Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama
 

What You Need To Know About The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

What is COVID-19? 

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. COVID-19 was first detected in China and has spread to other countries, including the United States. 

As of March 31, 2020, Alabama currently has 999 confirmed coronavirus cases, however, experts agree that confirmed cases not only in Alabama but across the country should be considered low due to inadequate testing. You can find more information on the total number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths on the CDC website

On January 30, 2020 the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic.

On March 13, 2020 the President of the United States declared our nation to be in a state of emergency.
 

How at risk am I?

The immediate risk of exposure for most Americans is growing. However, those at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 include health care workers, people who have been exposed through travel, and close contacts of those who have been confirmed to have COVID-19. COVID-19 primarily spreads from person-to-person through respiratory droplets by means of coughing or sneezing. Please practice social distancing, work from home, and stay indoors when possible to avoid spreading this virus.
 

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19? 

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, runny nose, headache, sore throat, nausea, and shortness of breath similar to other respiratory infections like the common cold or the flu. Currently, the CDC believes that symptoms may appear anywhere between 2 – 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Most patients experience a mild illness.

If you are feeling ill, please contact your doctor for guidance.

As of March 20, 2020, the ADPH is recommending that anyone showing symptoms should first call their healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare provider, please call 1-888-264-2256.

How can I prevent the spread of COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, and there is no specific treatment for the virus. In most cases people with COVID-19 will recover on their own. However, the CDC recommends everyday preventative actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases including COVID-19: 

  • Practice social distancing
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Staying home if you feel sick
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately dispose of the tissue in the trash
  • Cleaning and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (doorknobs, refrigerator door handles, etc.) with regular household cleaning sprays or wipes
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol)
  • If you are not sick and have yet to receive the current flu vaccine, get the current flu vaccine 

The CDC does not recommend that people who feel healthy and well wear a facemask to protect themselves from COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others, or used by health workers and people who are taking care of an ill person in close settings such as at home or in a health care facility. 

What is social distancing?

Even for those not experiencing symptoms, it is still important to practice social distancing. The federal government asks that:

  • No one convene groups of over 10 people.
  • Everyone maintains six feet of separation.
  • Anyone able to work from home, please do so.
  • Avoid eating at bars and restaurants (and instead opt for drive-through, pick-up or delivery options.)
  • Avoid any discretionary travel, shopping and social visits.

Should I get tested for COVID-19? What is the criteria to get tested? 

If you believe you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor. The CDC has expanded their criteria for evaluating individuals to include a wider group of symptomatic people. Clinicians will use their judgement under the new guidelines to determine if a person has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether they should be tested. You can find the CDC's description of their criteria HERE.
 

Where can I get a test in the 7th Congressional District?

Birmingham Downtown COVID-19 Testing

Address: The corner of University Boulevard and 22nd St. South, Birmingham, Alabama 35205
Phone: 205-957-1881
Hours: 9:00 am - 1:30 pm, by appointment only (appointments may be scheduled from 7a – 11p, seven days a week)

Urgent Care for Children - Birmingham *Testing for Children Ages 0 – 21

Address: 500 Cahaba Park Circle, Suite 100, Birmingham, AL 35242
Phone: 205-848-2273
Hours: Weekdays 2pm – 10 pm, Sat – Sun 10am – 8pm

Hale County Hospital

Address: 508 Greene Street, Greensboro, AL 36744; screening clinic in front parking lot
Phone: 334-507-3815
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Baptist Health Coronavirus Care Clinic

Address: 2936 Marti Lane, Montgomery, AL 36116
*located across from former Governor’s House
Phone: 334-747-0150
Hours: 7:00 am – 7:00 pm, seven days a week.

Whitfield Regional Hospital Coronavirus Collection Site

Address: 105 U.S. Highway 80 East, Demopolis, AL 36732
*Site located on in rear of hospital in parking lot
Phone: 334-289-4000
Hours: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm, seven days a week

Druid City Hospital (DCH) Regional-Remote Screening Clinic

Address: 809 University Blvd., Tuscaloosa, AL 35402
*located in DCH Outpatient Center on the bottom floor beside the pharmacy
Phone: (205) 759-7867
Hours: Monday – Friday 6:30 am – 5:00 pm; Saturday 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Urgent Care for Children - Tuscaloosa *Testing for Children Ages 0 – 21

