Corona Virus Information

CORONA VIRUS STAY SAFEWASH HANDSSOCIAL DISTANCINGUSE COMMON SENSEDON'T TOUCHYOURFACECOVERYOURSNEEZEINFORMATION

PPP Support Letters to SF Congressional Members & Florida U.S. Senators

Debbie Murcarsel

Marco Rubio

Mario Diaz-Balart

Donna Shalala

Fredrecia Wilson

Rick Scott

Miami-Dade transit director is focus of union's #RideNotDie challenge

Miami-Dade transit director is focus of union's #RideNotDie challenge

4/25/20 Crisis Update with TWU President Samuelsen

4/25/20 Crisis Update with TWU President Samuelsen

TWU Ally Social Media Action Billboard

Dear Members and Friends –

In lieu of a lack of response from Transit Director Alice Bravo to the needs of transportation workers during the COVID-19 crisis, we are asking her to come out and ride a few miles in our shoes.

On Tuesday, April 28, we will launch the Alice Bravo #RideNotDie Challenge, an initiative designed to raise awareness around the conditions and hazards that our drivers and passengers are facing every day on our public transit system.

We invite you to support our transportation workers and their right to life and safety on social media by coming out to Government Center on Tuesday, April 28 between 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. and 3 – 5:00 p.m.

To support:
  • Go to Government Center on Tuesday, April 28 between 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. and 3 – 5:00 p.m.
  • Take a picture with our #RideNotDie Challenge mobile billboard.
  • Post on your favorite social media channel tagging @gomiamidade
  • Use the #RideNotDie hashtag
Can’t make it out to Government Center? Other images for use are available here

Sample language for social:
#RideNotDie - Public transit workers & riders are essential to our community during #COVID19
and have a right to life and safety on the job. I challenge Alice Bravo @gomiamidade to ride M-
DC public transit under the same conditions drivers are currently working under.

Longshoremen’s union distributes protective equipment to members

ILA Distributes Protective Equipment to Members

Leaders of the Longshoremen (ILA) wasted little time jumping into action to secure personal protective equipment for their members, long before the COVID-19 outbreak had become a pandemic national crisis. While their effort was strong and tireless from the very start, the availability of personal protective equipment grew scarcer as the number of those affected by COVID-19 expanded.

“As soon as we ran into roadblocks with federal and state leadership, the ILA and New York Shipping Association
took it upon ourselves to find PPE, and we worked around the clock to do so,” said ILA Executive Vice President Dennis Daggett. Last week, Daggett reported the ILA in New York and New Jersey secured 10,000 masks, distributed 50-gallon drum sanitizers to every terminal and outside depot, and gave out 7,000 pairs of safety gloves.

Workplace Leader Volume 1, Number 3 - for webinar viewers

TEMPERATURE READING PROCESS

Workplace Leader Volume 1, Number 3 - for webinar viewers

Issuu is a digital publishing platform that makes it simple to publish magazines, catalogs, newspapers, books, and more online. Easily share your publications and get them in front of Issuu’s millions of monthly readers. Title: Workplace Leader Volume 1, Number 3 - for webinar viewers, Author: Workplace Leader, Name: workplaceleader_v01n03_rev2__1_, Length: undefined pages, Page: 1, Published: 2020-04-14


https://issuu.com/workplaceleader/docs/workplaceleader_v01n03_rev2__1_?fr=sYThmMDc4Njk2NQ

Temperature Reading Process

TO:  ALL BUS OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE EMPLOYEES
SUBJECT: TEMPERATURE READING PROCESS

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Florida Department of Health (FDOH), and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions as of March 2020. Therefore, beginning Sunday, April 19, 2020 Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation Public ...
TEMPERATURE READING PROCESS

Transit union files lawsuit against Miami-Dade Transportation & Public Works director

Jeffery Mitchell - President TWU Local 291

Transit union files lawsuit against Miami-Dade Transportation & Public Works director - 04/17/2020
Union officials say they have been complaining for weeks about protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not being followed...


