COVID-19

Websites and Hotlines: 
Text COVID19USVI to 888777

Virgin Islands Department of Health
https://doh.vi.gov/covid19usvi

IRB's Stimulus Check Instructions for Non-Filers

HOTLINE RESOURCES
1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255

Options for Deaf & Hard of Hearing
1-800-799-4889

Disaster Distress Helpline
1-800-985-5990

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Spanish)
1-888-628-9454

Veterans Crisis Line
1-800-273-8255

Government Employees can also tap into the Employee Assistant Program through our group health insurance by calling the EAP line
1-888-371-1125.

Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA)

Virgin Islands Department of Human Services

Virgin Islands Port Authority

INDEX

  • Individuals & Families
    • Public Health
      • Stay Home
      • If you think you might be sick
      • Tests
    • Unemployment Insurance
    • Direct Payments to Individuals & their Families
    • Homeowner & Renters Protections
    • Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave
    • Emergency Paid Sick Leave
    • Stopping Price Gouging
    • Essential Business and Employees
  • Small Businesses
    • Small Business Forgivable Loans and Grants
  • Veterans
  • Students and Educators
    • Student Loan Relief for Borrowers
    • School Meals
    • Stabilization Funding for Education
  • Mortgage forbearance and moratorium on foreclosures and evictions

INDIVIDUALS & FAMILIES
PUBLIC HEALTH

Governor Albert Bryan issued a stay at home order on March 23rd, requiring all non-essential business operations to stop in-person operations and require non-essential individuals to stay at home until April 6, 2020. This order has since been extended to April 30th.  Individuals may only leave their home for a limited number of activities. 

YOU CAN:

  • Go to the grocery store or pick up take-out food. 
  • Go to the pharmacy to pick up a needed prescription.
  • Engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, biking. 
  • Go to the hospital or secure any care necessary to address a medical emergency or to preserve your health or the health of a loved one. 
  • Fill your car with gas.
  • Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian for needed medical care.

YOU MAY NOT:

  • Leave the home to work unless your employer designates you as a critical infrastructure worker. 
  • Participate in any public gatherings. 
  • Visit someone in the hospital, nursing home, or other residential care facilities (with limited exceptions). 
  • Go to the beach.

BUSINESSES THAT REMAIN OPEN FOR IN-PERSON WORK MUST TAKE AGGRESSIVE STEPS TO MINIMIZE THE VIRUS’S SPREAD. THEY MUST: 

  • Promote remote work to the fullest extent possible. 
  • Restrict the number of workers present in-person on the job. 
  • Keep employees at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible and enabling social distancing for customers who are standing in line. 
  • Any other social distancing practices and mitigation measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

Further, to maximize public health: 

  • WEAR FACE MASKS if you are leaving the house
  • WASH HANDS often and thoroughly
  • DISINFECT REGULARLY the surfaces and objects you touch often
  •  PUT ALL TRASH in trash bags for pick up


 If you think you might be sick
STAY HOME except to get medical care 

DISTANCE yourself from others, including family

CALL YOUR DOCTOR before seeking care

PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE by washing hands frequently, covering your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when coughing 

SEEK MEDICAL CARE if your symptoms worsen, such as difficulty breathing


COVID-19 Tests
Call your doctor: 
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. They will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
Fever
Cough
Shortness of breath

Unemployment Insurance

More laid-off and furloughed workers than ever before (including those new to the job market) will be eligible for Unemployment Insurance and will see an additional $600 per week to match the average paycheck for up to 4 months of benefits. These benefits are available immediately.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provides unemployment for the self-employed and so-called gig economy workers. If you applied for unemployment benefits previously, you DO NOT need to reapply at this time.


To apply for unemployment benefits: visit https://www.vidol.gov/applyforui/

To file you need:

Last employer Job letter (lay-off/discharged or resignation letter if you quit)
DD214 copy 4 (US Armed Force)
SF 8 / SF 50 (If employed in Federal Civilian service)
Last pay stub from your current job (Also, if you received or will receive separation pay, such as, vacation, severance, holiday pay etc., you will need to submit a copy of your pay stubs)
Social security card (If you've lost it, call the Social Security office or apply online and get a new card)
Valid Identification Card
Alien Card (If non-citizen: bring your alien registration/green card or other documents issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service or any documents that show your immigration status)
Pension (If you are collecting a pension other than Social Security, you will need to submit the pension statement.

Direct Payments to Individuals & their Families
Individuals making up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married workers) will receive payments of $1,200 with an additional $500 payment per minor child. The payments decrease ratably and stop altogether for single workers making more than $99,000 ($198,000 for married workers and $218,000 for a family of four.)

If you receive Social Security, retirement or other social safety net benefits, you may still qualify for direct payments.



Homeowner & Renters Protections
Mortgage Forbearance: Homeowners with FHA, USDA, VA, or Section 184 or 184A mortgages (for members of federally-recognized tribes) and those with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac have the right to request forbearance on their payments for up to 6 months, with a possible extension for another 6 months without fees, penalties, or extra interest. Homeowners should contact their mortgage servicing company directly.

Eviction Protections: Renters residing in public or assisted housing, or in a home or apartment whose owner has a federally-backed mortgage, and who are unable to pay their rent, are protected from eviction for 4 months. Property owners are also prohibited from issuing a 30-day notice to a tenant to vacate a property until after the 4-month moratorium ends. This protection covers properties that receive federal subsidies such as public housing, Section 8 assistance, USDA rural housing programs, and federally-issued or guaranteed mortgages. Renters whose landlord is not abiding by the moratorium should contact the relevant federal agency that administers their housing program or their local Legal Aid office.

Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave
Many workers in America currently have no paid leave and are being forced to choose between their paycheck, their health, and the health of the people around them.

The emergency paid leave provisions passed by Congress and signed into law by the President are a critical step toward protecting families’ financial security and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet for Employees
U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet for Employers
U.S. Department of Labor Questions and Answers

Workers at companies with fewer than 500 employees are eligible to receive up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This leave is available to employees who are adhering to quarantine requirements or medical advice, obtaining a medical diagnosis, and caring for an individual who is sick or in quarantine or for a child whose school or day care has closed due to coronavirus. During this time, workers will be compensated at two-thirds of their normal compensation (after the first two weeks). Employers will receive a tax credit to offset 100% of the costs associated with providing this paid family leave, up to $200 per day. This program will expire at the end of the year.


Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Under this new law, workers at companies with fewer than 500 employees are eligible to receive paid sick leave for issues related to coronavirus, including adhering to quarantine requirements or medical advice, obtaining a medical diagnosis, and caring for an individual who is sick or in quarantine or for a child whose school or day care has closed due to coronavirus. During this time, workers are required to be paid at least their normal compensation if they themselves are sick or two-thirds of their compensation if they are providing care to another individual or child. Employers will receive a tax credit to offset 100% of the costs associated with providing this paid sick leave, up to $511 per day if the employee themselves are sick and up to $200 per day if the employee is caring for someone else.

SMALL BUSINESSES


Small Business Forgivable Loans and Grants
Congress secured $350 billion in forgivable loans and $10 billion in grants to small businesses, tribal business concerns, and certain nonprofits.

Loans through a new SBA 7(a) Paycheck Protection Program can be forgiven when used for payroll costs (including paid leave, health care, and other costs) to retain workers, and other
expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, and utilities. Independent contractors, sole-proprietors,
and other self-employed persons are eligible for these loans.

Small businesses can also apply for up to $10,000 in grants to retain workers and pay for debt obligations.

Small businesses, tribal business concerns, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, and 501(c)(19) veterans organizations in your district should contact their lender and the Small Business Administration office directly.

http://www.sbdcvi.org/

VETERANS


Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255

Congress provided robust emergency funding to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the equipment, tests, and support services – including setting up temporary care sites, mobile treatment centers and increasing telehealth visits to allow more veterans to get care at home – necessary to provide veterans with the additional care they need. For further guidance as this funding and initiatives are implemented, please refer to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

VA FAQ on COVID-19 available here

STUDENTS & EDUCATORS

Student Loan Relief for Borrowers
If you have student loan debt, Congress secured several options outlined below for borrowers that help provide relief through September 30, 2020. During this period, a borrower will be able to:

  • Pause payments for federal student loan borrowers who have Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL), which means these borrowers will not be required to make any payments toward outstanding interest or principal balance.
  • Suspend interest accrual for such loans so that these balances don’t accrue.
  • Avoid forced collections such as garnishment of wages, tax refunds, & Social Security benefits.
  • Halt negative credit reporting.
  • Ensure a borrower continues to receive credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation.

For additional guidance on how to apply and learn about next steps as this critical relief becomes available, please refer to the U.S. Department of Education website.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE:
Student Aid FAQ for COVID-19


School Meals
As more schools close due to coronavirus, Congress has provided emergency funding for Child Nutrition Programs to ensure students can still receive their free or reduced-price school meals during this time. 

Stabilization Funding for Education
Congress secured $30.75 billion in funding for school districts, states and higher education institutions to ensure state resources and investments are not diverted from life-long learning. For additional guidance on how to apply and learn about next steps as this critical relief becomes available, please refer to the U.S. Department of Education website.


Mortgage forbearance and moratorium on foreclosures and evictions
The Program: The federal CARES Act allows borrowers with federally-backed residential mortgages to defer payments for 180 days, with the option to request another 180 days of forbearance. Federally-backed mortgages include mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and insured or guaranteed by other federal departments.

The forbearance period is in addition to a previously announced 60-day moratorium on mortgage foreclosures for borrowers with federally-backed, single-family home mortgages. The CARES Act also places a 120-day moratorium on evictions for properties with federally-backed mortgages, multi-family mortgages and certain housing programs. 

Eligibility Requirements: The suspension of foreclosures and evictions automatically applies to all eligible properties. The forbearance period is available to anyone with a federally-backed, residential mortgage. 

How to Access: Homeowners who anticipate trouble paying their mortgage should not simply stop making payments. Contact your servicer/lender to request a forbearance due to financial hardship related to the COVID-19 emergency. If given mortgage forbearance, take steps to ensure you will be able to repay the amount that was reduced or suspended after the mortgage forbearance period.

Program End Date: Mortgage foreclosures are suspended through May 17, and evictions are suspended for 120 days. The mortgage payment forbearance period is up to 180 days, with the option to request a 180-day extension. During a forbearance, no fees, penalties, or interest beyond the amounts scheduled or calculated as if the borrower made timely contractual payments will accrue on the borrower’s account.

More Information: HUD’s website has more details on its coronavirus response as well as phone numbers and email addresses to contact various offices.