need it most.”
These programs will be managed by Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation and the application period opens at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, July 13. Individuals can sign up and find more information at www.aawdc.org.
Filling your Taxes
Individual and corporate income taxpayers who took advantage of a 90-day tax filing extension: the new due date for filing and payment is JULY 15. While you may request an extension to file until October 15, payments are still due on the July date.
If you are looking for further assistance, the Comptroller's Office encourages taxpayers to make an appointment at one of our nine re-opened branch offices across the state at marylandtaxes.gov/locations.php.
For other helpful tax information visit the Comptroller of MD's website.
Update May 5th
Assistance with Unemployment
From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic my office has been inundated with requests for assistance from constituent struggling to navigate the unemployment insurance landscape. The filing process has been complicated, and it has been impossible to get in touch with anyone on the phone to answer questions. This is the number one issue we are hearing about, no one was prepared for the large number of people filing. The Governor and the Secretary have not been able to provide a solution, however we understand they are working hard with the vendor so people can get the help they deserve.
My office continues to assist those who are unable to get through to a representative from the Division of Unemployment Insurance within the Department of Labor. The Department of Labor has requested we provide specific information for those who are seeking our assistance for unemployment benefits. To expedite this process, we have created a form you can fill out to tell us about the problems you are encountering while filing for unemployment. Once you have completed the form, we will get in touch with our legislative Liaison at the Department of Labor on your behalf.
An Update from Secretary Robinson Regarding the BEACON One-Stop
BALTIMORE (May 5, 2020) – Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson today provided the following update:
“At Governor Hogan’s direction, we have taken every necessary step to improve the performance of the BEACON One-Stop unemployment insurance application in a matter of days. Claimants experienced zero to minimal wait times on the site on Sunday and Monday, despite the record volume of traffic.
“During the past two days, over 201,000 Marylanders have filed their weekly claim certifications. On Sunday alone, the site processed 141,000 weekly claim certifications, with claimants filing an average of 5,800 weekly certifications every hour. This is more than double the 65,000 weekly claim certifications that were processed last Sunday, April 26. We continue to enhance our capacity, and expect to build on this progress in the days ahead.
“As a result of our efforts, Maryland is now the only state that has a comprehensive system to allow all eligible claimants to apply online in one place. While piecemeal guidance from the federal administration continues to provide challenges to administering the new CARES Act programs, we are working to alleviate any confusion for our customers.
“For instance, federal guidance has required states to capture additional information from claimants as they complete their weekly claim certification. Marylanders found these new required questions to be confusing, resulting in numerous claimants inactivating their eligibility for unemployment benefits.
“In response to the feedback we received from claimants, our department has implemented an automated solution to reactivate these claims and prevent benefit payments from being interrupted. Marylanders with a claim that became inactive last week can now login to their BEACON One-Stop account to file their weekly claim certification like normal. Those with a claim that became inactive this Sunday or Monday after filing their weekly claim certification will also have their claim automatically reactivated, but do not need to refile this week’s claim certification.
“As issues arise, we are working as quickly as we can to resolve them. Nothing is more important to us than ensuring that all eligible Marylanders receive the benefits they need and deserve as soon as possible.”
Please stay safe, continue to social distance and wash your hands,
COVID-19 Update April 30th
Many people are having difficulties navigating the unemployment system right now. Below is a message from the Department of Labor with video tutorials that you might find helpful.
The Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance has posted four new tutorial videos on our website, social media pages, and YouTube to help Marylanders navigate the new BEACON One-Stop. All four videos can be found directly on our homepage at MDunemployment.com.
The first tutorial video provides instructions for activating and logging into your account. To watch this video, please visit https://youtu.be/w826_vuOKnw.
The second tutorial video will walk Marylanders through applying for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) CARES Act program. Those who are self-employed, independent contractors, sole proprietors, gig economy workers, have insufficient work history, or believe they are eligible for the PUA program, can submit their applications online and receive their benefits retroactive to their earliest date of eligibility. To watch the video, visit https://youtu.be/SXQgt9Lzzo4.
The third tutorial video will walk Marylanders through applying for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) CARES Act program. Those who have recently exhausted their benefits can apply for an additional 13 weeks of benefits through this new application. New claimants and those who are currently receiving benefits will automatically receive an additional 13 weeks of benefits. To watch the video, visit https://youtu.be/RO_Lp5Fnb-c.
The fourth tutorial video will walk Marylanders through filing their weekly claim certification. To watch the video, visit https://youtu.be/s2jJK_LC64w.
If you have additional technical questions, please email them to BEACON.email@example.com.