What to Know

  • The lawsuit was filed Friday by the transit workers union representing nearly 3,000 employees
  • Workers claim, among several items, that officials have not provided them with sufficient masks, gloves and other protective gear
  • Union officials say they have been complaining for weeks about protocols from the Centers for Disease Control not being followed

Transit workers in Miami-Dade County have filed a lawsuit asking for immediate action to fix what they call “life-threatening” violations by the county’s public transportation system during the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit, filed Friday by the transit workers union representing nearly 3,000 employees, asks for Transit Director Alice Bravo to make changes it says need to be in place to keep workers safe.

Workers claim, among several items, that officials have not provided them with sufficient masks, gloves and other protective gear. They say buses and rail cars are not properly sanitized and social distancing protocols are not being enforced.

“Bus operators and other transit employees are not receiving sufficient PPE, social distancing protocols are not being enforced, and some buses are dangerously overcrowded,” said union president Jeffery Mitchell in a statement. “We had no choice but to sue - lives are at risk.”

Union officials say they have been complaining for weeks about protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not being followed.

“Our transit employees are dedicated public servants risking their lives on the front lines,” Mitchell said. “Our passengers are loyal and deserve the highest level of protection. “

FOR UP TO THE MINUTE INFORMATION ON THIS ISSUE SEE:

1250 WHNZ- iHeart:

- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whnzradio/posts/3121599647892800

 

ABC10 (Twitter and Facebook):

https://www.local10.com/news/local/2020/04/17/transit-union-files-lawsuit-against-miami-dade-transportation-public-works-director/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=snd&utm_content=wplg10&fbclid=IwAR3sCSA09z1TZpCUt85yp0pEWGBpVXk16GTl_Lqw1HFT0_gshPFgbabkLc8

 

-Twitter: https://twitter.com/WPLGLocal10/status/1251160516296245250?s=20

- Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/67959238836/posts/10157157596058837/?d=n

 

NBC6 (Twitter and Facebook):

https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/miami-dade-transit-workers-file-lawsuit-allege-life-threatening-violations-during-pandemic/2221159/?fbclid=IwAR1o41vjseca0u3X_fcVsFSq-sPbeyH8Hse4NqrHR_CKznPmhxrv_z8ZnMk

 

- Twitter: https://twitter.com/nbc6/status/1251141730063339521?s=20

- Facebook:

Interview with Jefferey Mitchell: https://www.facebook.com/88339957581/posts/10157440977707582/?d=n

Article post: https://www.facebook.com/NBC6SouthFlorida/posts/10157440488007582

 

Trina Robinson- NBC6 reporter (Twitter and Facebook):

- Twitter: https://twitter.com/TrinaNBC6/status/1251149232574050304

- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1437031056626582/posts/2599464460383230/?d=n

 

Miami Herald:

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/coronavirus/article242071626.html?fbclid=IwAR3VXuAkxw8N9twz7guvUGyiwtcK3S3O368ZzmrDKknd-FcQla_uL5NmlG8

 

- Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiamiHerald/status/1251107363853144064?s=20

- Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/38925837299/posts/10158284277652300/?d=n

 

David Smiley- Miami Herald reporter: https://twitter.com/NewsbySmiley/status/1251141324784336897

 

Helene O’Brien- Florida director 32BJ SEIU: https://twitter.com/helene3620/status/1251117197444952065

 

Raquel Regalado- Caracol: https://twitter.com/RaquelRegalado/status/1251171409205833735

 

Alex Penelas – Candidate for M-DC Mayor: https://twitter.com/apenelas/status/1251127152373837828

 

Doug Hanks- Miami Herald reporter: https://twitter.com/doug_hanks/status/1251161729708392453

 

Steve Litz- NBC6 reporter (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/264230693617945/videos/221305842295165/

 

