Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart

Representing the 25th District of FLORIDA

Coronavirus Updates

I have been and will continue to be, in frequent contact with local, state, and federal officials regarding preparedness and protocol for COVID-19. At all levels of government, we’ve seen a proactive response in the efforts to contain the spread of this virus, and I will continue to maintain an open line of communication with both my constituents and those on the frontline of this issue.

Legislative Action

Federal Government Response to Coronavirus, COVID-19

March 3: The House passed an $8.3 billion emergency supplemental appropriations package.

March 11: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded $27.2 million to Florida to support the COVID-19 response.

March 13: The House passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” which provides testing and paid sick leave for workers impacted by the coronavirus, and also provides additional resources to expand our testing capabilities and accessibility.

March 27: The CARES Act was signed into law. This is a $2 trillion emergency relief package that provides immediate aid to those who have lost their jobs, businesses struggling to stay open and keep their employees working, and the thousands of brave healthcare providers at the forefront of this global outbreak. 

April 23: The House passed H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which would provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program while also allocating additional resources to help hospitals and increase testing capabilities.

December 21: The House passed a $900 billion COVID relief bill that provides critical assistance for small businesses, enhances funding for vaccine distribution, and delivers aid for families that need it.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Governor Ron DeSantis has signed Executive Order 20-315, which outlines that providers can only administer the COVID-19 shot to the following groups:
  1. Long-term care facility residents and staff
  2. Healthcare workers in direct contact with COVID-19 patients, including paramedics and EMS
  3. People age 65 and older
If you fall under any of these categories, you may contact:
 
Miami-Dade Residents

Tropical Park

  • 7900 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33155
  • Who is eligible? Residents 65 years of age and older
  • Tropical Park is Miami-Dade’s first drive-thru vaccination site. Appointments can be made through the main online portal here.

Zoo Miami

  • 12400 SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33177
  • Who is eligible? Residents 65 years of age and older
  • How do I make an appointment? Appointments can be made through Miami-Dade's main registration website here.

Mount Sinai Medical Center

  • Who is eligible? Residents ages 75 and older
  • How do I make an appointment? Call (305) 674-2312 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week, or between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the weekends. All patients must bring a government-issued ID to the appointment.
    • No walk-ins will be accepted
  • For more information, visit the Mount Sinai Medical Center website

Jackson Health System

  • Who is eligible? Residents 65 years of age and older
  • How do I make an appointment? Click here to request a vaccination appointment and receive a call back with the appointment date and time. 

Hard Rock Stadium

  • 347 Don Shula Dr, Miami Gardens, FL 33056
  • Who is eligible? Residents 65 years old and over and health care providers
  • How do I make an appointment? Call 1-888-499-0840 or TTY #: 1-888-256-8918
    • An appointment is required to receive the vaccine. Walk-ins will not be accepted.

Marlins Park

  • 501 Marlins Way, Miami, FL 33125
  • Who is eligible? Residents 65 years old and over
  • How do I make an appointment? Call 1-888-499-0840 / TTY #: 1-888-256-8918
    • An appointment is required to receive the vaccine. Walk-ins will not be accepted.

Baptist Health System

  • Baptist Health is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to members of the community who are 65 years or over or who have certain conditions that put them at high risk of severe illness from the virus.  
  • To make an appointment, click here.

Homebound Seniors in County Public Facilities

  • Miami-Dade County will provide vaccines directly to homebound seniors age 65 and older who live in County facilities or receive County services and wish to be vaccinated.
  • Miami-Dade County staff are directly contacting these individuals to schedule vaccinations beginning Monday, January 4.

For more information visit the Miami-Dade County website.

*Additional vaccine sites can be found here by county.*

Hendry County Residents

The Hendry County Health Department does not have vaccines at this time and is unable to schedule appointments.

Once additional vaccines are received, the Health Department and Hendry County Emergency Management will provide appointment information.

Please continue to check the Hendry County Emergency Management Facebook page along with www.preparehendry.com for information.

For more information visit the Hendry County Website.

*Additional vaccine sites can be found here by county.*

Collier County Residents

Governor Ron DeSantis announced that 16 Collier Publix locations will be distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. For detailed information, click here.

Appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine will be made via Eventbrite. Please visit CollierCountyCOVIDVaccines.Eventbrite.com.

