The Latest Details on Coronavirus



As your congressman, I wanted you to see the latest details on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Indiana. 

Updates from the Indiana State Department of Health 


The ISDH today reported 272 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Indiana, bringing the total number of Hoosiers diagnosed with the virus to 1,786 as of 10:00am this morning. 35 Hoosiers have died.

- A total of 11,658 tests have been reported to ISDH to date. It’s now being estimated that sometime this week, America will be able to test more than 100,000 patients a day, which is critical in our national effort to combat the virus.

- The complete list of counties with cases is included in the ISDH COVID-19 dashboard at, which is updated every morning at 10:00 a.m.

An Update from the White House


President Trump announced Sunday that the federal government will be extending its social-distancing guidelines through April 30.

Re-affirming the opinion of medical experts, President Trump also said that the national death rate from COVID-19 will peak within the next two weeks. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reiterated his estimate that it remained possible that 100,000 to 200,000 people could die in the United States.

Given the severity of this pandemic, it is imperative to follow guidelines like those issued from the White House, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana State Department of Health to protect your family, community and yourself.  

 We will get through this -- but it requires effort from all of us. 

An Update on Unemployment, Payments and Insurance 

President Trump just signed into law a historic $2 trillion stimulus package to bring much-needed relief to the economy and American people. 

Banks and other lenders are doing things to assist people on top of that. Here's your guide for how to get the help that's available and be in the best financial shape possible as you weather this storm.

Who Can Qualify For Unemployment Benefits

The good news here is almost everyone qualifies who has lost their income due to the virus outbreak. The Labor Department says, "unemployment insurance programs provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own."

And the rescue package expands who is "eligible" dramatically.

Gig workers, like Uber drivers, self-employed people, freelancers and contract workers should all be eligible for benefits if they are unable to work because of COVID-19.

You apply for benefits through your state's website. State-specific details will be available there, too. There's been so much demand, sites have been crashing, and phone lines have had long wait times. If you aren't able to get through at first, keep trying. Nearly 3.3 million people were able to file in a single week and states say they are staffing up to help more people. For more advice on how to file for unemployment benefits, click here.

How To Skip Payments On Your Mortgage, Auto Loan And Credit Cards

The federal government is ordering mortgage companies to allow people who have lost their job or income to make reduced payments or to skip payments. To qualify, you need to have suffered a financial hardship related to the coronavirus outbreak that makes you unable to meet basic living expenses. (This includes lost work due to all the business shutdowns. You don't need to have fallen ill or be caring for a sick family member.)

This order covers the vast majority of existing mortgages. On top of that, many lenders say they are offering similar assistance for many other types of loans.

You need to call your lender. If you're a homeowner, for example, you call the company that you normally send your mortgage check to every month. Tell them you are having a financial hardship due to the coronavirus and you need to make reduced payments or skip payments and be put into what's called a forbearance plan. Some lenders will let you do this online because call wait times can be long.

Be cautious, however. A forbearance often only kicks payments down the road. So while you might not be able to pay a mortgage for several months, when that time period is over, you could be expected to deliver all the missed payments as well as the current one in a lump sum. For many people, that could be a devastating blow.

Check with  your lender to see if this might be the case. Both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are ordering lenders to work with borrowers on a permanent plan to maintain or reduce monthly payments as necessary.

A better bet is to request a mortgage modification. This enables you to skip payments for a set period, then pay them back in a variety of different ways.

Some mortgage companies will spread the missed payments out over several months. Others, in the best-case scenario, will add the missed months to the end of your mortgage, extending the life of the loan, but not creating a financial hardship for you.

Trim Spending Where You Can

You want get to the other side of this widespread business shut-down as financially intact as possible. And even with the biggest rescue package in history enacted by Congress, if you've lost your job, you still won't have as much money coming in the door as usual. Plus, it can take two to three weeks after you file to receive your first unemployment check even in normal times.

What Can Renters Do?