Telemundo51: https://www.telemundo51.com/noticias/local/trabajadores-del-transporte-de-miami-dade-presentan-demanda-por-mal-manejo-del-covid-19/2068839/

 

Newsbreak: https://www.newsbreak.com/florida/miami/news/0OmcilYy/miami-dade-transit-workers-file-lawsuit-allege-life-threatening-violations-during-pandemic?fbclid=IwAR0CtYkewkB_Clm2RJ6D2n9WRl4A2HmA3H--tpblvKNBDx7NZmtFavyz7eg

 

Miami Dade Transit Employees Group:

- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/49716633084/permalink/10157131606398085/

Watch: President Samuelsen Defends Members on Frontlines of COVID-19 Fight

TWU-LOGO-LETTER-HEAD
Watch: President Samuelsen Defends Members on Frontlines of COVID-19 Fight


TWU International President John Samuelsen talks to The Hill TV about TWU members fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for greater PPE, better social distancing and a national health and safety standard to protect workers.

FFCRA COVID-19 REQUEST FORM April 16, 2020

Miami-Dade County
Human Resources Department
Request For COVID-19 Leave

To request emergency paid sick leave as provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) please complete this form and submit it to your Department Personnel Representative as soon as possible.
You may take up to 80 hours of paid sick leave (Time Reporting Code (TRC) VS/VF) for any combination of qualifying reasons 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6.
Memo FFCRA_COVID-19_REQUEST_FORM_V.2

COVID-19 Legal Update Employee Safety April 13, 2020

High-Risk Employees Should Not be Afraid to Request Reasonable Accommodations from Their Employers.

 Many employees are concerned about their specific health concerns in the midst of this pandemic. Employee safety must come first. The CDC has identified certain categories of individuals who may be at a higher risk of severe complications if they develop COVID-19. This information is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higherrisk.html. Local, state, or federal quarantine or stay-at-home orders may also identify such groups.

High-risk employees may wish to request reasonable accommodations from their employers. For example, according to the EEOC, “employees with disabilities that put them at high risk for complications of pandemic influenza may request telework as a reasonable accommodation to reduce their chances of infection during a pandemic.” See Question 10 at: https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/pandemic_flu.html.
Memo COVID-19_Legal_Update-Employee_Safety-April 13

Payroll Tax Relief in the CARES Act for AFL-CIO Central Labor Bodies - 04/08/2020

The CARES Act allows some employers—including AFL-CIO state, area, and local central labor bodies—to receive federal payroll tax credits in order to help retain employees. Eligibility for the credits depends on meeting certain criteria set in the new law, as does the amount of relief that is available. In addition to the tax credits that may be available to some central labor bodies, all central labor bodies with employees are eligible to delay paying 2020 payroll taxes in order to help manage cash flow. This memo provides an overview of the federal payroll tax deferral and the employee retention federal payroll tax credit programs for central labor bodies. The CARES Act made some programs available to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that are NOT available to labor organizations, including a loan program that cannot be used in combination with the relief described in this memo.
Organizations that are not labor organizations or central labor bodies should NOT refer to this memo for information about CARES Act relief.
Memo re Payroll Tax Relief in the CARES Act for AFL-CIO Central Labor Bodies - April 8 2020

Key Federal and Private Relief Programs for AFL-CIO Central Labor Bodies - April 8 2020

Federal payroll tax credit to reimburse employers for specified COVID-19-related medical and family leave Credit amount depends on employee pay, up todaily and aggregate limits.

Federal payroll tax credit to incentivize keeping employees during COVID-19-related
hardships Credit amount is 50% of qualified wages, up to $5,000 per eligible employee
Key Federal and Private Relief Programs for AFL-CIO Central Labor Bodies - April 8 2020

EMPLOYEE RIGHTS UNDER THE ADA DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC - April 6, 2020

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to local and state governments with at least 15 employees, private employers with at least 15 employees, federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations that either operate a hiring hall or have at least 15 members. Generally, the ADA prohibits disability-related inquiries (like asking employees what medications they take) or medical examinations (like taking an employee’s temperature) for all employees. Employers can make these inquiries when there is a “direct threat” to the workplace...
EMPLOYEE RIGHTS UNDER THE ADA DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC April 6, 2020

Three Miami-Dade transit workers test positive for COVID19; union wants gear

Miami-Dade Transit Union Worries About Coronavirus Threat

Two Miami-Dade bus drivers and an employee from the radio room have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days, their union leader said, as transit workers — who are also on the front lines — continue to work without protective gear.

And the southbound Route 9 bus in Aventura had 60 passengers on board Friday morning. Maybe they should call it Route 19. As in COVID19.

“To have 60 people on the bus is just not healthy,” said Jeffrey Mitchell, president of the local Transport Workers Union COVID19 coronavirus transit workerschapter, who has been making spot checks on the busiest routes.

Mitchell said the new guidelines are to have a maximum of 25 passengers. Wait, 25? Two dozen plus one, plus a driver? So 26 people in one 40-foot petri dish. Oh, that’s right! Because Mayor Carlos Gimenez banned congregations of more than 10 people except on buses or trains, which are obviously magical COVID-free zones. If anyone wants to have a party, catch a bus.

Even so, when drivers radio for a replacement bus because there are 25 people on board, the answer is usually there is no replacement bus coming, Mitchell told Ladra. “And we ain’t in the business of leaving people stranded.”

He has identified 10 very busy routes where cuts in service have forced buses to travel with more passengers. “We need more buses on those heavy routes because they’re being swamped,” Mitchell said. Even though passengers are asked to board through the rear door to protect the driver — and/or themselves from the driver — it is impossible to keep social distance guidelines when there are 25 people in a 40-foot bus.

The county is “still ordering” the personal protection items they need — gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, Mitchell said. “They’re scrambling. They’re trying to get it now. But it’s a little late.

Read related: Stay home for COVID19 — unless you catch a bus, grab a bite, need toilet paper

“Lots of people still don’t have any masks, unless they bring it from home, and those are usually not the right kind,” Mitchell said.

“They’re giving our operators one pair of gloves, one sanitary wipe per shift and they fill the little, personal bottle of sanitizer once a week,” Mitchell said. “They usually don’t last a week.”

It’s gotten so bad that the union has ordered 10,000 masks and gloves on its own. “We just went out and bought it ourselves Miami coronavirusbecause we can’t keep waiting,” Mitchell said.

The two largest transit unions in the U.S., representing 330,000 transit workers nationwide, got together Friday to demand that government transit agencies in Miami, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Detroit and Colombus, Ohio, provide more sanitation and protective gear to members who may be exposed to coronavirus every day they go to work.

“We are not cannon fodder. Dying is no way to make a living,” reads the headline of a press release from the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) where they vowed to take “aggressive action” if operators don’t better protect their workers from COVID19.

This “historic agreement to work collectively to put maximum pressure on transit agencies that are failing to take protective measures to safeguard” is on behalf of bus operators, train operators, conductors, track workers, car cleaners, mechanics, and other frontline transit workers.

Read related: Day 5 of COVID19 in Miami-Dade — more closures, masks and tests coming

Hundreds of transit workers in more than 20 states have already tested positive for COVID19. More are certainly going to be. New York City, where 10 transit workers have died, may be the national epicenter of the pandemic today, but the virus continues to spread across the country and Miami-Dade is expected to “peak” in three to five weeks. Coronavirus fatalities among transit workers have also been confirmed in Detroit, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Rocky Hill, Connecticut and Everett, Washington.

Miami-Dade County and other agencies nationwide haven’t shut down transit because it is a needed pipeline that delivers essential workers — first responders, healthcare workers, food industry employees — to work. But they are also putting these same essential workers — which include the bus and train operators — at risk.

“America cannot properly fight COVID-19 without transit workers. The government must ensure they are properly protected,” the unions’ joint statement read.

