Like many other states across the U.S., Virginia has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. With over 10,000 confirmed cases and hundreds of deaths, the state has been forced to shutter businesses and keep non-essential workers at home. There is an official statewide stay-at-home order from the state’s government, and many hospitals are already being overwhelmed. The state is still taking measures to try and protect its citizens and economy, offering several programs designed to help those affected by COVID-19 and its economic fallout.
Virginia Coronavirus Relief for Individuals
Virginia has a multitude of programs that are designed to help individuals who have been directly affected by the spread of the coronavirus. Some of these provisions are expansions of preexisting programs, meaning they are intended to help a wider range of people during the pandemic.
Virginia already has a Medicaid program, but Governor Ralph Northam is expanding many of its provisions to those who are already eligible. Co-payments for Medicaid and Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) services have been eliminated, including services for COVID-19-related issues. Current Medicaid members won’t lose coverage even due to clerical errors.
Medicaid members will now be permitted to stock up on 90 days worth of medication instead of just 30. The state has also waived pre-approval and extension requirements for critical medical services. Telehealth services have also been expanded and made more readily available.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is relaxing certain income eligibility requirements for the state’s Emergency Food Assistance Program. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is taking steps to reduce to the possibility of seniors’ exposure to the virus. The Federation of Virginia Food Banks is committing to low- or no-touch distribution.
Support for Affected Workers and Unemployment Insurance
Virginia is no longer imposing a one-week waiting period for individuals to receive unemployment benefits. In addition, more individuals are now eligible for unemployement during the downturn, and Governor Northam has asked that anyone claiming unemployment insurance be asked to jump through fewer hoops to receive assistance.
The state has asked that utility providers suspend any service disconnections for 60 days to allow customers affected by COVID-19 to continue receiving services.
Virginia Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses
In addition to the state’s COVID-19 relief programs for individuals, it also has some programs designed to help small businesses manage during these times.
Support for Impacted Employers
Governor Northam has dispatched regional teams that will look to help businesses that are slowing or ceasing operations. These businesses will not be penalized for having more workers request unemployment benefits. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is also in effect, which deploys emergency funding to businesses to help with emergency needs.
Federal Programs for Individuals
There a number of federal coronavirus relief programs aimed at helping Americans handle the economic hardships brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic. Many of these provisions were created through the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The most notable part of the CARES Act is the stimulus check (also called Economic Impact Payments) that most Americans will receive (if they haven’t already). This program offers single taxpayers a one-time direct payment of up to $1,200, or $2,400 for couples filing jointly.
The size of your check is determined by your total adjusted gross income (AGI). Individuals who have less than a $75,000 AGI and married couples who have less than a $150,000 AGI will get the full amount. Individuals and married couples earning more than $99,000 and $198,000, respectively, won’t receive a check. Taxpayers in between these marks will receive checks, though they’ll be for less than the full $1,200.
The CARES Act includes a number of other provisions for individuals. These include 13 weeks of additional unemployment eligibility, $600 extra in weekly unemployment benefits, up to two weeks of paid sick leave for COVID-19, federal student loan forbearance until Sep. 30, 2020 and more.
Federal Programs for Small Businesses
The federal government has also instituted programs to help affected small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is the most well known of these, as it allows small businesses to borrow up to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll, with the exception of salary amounts above $100,000 per year. These loans max out at $10 million.
Most businesses with less than 500 employees are eligible for the PPP. A PPP loan can become a forgivable grant as long as the business does not cut salaries or wages. Businesses that have already cut wages or fired staff have until June 30, 2020 to hire workers back.
Another preeixsting, but expanded federal program that can help business survive the pandemic is the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. These loans are handled through the SBA and can supply businesses with up to $2 million in capital. The interest rate on these loans is 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for non-profits. Payments are deferred for one year.
Businesses that apply for an EIDL can also receive a cash advance grant of $10,000 once their application is submitted. These are forgiven, as long as the business spends it on qualified expenses, like continuing to rent an office or keeping employees on payroll.
The state of Virginia is doing all it can to help keep its citizens and small businesses afloat during the COVID-19-induced economic turndown. There are several solid options on the state level that Virginians can take advantage of, with even more programs available through the federal government.
Financial Tips During the Coronavirus Crisis
- If you’re worried about your investments and long-term retirement plans because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a good idea to work with a professional. Finding a financial advisor in your area that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with local financial advisors in just five minutes. Get started now.
- Do you anticipate needing to take time off from work due to the coronavirus pandemic? If so, check out SmartAsset’s guide to paid sick leave during these difficult times.
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