  • When? January 25, 26, & 27.
  • Where? North Collier Regional Park Soccer Fields 15000 Livingston Road, Naples, 34109
  • Who is eligible? Healthcare personnel with direct patient contact and persons 65+. CollierCountyCOVIDVaccines.Eventbrite.com
    • Healthcare personnel with direct patient contact will be asked to provide identification indicating they are healthcare staff.
  • Face masks must be worn while waiting in vehicles.
  • No referral needed. No cost. Clients will be asked to complete a registration form prior to receiving the vaccine.

For more information visit the Collier County Health Department Website.

The Florida Department of Health in Collier County (DOH-Collier) is aware of Eventbrite scams throughout the state. Please note: DOH-Collier will not ask for your social security number, credit card information, or bank information. Furthermore, DOH-Collier is not charging for the vaccine. If a site you are using is asking for payment information, please DO NOT provide this information and report the issue.

*Additional vaccine sites can be found here by county.*

Local Resources

Here's a list of the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centers in South Florida.

Here are a few local resources to help you stay informed:   

Miami-Dade Florida Department of Health 

Hendry County Health Department

Collier County Health Department 

Veteran's Health Administration 

If your employment has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive Reemployment Assistance from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

COVID-19 Resources for Individuals and Employers: https://www.floridajobsresources.com

Reemployment Frequently Asked Questionshttp://floridajobs.org/docs/default-source/reemployment-assistance-center/new-individual-faq-includes-cares-act-final.pdf 

Additional Ways to Apply for Reemployment Assistance
Beginning this week, CareerSource locations across the state will be providing paper applications and assisting Floridians with submitting their Reemployment Assistance applications. Visit www.CareerSourceFlorida.com for information and center locations.

FedEx is offering free printing and mailing of Reemployment Assistance paper applications at over 100 storefronts across the state.

Applications can be downloaded at www.FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19. Once the application is complete, individuals should mail them to:\

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
P.O. Box 5350
Tallahassee, FL 32314-5350

Food Assistance

South Florida residents who need food assistance, visit the Feeding South Florida site to locate a food pantry near you.

If you live in Collier or Hendry County and need food assistance, the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, Inc. will be providing food distribution at locations throughout the counties. 

Click here for a list of Free Food Distribution Locations.

Click here for Upcoming Food Distributions in Your Neighborhood.

For Small Businesses and Nonprofits

Included in the CARES Act package is the Paycheck Protection Program, which seeks to assist small businesses struggling financially due to COVID-19. While designed to encourage small businesses to retain employees and keep them on payroll, this loan can also be used for payments toward interest on any mortgage obligation, rent, utilities, or interest on any other debt obligations incurred before 2/15/20.

The second round of Paycheck Protection Program Applications opens January 15, 2021, and will close on March 31, 2021. PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets can find more information here.

Haga clic aquí para leer esto en español.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also compiled a list of programs providing financial assistance to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

  • The bill also includes several small business provisions designed to help farmers stay in business and take care of their employees during this difficult time.
  • These include provisions that allow farmers to work with their trusted farm credit institutions for the purposes of securing payroll tax loans, along with 1-year deferrals, 100% guarantees, and low rates.  
  • Additional funding is provided for USDA agencies that are on the front lines of responding to COVID-19, including the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the Farm Service Agency (FSA).   
  • USDA added flexibilities for Crop Insurance to support America’s farmers and ranchers 
  • For a complete list of the latest resources and information on USDA actions click here.

Florida small businesses impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for short-term, interest-free loans through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.

The Small Business Administration has also approved Economic Injury Disaster Loans for Florida small businesses and private, non-profit organizations suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus.

Relief for Employees​

  • Through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the federal government will provide $300 per week for 10 weeks (December 26, 2020-March 14, 2020) in addition to the state’s allocation
  • Unemployment programs will be extended through March 14, 2021

U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published additional implementation guidance pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  

The new guidance includes two posters – one for federal workers and one for all other employees – that will fulfill notice requirements for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under the new law.  In addition, the WHD released a questions and answers document about posting requirements, as well as a Field Assistance Bulletin describing WHD’s 30-day non-enforcement policy.

As a reminder, the WHD published its first round of FFCRA implementation guidance on March 24th:

Money for American Families

Americans will receive:

  • Direct payments of $600 per adult and dependent (including children) 
  • Capped at $75,000 adjusted gross income per individual ($150,000 for married couples) 
  • Example: Family of four would get $2400 
  • Partial checks for mixed-status families (where one person has a SSN and the other is undocumented)  

Who is eligible:

  • Anyone who has a Social Security Number (including welfare beneficiaries, SS beneficiaries)
    • Those who do not have a legal permanent status do not qualify for this money
    • Exceptions are in place for the spouse/child of a military member or adopted child (uses Adoption Tax Identification Number)
  • No tax liability requirement
  • No earned income requirement
  • Non-Filers can receive money by:
    • Filing a tax return for 2019 tax year (deadline was extended to July 15)
    • Using the SSA-1099 form to identify those SS beneficiaries who fall below the tax filing requirements

How this Money will Reach You:

  • Taxpayers will receive this money via direct deposit to the account used on the last tax return
    • Those who did not opt-in for direct deposit will likely be sent a check to the last known address on record 
  • People will be notified by the IRS through mail to their last known address with information on how the funds were sent, the total amount given, and a point of contact at the IRS to assist if you did not receive funds. 

Limits for Single Filers:

  • If your adjusted gross income is more than $75,000 but under $99,000, the credit will be reduced by $5 for each $100 that surpasses $75,000
  • Individuals who have an adjusted gross income over $99,000 do not qualify for this money
    • There may be exceptions for single filers with children

Limits for Joint Filers:

  • If your family has an adjusted gross income over $150,000 but under $198,000, the credit gets reduced by $5 for each $100 that surpasses $150,000
  • All joint filers who have an adjusted gross income over $198,000 (and have no children) do not qualify for this money
    • There may be exceptions for married couples with children

Limits for Heads of Households:

  • For heads of household who have an adjusted gross income over $112,500, the credit gets reduced by $5 for each $100 that surpasses $112,500
  • All heads of households who make more than $146,500 and have one child do not qualify for this money

Use this calculator to estimate how much money you will be receiving. 

H2 Visa Program

During this challenging time, food security is a national security priority. Florida farmers play an important role in our domestic food supply infrastructure, which is why we must maintain the supply lines up and running. State Department announced they will continue processing H-2 visa applications with some much-needed flexibilities.  

Resources for Seniors

Community centers in Miami-Dade that serve seniors remain closed.  Eligible seniors should be receiving meals at home until further notice. If you or someone you know is missing a delivery, call 311.

The Emergency Home Energy Assistance for the Elderly Program (EHEAP) helps seniors over the age of 60 pay their electric bill.

The Alliance for Aging’s SHINE program is still completing applications for the Medicaid program that pays for their monthly Medicare premium, as well as applications for the Low-Income Subsidy that reduces Medicare Beneficiary’s prescription drug costs.

For more information on these programs, visit the Alliance for Aging website or call 305-670-4357.

Resources for Veterans

Veterans who are concerned they may have symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), influenza or a cold should contact the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center at 1-877-741-3400 (toll-free) before going to a VA facility. Additionally, this website is a single source of general information from the VA on the latest significant events and updates related to COVID-19.

Travel Assistance

If you have upcoming travel, I urge you to monitor the State Department’s website for the latest updates on travel restrictions or visit the CDC’s Travel Health Notices, or Travel Frequently Asked Questions

The U.S. Department of State issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory­­-- urging U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel.

U.S. citizens who live in the US and are currently on international travel should arrange for an immediate return.

U.S. citizens traveling abroad that do not wish to return should be prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. 

U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.

U.S. Citizens traveling or living abroad, are encouraged to sign up for the Smart Traveler

Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step/ to receive important info & advisories from their nearest embassy.

You should continue to take preventative measures to keep yourself safe. The CDC recommends that you:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Here's a guide on Keeping Your House Disinfected

Avoid Scams

If you or someone you know has been a victim of an IRS-related coronavirus scam, and for tips on what red flags to look for in potential scams, visit the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration website. This page also has tips for taxpayers to know what red flags to look for in potential scams.

The Wall Street Journal also released an informative article on the COVID-19 text and phone scams that are designed to trick you during this time. To read more, click here

If you have upcoming travel, I urge you to monitor the State Department’s website for the latest updates on travel restrictions or visit the CDC’s Travel Health Notices, or Travel Frequently Asked Questions.  

If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, you should immediately contact your doctor, or contact the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 Call Center at 1 (866) 779-6121. 

I will continue to monitor this situation closely and work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that my constituents are prepared and receive the care they need. Information will be added regularly to this page, but to obtain live updates, connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram, or call any of my offices.

To receive these weekly updates directly to your email, please subscribe to my e-newsletter.

Issues: