As America responds to confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), I wanted to share the most comprehensive, up-to-date safety information for our community.
Symptoms and Prevention
It is important to note that the risk of contracting a severe form of COVID-19 remains low for most New Jerseyans. However, 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.
Please contact your primary care provider if you are experiencing symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- And you have had close contact with a person known to have COVID-19
Additionally, if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19, contact your health care provider.
If you believe you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, do not go to the emergency room or your doctor without contacting them first. This could expose more people to COVID-19 unnecessarily.
How you can prevent 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 individuals who are sick, 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. If you are sick and live with other people, try to restrict yourself to a separate bedroom and bathroom as much as possible and limit contact with pets.
- Facemasks: If you are not sick, please refrain from wearing a face mask to ensure that the supply is available for health care workers and individuals who need them.
Federal, State, and Local Resources
**UPDATE** The State Department has raised the global travel advisory to a level 4. All U.S. citizens are advised to avoid all international travel and if possible, U.S. citizens who are abroad and live in the U.S. are advised to arrange for immediate return. 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.
- CDC Central Resource Guide
- Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities
- Information for Travelers
- FAQs About COVID-19
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 from September 4, 2020 to March 31, 2021. The temporary moratorium means that you cannot be evicted from your home for nonpayment of rent during the pandemic. 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. 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 CARES ACT 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
(Washington, D.C.) –On December 23, 2020, the Federal Government reached an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to receive an additional 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and BioNTech have already agreed to supply the U.S. with 100 million vaccine doses by March 31, 2021. This new order will increase the total number of vaccine doses to 200 million by July 31, 2021.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which contains funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2021 as well as COVID-19 relief:
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ), Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-OH), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ron Kind (D-WI), John Joyce (R-PA), Scott Peters (D-CA), and Neal Dunn (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation, authorizing a public advocacy campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccine participation and provide science-backed information.
Last week, the House voted on the Conference Report to accompany the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) funding bill and a crucial stopgap funding bill to help avert a government shutdown while a larger package is negotiated. On Wednesday, I was honored to receive the In Defense of Christian’s 2020 Congressional Champion Award. I cosponsored legislation to protect providers from Medicare cuts in the midst of the pandemic, help those people facing eviction, support children with disabilities, and supporting human rights across the globe.
This week, the House voted on legislation to protect big cats from hostile internment, establish community advantage loan programs to help small businesses, and federally decriminalize marijuana. I also led a letter to House leadership highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on the affordable housing crisis in New Jersey and asking them to include relief measures in the next relief package.
This week, I signed onto legislation to allow tax credits to rollover for childcare costs and signed onto a bill to keep students safe in schools. I also signed onto to letters to urge the President to have the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) set up drive through COVID-19 testing in New Jersey, include pro-worker and pro-labor provisions in the Fiscal Year 2021(FY21) appropriations package, and demand answers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about the detention of unaccompanied minors.
Last week, I joined the Congressional Labor Caucus, and cosponsored legislation to raise the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) monthly benefits, help ensure children do not go hungry during the pandemic, raise the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2021, help students refinance their student loans, and ensure humane treatment of animals in any research and testing.
Last week, I signed onto legislation to help save public education jobs, protect polar bears and their natural habitat, and develop and protect outdoor parks. I also cosponsored legislation to expand access to high quality apprenticeship programs across the country. I signed onto letters opposing the expansion of the global gag rule and urging the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reverse their guidance on eviction moratoriums.
This week, I joined the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey to discuss affordable housing in the 8th District. I introduced legislation to support our economic partners in Latin America and the Caribbean and cosponsored legislation to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to schools, get surplus computers to our nation’s veterans and students, and reaffirm our commitment to marriage equality.
Last week, I introduced legislation in the House to ensure language access and multilingual materials for all resources coming from federal government. I cosponsored legislation to help struggling independent music venues, provide grants to communities which are struggling with COVID-19, establish proper procedures and policies for nursing homes during the current and future public health emergencies, supporting digital equity, and supporting the people of Artsakh and their right to self-determination.