“If transit agencies don’t take immediate and dramatic steps to protect our members, there will be serious consequences,” TWU International President John Samuelson said. “We will not sit back and let transit workers be treated like cannon fodder in this war against the coronavirus. We can—and will—take aggressive action.”

The demands are that transit agencies:

  • Provide gloves and masks to transit workers
  • Regularly disinfect buses, trains, streetcars, and worker facilities, including crew rooms
  • Enforce rear-door boarding to maintain a safe distance between riders and bus operators
  • Suspend use of any timekeeping systems that require multiple workers to touch the same digital screen, keyboard, or fingerprint-scanning device
  • Begin systematically cleaning and sanitizing equipment and facilities
  • Urge riders to cover their faces with a bandana or scarf if they are not wearing masks while riding mass transit
  • Mandate social distancing among transit riders using their systems, as well as workers in crew rooms and other facilities
  • Provide in the line of duty death benefits for employees
  • Agree to ‘pandemic leave’ policies that ensure no one potentially exposed to COVID is compelled to go to work to keep their job.

“Too many transit agencies are not providing personal protective equipment for their employees, endangering the lives of our members and the families they go home to, Amalgamated Transit Union International President John Costa said in the statement.

“It is beyond shameful that those tasked with overseeing these agencies during this crisis have allowed us to arrive at this juncture! We are prepared to take whatever aggressive action is necessary in order to protect our members and their families,” Costa said.




Read related: Miami-Dade COVID19 focus stays on seniors as data shows younger at risk

“Nothing is off the table. Dying is no way to make a living.”

The strong wording in the language used by he international labor leaders sounds like a strike is looming, and isn’t that what always happens in the apocalyptic movies? The transit and sanitation workers strike first?

But Mitchell said that Miami-Dade transit employees consider themselves essential workers because they serve a critical need that could become even more vital in a time like this. Already, nurses at Jackson Memorial Hospital have complained about the reduced hours on MetroRail because they can’t get home after their night shifts, Mitchell said.

“It isn’t our plan to strike,” Mitchell said, “but to bring public awareness to the fact that they aren’t giving us the proper equipment.”

Until they do, Gimenez and his staff and Transit and Public Works Director Alice Bravo should ride Route 9 every morning.

Corona USDOT Announces $25 Billion Funding Allocation

Corona USDOT Announces $25 Billion Funding Allocation

The CARES Act and Florida

Congress recently approved the CARES Act, a third bipartisan stimulus bill to counter the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We worked around the clock to reach a deal that puts people first and provides needed relief for families, workers, and businesses of all sizes. Congresswoman Shalala is grateful for the input from the many South Floridians who have written and called her office to share their thoughts. This $2 trillion package will ultimately help keep our nation from falling into a deep recession due to COVID-19.

Below please find highlights from this package that will go a long way towards ensuring we all have the resources we need to stay safe and support our families and communities.

Donna Shalala - The CARES Act and Florida
  • Direct Payments to Americans

This bill includes direct cash payments to Americans of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. The full payment is available for individuals making up to $75,000 and couples up to $150,000 per year. Therefore, a family of four could get as much as $3,400. The IRS will make these payments in the coming weeks based on either a tax filer’s 2019 return or 2018 return. People who do not file a tax return will still be eligible for these payments, and the IRS will work with other agencies to coordinate how to make the payment.

 Learn more about direct payment provisions in the CARES Act here.

 Unemployment Insurance

This bill expands the Unemployment Insurance program and increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week for four months. This will allow workers, on average, to receive their full pay for four months. It also ensures laid-off workers are protected, no matter the size of the business that employs them and includes those who are self-employed and gig economy workers. Finally, it allows furloughed workers to stay on as employees and simultaneously receive Unemployment Insurance so that they can return to their jobs when this crisis ends.

 Learn more about Unemployment Insurance provisions in the CARES Act here.

