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Unemployment Insurance Update

I want to provide you with the latest information that I have received from the Department of Labor in regards to Unemployment Insurance.

The Department's Division of Unemployment Insurance took in more claims in March than in the entire year of 2019. The sheer number of users trying to contact the Division at once has overloaded both the call centers and online services. Compounding the situation is that all claims have to be run through the US Department of Labor's database to verify social security numbers, which is creating a backlog in Maryland and across the country.

The important thing to know is that people will NOT lose benefits due to processing delays, benefits are backdated.

Effective today, April 1, the Division of Unemployment is further extending hours at their call centers from 7AM to 6PM Monday through Friday and they created a new gating procedure to streamline calls based on your last name. For information on when to call, please click here. The Division has also added servers to allow more users to simultaneously file online and are encouraging people to file during off-peak hours of before 7AM and after 8PM. For COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions about Unemployment Insurance please click here.

Federal CARES Act - Unemployment Expansion

The Federal CARES Act includes an expansion of unemployment benefits for Marylanders. Individuals who are not usually eligible for regular unemployment and who cannot work due to COVID-19 will be eligible for a maximum of 39 weeks of benefits. This includes Self employed, Independent Contractors, limited work history, etc.

Maryland, like all other states, is eagerly awaiting information from the US Department of Labor to provide the necessary eligibility guidance for the federal programs. Maryland Department of Labor is working diligently to ready the state's systems to handle the new programs. Once again, people will NOT lose benefits due to processing delays, benefits are backdated. The following link provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the CARES Act as it related to unemployment insurance.

These are extraordinary times, and the Maryland Department of Labor is working as quickly as they can to help Marylanders. They appreciate your patience and understanding.

During this pandemic, legislative offices have been closed, but my staff and I are regularly monitoring phone messages and emails. Please feel free to contact me at any time. You can reach me by phone at 301-858-3686; by email at nancy.king@senate.state.md.us; or through my website.

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WSSC Alert

I have received the following information from WSSC about fraudulent calls that are being made to residents trying to sell water filters to combat COVID-19. Here is the information from WSSC:

Your tap water is safe. Don’t fall victim to a scammer selling you a water filter for Coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus is NOT detected in water and NOT transmitted by water. WSSC Water treats and tests the water to deliver it safely to you. For more information visit www.wsscwater.com/coronavirus.

WSSC also provided this information about shutoffs and fees:

In an effort to protect the health of our customers and employees, as well as assist families impacted by the Coronoavirus (COVID-19), WSSC has:

  • Suspended all water service shutoffs and planned shutdowns
  • Waived late fees
  • Closed our buildings to the public
  • Suspended all in-home, non-emergency work (meter readings, water sampling and inspections for a week at a time
Contact WSSC Water at 301-206-4001 or 1-800-828-6439 or CustomerService@wsscwater.com to discuss your specific situation.

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MD Dept. of Health Information on Coronavirus


I want to provide you with some information regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Maryland. My colleagues and I have been in close communication with the Maryland Department of Health to ensure that we are all prepared to handle the novel coronavirus. Please know that we are committed to the safety and welfare of our constituents.  The most up-to-date information about the novel coronavirus can be found at coronavirus.gov and on the Maryland Department of Health website.

The Maryland Department of Health has put together this FAQ bulletin that I thought would be of interest to you:

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. COVID-19 is a new virus that hasn’t caused illness in humans before. Worldwide, COVID-19 has resulted in thousands of infections, causing illness and in some cases death. Cases have spread to countries throughout the world, with more cases reported daily.

COVID-19 is thought to be able to spread like the cold or flu through:
  • coughing and sneezing, which creates respiratory droplets
  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching an object or surface with the virus on it
Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
  • fever
  • coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • in more severe cases, pneumonia (infection in the lungs)

What is the current COVID-19 situation in Maryland?

As of the morning of March 12, 2020 Maryland has twelve confirmed cases of COVID-19.
On March 5, Gov. Hogan declared a state of emergency to further mobilize all available state resources. The declaration officially authorized and directed the MDH and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to ramp up coordination among all state and local agencies. The declaration also enables MDH and MEMA to fast-track coordination with our state and local health departments and emergency management teams.
Up-to-date information about testing and case counts in Maryland are available at health.maryland.gov/coronavirus. The page is updated daily.

Do older adults have a higher risk of becoming more seriously ill from COVID-19?

Older adults (age 60+) and those with pre-existing medical conditions have a greater risk for serious illness, and in some cases death, if they become infected with COVID-19. Examples of preexisting medical conditions include: cancer, diabetes, heart disease or other conditions that impact the immune system’s ability to fight germs.