One good thing to do if you've lost your job and you're a renter is to talk to your landlord. Mortgage companies are being told to offer flexibility to landlords if their tenants can't pay rent as a result of the outbreak. If you have a mom-and-pop landlord with just a few rental units, they may not even realize this. They could call their lender and see if there's a way for them let you skip some payments if the landlord could do the same.

Not that you'd want it to come to this, but in many areas evictions have been suspended because the government doesn't want people being put out of their homes when we are all supposed to be social distancing to stem the spread of the virus.

What If I Lose My Health Insurance?

If that's happened to you, here are some options.

1) Try to get on your spouse's plan

If you're married, you may be eligible to jump onto your spouse's health insurance plan, which could end up being your most cost-effective option. Have your spouse talk to the human resources or benefits department to discuss that possibility and see what it will cost to have you added on.

2) Sign up for COBRA

COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) allows you to retain your employer health coverage for up to 18 months. The benefit of COBRA is continuity; you'll keep the same health plan you're used to and you won't have to worry about switching doctors or finding new providers. Also, your co-pays and deductibles will stay the same, thereby eliminating some unpleasant financial surprises. The drawback, however, is that you'll need to pay your entire monthly health insurance premiums yourself. If your employer was previously subsidizing those premiums, you may be shocked at what your total monthly costs look like.

3) See if Medicaid is an option

Qualifying for Medicaid isn't easy (click here to read more from HHS on Medicaid). You need to be a very low-income household to get on it, and eligibility rules vary from state to state. But if you're unemployed and have no household income, it pays to see if you qualify.

4) Buy your own plan on the health insurance marketplace

You're generally entitled to apply for a new plan if you lose your existing health coverage, even though the annual open-enrollment period to sign up for marketplace plans has passed.

But don't be shocked if your out-of-pocket costs are anything but "affordable" with a marketplace plan. Many are quite expensive, and the lower your monthly premiums, the higher your deductibles are likely to be. That said, you may qualify for a subsidy if your income is low enough.

- The idea of paying for healthcare, and finding a new plan, may seem overwhelming. But now's not the time to go without health coverage. If you get hurt or sick (with COVID-19 or any other ailment), having insurance could spare you some catastrophic bills, so make an effort to line up a new health plan quickly.

- One final thing: If you've been laid off, whether because the business you work for is shutting down temporarily or it needs to scale back its staff, make sure to ask your employer when your last day of health coverage is, so you understand exactly what timeline you're looking at. Having that information will help ensure that you don't face a dangerous gap in coverage.

Read more on unemployment and insurance from the Department of Labor here

An Update on Direct Cash Payments


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that Americans who qualify for direct payments as a result of the act will receive them within three weeks. 

Here's everything you need to know.

Q: How much will I get?

It depends on how much you make.

If you made less than $75,000 in 2019, you will be eligible for the full payment of $1,200. Couples who filed jointly and made less than $150,000 will get $2,400. An individual who filed as "head of household" and earned $112,500 or less gets $1,200. For every child in the household, you will receive an additional $500. 

If you made more than $75,000, your payment will be reduced by $5 for every $100 of income that exceeds the limits. So if you made $80,000 in 2019, you will receive $950. The payment decreases to zero for an individual making $99,000 or more or a couple making $198,000 or more.

If you're a family of four, you’ll be eligible for a maximum of $3,400.

Calculate how much you'll get here.

Q: Where do I sign up?

You don't. There's no sign up. The payments will be automatic for people who have filed a tax return or gotten Social Security benefits recently. The IRS asks people not to call with questions, but to keep checking their website where they will post updates about the program once they are available.

Q: How will the money be sent?

If you've gotten a tax refund in the last two years by direct deposit, that's where the money will be sent. If not, the IRS can mail a check to your "last known address," and it has 15 days to notify you of the method and amount of the payment. They'll send a phone number and appropriate point of contact so you can tell them if you didn't receive it.

If you’ve moved recently, it may be a good idea to notify the IRS as soon as possible. The IRS also suggests that if you haven't yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, do it as soon as you can, so that the government has your up-to-date information on file.

Q: How does the government calculate how much I earned?