  • Resources and Protections for Health Care and Front-Line Workers

This bill includes over $150 billion in funding for our health care system. This funding will support critical investments in testing, health care supplies, workforce and training, new facility construction, expanded research into COVID-19, and telehealth technology for health care delivery. This bill establishes free COVID-19 testing and full coverage of any recommended COVID-19 vaccine. Critically, this bill helps safeguard health care workers and first responders by ramping up production of personal protective equipment. These workers are on the front line of this crisis, and our collective public health depends on their ability to do their jobs safely.

 Learn more about health care provisions in the CARES Act here.

  • Relief for Small Businesses

This bill provides extensive relief for small businesses, including $10 billion for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide emergency grants of up to $10,000, as well as $17 billion for the SBA to cover six months of payments for businesses with existing SBA loans.  There is also $350 billion in loan forgiveness grants to small businesses and non-profits to allow them to maintain existing workforce and pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the bill will provide small businesses and other entities with zero-fee loans of up to $10 million. Up to eight weeks of average payroll and other costs will be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels. Principal and interest are deferred for up to a year, and all borrower fees are waived.

Learn more about Small Business provisions in the CARES Act here and here

  • Coronavirus Relief Fund

This bill provides $150 billion for the newly-established Coronavirus Relief Fund, which state, tribal, and local governments can use this year to meet costs connected to the virus. It is estimated that Florida will receive approximately $ 8.33 billion.

 

  • Corporate Transparency and Accountability Provisions

The bill provides funding to help industries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic but puts protections in place for the American taxpayer. Companies that utilize government assistance are banned from doing stock buybacks for the term of the loan plus one year. The bill also creates real-time public reporting of loan terms, investments, and other assistance to corporations and creates a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery and a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to oversee the use of taxpayer dollars.

  • Higher Education

This bill provides $30 billion in overall emergency education funding. Florida’s state universities will gain nearly $249 million to offset lost revenue, fund new technology and help students with housing, food and other emergency needs. The agreement defers student loan payments, principal, and interest until October 1 without penalty for all federally owned loans. It includes protections for students who were forced to drop out of college as a result of coronavirus, ensuring that these students will not be barred from receiving lifetime subsidized loans and will still be eligible for Pell grants. It allows institutions to offer students additional aid, expands the use of federal grants like TRIO and GEARUP, and provides Peace Corps and other National Service Corps volunteers with their full educational award prior to the suspension of their overseas assignments. The bill also creates a new program allowing employers to pay off up to $5,250 per year of an employee’s student loan debt without employees having to pay tax on that benefit.

  • K-12 Education

The bill provides Title I schools with $3 billion in flexible funding to allow governors to address the needs of their elementary and secondary schools. This funding is essential for carrying out emergency educational services to students, such as childcare and early childhood education and social and emotional support. Low income students that attend private school in any school district will equally qualify for aid.

Learn more about higher education and K-12 education provisions in the CARES Act here.

  • Food Assistance

The bill increases funding for food stamps or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $15.5 billion and makes it easier for children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities who already receive SNAP to get their food and other related benefits. $100 million would be given to food distribution programs on Indian reservations. And another $200 million would go to the Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

  • Housing Assistance

This bill provides over $12 billion for affordable housing, rental support and homelessness assistance programs. It places a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for homeowners and renters living in federally subsidized apartments and homes with federally backed mortgages. This funding will help low-income and working-class Americans who are facing loss of employment, childcare, or other complications relating to the coronavirus pandemic. It also provides additional housing assistance for especially vulnerable groups, such as older adults, people with disabilities and people with AIDS.


Additionally, the bill includes $900 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps assist families with energy costs. Florida is estimated to receive approximately $54 million in LIHEAP funds.

  • Easing of Retirement Rules

This bill waives the additional 10 percent tax on early distributions from retirement accounts for people who have been economically harmed by coronavirus. It also waives required minimum distributions in 2020 from defined contribution plans (such as 401(k) plans) and IRAs. The waiver includes required minimum distributions that are due by April 1, 2020 because the account owner turned 70 ½ in 2019. 