Currently, people are at risk for contracting COVID-19 who:
  • Recently traveled to geographic areas of concern
  • Have close, personal contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Care for people with COVID-19

If you are an older adult or you have one or more chronic health conditions, you can take action to reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19:

  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible

What do I do if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in my community?

It is likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. Experts expect that the coming weeks and months, we can expect to see more cases in the U.S. and worldwide.

Community spread is how the common cold and flu are transmitted — meaning people catch it from each other while going about their daily lives. Reported community spread of COVID-19 in parts of the U.S. raises the level of concern about the immediate threat for the affected communities.

Depending on the severity, public health officials will recommend certain actions to help reduce your risk of being exposed to COVID-19 if an outbreak happens in your community. These actions can slow the spread and reduce the impact of disease.

If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, follow directions from public health officials. You may be asked to do one or more of the following:

  • Monitor for symptoms of illness: including fever, cold-like symptoms, cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Quarantine at home: used to separate and restrict the movement of those who are well but who may have been exposed to disease but do not show symptoms to help stop the spread of disease
  • Isolation at home: used to separate those who are sick from those who are healthy to help stop the spread of disease
If you are asked to do any of the above, your health care practitioner or local health department will provide information about how to proceed. You may also be asked a lot of questions about your recent travel, activity and interaction with others outside your home. This is a normal part of contact tracing, which health care practitioners and scientists use to help determine the risk of COVID-19 exposure in communities.

Should I cancel plans to travel abroad?

At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people who are at risk for serious illness, including older adults and those with pre-existing medical conditions, avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel. If you must travel, CDC is updating travel advisories as warranted and has advised against nonessential travel to some geographic areas of concern. Those with underlying health conditions are advised to avoid nonessential travel to certain areas as well.

Visit the CDC travel advisory site to check on current travel warnings if you are planning a trip abroad: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

What can I do to be prepared for COVID-19?

  • Older adults are advised to prepare in the following ways:
  • Check your regular prescription drugs to make sure you have an adequate supply; refill your prescriptions if needed
  • Have an adequate supply of non-prescriptive drugs and other health supplies, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines
  • Have enough household items, groceries, and water on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home
  • Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social or commercial networks if you are forced to stay home for longer than your supplies allow
  • Stay in touch with others by phone or email; you may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick
  • Determine who can provide you with care if your caregiver gets sick
  • Wash your hands after putting away groceries, touching money or handling anything that comes from outside the home.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place. Ask anyone entering your home to wash their hands upon entering.
  • Use commercial cleaning products to wipe high-touch points often, including:
    • canes, walker grips, wheelchair arms, push handles and brake handles
    • handrails and commode chair handrails, faucets, doorknobs, and refrigerator handles
    • reacher/grabber handles and pill boxes
    • telephones, remotes and light switches

What should I do if I think I am sick with COVID-19?

If you have recently traveled to any geographic area of concern or were in contact with someone with COVID-19, and you become sick with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, seek medical care right away. Follow these steps:

  • Call your doctor or emergency room before you go
  • Tell them about recent travel and close contacts (such as people in your household)
  • Wear a mask, if one is available

What can I do to support older adults?

  • Know what medications your older loved one is taking and contact them to ask if they need refills or an extended supply of medication
  • Check in with any older friends or family members regularly by email or phone to see if they need assistance, food, water or other supplies
  • If a loved one is living in a care facility, monitor the situation — ask the facility about its protocol if there is an outbreak and about the health of other residents

How is MDH helping care facilities prepare?

MDH is working with Maryland care facilities to ensure they are prepared for COVID-19. MDH has provided education to facilities about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and has asked facilities to be particularly vigilant in recognizing and reporting potential cases of COVID-19.

Additionally, facilities have been asked to monitor their staff for signs of respiratory illness, to review and update visitor policies, to re-educate staff about infection prevention practices such as hand washing, to take inventory of available personal protective equipment (PPE) and to create plans to prepare for PPE shortages.
Information from the CDC for long-term care facilities is available at: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/prevent-spread-in-long-term-care-facilities.html
If you have other questions, visit the Maryland Department of Health website or feel free to contact my office and I will help to get you in touch with the appropriate individuals.
It is my honor to represent you in Annapolis as your State Senator and I appreciate you passing this important information along to your family and friends. Please feel free to contact me at any time with your thoughts and concerns. You can reach me by phone at 301-858-3686; by email at nancy.king@senate.state.md.us; or through my website.

Sincerely,


Senator Nancy J. King


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