Have you filed your taxes for 2019 already? If so, the checks will automatically be based on your 2019 return. Look for your "adjusted gross income" (Line 7 on your Form 1040 tax return in 2018, or line 8B on a 2019 return.) If you haven't filed your 2019 taxes yet, it'll be based on your 2018 return.

Q: I'm on Social Security, or don’t make enough to file a tax return. Will I get a check?

Yes. Even if you didn't file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 or pay taxes in those years, you will be eligible if you received a Form SSA-1099 for the year 2019. That's a form that the Social Security Administration sends each year to people who receive Social Security benefits, including retirement and disability.

Q: I’m a disabled vet but don't pay taxes. Do I qualify?

Yes, although some of the details still need to be worked out. The IRS is expected to set up a system so that disabled veterans don't fall through the cracks. Click here to learn more. 

Q: I'm a college student. Do I get a check?

If your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes, you're ineligible. But if you've been working and filing taxes independently in recent years, you may qualify.

Q: I made too much money in 2019 to qualify. But now I've been laid off. Am I out of luck?

Not necessarily, but you'll have to wait. If you made too much to qualify in your last tax filing, you probably won't be eligible for the cash benefit immediately. But you can apply for it when you file your 2020 tax return if your income drops below below $99,000 threshold for individuals (which doubles for couples) this year.

The IRS is expected to create a system to ensure help for people who fall into this category.

Q: Are the cash payments taxable?


Q: I owe back taxes. Will the IRS snatch my check?

No, your payment won't be affected if you owe past due taxes to federal or state governments.

- For more info on direct cash payments, click here

An Update on Small Businesses 


The Director of the United States National Economic Council Larry Kudlow announced yesterday that loans available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19 will be ready for processing this week.  

Here are the main two ways your business can get cash now that the CARES Act is law. Also find below steps you need to take to make sure you can get your money as efficiently as possible.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) are the first line of support. These loans aren’t new. They’ve always been available in the event of disaster. However, this is the first time a virus or pandemic event has been defined as a disaster. Because of that declaration, businesses in every state and territory are now eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster loans. (If you applied before the declaration was made, you may have been rejected because SBA Disaster Loan Assistance was unavailable for Coronavirus related economic impact at the time.) 

The SBA offers many favorable terms in their EIDLs:

- Loans up to $2M
- The term is 30 years
- Interest Rates are 3.75% for small business and (2.75% for non-profits)
- The first month’s payments are deferred a full year from the date of the promissory note. 

The CARES Act specifically allots $10 Billion for EIDLs and $350 billion for Paycheck Protection Loans (more on those below) to help small businesses.

The EIDLs expanded provisions include:

- EIDLS can be approved by the SBA based solely on an applicant’s credit score (not repayment ability and no tax return is required). Mr. Contreras specified that a prior bankruptcy doesn’t disqualify you.
- EIDLS smaller than $200,000 can be approved without a personal guarantee. They are also not requiring real estate as collateral and will take a general security interest in business property. 
- Borrowers can receive $10,000 in an emergency grant cash advance that can be forgiven if spent on paid leave, maintaining payroll, increased costs due to supply chain disruption, mortgage or lease payments or repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue loss. 
- It expands access to sole proprietors or independent contractors, as well as tribal businesses, cooperatives, and ESOPs with fewer than 500 employees and all non-profits including 501(c)(6)s. 

Applicants can get the emergency cash even if they don’t qualify for additional funds. Because lending decisions are based on self-certification and the applicant’s credit score, the review process should go quickly. CARES also waives the requirement that you be unable to obtain credit elsewhere. That means you can apply even if you already have a credit line.

Where do I apply?

You apply for these loans directly through the SBA at  There are no loan fees, guarantee fees or prepayment fees. As of now, in late March, however, the site is still being updated, so you may have to wait a few days to get going. When the application is up and running, make sure to apply for Economic Injury for the Coronavirus, rather than physical damage due to another disaster (that is a different declaration number).  

You have to have been in business by January 31, 2020 to qualify, so you can’t start a business now and receive this kind of grant.  The SBA also offers other information and programming at

How long will it take to get the money?