  • Election Assistance

This bill includes $400 million to help states prepare for complications in upcoming elections as a result of COVID-19. This funding will help states expand vote-by-mail programs, early voting, and online registration. It will also allow states to increase the safety of in-person voting by creating additional voting facilities and adding more poll-workers. The State of Florida is estimated to receive approximately $21 million, which includes the state’s 5% match of approximately $1 million.

  • Community Development Block Grants

This bill includes $5 billion in Community Development Block Grants for coronavirus response and to mitigate the impacts in our communities. The legislation also waives the public services cap to allow communities to respond to the impacts of the pandemic by providing an increased share of funding for health services, education programs, crime prevention and public safety, and services for the homeless and seniors.

Grantees are states and units of local government, awarded via formula. Preliminary allocations are estimated to be: Miami-Dade County: $6.6 million; Miami: $3.3 million; Miami Beach: $560,000. $2 billion will be allocated on a rolling basis based on needs and COVID-19 impact (i.e. “hotspots”).

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant

This bill supports child care and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.  Florida will receive $222 million under this emergency appropriation.

  • Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program

The bill provides about $750 million in CDC State, Local, and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency.  The minimum award for Florida is $30 million.  In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs.

  • Law Enforcement (Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program)

The bill provides $850 million for the Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency.  Florida will receive approximately $ 52 million under this appropriation.

  • Transit Agencies

The bill $25 billion to transit agencies, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented.  This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency.  Florida will receive approximately $969 million under this program.

 Arts and Humanities

So many of our South Florida cultural institutions are suffering. This bill provides Florida with $910,000 in grants through the National Endowment of the Humanities and $606,000 for the grants through the National Endowment of the Arts.

This is a package for the people. If you need assistance throughout this crisis, do not hesitate to reach out to Congresswoman Shalala’s district office at (305) 668-2285. Her website is updated daily with resources for you during this challenging time: shalala.house.gov.

Families First Corona Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

PAID LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS
Generally, employers covered under the Act must provide employees: Up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of their regular rate of pay, or the applicable state or Federal minimum wage, paid at:
100% for qualifying reasons #1-3 below, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total;
2/3 for qualifying reasons #4 and 6 below, up to $200 daily and $2,000 total; and
Up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 for qualifying reason #5 below for up to $200 daily and $12,000 total.

A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

When The Paycheck Stops

Miami-Dade Transit Union Worries About Coronavirus Threat - 03/27/2020

Miami-Dade Transit Union Worries About Coronavirus Threat: 03-27-2020
Miami-Dade Transit Union Worries About Coronavirus ThreatLuis relies heavily on Miami-Dade's public transit system.

"I can't really live without it," says Luis, who asked New Times to use a pseudonym because he is undocumented.

Every day, the disabled 59-year-old takes the bus and Metrorail from where he sleeps in South Miami-Dade to soup kitchens and clinics in downtown Miami, where he gets hot meals and medical care. He suffers from postpolio syndrome — a condition marked by muscle weakness, atrophy, and fatigue — brought on by polio diagnosed when he was a boy in Colombia.

During normal times, Luis also likes to ride the bus to a different library each day. Before the library system closed indefinitely, it was a lifeline for him — he'd read the news, watch movies, and charge his phone.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted almost everything routine and familiar. Luis says it's a small comfort that he can still catch a bus and reach necessary services. Despite ridership dropping on buses, the Metromover, and Metrorail, the transit system can present a weak point in the fight against coronavirus.

Miami-Dade Transit is still running, albeit with some limitations. The system continues to transport low-income residents, essential employees who can't work from home, and people without driver's licenses, car insurance, or a vehicle. Public transit already caters to some of the community's most vulnerable — people who could be at greater risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Yesterday afternoon, Luis says he waited an hour for a bus to take him south from downtown Miami.

"It was pretty packed," he says. "It was worrisome."

