Special Coronavirus Update – March 20, 2020

March 20, 2020
Press Release

Special Coronavirus Update – March 20, 2020

I wanted to provide an update on the coronavirus outbreak, including what recent steps Congress has taken to address this crisis, details of Governor Newsom’s stay at home order, the latest recommendations on how to keep you and your loved ones safe, links to where you can find the latest updates from relevant public health agencies, and an update on the status of my Congressional offices.

Steps By Congress To Address The Outbreak

During this crisis, I want to assure everyone that the House continues to work to provide the federal resources that America needs right now and will need in the coming days. I have been participating in regular calls led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi with my Democratic colleagues, with the California Congressional delegation, and with our partners. We are working closely with state and local officials, and in regular contact with health care providers and emergency responders.

The House has passed two pieces of critical legislation addressing the coronavirus outbreak. We are currently developing additional legislation to protect our economy and respond to the evolving health crisis.

The first, passed on March 4, was a response to the needs of the healthcare, emergency response, and research communities. The second, passed on March 14, addressed the impacts to workers who are, or will be, impacted by the crisis. Both passed the Senate and were signed into law.

Right now, Congress is developing an economic stimulus package to address the impact of this crisis on small businesses, industry, and workers. This legislation is expected to be voted on early next week. The federal government will provide direct financial assistance to people who need it most. I strongly support this provision to provide direct cash payments to working families to ensure that everyone can meet their most basic personal needs during this period of economic disruption.  I will keep you updated on the status of the bill as the House works to deliver families and businesses the aid they need to get through this crisis.

The lack of testing and personal protective equipment for our first responders and healthcare workers is shocking. While we are unable to ensure this testing and medical equipment will be received by everyone who needs it, we believe the recent invoking of the Defense Production Act will ensure that medical supplies to fight this disease on the front lines are the nation’s highest production priority.

In addition, I have joined with colleagues in the House on numerous letters to the administration and Congressional leadership urging them to take various actions as we work to address this crisis. I wanted to detail a few of these.

I cosigned a letter urging House and Senate leadership to expand the statutory definition of an emergency service to include COVID-19. This step would ensure that all individuals—including undocumented immigrants—are able to receive free COVID-19 testing and that no communities are left out of new provisions for care and treatment. If anyone is excluded from testing and treatment, we will all be at risk. This is a common sense precaution, and it is the right thing to do.

I cosigned a letter to House leadership to urge that Congress fund emergency Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants to support fire and Emergency Management Agency (EMA) departments facing staffing and equipment shortages amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

I also cosigned a recent letter to House and Senate leadership with recommendations for industry support to include public transit agencies and their workforce, including contract workers. The financial need is due to decrease in ridership, corresponding decreases in farebox revenue, and increasing costs for cleaning supplies and protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  LA Metro alone estimates that it will have a monthly shortfall of $11 million because of ridership decline during the outbreak.

Lastly, I cosigned a recent letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to extend the federal tax filing deadline for the 2019 tax season in order to provide individuals with vital flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am glad to see that Secretary Mnuchin has taken our advice and extended the tax filing deadline to July 15.

Governor Newsom Announces Stay At Home Order For Entire State

California Governor Gavin Newsom, in conjunction with the State Public Health Officer, has announced a stay at home order for all individuals living in California.

Effective Thursday, March 19, 2020, and until further notice, this order mandates all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence.

Under the order, residents are required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care or medicine, or go to an essential job. If you go out, keep at least 6 feet of distance from others.

Essential jobs were defined by the governor as those needed to maintain continuity of operations in 16 critical infrastructure sectors. Details on jobs and industries considered essential can be found by clicking here.

Essential services will remain open, such as:

  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies 
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants 
  • Banks
  • Laundromats/laundry services

Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.

Latest Recommendations To Slow The Spread Of Coronavirus

During this public health crisis, it important that we all take steps to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Below are the most recent recommendations announced by federal, state, and local public health agencies.

  • Stay at home. We must all follow Gov. Newsom’s stay at home order.
  • Avoid large events or gatherings. If you must leave your home, Los Angeles and Orange counties have barred all non-essential public gatherings or events of any size. If you are a person who has underlying health conditions, is elderly, or is otherwise at risk of serious complications, public health agencies agree that you should avoid any type of gatherings altogether.
  • Practice social distancing. That means limiting the time you spend in public and keeping a 6-foot distance between yourself and other people when you are in public. 
  • Avoid non-essential travel, and do not travel to areas where there are outbreaks of coronavirus. The U.S. State Department is urging all Americans to avoid travel outside of the United States.
  • Abstain from all cruise ship travel, as suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
  • Continue to wash your hands frequently and stay home.
  • If you are self-quarantined, make sure you connect with the Department of Public Health so that you have all the necessary follow up and supplies.
  • Individuals who are elderly, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant should contact their providers when they are sick.
  • Call your health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

Links To The Latest Updates From Public Health Agencies

I encourage everyone to educate yourself during this crisis and listen to the experts. To stay informed about the latest news and announcements from the relevant public health agencies, please follow one of the links below.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a page on their coronavirus website that is updated every day and features the latest news they have released. Click here to visit their “What’s New” page.

You can view daily updates from the California Department of Public Health on their website by clicking here.
Daily updates from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health can be found on their main coronavirus web page by clicking here and scrolling down to the “Latest News” section.

The Orange County Health Care Agency (health department) also offers daily updates on their main coronavirus website. You can visit it by clicking here and scrolling down to the “Latest News” section.

Similarly, the Long Beach Health and Human Services department offers their latest community news and announcement on their main coronavirus web page. You can visit it by clicking here and scrolling down to the “Latest News” section.

Changes In The Status Of My Congressional Offices

To help prevent the potential exposure and spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19, my Washington, D.C., L.A. County, and Orange County offices are enacting measures to limit social contact. Starting March 16th, we closed our offices and all staff have switched to telework. The health and safety of our community remains my top priority and all my offices will continue serving constituents in a virtual capacity.

All office phones will continue to be answered as normal during business hours. After business hours, please leave a voice mail with your name, address and phone number and we will get back to you as soon as possible. You can also reach out to my offices through my website at lowenthal.house.gov. If you have existing casework with our office and wish to follow up on the status of your case, please email Casework.Lowenthal@mail.house.gov or directly email the staff currently assisting you. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

Phone Coverage Hours for My Offices

Washington, DC Office
Phone: (202) 225-7924
Hours: M-F 9am-6pm Eastern

LA County Office (Long Beach)
Phone: (562) 436-3828
Hours: M-F 9am-5pm Pacific

Orange County Office (Garden Grove)
Phone: (714) 243-4088
Hours: M-F 9am-5pm Pacific