Community Resources During Coronavirus Outbreak

Community Resources During Coronavirus Outbreak

The coronavirus outbreak is an unprecedented challenge that we must all take very seriously. Stay home if you can. If you MUST go out, practice social distancing and stay at least six feet away from other people. This page offers a guide to resources that will be available to people across Louisiana, broken down by region. We will keep this page updated as new information becomes available.
Municipal General Election has been rescheduled for Aug. 15

Early Voting for the Municipal General Election will take place from Aug. 1 - 8 (except Sunday, Aug. 2)

Register to Vote
Democracy must go on, especially in the midst of a crisis. Make sure you’re registered and ready to vote!

National Information

CARES Act Information

Tax Information

The federal tax return deadline has been delayed until July 15.

Federal programs & Legislation

Education: Standardized Testing
The Education Department will not enforce federal rules on standardized testing for K-12 schools and will allow federal student loan borrowers to suspend payments

SNAP time limit blocked!
There were supposed to be new limits imposed on SNAP, otherwise known as food stamps, starting April 1. A federal court blocked these new rules. They WILL NOT go into effect. Louisiana will now be able to continue operating its SNAP program under the existing rules, with no time limit on that population.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act 
 Here's a summary of the bill.

Families First Act Final Bill Overview: The bill passed and was signed by Trump on 3/18, so will go into effect in 15 days and provisions outlined will be valid until Dec. 31, 2020.

  • Kids who depend on school meals will get fed; women, infants, and children will continue to get food support through the WIC program; and the SNAP (food stamps) program will be temporarily expanded to cover poor or jobless workers and provide emergency food allotments for families suddenly in need of food.
  • Legislation provides emergency transfers of funds from the federal government to state unemployment insurance (UI) funds so states can meet the increased demand for UI benefits as a result of layoffs related to the coronavirus. States can modify their work search and first-week unpaid rules or choose not to raise UI premiums for employers whose workers claim benefits during the health crisis.
  • Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is free. Health insurance companies are required to cover diagnostic testing and are not allowed to impose any cost-sharing on those tested. Patients do not need to get prior authorization to get tested (if available, telehealth diagnosis would be covered). State Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and CHIP programs are required to pay 100 percent of the costs of diagnostic tests. The federal government will reimburse costs for these tests and for testing people with no insurance. Unfortunately, the final bill does not provide any funding for costs of care for individual diagnosed with covid-19.
  • The final bill provides for emergency paid leave for qualified reasons related to coronavirus and creates a new provision in FMLA for “a qualifying need related to a public health emergency”
  • Employers can claim a quarterly tax credit against payroll taxes for payments for sick days and family and medical leave up to an amount that does not exceed the business’ total payroll taxes paid in that quarter. Appropriates payments from general taxes to the Social Security trust funds equal to the revenue lost as a result of these payroll tax credits and assures that the solvency of the trust funds and Social Security’s ability to pay workers retirement benefits are not affected.
  • Self-employed workers, including independent contractors and gig economy workers, can claim a credit against their self-employment taxes.
Specifics on Emergency Paid Leave:
The bill applies to employers of up to 500 employees and the Department of Labor can exempt employers of 50 or fewer employees if provisions would jeopardize viability of the business. Health care providers and emergency responders are excluded from this benefit. If businesses have already enacted leave policies related to covid-19 that are equal to or more generous than the described provisions they are allowed to keep them. Emergency paid leave does not carry over to another year.

For qualified workers there are six reasons to received emergency paid leave:

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis;
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine order, or the individual has been advised to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  5. The employee is caring for the employee's son or daughter, if the child's school or child care facility has been closed or the child's care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by Health and Human Services in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Labor.
Full-time workers get up to 80 hours of sick leave, part-time workers get the average of their hours over a two-week period and variable workers get the average of their hours over the last 6 months. Qualified workers are paid their salary up to $511 a day for reasons 1-3 and up to $200 a day for reasons 5 & 6.

Specific changes to FMLA:
The bill creates a new category in FMLA for “a qualifying need related to a public health emergency.” The first 10 days of a public health emergency FMLA leave are unpaid (but can be covered by the emergency sick leave also created by the bill) but specifically restricts employers from forcing employees to use existing sick or vacation leave during this time. After the 10-day period employees are entitled to at-least two-thirds of their pay up to 12 weeks of leave. Employer is required to return employee to the same position at the conclusion of leave for a public health emergency (unless employer has 25 or fewer employees.)

