I hope everyone is doing well and dealing with the quarantine as best as you can. Please remember to check on your neighbors and other senior citizens. If you have an urgent need for something please contact me and I will do my best to assist you.
I am staying busy at my dining room table working on my laptop. The quarantine doesn’t really bother me like I’ve heard others talk about. Remember when you wished you could sleep late and have no place to go? Remember when you said when I get some free time I’m going to……. Have you gotten all those things done? Even though you may have not gotten these projects done and you really want to get out and socialize, it is so important to stay isolated as much as possible and stay positive!
State Leaders Urge Missourians to Practice Proper Social Distancing
As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the state and the nation, lawmakers and the governor are urging Missourians to take the proper precautions to help protect the health and safety of all citizens. Missourians are currently under a statewide order issued by the Department of Health and Senior Services that requires all citizens to practice appropriate social distancing.
The order requires:
1. Every person in the State of Missouri to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. Social gatherings are defined as any planned or spontaneous event that brings together more than 10 people in a single space at the same time.
2. Every person in the state to avoid eating or drinking at restaurants, bars, or food courts. The order does allow for drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
3. Missourians to not visit nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, or assisted living homes unless to provide critical assistance.
4. All schools to remain closed. The order does not prohibit schools from providing child care and food and nutritional services for children who qualify.
Missourians should be aware the order does not prohibit them from visiting places such as grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks, so long as necessary precautions are taken and maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, including maintaining at least six feet of distance between all individuals that are not family members.
For offices and workplaces that remain open, individuals must practice good hygiene and, where feasible, work from home in order to achieve optimum isolation from COVID-19. The order took effect March 23 and will remain in effect until Monday, April 6 unless extended by further order.
Important Information for Missourians as they Deal with the Impact of COVID-19
In response to the continued spread of the coronavirus in Missouri, Gov. Parson and his administration have made several important changes to help all those who are being impacted by COVID-19.
Missourians should be aware of the following important changes:
Missouri Medicaid-MO HealthNet
Eligibility for any Medicaid participant will not be terminated unless the individual requests a voluntary termination of eligibility or the individual ceases to be a resident of the state through the end of the federal emergency COVID-19 declaration
• Extending 90 days of MO HealthNet coverage to Missourians ages 19-64 who test positive for COVID-19 and meet the income and resource eligibility guidelines
• Relaxing requirements related to prescription refills and prior authorizations to ensure participants have access to essential medications
• Expediting new provider enrollment applications and waiving certain enrollment requirements such as application fees and on-site visits to enable providers to serve Medicaid participants
• Waiving the co-payment for any services provided by means of telehealth
Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
• The Family Support Division is waiving all work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents for 90 days
Child Care Subsidy Program
• Child Care Subsidy benefits are extended for 90 days
• Provider application renewals are extended for 90 days
• Approve additional hours of care for families on a case-by-case basis
Family Support Division has requested waivers from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service to:
• Waive all Food Stamp adverse action notices for 90 days
• Waive initial in-person Food Stamp interviews for 90 days
• Extend Food Stamp certification periods by 6 months – this waiver has been received
Relief for Missouri Families and Businesses
• Filing deadline extended: The deadline to file income tax returns has been extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.
• Payment relief for individuals and corporations: Income tax payment deadlines for individual and corporate income returns with a due date of April 15, 2020, are extended until July 15, 2020. This payment relief applies to all individual income tax returns, income tax returns filed by C Corporations, and income tax returns filed by trusts or estates. The Department of Revenue will automatically provide this relief, so filers do not need to take any additional steps to qualify.
• This relief for individuals and corporations will also include estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15, 2020.
• Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020. Individuals and corporations that file their return or request an extension of time to file by July 15, 2020, will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the tax paid by July 15.
• Vehicle owners with registrations or license plates expiring in March and April have been granted an automatic two-month extension. Owners will be able to continue operating their vehicles on Missouri roadways without penalty until they can apply for renewal.
• The time frame in which a vehicle safety and emission inspection is valid for March and April license plate expirations has also been extended an additional 60 days. Applicants for title will not be assessed a late title penalty when visiting a license office, effective immediately; this waiver will continue through April 30, 2020.
• Valid Missouri driver licenses, nondriver licenses and noncommercial instruction permits with original expiration dates of March 1, 2020, through April 30, 2020, have been granted an automatic 60-day extension.
Help for Small Businesses and Non-Profits
• The U.S. Small Business Administration approved Missouri’s request for assistance through the federal agency’s disaster loan program. This move makes low interest disaster loans available to small businesses and private non-profits severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
• SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for each affected small business or non-profit. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
• Applicants will be able to apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email [email protected] for more information on SBA disaster assistance.
Declaration for Missouri
In an effort to obtain additional federal assistance for state and local COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and emergency response efforts, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has requested that President Trump approve a major disaster declaration for the entire state of Missouri.
In making his request, the governor said the pandemic is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the means of state and local governments.
Parson requested two programs statewide, Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling, under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program, which provides assistance to individuals and families. The governor said the closure of multiple employment sectors will greatly impact all Missourians and that the state and local capabilities to provide mental health services will also require federal assistance.
Parson also requested FEMA’s Public Assistance Program to assist local governments and qualifying nonprofit agencies with emergency response expenses, including those of first responders, in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also requested that FEMA assist with debris removal expenses if needed for the removal and disposal of bio-hazard and other contaminated materials as a result of the pandemic response.
Federal Stimulus Package Set for Approval
While state lawmakers are currently working in their districts, their federal counterparts this week convened in Washington D.C. to approve a historic $2 trillion stimulus package. The measure that is meant to provide resources to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and to provide a spark to the nation’s economy was approved by the United States Senate by a vote of 96-0. It is expected to receive approval from the U.S. House today and President Trump has already said he will sign the measure when he receives it. The legislation represents the biggest emergency aid package in the nation’s history and is enormous in scope.
Things continue to change and be updated on a daily basis. As I write this report, I know that by the time it is printed some of these things will be outdated. I try to keep my facebook page updated as new information is available. But as always, feel free to contact me regarding any questions or concerns you may have. I try to respond as promptly as possible, but please be patient with me as I do not always have service and things are busy. I can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 573-751-2112. Please leave a detailed message as the Capitol is closed right now.
Chris Dinkins is the area’s state representative for the 144th Legislative District. She can be reached by email – [email protected] or by telephone: 573-751-2112.