A MESSAGE FROM SEN. WARNER ON CORONAVIRUS
Updated: March 23, 2021
Since this outbreak began, my top priority has been to provide our nation and our Commonwealth with the tools we need to fight this pandemic and help workers and small businesses make it through these tough times. After one of the hardest years in modern American history, we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with new vaccines that have proven effective against this dangerous virus. I was proud to work in Congress to secure the funding that helped safely accelerate the development of these vaccines, and am now focused on ensuring that shots are distributed quickly and equitably so we can get our nation back on track.
That’s why, on March 6, I voted to pass the American Rescue Plan – bold legislation that will save lives and livelihoods, and create 7 million jobs. Among other things, this legislation will ensure that our nation is able to get vaccines into arms, kids into schools, and lifelines to our hard-hit communities. For more information on the American Rescue Plan, and for a summary of the other major relief bills that Congress has passed thus far, click here or scroll down.
Below, you will also find complete list of my actions to date in response to the COVID-19 crisis, along with useful resources for Virginians, the latest statistics on COVID-19 in Virginia, guidance from public health officials, and current vaccine eligibility and sign-up information.
As always, I continue to monitor the situation on the ground, including by maintaining regular contact with officials and health care providers in Virginia. I also stand ready to assist Virginians with other COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 federal issues. If you or a loved one is currently experiencing an issue with a federal agency, please click here to contact my office.
Coronavirus Resources for Virginians
Check your vaccine eligibility or sign up for a vaccine in Virginia
- Sen. Warner's Coronavirus Resource Guides
- For Small Businesses
- For Students
- For Native Americans
- For Farm & Agricultural Businesses
- For Mental Health
- For Gig Workers
- For Immigrants
- For International Travelers
- For Recently Unemployed Virginians
- For Renters and Homeowners
- For Veterans
- Get help from Sen. Warner's office with a federal agency
- Apply for assistance
- Apply for Unemployment Insurance
- Apply for Medicaid
- Apply for Small Business Administration Disaster Loans
- Apply for the Paycheck Protection Program
- Apply for USDA Assistance for Farmers
- Apply for Lifeline Broadband Internet Assistance
- Help with COVID Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus Check)
In the Senate, I have been working around the clock pushing for a robust coronavirus response by the federal government that includes Virginia priorities. So far, the Senate has passed three major bipartisan coronavirus response bills designed to aid in the fight against the virus and help workers and small businesses:
- PHASE I: On March 6, the President signed a bipartisan $7.8 billion emergency funding bill that directed needed resources to federal, state and local agencies responding to coronavirus. This legislation immediately provided Virginia with $13.3 million in federal funding to help cover the costs of preparations for this public health emergency. It also included language based on my CONNECT for Health Act of 2019, which reduces restrictions on the use of telehealth for public health emergency response, as well as $500 million to facilitate its implementation.
- PHASE II: On March 18, the President signed a second bipartisan coronavirus response bill that focused on the immediate economic impact of the coronavirus. This legislation greatly expanded paid sick leave to many Americans, made it easier for workers who’ve lost their job or had their hours cut to apply for unemployment insurance, and guaranteed that coronavirus testing will be free. It also included significant emergency funding for Medicaid, nutrition assistance, state unemployment programs, and coronavirus testing at VA medical centers.
- PHASE III: On March 27, the President signed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill intended to help workers who have lost jobs or paychecks due to the coronavirus, loans and grants to rescue small businesses, as well as hospitals and local governments facing financial strain because of the coronavirus. Specifically, the legislation provides emergency cash payments to Americans, a small business rescue plan, a “Marshall Plan” for America’s hospitals, and a significant expansion of unemployment insurance.
- Disaster Unemployment Insurance: to increase the amount and duration of unemployment benefits and expand eligibility to include hourly workers, gig workers, independent contractors, the self-employed, and others who would have otherwise fallen through the cracks in our system.
- Foreclosure and eviction protections: to provide borrowers of federally backed mortgages with forbearance for up to 180 days on mortgage payments. Additionally, the bill includes a provision that would impose a moratorium on all foreclosures for at least 60 days.