Funding for Schools, Early Child Care Centers and Community Organizations
No Kid Hungry is offering real time funding and assistance for schools, early child care centers and community organizations that are making sure kids have access to the meals they need as schools close due to coronavirus by providing emergency grants to support local efforts (such as home delivered meals, grab and go meals programs, school and community pantries, backpack programs, etc.) to help reach children and families who lose access to meals). No Kid Hungry is providing $1 million in emergency grants on a rolling basis.

Organizations who need funding to support these efforts, can submit their interest in receiving emergency grant funds: https://www.nokidhungry.org/coronavirus-grant-request

  Voting Rights Advocacy Help
State Voices provides Covid-19 letters and talking points for elections and voting rights advocacy

Census

The most effective thing you can do to combat the spread of COVID_19 is to practice social distancing. Ideally, that would mean staying home entirely. One of the benefits of being trapped inside is that you get to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census. Make sure to count EVERYONE in your household. Learn more about why the Census is so important on our 2020 Census page.

Census Bureau Statement on Modifying 2020 Census Operations to Make Sure College Students are Counted

2020 Census Operational Adjustments

Voting

On March 13, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced he was delaying the state’s April 4 presidential primary to June 20. GIven the seriousness of this outbreak, and the threat this election might have posed to public health, we agree with Secretary Ardoin’s decision. We will continue to closely monitor this evolving situation and do everything in our power to protect voting rights and ensure the highest participation in the June 20 election.

Find the latest election updates here:
https://www.sos.la.gov/ElectionsAndVoting/GetElectionInformation/Pages/default.aspx

Highlights:
Election Day: June 20
Early Voting: June 6-13
Registration deadlines: May 20 in-person and May 30 online (http://geauxvote.com)

Louisiana Statewide

Departments or Agencies with Dedicated COVID-19 Pages: Departments or Agencies with COVID-19 Information:
Health Resources
  • COVID-19 Louisiana Response Graphics
  • Call ‘211’ for the latest coronavirus information from the Louisiana Department of Health
  • Louisiana Department of Health dashboard
  • Louisiana Department of Health COVID-19 FAQ
  • The Louisiana Department of Health has set up a counseling hotline. Please call 1-866-310-7977 if you need help dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues during these difficult times.
  • There are new health insurance rules in place under Emergency Rule 36 and your pharmacy, providers, etc. may not be aware. 
    • The Louisiana Department of Insurance is working with health plans across the state to ensure access and care for all Louisiana residents. Important health insurance resources include: 
    • Emergency Rule 36
    • COVID-19 resources & FAQs see www.ldi.la.gov
  • Health plans in Louisiana are taking critical steps to:
    • Ensure consumers with fully-insured individual and group health plans will not be charged co-payments, co-insurance, or deductibles related to COVID-19 laboratory testing, consistent with guidelines issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    • Ease network, referral, and prior authorization requirements and/or waive patient cost sharing.
    • Ensure that patients will have continuous access to their regular prescription medications.
    • Share information with clinicians, mobilize network providers, and coordinate care management programs to ensure providers have the best available data to identify, diagnose, and treat infections.
    • Outside of these instances, regular terms of insurance such as co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles will still apply.
  • State Medicare information
  • United Way of Southeast Louisiana COVID-19 Preparedness Tips & Information
Family & Children Resources
Educational Resources
Utility Resources
Business & Economic Resources
Legal Resources
Other Resources

General Information

General Resources

New Orleans

Health Resources
  • NOLA Ready--Coronavirus
  • The Lens NOLA is providing a Coronavirus Guide with news and other updates
  • New Orleans East Hospital Opens Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Center. Pre-screening via hotline required before arrival. Before coming to the hospital, residents are urged to first call the LCMC Health COVID-19 Hotline at 504.962.6202
  • The City of New Orleans is asking for medical and behavioral health volunteers. Sign up here.
  • New Orleans Family Justice Center Mental Health Resources
    • Immediate phone support if you want more immediate options: Our main office line is 504-592-4005 but open 9-5p. You can call 211, which is a local 24 hour mental health counseling support. If you'd like to text chat with someone directly from the National Domestic Violence Hotline you can text LOVEIS to 22522. Sometimes it can be nice to connect with someone immediately and talk about thoughts and ideas you're having. Even during this time, if you are in an emergency I encourage you to go to your nearest hospital or call 911. Your safety is always important, no matter what’s going on!
  • Data Center Monitors the COVID-19 Pandemic in New Orleans and Louisiana
  • Data Center Demographics of New Orleans and early COVID-19 Hot Spots in the U.S.
  • Local New Orleans Crisis Resources
    • Metropolitan Human Services District 24/7 Crisis Line: 504 -826-2675
    • Louisiana Department of Health Keep Calm Through COVID 24/7 Counseling Hotline: 1-866-310-7977
    • SAMHSA National Substance Abuse and Mental Health 24/7 Helpline: 1-800-662-4357
    • Louisiana Department of Health Compulsive Gambling Hotline: 1-877-770-7867
    • Nola Ready: Text COVIDNOLA to 888-777 for updates OR visit Nola.gov
    • Louisiana Department of Health General Information Hotline: 211
  • New Orleans to extend coronavirus stay-at-home order, court records show; see new date
Family & Children Resources
  • Free meals for kids under 18
  • Schools offering meals (by map)
  • Restaurants that are offering pick-up and delivery 
  • Nola311: Unmet needs (such as prescriptions, meals and supplies) for our elderly and at-risk population can be requested by heading to Nola311.org or calling 3-1-1 (504-658-2299)
  • GNO Caring Collective COVID-19 Aid & Assistance Program  If you are an at-risk member of our community, PLEASE STAY HOME. We got you, baby! Text or Leave Voice Mail: 504.233.8707 • GNOCaringCollective@gmail.com We will be there for each other!
    • Free Delivery of Groceries, Prescriptions & Toiletries
    • Free Laundry Service for Folks Without a Washer & Dryer at home
    • Free School Meal Delivery for Families With Young Kids at Home
  • La Colectividad de solidaridad de GNO: El Progra de ayuda y asistencia para Covid-19 de Nueva Orleans. Si estas en riesgo y eres miembro de la comunidad porfavor quédate en casa.  NOSOTROS CUBRIMIOS POR TI QUERID@ Envía un mensaje de texto o deja un mensaje de voz: 504-233-8707 • GNOCaringCollective@gmail.com  Nosotros estamos aquí el uno para el otro!
    • Entrega gratuita de provisiones, recetas medicas y otros artículos.
    • Services de lavanderia para paersonas sin secadora y lavadoras en el hogar.
    • Entrega gratuita de comidas para familias con inõs pequeños en edades escolares.
  • Total Community Action Food Pantry, located at 4518 Thalia Street, will offer supplemental food assistance to families daily between the hours of 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m, beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020. During the emergency declaration all families are eligible and encouraged to participate in the supplemental food distribution.
  • Second Harvest (https://no-hunger.org) is looking for volunteers, as well as donations of fresh produce, non-perishable items, money, and cleaning supplies.
  • New Orleans Mutual Aid Society Resource FormNew Orleans Mutual Aid Society is a hyper-local mutual aid society powered by each of us. We are working together to provide for one another with a spirit of solidarity. We all want to feel useful and cared for during this time. By filling out this form, you are helping put resources where they're needed in our community and letting us know what sort of support you may be needing in this ever-changing situation.
  • Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Program
Utility Resources
  • Stressed about Bills in New Orleans?
    • Eviction courts in New Orleans have put all cases on hold until April 24
    • Until the crisis is over, there will be NO water cutoffs in New Orleans
    • Entergy announced that for the next 30 days, there will be NO light cutoffs
    • Cox will NOT cut off internet and will not impose late fines during this crisis
    • Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink and T-Mobile have also publicly committed to maintaining services and not imposing late fines during the crisis
  • Utility disconnections suspended
Business & Economic Resources
Legal Resources

Baton Rouge

Shreveport

  • United Way of Northwest Louisiana 
  • Las escuelas de la parroquia de Caddo esta ofreciendo Comida or Ofreciendo Desayuno y Almuerzo
  • Caddo Parish public schools serving food from 7:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Full list includes:
    • Blanchard Elementary School
    • Caddo Middle Magnet School
    • Caddo Heights Elementary School
    • C.E. Byrd High School
    • Caddo Magnet High School
    • Captain Shreve High School
    • Cherokee Park Elementary School
    • Fair Park Middle School
    • Green Oaks High School
    • J.S. Clark Elementary School
    • Judson Magnet School
    • Keithville Elementary/Middle School
    • Mooringsport Elementary School
    • North Caddo Elementary/Middle School
    • Northwood High School
    • Oak Park Elementary School
    • Ridgewood Middle School
    • Southern Hills Elementary School
    • Turner Elementary/Middle School
    • University Elementary School
    • Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle School
    • Westwood Elementary School
    • Woodlawn High School
  • NWLA Makerspace 
    • Will be advocating for digital access for our vulnerable populations including internet and computers, online learning tools, and digital literacy skills including learning how to work from home. https://www.facebook.com/NWLAmakerspace/
  • Water disconnects suspended

St. Bernard Parish

  • The Meraux Foundation is responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic through a Response Grant Program that is funding existing 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations serving St. Bernard Parish. 