I hope you find this information from the Department of Labor useful,
Covid-19 Update April 28th
Many people are contacting us about their Economic Impact Payment. The IRS has begun sending out payments, but not everyone will get them at the same time. Below is a message from Senator Chris Van Hollen addressing these concerns.
You must have a Social Security Number to receive an economic impact payment, and the amount begins to phase down for those with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) that exceeds $75,000 for single filers or $150,000 for married joint filers. The AGI will be based on your 2019 federal tax return, or your 2018 return if you have not yet filed this year. If you do not qualify for a payment now, or your payment is reduced, you can still receive a payment based on your 2020 tax return when you file next year. Dependents over the age of 17 are not considered eligible for the payment. For more information about eligibility, please visit the IRS’s website at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center#paymentnot.
The IRS has also released web tools for non-filers to enter their information. You can do so here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here. (Please note that recipients of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement benefits, and veterans and their beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefits will receive the payment without taking any action, but those recipients with children under 17 should still use this tool to ensure they receive that portion of the payment.)
The IRS website also allows those still waiting for an Economic Impact Payment to check the status. You can do so here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.
Please note that many eligible people have reported receiving a “Payment Status Not Available” message using the web tool. Others have not been able to update their banking information on the website. Senator Van Hollen has made the IRS aware of these issues and the Treasury Department recently announced new technical fixes for the website. If you encounter these issues, please check back on the website periodically to try again.
Wash your hands, social distance and stay safe,
Covid-19 Update April 21st
Have you received your federal CARES Act payment yet?
A onetime direct economic recovery payment was included in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The IRS began distribution of these payments to eligible American taxpayers last week.
If you are expecting a federal recovery rebate, but have not received it yet, visit the IRS website for more information. Make sure you have your Social Security Number (or Individual Tax ID Number), your date of birth and your address on hand when you search your payment status on the IRS website.
To receive your CARES Act payment you must:
Be a U.S. resident or citizen
Not be the dependent of another taxpayer
Have a work eligible Social Security Number
The IRS will use the direct deposit information you supplied on your most recent tax return. If you received your last tax return via a check in the mail, your CARES Act payment will be mailed to the place of residence you provided the IRS on your most recent tax return. Click here for more information on how to update either of those items.
If you did not file a tax return in the last two years (2018 and/or 2019), the IRS will need your information. Click here for guidance on how to submit the information required, review the information for non-filers.
Wash your hands, social distance and stay safe,
Covid-19 Update April 8th
Federal Small Business Resources
The Department of labor has great information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.
The Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. To learn how to apply, visit the US Small Business Administration’s website for COVID-19 response.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has a useful Frequently Asked Questions page regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Topics including Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation orders, and eligibility for paid sick leave.
For more information on Families First Coronavirus Response Act benefits and requirements, please see this Fact Sheet for Employees and Fact Sheet for Employers, available in both English and Spanish.
Available guidance also includes two new posters, one for federal workers and one for all other employees, available in both English and Spanish, that will fulfill notice requirements for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under this new law, Questions and Answers about posting requirements, and a Field Assistance Bulletin describing WHD’s 30-day non-enforcement policy.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Economic Injury Grants
These grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19.I nitially, it was anticipated that applicants would receive the funds within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), however, serious delays are being reported at this time. To access the advance, you first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.
For additional information visit Senator Chris Van Hollen’s Small and Medium Business, Non-profit Guide to the CARES Act.
Covid-19 Update April 7th
I have received many requests for information on resources available to our small businesses during this challenging time. The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation and the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation recently shared this summary with my office. It has some great information about the state and federal agencies and programs available to assist businesses during this critical time. Further guidance is also available by contacting the AAEDC by phone at 410-222-7410 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Covid-19 Update April 3rd
Telephone Town Hall Follow Up
I want to thank everyone that participated in my COVID-19 Town Hall call last night. Dr. Kaylanaraman, Anne Arundel County Health Officer and I responded to many great questions. Since I am fairly certain these are the same questions that are on everyone’s mind I thought I would share some of them with you.
What to do if you think you have the COVID-19
Dr. Kaylanaraman recommended ibuprofen or acetaminophen to bring down the fever and over the counter cold medicines to treat any other symptoms, call your primary care provider – they will determine if you qualify for testing and will assist you in setting up a testing appointment.
Dr. Kaylanaraman assured everyone that it does work. We understand how difficult it is to be separated from family, grandchildren particularly, but the benefits far outweigh the dangers of transmitting the virus.
