These are unprecedented times. The Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic poses a massive threat to our community's health and well-being, to our economy and to our way of life. We must confront it with firm and resolute steps to slow the virus' spread.
Success will define us, failure will destroy us. These are frightening words, but it is the reality we face. We are all in this together, and together we can determine our fate. Can we protect the health of our families and ourselves? Can we stop our healthcare system from becoming overloaded? What resources are there to protect our financial security and our homes? Here is what your government is doing:
This week, at least eight northern California counties (Sonoma, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara) issued public health orders directing people to remain at home unless absolutely necessary, and to close all non-essential businesses. More counties are expected to make similar announcements in the coming days. Social isolation is critically important now to reduce the infection rate and protect our healthcare infrastructure from being overwhelmed.
We need to work together now more than ever.
All residents are directed to shelter in place and distance themselves from others until at least April 7, only leaving their homes for reasons deemed essential. North Bay residents should only leave their home for things like necessary trips to the grocery store, urgent doctor's appointments and pharmacy visits, and helping families, friends, or others who need our help. Essential businesses will remain open, including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, hardware stores, gas stations, and hospitals as well as public transportation. Many restaurants will remain open, but only for takeout and delivery. Daycare centers may remain open. All non-essential businesses will be closed. All non-essential gatherings of any size are also banned, along with any non-essential travel. Residents are being asked to work from home or stop work unless their work is an essential service such as health care workers, public safety, utility providers and sanitation workers. People can also go outside for exercise as long as they maintain six feet of separation from others.
Although severe, these measures are critical for slowing the spread of COVID-19, and I urge residents to adhere to these directives in the full spirit through which they were issued.
You can read more about the Marin County shelter in place order here: https://coronavirus.marinhhs.org/
You can read more about the Sonoma County shelter in place order here: https://socoemergency.org/covid-19-message-17-march-2019/
I recognize that these orders will create some economic hardship, and I'm working with the governor and legislative leaders to mitigate these difficulties as much as possible. I'm committed to helping people stay in their homes, providing relief for small businesses and collaborating with essential providers like local food banks to make sure nobody goes without what they need.
On Monday, I supported a bipartisan agreement to make over a billion dollars in emergency funding available to the State of California to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This agreement includes a billion dollar appropriation to support Governor Gavin Newsom’s emergency declaration to address the COVID-19 pandemic and gives the governor significant resources to both increase the capacity of our healthcare system while supporting preventative efforts to reduce transmission of the coronavirus across the state. The legislation also includes language to prepare for the long recovery period the state will likely experience after the crisis has abated and lays the groundwork to support small businesses, non-profits and individuals that experience economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I also supported legislation to waive the current Average Daily Attendance requirement in K-12 public schools for the remainder of this academic school year. As of Monday, more than 100 school districts serving more than 2 million students were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation will ensure that all school districts receive their full enrollment funding for the year and makes an additional $100 million available to school districts to purchase personal protective equipment or for supplies and labor costs necessary to conduct additional deep cleaning of schoolsites.
The Legislature’s actions this week build a foundation from which California will meet this moment. We will make every resource of the State of California available to curb this pandemic and its impact on our society and economy.
My staff and I are here to support you and your family during this difficult time. Please reach out to my office directly for information on resources available to assist you during this emergency. I can be reached by phone at 415-479-4920 or 707-576-2632 or by email at Assemblymember.Levine@assembly.ca.gov. For the most up to date information, please take a moment to connect with me on social media:
Additional resources can be found here:
- State of California - This website provides a one stop resource with the latest information and resources to help you and your family during this emergency.
- Department of Public Health - This website is updated frequently with the latest public health information on COVID-19.
- Department of Motor Vehicles - If your driver’s license or vehicle registration is expiring within the next 60 days, the DMV is offering a 60 day grace period to limit the need to visit a DMV office.
- Employment Development Department - The governor has waived the one week waiting period to receive unemployment benefits for those unemployed and/or disabled as a result of COVID-19. Additional information is available for employers including payroll tax assistance.
- Franchise Tax Board - The FTB announced special tax relief for California taxpayers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Affected taxpayers are granted an extension to file 2019 California tax returns and make certain payments to June 15, 2020, for all tax filings and payments due between March 15, 2020, through June 15, 2020.
- Property Taxes - Both Sonoma County and Marin County have updated information on property tax payments due this spring. Please click on your county’s link for the most current information.
- Protections for Renters and Homeowners - This week, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order authorizing local governments to halt evictions for renters and slow foreclosures and protect customers from utility shutoffs. Please contact your local government (city or county) for specific protections for renters and homeowners in your community.
- US Small Business Administration - The SBA is offering low interest loans of up to $2 million to help small businesses with economic support during this emergency.
- CA Infrastructure & Economic Development Bank - The California iBank can offer small businesses with a range of loan guarantee programs to provide economic support during this emergency.
- Pacific Gas & Electric - PG&E has announced a moratorium on customer shutoffs for nonpayment.
- Attorney General - The Attorney General is actively enforcing price gouging related to emergency and medical supplies. File a complaint.
As a father of two young children and the son of elderly parents, I know how difficult this time is for many North Bay families. We can and will get through this together.