Our Initial Statement on the Coronavirus Outbreak

In the Face of a Public Health Crisis, We Must Protect Our Most Vulnerable Populations While our elected officials have taken a strong lead in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice asks everyone, especially those leaders, to focus their attention on our most vulnerable populations. From elections and voting, to housing, to food security, to health care, and more, the COVID-19 outbreak presents a disproportionately large threat to those communities. We must all come together to protect them.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW ORLEANS, LA | March 16, 2020—The COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented. Even in Louisiana, where we have ample experience preparing for and responding to natural disasters, we will need to find new ways to adapt to this rapidly changing situation. Delaying Louisiana’s presidential primary and municipal elections is one of those necessary changes. We know there are more changes on the way as we work to ensure the safety of communities across Louisiana, and we commend our elected officials for taking decisive action.

“The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice (PCEJ--http://powercoalition.org) will always advocate and center people and their voice in the decision making processes that govern their lives. One way we do that is ensuring that our state has free, fair, and open elections,” said PCEJ Director of Strategic Partnerships Morgan Shannon. “We understand that the magnitude of this public health crisis necessitated delaying Louisiana’s upcoming elections. Election officials will have to properly implement this unprecedented change and, rest assured, we’ll be watching this situation closely and center the voices of every voter.”

However, as we enter this time of uncertainty, there is one thing of which we can be very certain: unless we act with an intentional focus on our most vulnerable communities, they will suffer the greatest harm during the trials we are about to encounter. It’s always been this way, and it’s hard to imagine that it will be any different this time around. Our hospitality workers are a perfect example of a community whose health and well-being is at high risk from this outbreak.

For the past five years, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and our partners have been touring Louisiana, asking people what they want and need in their communities. The answers were almost always the same. People want living wages, paid family and sick leave, and access to affordable health care, child care, transportation, and housing. 

“During the 2019 statewide elections, the voters we engaged made it clear that these issues remain critical to a better life, which is why they were clearly identified in our People’s Agenda,” according to PCEJ Executive Director Ashley Shelton. “In addition to our People’s Agenda, which is grounded in community, numerous polls show that a large majority of Louisianans wanted those same things.” 

As federal, state, and local officials respond to the outbreak, we have been pleased with the swift response of elected leaders and community. The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice calls on them to continue to work with health care providers, the private sector, and community organizations to make sure that our most vulnerable populations are our first thought, not an afterthought, as they have so often been treated in the past.

We ask our public and private sector leaders and partners to do the following:

  • Prioritize food and housing security for everyone
  • Suspend all evictions, foreclosures, utility shut-offs, and any other actions that would threaten people’s access to basic necessities
  • Provide paid sick leave for everyone who needs it, especially hospitality workers
  • Release as many people as we can from jails and prisons, and build out health care infrastructure for those who remain incarcerated--spread among incarcerated people is an immense danger to their lives and it will create an incubation zone for the virus
  • Extend voting by mail to every Louisianan (House Bill 419, sponsored by Rep. Mandie Landry, would accomplish this)
  • Be clear about new thresholds for early voting and absentee ballots given the new elections dates
  • Lengthen Early Voting and add more polling locations to reduce crowds
  • Train poll workers in health and safety precautions
  • Promote participation in the U.S. Census to ensure we sustain federal resources for times such as these

When this outbreak began, we were in the midst of a Census education campaign and given the health concerns are working via phone and text message to engage Louisianans in taking the Census. “Since we know that everyone who is able to stay home will be staying home for the next few weeks, why not take 10 minutes to fill out the Census,” asked PCEJ Census Director Janea Jamison. “A full and accurate count will be one of the key components that will determine how much money Louisiana will get to recover from this outbreak.” 

The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice works to build voice and power in traditionally ignored communities, with a focus on communities of color. We are a coalition of groups from across Louisiana whose mission is to organize in impacted communities, educate and turn out voters, and fight for policies that create a more equitable and just system in Louisiana.

What: Power Coalition for Equity and Justice responds to public health crisis and election delay.    When: March 16, 2020

Contacts: Ashley Shelton, Executive Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (225) 802-2435, ashelton@powercoalition.org Peter Robins-Brown, Communications Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (504) 256-8196, prb@powercoalition.org