As America continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to share the most comprehensive, up-to-date safety information for our community.
It is important to note that the virus may effect individuals differently and it is possible to exhibit no symptoms of the virus and still pass the virus onto others, particularly to populations such as older adults and individuals with underlying health problems.
People with COVID-19 have a wide range of reported symptoms – from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Symptoms can include
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible COVID-19 symptoms. Children, adolescents, and adults with the virus that causes COVID-19 may experience any, all, or none of these symptoms.
Free COVID-19 testing is available to everyone in New Jersey and you do not need health insurance in order to get tested.
It is important to get a COVID-19 test if you are:
- You are experiencing symptoms
- You have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
- You are an essential worker (health care worker, first responder, food service worker, or transit worker)
- You were recently in a large crowd where social distancing was hard to maintain
- You recently travelled to an area or a state with high COVID-19 infection rates
To find a testing site near you, go to: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/testing#test-sites
Free COVID-19 testing and treatment is available at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), regardless of health insurance or immigration status. To find an FQHC, click here.
For more information on COVID-19 testing in New Jersey, you can go to: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/testing
Preventing the Spread
Healthy habits can go a long way in preventing novel coronavirus transmission:
- Wash your hands: Regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of transmission. If soap and water is not readily available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be used.
- Avoid close contact: Try to avoid close contact with others, limit the use of handshakes, and practice social distancing.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes: Be sure to cover your coughs and sneezes with either the inside of your elbow or a tissue that is immediately thrown away.
- Disinfect: Be sure to clean and sanitize surfaces frequently touched surfaces.
- Self-Isolation: If you are feeling sick, stay home to recover unless you need medical care. Avoid public areas and public transportation. Stay in touch with your doctor and take care of yourself.
- Facemasks: According to CDC guidelines, it is recommended you wear a mask inside and in crowded settings or in close contact with others outside in areas of high or substantial risk of transmission. Cities and business may require masks indoors, so please be considerate of local requirements. See if your county is an area of high or substantial transmission here and find further details on CDC mask guidance here.
Getting vaccinated is a very effective way of stopping the spread of COVID-19 and returning to activities you did before the pandemic. All available COVID-19 vaccines have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective. Vaccines are widely available and there are many locations to get vaccinated within the 8th Congressional district.
Everyone in New Jersey who is 12 or older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines are available without an appointment at all mega-sites or by appointment at various locations across the state. To find a vaccine appointment near you go to Vaccines.gov.
You can also text your zip code to GETVAX (438829) for English or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish to find a location for a vaccine appointment near you.
If you need assistance scheduling your COVID-19 vaccine appointment, have questions about the vaccine, or are homebound and unable to leave home to receive a vaccine, you can call New Jersey’s Vaccine Call Center for further assistance at: 1-855-568-0545.
There is also a Senior-Specific Hotline to assist those 65+ to schedule their vaccine appointment: 856-249-7007
NJ Transit now offers free rides to and from vaccine appointments. For more information go to: https://www.njtransit.com/vaxride
For more information on vaccines in New Jersey, you can go to: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/vaccine
Information on travel
As of May 17, travelers into and out of New Jersey do not need to quarantine. However, the CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.
The CDC requires that all travelers arriving from a foreign country get tested for COVID-19 no more than 3 days before departure. Travelers must present a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before the flight.
The State Department has listed many countries as Level 4, advising that US citizens avoid all travel to those countries. Country specific information can be found here.
The State Department has also set up hotlines for Americans abroad that have been impacted by the outbreak. If you are in the U.S. or Canada call 1-888-407-4747, if you are overseas call 1-202-501-4444.
The CDC has a 24-hour hotline for COVID-19 related questions at 1-800-232-4636.
Constituent Resource Guide
My team has put together a list of federal and state resources available to help you during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a voice message with my office at (202) 225-7919 using the automated system or using the contact form on my website.* We will be happy to assist you.
*If you are contacting me online, please be sure to check your spam or junk folder to make sure you don’t miss communications from my office.
A federal eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is in effect until October 3, 2021 in areas of high or substantial or high transmission of COVID-19. The temporary moratorium means that you cannot be evicted from your home for nonpayment of rent during the pandemic. For more information, click here.
New Jersey operates a State Rental Assistance program that can help you to make payments towards your rent. Click here.
During the public health emergency, individuals cannot be removed as the result of an eviction or foreclosure proceeding. If you are a renter facing hardship, you may be eligible for housing assistance or for housing counseling. Those who have applied for state or local rental assistance, and who have experienced an economic impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic are also protected from eviction for unpaid rent accrued through December 31, 2021. For more information, click here.
If you are facing economic hardship as a result of COVID-19, you may be able to request mortgage payment forbearance for up to 90 days. Click here.
New Jersey residents experiencing homelessness can get help with food, shelter, and finances. Click here.
Economic Impact Payments
If you didn’t get any Economic Impact Payments or got less than the full amounts, you may qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2020 tax return to claim the credit even if you don’t normally file. Click here for more information.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The Home Energy Assistance Program helps low-income residents with their heating and cooling bills and makes provisions for emergency heating system services and emergency fuel assistance within the Home Energy Assistance Program. Click here.
Lifeline is a federal program from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that can lower your monthly cost of phone and internet. Eligible customers will get up to $9.25 toward their bill. You can use Lifeline for either phone or internet, but not both. Click here to see if you are eligible and enroll.
If you do not have health insurance, or lose coverage, you may be eligible for free or low-cost coverage through NJ FamilyCare, New Jersey's publicly funded health insurance program. In addition, individuals may purchase health insurance on the State's new health exchange, GetCoveredNJ, and may be eligible for subsidy assistance and premium tax credits. Click here.