Address: 4700 Rice Mine Road Northeast
Phone: 205-614-5628
Hours: Weekdays 2pm – 10 pm, Sat – Sun 10am – 8pm

Northport Medical Center Outpatient Laboratory

Address: 2700 Hospital Drive, Northport, AL 35476
Phone: (205) 333-4662
Hours: Monday – Friday 6:30 am – 5:00 pm; Saturday 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

MainStreet Family Care - Selma

Address: 1475 AL-14, Selma, AL 36703
Phone: (334) 526-3240
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm; Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Cahaba Medical Care - West End

Address: 1308 Tuscaloosa Ave,. Birmingham, AL 35211
Phone: (205) 679-6325
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

 

For additional testing sites and hours of operation, call the Alabama COVID-19 24/7 hotline at 1-888-264-2256. Note: There is no medical advice provided at this telephone number.

 

Is there specific information available to Alabama residents?

You can view up-to-date information on the disease, number of cases, deaths, and individuals under public health supervision in Alabama on the Alabama State Department of Health’s website.  

For general COVID-19 questions, call 1-800-270-7268 or email covid19info@adph.state.al.us. Telephone calls are answered from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Also visit ADPH’s FAQ page. For seniors, information is available at (334) 242-5743 or 1-877-425-2243.

You can find more information at the following webpages: 


CORONAVIRUS:  CDC Fact Sheet:  What You Need to Know
CORONAVIRUS:  CDC Fact Sheet:  What To Do If You Are Sick
CORONAVIRUS:  CDC Fact Sheet:  What the Public Should Do
CORONAVIRUS:  CDC Fact Sheet:  Stop the Spread of Germs
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Guidance on Prevention and Treatment
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Guidance on How It Spreads
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Guidance on Symptoms
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Information on Number of Confirmed U.S. Cases
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Guidance for Travelers
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Guidance for Businesses/Employers
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Frequently Asked Questions

 

Are there resources available to help small businesses?

Small businesses that are suffering from the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak can apply for assistance through the Small Business Administration (SBA). 

Many businesses in Alabama are eligible for the SBA's Economic Impact Disaster Loan program.

If you are a small business owner who needs assistance during this outbreak I encourage you to take action immediately. First, read this SBA fact sheet. Then, visit the SBA website to begin your application.

Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

My office is ready to help however we can during this time. If you run into a problem once you have submitted your application, or if you need help with another issue related to the federal government, I encourage you to contact my office at: (205) 254-1960.

 

How can I apply for unemployment benefits?

Alabama residents can apply for unemployment benefits through the Alabama Department of Labor.

Understanding the incredible economic hardship that this virus is inflicting on our community, Senator Jones and I wrote a letter to Governor Ivey, urging her to reinstate unemployment benefits to 26 weeks.

 

Can my child still get school meals during closures?

State Superintendent Eric Mackey has said that students who receive free or reduced-cost lunches will still be provided meals through schools during the closure. Between now and when schools are reopened, click here to find a meal site near you

In addition to providing meals for children, our local food assistance providers will continue to operate, providing meals to those in need.

Congress passed a bill that provides emergency sick leave. How does it impact me?

President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law, which contains several provisions important to Alabama workers. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.

Generally, the Act provides that employees of covered employers are eligible for:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Covered Employers: The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Most employees of the federal government are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was not amended by this Act, and are therefore not covered by the expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA. However, federal employees covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act are covered by the paid sick leave provision. 

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.

Eligible Employees: All employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.

More information about federal employee rights is available here.
More information for employees is available here.
More information for employers is available here.

Congress passed a law to provide Americans with direct payments. How will I receive that funding?

The payment is $1,200 for each adult individual ($2,400 for joint filers), and $500 per qualifying child under age 17. The advance payment of rebates is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income to the extent a taxpayer’s income exceeds $150,000 for a joint filer, $112,500 for a head of household filer, and $75,000 for anyone else (including single filers). You can estimate your rebate here.
 
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will work to deliver rebates quickly in the form of advance payments. For people who filed a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019, payment processing will be based on payment or address information already on file with the IRS. Electronic distributions will be automatic to an account the payee authorized January 1, 2018 or later.
 

People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax. www.IRS.gov/coronavirus will soon provide information instructing people in these groups on how to file a 2019 tax return with simple, but necessary, information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.

FAQ on the direct payments is available here.