Assistance for Californians Affected by the Coronavirus

Assistance for Californians affected by the coronavirus

Testing, vaccines and health insurance
Benefits for individuals
Benefits for businesses 

American Rescue Plan fact sheet

Coronavirus testing information

If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with coronavirus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) you should contact your health care provider immediately.

If you are experiencing symptoms and are currently uninsured, the California Department of Public Health recommends that you:

California testing locations
Bay Area testing locations via San Francisco Chronicle

California Office of the Patient Advocate


Vaccine information

California is prioritizing COVID-19 vaccine doses according to criteria including age and health risk, as determined by public health experts. For more information on how California is prioritizing vaccinations, click here.

Click here to see if you are currently eligible to be vaccinated in California or to sign up for a notification when you become eligible.

For more information on vaccines, click here.


Covered California

If you're currently uninsured you are eligible to sign up for health care through Covered California. 

Sign up for coverage here.


CDC guidance for those already vaccinated, best ways to stay safe

CDC guidance states that fully vaccinated people can:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.

Fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing.
  • Wear masks, practice physical distancing and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19.
  • Wear masks, maintain physical distance and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
  • Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings.
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers.
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.

For more information on the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people, click here.


Unemployment benefits

New unemployment insurance provisions passed as part of the American Rescue Plan:

  • Paycheck replacement: $300 per week increase above normal benefits through weeks ending on or before September 6, 2021. This will inject an estimated $1.6 billion into California's economy every week.
  • Tax Break: The first $10,200 in 2020 benefits are exempt from federal income tax if the recipient’s household income was less than $150,000.
  • Includes more workers: Allows part-time, self-employed and gig economy workers to qualify for unemployment benefits.

How to apply for unemployment insurance

Californians can apply for unemployment benefits through the California Employment Development Department.

The best way to begin the process is by clicking HERE. Claims can be filed online Sunday 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Friday 2 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday 2 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Paid sick leave

The American Rescue Plan extends paid sick and family leave provisions through September 30, 2021, to allow individuals with participating employers two weeks of paid sick leave for COVID-related illnesses, plus two weeks of sick leave and up to 10 weeks of family leave at two-thirds pay to care for a family member who is sick or whose school or child care provider is shut down due to COVID. Small and mid-sized employers and state and local government agencies are compensated for providing such leave.

Guidance for employees (source: Department of Labor)

If your employer participates in this program, the paid sick leave provision in the American Rescue Plan provides you with:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at your regular rate of pay if you are unable to work because of a quarantine (ordered by federal, state, or local government or on the advice of a health care provider) or because you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds of your regular rate of pay if you are unable to work while caring for someone who has been quarantined, or to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed for reasons related to COVID-19; and
  • If you have worked for your employer for 30 days or more you may be eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave at two-thirds your regular rate of pay if you must take leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed due to COVID-19.

Guidance for employers (source: Department of Labor)

  • The tax credit for providing the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave described above apply to businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Covered employers qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for wages paid. In the case of paid family leave, the tax credit covers up to $12,000 in wages per employee.

Direct coronavirus relief payments

The American Rescue Plan provides a third round of stimulus checks of $1,400 for most adults (up to $75,000 in income, or $150,000 for married couples) phasing out to zero at $80,000 in income/$160,000 for married couples, plus $1,400 per dependent (which now includes adult dependents). More than 17 million households in California will receive a payment.

Anyone who did not file a tax return or receive Social Security, Supplemental Security Income or VA benefits must register with the IRS to receive a rebate: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here

    • Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and VA benefits recipients WITH dependents must also register using the link above to ensure their dependents are included.

The IRS will send out the payments out via direct deposit or to the address provided on the last tax return submitted. Individuals who didn’t originally sign up for direct deposit can update their information using the "Get My Payment" app to receive payment faster: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment


Tax benefits

Child Tax Credit - For 2021, the American Rescue Plan makes the child tax credit fully refundable, increases the size of the per-child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000 (or $3,600 per child under age 6), expands eligibility to include 17-year-old children and pays out the credit monthly. The expansion of this tax credit will benefit more than 7.8 million children in California. 

Earned Income Tax Credit - For 2021, the American Rescue Plan expands eligibility to include taxpayers without qualifying children starting at age 19 (currently age 25) and removes the upper age limit, and makes the phase-out of the credit more gradual. It also increases the cap on investment income to qualify for the credit from $3,650 to $10,000. This will benefit an estimated 1.8 million Californian workers.

Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit - For 2021, the American Rescue Plan increases the child and dependent care tax credit to $4,000 for one child and $8,000 for two or more children.


Assistance with food insecurity

If you or your family are having difficulty keeping food on the table, you may be eligible for assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The American Rescue Plan has extended increased food stamp benefits through September 30, 2021.

The American Rescue Plan also temporarily expands SNAP eligibility to include students enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher education, who either 1) are eligible to participate in state or federally financed work study during the regular school year, as determined by the institution of higher education, or 2) have an expected family contribution (EFC) of 0 in the current academic year.

    • To learn more, visit the website of the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency within the Department of Agriculture.

Furthermore, the American Rescue Plan provides critical and continued investments in vital nutrition assistance programs, such as school meals, Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, to help ensure that vulnerable populations do not go hungry.

Many school districts across the state have set up school lunch pick up programs during school closures. Find more information here:


Help for homeowners and renters

The American Rescue Plan provides $21.5 billion in emergency rental assistance through the Treasury Department. California will receive an estimated $2 billion. To apply for emergency rental assistance click here

The bill also provides $9.9 billion to help homeowners struggling with mortgage and utility payments. To apply for mortgage assistance click here

To learn more about qualifying for coronavirus-related federal housing assistance or to access additional resources, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s webpage on coronavirus-related housing relief here

Click here for a quide on California's eviction protections for tenants and support for landlords from the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act.


Assistance with heating and cooling needs

The American Rescue Plan includes $4.5 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP assists eligible low-income households with the goal of managing and meeting their immediate home heating and/or cooling needs.

To learn more about the program, visit the California Department of Community Services and Development website: https://www.csd.ca.gov/Pages/LIHEAPProgram.aspx


Help for student loan borrowers

  • Student loan borrowers: Monthly student loan payments and interest for most federal student loan borrowers will be suspended through September 30, 2021.  Suspended payments through September 30, 2021 will count towards any student loan forgiveness program, as long as all other requirements of the loan forgiveness program are met.
  • Tax relief for student loan forgiveness: All types of student loan forgiveness will be tax-free through December 31, 2025.
  • Additional financial aid for students and colleges: The American Rescue Plan Act provides $39.6 billion in higher education relief, at least half of which must be spent as financial aid to students to support their basic needs like food, housing and health care. The remaining funding is dedicated to helping higher education institutions defray lost revenue and cope with increased costs brought by the pandemic, including providing COVID-19 testing, vaccination, PPE and other efforts to promote safe learning.
  • Pell grants and financial aid recipients: The CARES Act acknowledges the circumstances of students who dropped out of school due to the coronavirus pandemic and does not require them to return unused Pell Grants or federal student loans. In addition, the CARES Act protects these students’ future Pell Grant or other financial aid program eligibility.
  • Federal work-study: Federal work-study payments to students who are unable to work will continue.

To learn more about qualifying for coronavirus-related college student assistance or to access additional resources, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Department of Education.


Additional federal benefits assistance

If you have been unable to resolve your federal benefits problem directly with the appropriate agency, my office may be able to offer additional assistance. Contact my office by filling out our privacy release form online and submitting signed forms to casework@feinstein.senate.gov.

If your case is an emergency, please call my San Francisco office at 415-393-0707.


Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The American Rescue Plan injects $7.25 billion in additional funding for the program.

SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.

For affiliation rules applicable for the Paycheck Protection Program, click here.

(Source: Small Business Administration)


How independent restaurants can apply for grants 

The American Rescue Plan includes $28.6 billion to create the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The fund provides grants to independent restaurants based on revenues lost from 2019 to 2020. The Small Business Administration will begin accepting applications in the coming weeks. For more information click here.


Employee retention tax credit

The CARES Act was designed to encourage eligible employers to keep employees on their payroll, despite experiencing economic hardship related to COVID-19, with an employee retention tax credit of up to $28,000 per employee.  The American Rescue Plan expands the employee retention tax credit through December 31, 2021.  Employers can also now claim this credit against the employer share of payroll taxes, including Medicare taxes.

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to pay sick or family leave wages to employees who are unable to work or telework due to certain circumstances related to COVID-19. Employers are entitled to a refundable tax credit for the required leave paid, up to specified limits. [See FAQs]. The same wages cannot be counted for both credits.\

(Source: IRS)


Economic Injury Disaster Loan emergency advance

The American Rescue Plan includes $15 billion in additional funding for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.

Overview

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available following a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

Eligibility

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan provides vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This program is for any small business with less than 300 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organizations or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations who have lost at least 30% during an 8-week period between March and December 2020. 

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance funds will be made available within days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid. 

To apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and loan advance, click here.

(Source: Small Business Administration)


SBA Express Bridge Loan

Enables small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.

Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan.

Terms

      • Up to $25,000
      • Fast turnaround
      • Will be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the EIDL loan

(Source: Small Business Administration)

SBA debt relief

Initial Debt Relief Assistance

As a part of the CARES Act, SBA is authorized to pay 6 months of principal, interest, and any associated fees that borrowers owe for all 7(a), 504, and Microloans reported in regular servicing status (excluding PPP loans). This debt relief to borrowers was originally dependent on the loan being fully disbursed prior to September 27, 2020 and does not apply to loans made under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

These original provisions were amended on December 27, 2020 through the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits and Venues Act (Economic Aid Act). The Economic Aid Act revised the eligibility criteria for assistance to include all 7(a), 504, and Microloans approved up to September 27, 2020 even if not fully disbursed. All other provisions for initial debt relief remained the same.

Borrowers need not apply for this assistance. SBA provides this assistance automatically as provided below:

  • For loans not on deferment, SBA will make monthly payments based on the next payment due on eligible loans for a total amount equivalent to no more than 6 months of installment payments.
  • For loans currently on deferment, SBA will begin making monthly payments with the first payment due after the deferment period ends for a total amount equivalent to no more than 6 months of installment payments.

SBA has notified 7(a), 504, and Microloan Lenders that it will pay these borrower loan payments. Lenders are to report to SBA periodically on the amounts due once a loan is fully disbursed. Payments collected after March 27, 2020 may be applied to the outstanding loan balance or returned to the borrower at the borrower’s discretion.

Additional Debt Relief Assistance

The Economic Aid Act also authorized additional debt relief payments to 7(a), 504, and Microloan borrowers beyond the 6-month period prescribed in the CARES Act. The level of assistance varies based on when the loan was approved and will begin on or after February 1, 2021. Please contact your Lender for questions on the availability of this assistance for your SBA loan.

Disaster Home and Business Loans

For current SBA Serviced Disaster (Home and Business) Loans: If your disaster loan was in “regular servicing” status on March 1, 2020, the SBA is providing automatic deferments through March, 31, 2021.

What does an “automatic deferral” mean to borrowers?

  • Interest will continue to accrue on the loan.
  • 1201 monthly payment notices will continue to be mailed out which will reflect the loan is deferred and no payment is due.
  • The deferment will NOT cancel any established Preauthorized Debit (PAD) or recurring payments on your loan.  Borrowers that have established a PAD through Pay.Gov or an OnLine Bill Pay Service are responsible for canceling these recurring payments.  Borrowers that had SBA establish a PAD through Pay.gov will have to contact their SBA servicing office to cancel the PAD.
  • Borrowers preferring to continue making regular payments during the deferment period may continue remitting payments during the deferment period. SBA will apply those payments normally as if there was no deferment.
  • After this automatic deferment period, borrowers will be required to resume making regular principal and interest payments.  Borrowers that cancelled recurring payments will need to reestablish the recurring payment.

If you have questions about your current loan and whether or not your loan is automatically deferred, please contact your Loan Servicing Office directly using the following information:

Birmingham Disaster Loan Servicing Center:
  • Phone: 800-736-6048
  • Email: BirminghamDLSC@sba.gov
El Paso Disaster Loan Servicing Center:
  • Phone: 800-487-6019
  • Email: ElPasoDLSC@sba.gov

(Source: Small Business Administration)


SBA Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

As part of the December 2020 COVID and economic relief package, Congress directed the Small Business Administration to offer grants to eligible live venue operators. The American Rescue Plan injected another $1.25 billion into this program.

Eligible entities include venue operators, theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, museums, movie theaters and talent representatives. 

Entities that have been in operation since February 29, 2020 and that have already applied for and received PPP loans prior to December 27, 2020 are still eligible to apply. 

For more information and FAQ’s, click here. To apply, click here.

(Source: Small Business Administration) 


Resources for business counseling services

Many large companies are struggling to respond to the unprecedented economic disruption our nation is facing, so small businesses that have even fewer resources to dedicate to navigating the economic impacts of COVID-19 must have access to reliable counseling and mentorship services.

Through COVID relief legislation, Congress has allocated $275 million in grants to the nation’s network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), as well as the Minority Business Development Agency’s Business Centers (MBDCs), to provide mentorship, guidance and expertise to small businesses. The funding will allow SBDCs, WBCs, and MBDCs to hire staff and provide programming to help small businesses and minority-owned businesses respond to COVID-19.

The bill also provides funds for the associations that represent SBDCs and WBCs to create a joint platform that consolidates information and resources related to COVID-19 in order to provide consistent, timely information to small businesses.

The SCORE mentoring program and Veterans Business Outreach Center program are encouraged to use the platform and participate in the COVID-19 education sessions for their volunteer mentors and small business counselors.

The Small Business Administration also helps connect small businesses in need of help with counselors. To find local business counseling assistance, click here.

(Source: Senate Small Business Committee)


Resources for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grantees

The CARES Act included $5 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant program for grantees undertaking work related to the coronavirus pandemic. More information on the CDBG program is available here. A quick guide on applying for CDBG funds is available here. Answers to frequently asked questions are available here