It is important if you share a home with essential workers, that they take measures to limit your exposure in the home. That includes: practicing social distancing at work if possible, washing their hands often, showering, changing clothes, and laundering their work clothes when they come home.
If you need to use public businesses such as laundromats, it was recommended that you go during off hours, take wipes to wipe down the machine controls and maintain social distancing as much as possible.
There were several questions about masks, to wear them or not. Dr. Kaylanaraman said he believed new guidelines would be issued today so please stay tuned for more. He also stated that masks prevent individuals from spreading the virus not necessarily protecting them from the virus, with the scarcity of masks, a scarf or bandana could be used.
Also, to all of the crafters, both area hospitals are accepting homemade masks. Details are on their websites, drop off information is:
BWMC - Once completed, you can put the masks in a sealed bin or bag and contact our Foundation at email@example.com or 410-553-8560 to coordinate drop-off time and day.
AAMC - When the homemade masks are completed, volunteers can drop them off curbside at Anne Arundel Medical Center on Wednesday or Friday from 10 a.m. to noon at AAMC's Belcher Pavilion Circle, 2000 Medical Parkway, Annapolis. All donations will be accepted at this time and location.
Should you encounter price gouging when you venture out, you can report it to the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office. You can report it either on line or by phone - 410.528-8662
In response to Coronavirus, Maryland Health Connection opened an emergency special enrollment period for uninsured Marylanders. You can enroll in a health plan through June 15, 2020. Medicaid enrollment is available all year.
Visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov or download the free “Enroll MHC” mobile app. When enrolling, consumers should request or select “Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period. The online application is available daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Free consumer assistance is available by calling 855-642-8572 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Deaf and hard of hearing may use Relay. While free, in-person assistance is not available at this time, trained navigators are available by phone across the state.
Veterans Crises Line
Information for Veterans during this COVID-19 crisis can be found at: https://www.maryland.va.gov/COVID19.asp
Help is also available at:
Veterans Crises Line - 800-273-5255, press 1
Veterans that need medical advice - 800 865-2441
Prescription Refill line - 410-605-7395, option 2
The situation with the virus is a new experience for all of us. Information on testing, treatment, masks, immunity, vaccines is changing rapidly. For the most up to date information check reputable websites:
Wash your hands, social distance and stay safe,
Covid-19 Update April 1st
Important Health Insurance Information
Executive Order Clarification
Health insurers in Maryland are responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus in a myriad of ways. Plans are eliminating barriers to care including waiving cost-shares, providing more virtual care options, and keeping members updated through mobile apps and websites with the latest information. For specific questions we encourage you to reach out to your plan, however the following summary may be helpful to you.
A good first step if you suspect you or a family member may have contracted the virus is to call the nurse line and/or member services line, the majority of which are available 24/7 to answer member questions.
Cigna: 888-726-3171 or 855-667-9722
Kaiser Permanente: 1-800-777-7904
UnitedHealthcare: Members should call the Member Service phone number on the back of their ID cards.
Health insurers are encouraging the use of telemedicine and virtual sites of care. This includes the following:
Encouraging the use of 24/7 nurse phone lines to virtually access clinical resources at no cost to members. The nurses are trained in the latest screening and testing referral protocols.
Paying for telephone-only consultations with clinician staff of primary care, general practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, OBGYN, and nurse practitioners with no member out-of-pocket cost.
Utilizing mobile apps to answer member questions and conduct coronavirus assessments based on guidelines from the CDC and NIH.
Providing emotional support for those members experiencing stress or anxiety via a 24/7 phone line and online at no cost to members.
During these challenging time the health insurers across Maryland and the United States have agreed to waive cost-sharing requirements for testing.
They have also:
eliminated prior authorization requirements for medically necessary diagnostic tests and covered services related to COVID-19 diagnosis.
waived early medication refill limits on 30-day maintenance medications.
worked with pharmacy partners to provide free delivery of medications and assist with mailing prescriptions.
worked with lab partners to support access to testing as it becomes available.
worked with customers to help them navigate and address questions about coverage related to employment status.
Each health plan in Maryland, has released detailed information on what they doing to combat the virus. You can see the individual company press releases below:
Please remember this information is for Maryland based healthcare providers. If your plan is out of state, please call the information number on your membership card.
Stay at Home Directive Clarified
Governor Hogan signed an executive order mandating that all Marylanders stay at home for the foreseeable future, as of last night with the exception of essential activities. There is likely to be confusion around exactly what that Stay at Home Order means and I hope the information below will help to provide clarity.
