Support for Businesses and Individuals during the COVID-19 Pandemic
8 Jul 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented change to the United States. Individuals and businesses alike are facing uncertainty unlike anything experienced in recent times. Lost income and health concerns coupled with the absence of social structures typically provided by extended family, friends and other relationships have given rise to high levels of stress and anxiety. Now, more than ever, the availability and accessibility of social services and assistance is critical to weathering this storm physically and mentally.
For many, simply having steady employment is the most important source of calm and reassurance needed for daily living. Those looking for employment should turn to their local job service providers like economic development authorities and local chambers of commerce for assistance. Organizations such as LinkedIn, Indeed.com, Career Builder, Idealist and Glassdoor.com are helpful as well.
Finding employment has never been more challenging, however, but thankfully, significant assistance exists for individuals during the COVID-19 crisis. The Federal CARES Act provides unemployment benefits programs, such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to cover people who do not qualify for regular unemployment, such as self-employed people and independent contractors. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is an extension of regular unemployment benefits of up to 13 weeks. And the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provides an extra $600 per week for most on regular unemployment or PUA. Those unable to find a job can consult careeronestop to determine what unemployment benefits are available in their state. And the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program can help provide financial assistance and related support.
Facing an inability to pay upcoming mortgage or utility payments is another source of stress. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides resources for homeowners and renters here. Specifically in response to the COVID-19 crisis, many borrowers are eligible to stop paying their monthly mortgage for six months or at least reduce the payment. Additional financing assistance options provided by the Federal Housing Finance Agency are also available. The number of persons facing homelessness has increased during this crisis. For those facing such a stressful situation, read about resources here. Regarding utility payments, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps provide low-income families with heating and cooling energy costs.
The ability to provide proper food and nutrition has become an issue for a greater number of people during the past few months as well. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service provides many options for families to find the food they need. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) traditionally serves millions of people annually, ensuring that they and their families have access to nutritious food options and the program has increased its efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.
Health Care Coverage
Losing health care insurance during the pandemic is a source of high anxiety. Employees who have lost their job or been furloughed can turn to the COBRA Continuation Coverage as a source for maintaining critical health care. Medicare and Medicaid may also provide options for certain individuals. Medicare provides health insurance for people 65 and older while Medicaid provides insurance to low-income individuals, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Beyond those resources, use the benefits.gov website to determine if there are other programs to fit your needs.
Finding ways to cope with all of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are important for all persons, regardless of situations prior to this crisis. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website offers excellent opportunities to seek out treatment, while the Mental Health America website provides information and resources covering a wide range of needs.
Unfortunately, difficult, trying times can lead to more domestic abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline, at www.thehotline.org, is available 24/7 with highly trained experts to speak confidentiality with anyone experiencing or witnessing domestic violence. It also provides support to persons concerned about a friend or family member.
As businesses reopen, finding child care may be the most difficult challenge for many workers returning to their places of employment. Child care providers are balancing the ability to offer their services with limiting the spread of the virus. For those without other options, Child Care Aware is a national organization designed to provide assistance. ANd if your children become sick, the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) exists to require many employers to provide employees with expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19. Information for employers and workers to follow when responding to those reasons related to COVID-19, can be found here.
Together We Survive
In such trying times, the success of all depends on everyone banding together through kindness, understanding and empathy. By doing so, each individual, whether as an employer or employee, worker or family member, business owner or service provider, will be able to lean on the power of everyone to maintain their well-being through this crisis.