Unfortunately, there is not yet a definitive timeline from application to approval on these loans. There are some 30 million small businesses in the United States. In a busy year, the SBA processes 800,000 applications. If the 3.3 million unemployment numbers show anything, there will be a lot of demand for this relief (and systems may be overloaded). As such, you should apply as soon as you can.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) FAQs for Small Businesses:
The Who, What, Where, When and How

The CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program Loan Guarantee offers another source of help. Under this program, the SBA backs small-business loans through local lenders.

Who - You are eligible for a loan if you are a small business that employs 500 employees or fewer, or if your business is in an industry that has an employee-based size standard through SBA that is higher than 500 employees. 

- Tribal businesses, 501(c)(19) veteran organizations, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits, including religious organizations, will be eligible for the program. Nonprofit organizations are subject to SBA’s affiliation standards. 

-Independently owned franchises with under 500 employees, who are approved by SBA, are also eligible. 

- Sole proprietors, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and self -employed individuals are all eligible for the PPP.

What - The amount any small business is eligible to borrow is 250% of their average monthly payroll expenses, up to a total of $10 million. The terms of the loan may differ on a case-by-case basis. However, the maximum terms of the loan feature a 10-year term with interest capped at 4 percent and a 100 percent loan guarantee by the SBA. 

- You will not have to pay any fees on the loan, and collateral requirements and personal guarantees are waived. Loan payments will be deferred for at least six months and up to one year starting at the origination of the loan. This amount is intended to cover 8 weeks of payroll expenses and any additional amounts for making payments towards debt obligations.

- This 8 week period may be applied to any time frame between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Seasonal business expenses will be measured using a 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019, or March 1, 2019, whichever the seasonal employer chooses. Additionally, if you took out a State Bridge Loan or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan you can still apply for a PPP Loan, check with your lender for the provisions that may apply.

Where - You can apply for the PPP at any lending institution that is approved to participate in the program through the existing U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) lending program and additional lenders approved by the Department of Treasury. 

- This could be the bank you already use, or a nearby bank. You do not have to visit any government institution to apply for the program. You can call your bank or find SBA-approved lenders in your area through SBA’s online Lender Match tool. 

- You can call your local Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Center and they will provide free assistance and guide you to lenders.

When - Applicants are eligible to apply for the PPP loan until June 30th, 2020. The loan is forgiven at the end of the 8-week period after you take out the loan. Borrowers will work with lenders to verify covered expenses and the proper amount of forgiveness. The covered period during which expenses can be forgiven extends from February 15, 2020 to June 30, 2020. 

- Borrowers can choose which 8 weeks they want to count towards the covered period, which can start as early as February 15, 2020. If you took out an EIDL loan on or after January 31st, 2020 you may apply to refinance your EIDL loan into a PPP loan. 

- If the full principal of the PPP loan is forgiven, the borrower is not responsible for the interest accrued in the 8-week covered period. The remainder of the loan that is not forgiven will operate according to the loan terms agreed upon by you and the lender.

How - The amount of principal that may be forgiven is equal to the sum of expenses for payroll, and existing interest payments on mortgages, rent payments, leases, and utility service agreements. 

- Payroll costs include employee salaries (up to an annual rate of pay of $100,000), hourly wages and cash tips, paid sick or medical leave, and group health insurance premiums. The purpose of the Paycheck Protection Program is to help you retain your employees, at their current base pay. 

- If you keep all of your employees, the entirety of the loan will be forgiven. If you still lay off employees, the forgiveness will be reduced by the percent decrease in the number of employees. You can still be forgiven for the full amount of your payroll cost if you rehire your employees by June 30, 2020.

For more information on the CARES Act and relief for small businesses, see the resources below:

- Senate Small Business Guide, CAREs Act:
- SBA PPP Website:
- SBA Local Assistance Locator:
- SBA COVID-19 Disaster Assistance:


Thanks for letting me fill you in. 

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Jim Banks
Member of Congress
Indiana's Third District

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