According to the Governor’s Executive Order, Essential Activities include:
Obtaining necessary supplies like groceries and products to maintain personal safety
Seeking medical and behavioral health care
Caring for and transporting family, friends, and animals
Traveling to and from schools for meals and instructional materials
Engaging in outdoor exercise as long as it adheres to social distancing guidelines
Travel required by law enforcement, or court order
Other Important Notes
Public transportation is still available, but only for the essential activities listed above
Restaurants and bars are still allowed to operate carry-out, drive-through, and delivery operations
Curbside pickup at all other non-essential businesses is now prohibited, though those businesses may sell products on a delivery basis if feasible
All campgrounds are now closed, with the exception of those living in an RV with no other viable place of residence
You can read the Governor’s Executive Order Here, as well as his first and second interpretive guidance documents for more information. These actions are necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and save the lives of countless Marylanders.
Thank you for continuing to do your part. Please do not hesitate contact my office we can offer you any assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please stay safe and keep washing your hands.
Covid-19 Update March 30th
Today, the Governor issued a Stay at Home Directive beginning at 8:00pm tonight. This means all Marylanders should remain at home with limited exceptions. Essential businesses can remain open and delivery options for restaurants remain unchanged. States across the country are implementing similar measures to keep everyone safe and flatten the curve. This disruption to our lives is necessary at this time to keep our hospitals below capacity so healthcare providers can care for all of those who need it.
The Governor’s latest Executive Order also bans the gathering or 10 or more people. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates this Order is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.
You can see the Governor’s Executive Order at: https://governor.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Gatherings-FOURTH-AMENDED-3.30.20.pdf.
Other Useful Information
We understand that the call lines at are busy, it is recommend that you use the website if you can, an additional server has been added:
Also the call center has extended their hours. They are 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
You can see a full FAQ list on Unemployment Insurance here.
Gatherings of 10+ People
According to the Governor’s EO, the order applies to "social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings" of 10 or more people.
We are watching the federal legislation that could expand unemployment benefits to independent contractors. In the meantime, the best thing to do is to send an email to the Dept. of Commerce at email@example.com. You should receive a response and guidance fairly quickly.
Maryland Business Assistance
The Maryland Department of Commerce is offering three new business assistance programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund: This loan fund is only available to for-profit businesses. It offers loans up to $50,000 (not to exceed three months of cash operating expenses) with no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months. After 12 months, the loans convert to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum. Businesses must have 50 employees or fewer and demonstrate financial stress or disrupted operations.
Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund: This grant program is only available to businesses and nonprofits with 50 or fewer employees. It offers grants up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020.
Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund: This incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) which is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country.
If you have specific questions about these funds, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Information For Businesses
Check out the business express website for questions and information for businesses https://govstatus.egov.com/md-coronavirus-business as well as Labor's website for the layoff aversion grants http://www.labor.maryland.gov/employment/covidlafund.shtml
Childcare Center Updates
Starting March 27 at 5 p.m., child care centers were closed with the exception of those designated for centers for essential workers. A child care provider can sign up to care for essential employees’ children by contacting their licensing specialist and completing an application. Others will have to contact Steven Hicks, Assistant State Superintendent for Early Childhood at email@example.com.
Updated Maryland Statistics
Statistics and other helpful information can be found at: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/
Maryland's SNAP benefit recipients have been granted an six-month extension amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Those with benefits expiring in March, April, and May will now be able to hold on to their benefits until September, October and November 2020 respectively. This also includes households with earned income that, by regulation, cannot normally be certified for more than a six-month period.
Marylanders can get information, apply for DHS programs and services, and check the status of applications online at: http://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us/dashboardClient/#/home, and by calling the DHS Call Center at 1-800-332-6347 (TTY 1-800-735-2258), Monday-Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Ventilators in Maryland
There is not presently a shortage of ventilators in Maryland. There are an estimated 1,040 ventilators available according to the Surge Task Force, but it is possible a shortage may exist in the future. More comprehensive information is available here
Update on Methadone:
With the support of the health department, eligible patients are being given multiple days of dosing in order to avoid crowding at methadone clinics. Eligible patients are those deemed to be responsible enough to handle multiple days of dosing without getting into trouble.
The industry is seeking urgent action by Medicaid authorities to authorize reimbursement for telemedicine, which would enable the clinic operators to stay in touch with patients in their homes. It might be helpful for you to weigh in on this issue with senior management.
This crisis could lead to an increase in fatalities among substance users for a variety of reasons, including multi-day dosing at methadone clinics. Telemedicine support will go a long way to reducing this risk.
Meal Distribution Center Information
Thank you to everyone for cooperating with the Governor’s directives. Please stay safe and keep washing your hands,