- Small Business Paycheck Protection Program: to provide small businesses with loans of up to $10 million that forgive up to 8 weeks of payroll and other costs if the business retains its employees and their salaries. For more information on this and other programs for small businesses, my office has prepared a small business resource guide to assist Virginia small business owners.
- Employer Retention Tax Credit: to encourage companies to keep workers on the payroll so they can maintain their employer-sponsored healthcare and have a job to return to when the crisis is over.
- American Worker and Main Street Lending Facility: to provide low-interest loans to help small and medium-sized businesses keep workers on the payroll.
- Employer Participation in Student Loan Repayment: to encourage companies to assist in paying off their workers’ student loans, the legislation includes provisions from my bipartisan Employer Participation in Repayment Act.
- And other provisions, including: protections for small business government contractors, cash advances and debt relief for small businesses, and eased restrictions on accessing emergency funds in your 401K.
In light of the significant size of this legislation, I also worked to ensure that the bill includes robust worker protections and transparency measures to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. This includes restrictions on stock buybacks and excessive executive compensation for companies receiving government assistance, as well as full, real-time reporting of government loans to companies, and an inspector general to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.
- PHASE 3.5: On April 24, the President signed a bipartisan $484 billion coronavirus funding bill intended to replenish funds for several Small Business Administration (SBA) coronavirus relief programs that had run out of money, including:
- $310 Billion for SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including $60 billion in new SBA PPP funding dedicated to small lenders and community-based financial institutions
- $50 billion for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program
- $10 billion for the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Grant program
- $75 billion in emergency money for hospitals and healthcare workers
- $25 billion to increase coronavirus testing and contact tracing capabilities
The legislation also includes several reforms to the original programs, including expanding eligibility for injury disaster loans to farmers and agricultural businesses, as well as set-asides for microloans, minority-serving financial institutions, and other efforts to ensure funds flow to struggling small businesses and their workers.
$900 Billion COVID-19 Stimulus Package: On December 1, after months of Congressional gridlock, I led a bipartisan group of senators and members of the House in unveiling a new $908 billion plan designed to provide immediate but temporary relief in the form of emergency COVID-19 relief funding. This framework went on to serve as the basis of the COVID-19 relief agreement that was passed on December 22. This legislation provided immediate relief to Americans families, workers and small businesses, and make it possible for the Biden-Harris administration to hit the ground running. It included:
- $284.5 billion for Support for Small Businesses (including another round of PPP)
- $45 billion for Transportation
- $25 billion for Rental Assistance
- $13 billion for SNAP
- $12 billion for Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions
- $20 billion for SBA Grants
- $5.5 billion for Debt Relief Payments and Enhancements for SBA Lending Programs
- $4.25 billion for SAMHSA Funding for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder
- $1.25 billion for NIH COVID Research
- And more
American Rescue Plan: On March 6, 2021, the Senate passed President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan – a bold piece of legislation to help our country defeat COVID-19 and get back to normal. Although this legislation is not perfect, it includes desperately needed resources to get vaccines into arms, kids into schools, and lifelines to our hard-hit communities. These include:
- Extended enhanced unemployment benefits, and a supplemental unemployment benefit of $300 per week
- $1,400 economic impact payments to individuals making less than $75,000 and joint filers making less than $150,000, plus an additional $1,400 per dependent
- $160 billion for a national vaccination campaign and other health efforts, including testing, tracing, genomic sequencing, public health staffing, and supplies to slow the spread of COVID-19
- $17 billion for broadband infrastructure and affordability
- $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- $15 billion for the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance program
- $25 billion for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund
- $170 billion for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to reopen safely
- $40 billion for rental, homeowner, and homelessness assistance
- $350 billion for state and local governments
In addition to legislation, another important tool at a Senator’s disposal are official letters, sent to government agencies, private companies, fellow senators, and other entities. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, I have been using these letters to urge federal, state, and local officials, as well as business leaders to respond appropriately to the threats posed by coronavirus.
You may be wondering: What good does a letter do? At a minimum, these letters allow Senators to outline our priorities on an issue, shape public debates, and drive press coverage of important issues that might not otherwise get attention. Often, they create political pressure that yields real, tangible results for the American people. Below, you can find a full list of my efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak: