A lot to cover in today's update:

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced that the tax filing deadline has been extended from April 15 to July 15.  Taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.  Taxpayers who may have tax refunds are encouraged to file now to receive the money they're owed. 

  • The State Department has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory which simply means DO NOT TRAVEL.  The Department advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.  U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. 
    • REMINDER: If you, a friend or loved one are traveling or trapped abroad it is imperative to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

  • In the Senate, Leader McConnell has introduced a draft of a Phase 3 stimulus bill as Congress continues to work out next steps.  The bill includes direct payments to Americans, support for small businesses, aid to key sectors of the U.S. economy and support for our healthcare professionals.  You can learn more about the proposed legislation from the Leader's office here.  This legislation is still fluid with many changes likely to be made before passage in the U.S. Senate.  House leadership has been soliciting ideas from all of us to include in the Senate package — a number of which are coming from our constituents.  Once a final legislative package is complete, the Senate will vote on it and then send it over to the House for a vote.  

  • North Carolina has set up a number of ways for residents to receive updates and learn about resources during this situation:
    • NC 2-1-1 by United Way of North Carolina is now available for people to call for assistance related to the COVID-19 coronavirus
    • COVID-19 text information and updates are available. To sign up, text COVIDNC to 898211.
    • The state's coronavirus website, ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus publishes regular updates, including new guidance that is developed, information about Executive Orders and other important information.

  • President Trump announced today that the Education Department would allow federal student loan borrowers to suspend payments, interest free for at least 60 days. Borrowers would have to contact their student loan servicers to take advantage of the benefit. These orders are still being formalized so stay tuned for more information. 
    • The President also announced that federal rules on K-12 standardized testing will be waived for 60 days, as well.

  • My office received an update from the U.S. Postal Service. Here's a full statement from the USPS on their operating status. They've also provided answers to some frequently asked questions:
    • How is USPS handling mail for closed businesses?
      • Mail on the delivery route is returned to the Delivery unit and will be held for 10 days under current policies.  Customers can request a temporary hold for their mail up to 30 days.  Caller Box customers should contact their local office to discuss how they will be handling the pickup of this volume.  Any high volume customer will be contacted to discuss pickup options as well. 
    • How safe is the mail and mail transport equipment?
      • Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance continues to indicate there is no evidence the virus is spreading through the mail. According to WHO, the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also low.  This guidance remains true for mail transport equipment.
    • Is the USPS experiencing capacity issues due to reduced airline routes?
      • There are no domestic air capacity issues at this time.  The Postal Service continues to work with International air carriers and contract air carriers to keep mail moving. 

  • Here are some educational resources for the many teachers and students who are seeking to cope with the crisis: 

As always, stay tuned to coronavirus.gov and the NC Department of Health and Human Services' website for the latest on the state and federal response to the outbreak.