Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19
In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there have been many orders and guidelines issued by the state that may be difficult to understand. Please review the following answers to frequently asked questions, provided by California State Senator, Richard D. Roth. We encourage you to share these answers with friends, family, and loved ones.
A Message from California State Senator Richard D. Roth
Dear Community Members of the 31st Senate District:
In this time of uncertainty, many orders or guidelines from the state may be difficult to understand relative to our community’s normal way of life. In an effort to provide clarity, our office is providing the below answers to frequently asked questions during this public health crisis. While this is not an exhaustive list, we recommend you visit California’s Official COVID-19 response page for updates and specific guidelines: www.covid19.ca.gov.
Q: What does the Stay at Home Order mean? Can I go outside?
A: The California State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health is ordering all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors. Simply put, this means that Californians are asked to stay home UNLESS they are a part of the delivery or operation of “essential critical infrastructure” like healthcare, emergency services, food and agriculture, public safety, and more. For a full list of what types of jobs are excluded, check out the Governor’s List of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers that can also be found on California’s Official COVID-19 Response Page.
Some of the following essential services will remain open:
- Gas stations
- Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
- Laundromats/laundry services
- Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.
- Dine-in restaurants
- Bars and nightclubs
- Entertainment venues
- Gyms and fitness studios
- Public events and gatherings
- Convention Centers
- Hair and nail salons
Although non-essential excursions are strongly discouraged, you can still take walks outside, just be sure to practice social distancing, always keeping six feet between yourself and people with whom you don’t regularly have contact.
For more information, visit California’s Official COVID-19 Response Page with their dedicated “Stay home except for essential needs” page, answering some of the questions you may have about the stay at home order.
Q: Why is the National Guard being called upon?
A: Currently, the National Guard is being utilized to provide assistance and humanitarian aid to the various food banks throughout our state. For example, in Riverside County, 25 members of the California National Guard have been supporting regional food bank operations in the Coachella Valley. Their duties include working alongside employees at FIND Food Bank to pack food bags, load food into trucks, and deliver bags of food at mobile markets.
In most instances, the National Guard is providing support to local essential services that would typically rely on a largely volunteer workforce.
For more information, read this article in the Riverside Press Enterprise or visit the California’s Official COVID-19 Response Page for Governor Newsom’s latest statement regarding the National Guard.
For more information about how you can volunteer to deliver meals, perform wellness checks, help create hygiene kits or more, visit California Volunteers or check out this helpful flier about how you can get involved.
Q: My income has been disrupted because of COVID-19. What are my options for compensation?
A: While eligibility varies with individual circumstances, there are a number of programs available for individuals who may have become unemployed or had their hours substantially reduced during this difficult time.
According to the CA Employment Development Department website:
- If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 and if you have the necessary supporting medical documentation you are encouraged to file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Most California workers are covered by DI through deductions from their paychecks (noted as “CASDI” on most paystubs).
The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect DI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.
- If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19, you are encouraged to file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to six weeks, this extends to eight weeks starting July 1, 2020, of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. For the purposes of PFL coverage, a family member is defined as seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner.
- If you are self-employed [and are sick or caring for a sick family member], you may have benefits available from the EDD employment Insurance programs that you or your employer may have paid into over the past 5 to 18 months. You may have contributions from a prior job, or it’s possible you may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.
We encourage you to file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim if you are sick or quarantined. If you are caring for an ill or medically quarantined family member, file a Paid Family Leave claim. EDD representatives will review your case and determine your eligibility for benefits. For fastest processing of your claim, submit your claim online.
- If you are subject to quarantine, are not ill, and are found to be ineligible for a Disability Insurance claim, you are encouraged to apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. This program is most relevant for unemployment as a result circumstances including the following:
o Your hours are reduced due to the quarantine.
o You were separated from your employer during the quarantine.
o You are subject to a quarantine required by a medical professional or state or local health officer.
For full guidance as to what option best fits your individual circumstances, please refer to the EDD’s COVID-19 FAQ page.
Q: Where can I go for the most up-to-date information about California’s response to COVID-19/coronavirus?
A: In these dynamic times, it is important to base your understanding on official sources of information. Here are some sources that we recommend:
- For updated statewide information, please visit California’s Official Response Page at www.covid19.ca.gov or the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 webpage at:
- CA Department of Public Health, Corona Virus Updates - En Español
- CDPH News Releases - En Español
- For Local updates, visit: https://www.rivcoph.org/coronavirus
o Or follow Dr. Cameron Kaiser on Twitter: @RivCoDoc
- For updated nationwide information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
o Or visit the FEMA Rumor Control Page
Q: The stay at home order is making it difficult for me to file my taxes. What can I do?
A: On March 21, the Treasury Department released an official statement, announcing the federal income tax filing date has been extended from April 15 to July 15, 2020. The deadline to file California’s state taxes was also extended to July 15, 2020.
For information regarding the Treasury Department’s statement, click here.
For information regarding California’s extension, click here.
Q: I am concerned about paying my monthly bill and not having my utility shut off the power while my family and I are at home practicing social distancing. What are my options?
A: Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-28-20, issued on March 16, 2020, highlighted that many utility providers, both public and private, have voluntarily announced moratoriums on service disconnections and late fees for non-payment in response to COVID-19.
For information about your utility provider’s response to COVID-19 and to see if you are eligible for deferred payment, please refer to their respective websites.
Q: It seems like the stores around me are empty. Does California have enough food or should I be buying more supplies?
A: This is an unprecedented situation for all of us. It is important to be prepared, but in doing so, please be mindful that we are in this together. By purchasing in excess, we potentially put the most vulnerable members of our community at risk. Shop wisely and calmly – only buying what you need. As essential service providers, food suppliers and retailers have been hard at work to ensure that California’s food supply is secure.
For more information, visit https://www.cagrocers.com/covid-19-statement-on-industry-conditions/
Additionally, if you are a senior or at a high risk of infection, there are resources in our communities provide assistance during this difficult time.
For information on what programs may be available to you, please feel free to reach out to our office or reach out to your respective city to be connected with local resources.
Q: I am concerned that I or a loved one may have symptoms of COVID-19/coronavirus. What should I do?
A: If you believe that you or a loved one may have symptoms of COVID-19, please avoid in-person contact and reach out to your health care provider.
- feeling like you have a fever
- a new cough
- shortness of breath
For more information about COVID-19 symptoms, please visit the CDC website.
Please note that while California is expanding its coronavirus testing capacity, testing will be prioritized for individuals who have coronavirus symptoms AND one of the following risk factors:
- have had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, OR
- work in a healthcare facility, OR
- are in prison or a first responder, OR
- are over 60 years old, have a compromised immune system, or have serious chronic medical conditions.
As of March 23, the 50 mile radius surrounding the City of Riverside has been selected to be a part of Verily Project Baseline community testing. If you are 18 years of age or older, are located within the radius, and are willing to sign a COVID-19 Public Health authorization form and lab consent form, you can complete an online screener based on guidelines from public health officials. From these responses, Verily will determine if you are eligible for a COVID-19 test and schedule an appointment accordingly.
As per a statement from Riverside University Health System, Public Heath, “residents may still call 800-945-6171 to make an appointment over the phone for the Lake Elsinore testing site, but will soon be directed to the website for all appointments. All appointments for the drive-up testing site in the Coachella Valley will continue to be made over the phone.”
Testing through the Verily Project Baseline COVID-19 program is free of cost.
To learn more, visit https://www.projectbaseline.com/study/covid-19/#who-s-eligible-to-get-screened-for-covid-19-testing
Q: Does COVID-19 impact the 2020 Census?
A: Although COVID-19 has interrupted some of the Census’s in-person outreach efforts, the core mission has remained the same: getting a complete count of all Californians to get our fair share of funding and representation. As such, the response period of the Census has been extended from July 31 to August 14, 2020.
It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker. A letter from the U.S. Census Bureau was sent out earlier this month with you unique user code and instructions on how to fill out the Census.
For the latest information, visit the California Complete Count – Census 2020 Office’s website at https://census.ca.gov/covid19/ or the U.S. Census Bureau’s website at https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases.html
Q: I need to go to a DMV Field Office but am concerned about COVID-19. What are my options?
A: On March 16, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) asked California law enforcement to exercise discretion for 60 days in their enforcement of driver license and vehicle registration expiration dates. According to the DMV, “this 60-day period for driver license and vehicle registrations is intended to protect the health and safety of DMV customers who would otherwise have to come to a DMV office to take care of business, but are concerned during this coronavirus pandemic.” The DMV has also shifted to appointment-only visits so as to minimize interaction between individuals and promote social distancing.
While some transaction will still require DMV office visits, many processes may be completed online or through the mail. To see all services available, please visit the DMV website at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/dmv/onlinesvcs
In regards to Real ID, the federal government announced on Monday (3/23) that the deadline for Californians to comply will be extended past October 1, 2020. The new deadline is yet to be determined, but information is expected to be published as soon as it is finalized.
If you have any unanswered questions about how California is responding to COVID-19/coronavirus, please feel free to contact our office.
Information is key to navigating this difficult time. We are all in this together.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation.
Richard D. Roth
Senator, 31st District