Jeffery Mitchell, president of the Transit Workers Union, Local 291 — the union that represents about 2,800 transit workers in Miami-Dade — says more needs to be done to protect passengers and transit employees.

"We've got a lot of concerns about driver safety and passenger safety," Mitchell says. "And the operators are extremely nervous because they've been in contact with hundreds, if not thousands, of people on a daily basis. Our employees right now are working in fear."

Buses and trains are being disinfected; flat surfaces on buses are wiped down overnight and sprayed with Lysol during the day. Alice Bravo, the county's transportation and public works director, says buses are being cleaned more frequently. But cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer for riders is in short supply. Mitchell says the current level of cleaning is insufficient.

"Cleaning at night, we've been doing that for 30-some years," he says. "Do you know how quick this can spread if some passengers have that virus, don't know it, and ride public transit? We can take this thing around the whole county. This is what we want to get ahead of."

Despite decreased ridership, the Miami Herald reported last week that more than 150,000 people were using public transit amid the crisis.

Mitchell sent a letter to Bravo, county commissioners, and County Mayor Carlos Gimenez urging action. The letter claims at least two bus drivers have been quarantined at local hospitals recently because of exposure to coronavirus. Mitchell says bus drivers are among the transit employees with the highest risk of exposure.

"They have direct contact with people, sometimes face to face," Mitchell says. "[Passengers] come and ask questions about how to get [to places]. These days, it's a hazardous position to be in."

The Herald reported last week that a bus driver was under isolation at home for possible exposure and was awaiting test results. Bravo, the transportation director, told New Times yesterday that some transit staff were sent home sick and tested for COVID-19, but the results are pending.

"So far we have been lucky," Bravo says. "As far as we know, nothing has come back positive."

In New York City, a subway conductor and a bus driver have already died of COVID-19, according to media reports.

Mitchell says more aggressive sanitation efforts are needed. He says the transportation department is in the process of buying equipment that can clean the inside of buses and trains with sanitizing vapor.

He also suggests adding buses to some of the busier routes to help thin out crowds and limit passenger interaction.

The county has taken some recent measures to limit interaction between passengers and transit employees, such as suspending transit fares, asking riders to board buses through the rear door, and urging people to limit transit use to essential trips.

"We're telling people to restrict travel [on] cruise ships and airlines," Mitchell says. "It's no different than people on a bus. That's a petri dish."

A transit employee, who asked to remain anonymous over fear of losing his job, says he wishes the county would shut down the transportation system. He has an elderly mother he looks after and worries about exposing her to the virus because of his job. He says coworkers have called in sick because they feel unwell or are afraid of exposure. The hubs where transit employees report to work and receive their daily assignments can be filled with dozens of people at a time and also present a danger, the employee says.

"Kids are home from school, and lots of parents have to stay with the kids," the employee says. "The only thing I wish is that we shut down the system until they get a handle on this and not risk the employees. Transit is essential during a normal working period. Lots of people aren't going to work."

Mitchell, the union president, says that can't happen yet. People still need to get to work, find social services, and make trips to the grocery store and pharmacy.


Azhar Chougle, executive director of Transit Alliance Miami, says a transit shutdown is complicated.

"If we shut down the transit system, we have to shut down all mobility," he says. "Ridesharing, bikes, cars, everything. All movement beyond essential movement would need to be locked down. You can't disproportionately impact people without cars and people who might already be on the edge of their livelihoods."

Chougle says leaders also need to discuss the long-term viability of public transit. On a regular day in Miami-Dade, one of the state's most expensive counties to live in, people might need to choose between paying rent, loans, utility bills, for groceries, or a car payment. The economic crisis will force people to make tougher financial decisions. Public transit might become critical to more people on the rebound from the pandemic.

"Transit is losing a lot of money, and now the federal government is considering a bill to support transit agencies," Chougle says. "Our economy is suffering, and coming out of this, more people will depend on public transit than ever before. There's a need for transit to come back stronger than ever."

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