The United States Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion relief package designed to alleviate some of the impact of the economic fallout resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This will deliver urgently needed relief," President Donald Trump said as he signed the bill into law.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) will provide direct payments to Americans, expansion of unemployment insurance, aid to large and small businesses, and significant funding for the healthcare industry.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will receive $19.6 billion in additional funding to fight the pandemic. The majority of the money allocated to VA will go directly to the Veterans Health Administration. This funding will provide essential medical services, including vital medical and protective equipment, testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical supplies to support growing demand for health-care services at VA facilities and through telehealth services. Provisions in the bill require VA to provide PPE to all home health-care workers serving veterans at home and in the community. To support VA staff working overtime during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CARES Act waives pay caps for VA staff so they can be fully compensated for hours served.
The funding provided by the CARES Act will ensure VA is able to provide additional care and support for the most vulnerable veterans, including through programs assisting those who are homeless or at-risk of homelessnes, as well as within VA-run nursing homes and community living centers.
The most notable change in how veterans are able to receive VA health care during the pandemic is the expansion of telehealth services. Funds to bolster telehealth capabilities through increased telework and call center capabilities will deliver health care and mental health services while helping mitigate the risk of virus transmission. VA is also authorized to enter into agreements with telecommunications companies in order to provide broadband services for veterans so they can receive tele-mental healthcare.
To do your part in flattening the curve in the COVID-19 pandemic:
Practice social distancing
Get a flu shot
Keep your hands clean by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Avoid people who are sick
Stay home and away from others when sick
Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues or your arm/sleeve. Dispose of tissues in the trash.
Keep surfaces clean using disinfecting wipes
Check the CDC advisories prior to planning travel
For the latest VA updates on coronavirus and common-sense tips on preventing the spread of disease, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/.
Stay informed on message from American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford and other news stories regarding the coronavirus at www.legion.org/coronavirus.