If you need food assistance, you may be eligible for NJ SNAP, New Jersey's food assistance program. To learn more go to NJSNAP.gov or to apply go to NJHELPS.org. New Jersey WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) is allowing remote access to benefits and additional food items. Click here.
Emergency Food Banks by County
State of New Jersey COVID-19 Jobs and Hiring Portal
Click here to access jobs available with the State of New Jersey.
If you've lost your job and are seeking help, you are not alone. Connect with benefits and resources you need while you are trying to safely get back to work. Click here.
If your work has been affected by COVID-19, you likely qualify for unemployment benefits. Click here.
Family Leave Benefits
If you must care for children or family members due to the coronavirus outbreak, you may be eligible for federal emergency Childcare FMLA or New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (FLI). It's against the law for an employer to retaliate against you for taking FLI, and your job may be protected under the Family Leave Act. Click here.
Temporary Disability Benefits
If you're unable to work due to illness, self-quarantine, or pregnancy, you may be able to apply for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI). It's against the law for an employer to retaliate against you for taking TDI, and your job may be protected under the Family Leave Act. Click here.
If you are sick, need time to care for others, or are unable to work due to the public health emergency, you may eligible for New Jersey Earned Sick Leave, or emergency federal paid sick leave, paid by your employer. Click here.
Resources for Businesses
For information on loans, programs, or resources to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, visit the State of New Jersey's COVID-19 Business Information Hub. Click here.
Resources for Freelancers, Contractors, and Gig Workers
The American Rescue Plan extends unemployment benefits to freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors, who typically are not eligible. Click here.
If you are in need of legal assistance or advice, there are many legal services available for free to low-income New Jerseyans on a range of issues including debt, domestic violence, eviction, applying for public benefits, immigration, and more. Click here.
A new law prohibits employers from firing, demoting or otherwise punishing workers if they take time off because they have or are likely to have COVID-19. Click here.
Business across New Jersey are looking to hire thousands of workers, including those who lost their jobs or have had hours reduced as a result of COVID-19. Click here.
Child Care Resources
If you are an essential employee, you can get support for child care costs. Click here.
For additional resources, visit https://covid19.nj.gov/.
New Jersey has partnered with 211 to provide information to the public:
County and Municipality Resources
- In Bergen County you can call the BCDHS Health and Safety Hotline at 201-225-7000 (201-785-8505 after hours and weekends) or visit their COVID-19 information page here.
- Essex County's COVID-19 update page can be found here.
- Hudson County has set up a COVID-19 information page with updates here.
- Union County has an information page with FAQs, updates on county operations, information for local health departments, and more here.
- Hoboken has set up a hotline for general inquiries related to COVID-19 at 201-420-5620 and for senior specific inquiries at 201-420-5625.
Please feel free to reach out to my office in Washington, D.C. at 202-225-7919 if you have further questions or need assistance.
More on Coronavirus
On Monday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing reviewing U.S. policy in Afghanistan, where I questioned Secretary Blinken on the future of Afghanistan and the need for humanitarian assistance. On Tuesday, in a marathon markup, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a portion of the budget which will improve rail safety and climate sustainability.
This week, I wrote an op-ed calling for more Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. I also cosponsored several important pieces of legislation to support the resiliency of coastal ecosystems, encourage students to study STEM, remove taxes on diapers, research the effects of technology on the cognitive development of children, reduce noise pollution from airports, continue to provide expanded access to mammograms, and support veterans who were discharged due to their sexual orientation.
This week, I spoke in solidarity with the Cuban people who are protesting the Castro/Diaz-Canel dictatorship in Cuba, and thanked President Biden for showing the United States’ clear support for democracy on the island. The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a markup and a hearing where I asked USAID Administrator Samantha Power to do all that is possible to advance critical democracy and human rights programming on the island.
(Washington, D.C.) – Hoy, el congresista Albio Sires (D-NJ), presidente del Subcomité para el del Hemisferio Occidental, Seguridad Civil, Migración y Política Económica Internacional, pronunció los siguientes comentarios de apertura en la audiencia del Congreso que convocó titulada “A Race Against Time: Deploying Vaccines and Addressing the Disproportionate Impacts of COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean”:
(Washington, D.C.) –Today, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), Chairman of the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration and International Economic Policy, delivered the following opening remarks at the Congressional hearing he convened entitled “A Race Against Time: Deploying Vaccines and Addressing the Disproportionate Impacts of COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean”:
(Washington, D.C.) – In response to media reports indicating that U.S. states are requesting only a small portion of the vaccines that have been allocated to them by the federal government and in advance of a Congressional hearing he will chair on May 13th on COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration, and International Economic Policy issued the following statement:
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) announced funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for Community Health Centers as part of the American Rescue Plan:
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the White House announced that Newark, NJ would be one of three locations housing federally run mass vaccination sites.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires voted in favor of a Senate amendment to H.R. 1319, the final version of the American Rescue Plan Act, a comprehensive $1.9 trillion relief bill that will provide much needed assistance in fighting COVID-19, increasing our vaccine output, and providing aid to the American people. The House passed the amended H.R. 1319 by a vote of 220-211.
Last week, the House passed the American Rescue Plan, a comprehensive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that will help hard-working Americans and reinvigorate our economy. The House also passed legislation to ensure equal rights regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. I attended a markup of the American Rescue Plan with the House Committee on the Budget and attended a markup for the House Foreign Affairs Committee on legislation to revitalize the State Department.