Rep. Tom Reed said during his weekly media call that although his office staffers will never know the real number, he estimates they have helped tens of thousands of people with issues regarding unemployment insurance, stimulus checks and being stuck overseas.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Reed's staff has handled 1,575 individual calls and opened 302 cases to help people get the relief they need.

“We are helping people enroll in the unemployment insurance status. We’re helping people know what that stimulus check is all about and when it is going to be delivered to them and how it’s going to be delivered to them,” Reed said. “Essentially anyone with a social security number in America will be receiving this benefit of $1,200 per person, $500 per a dependent.” 

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Persons who have not filed a tax return should fill out a form identifying their information so that the calculation of the amount of the check can be accurately determined and the money can be transferred, Reed added. And a retroactivity period also has been opened up for businesses to reconsider their decisions of laying off employees and so they can look at the various business-assistance programs.

Speaking on the travel advisory the Center for Disease Control issued for New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey, Reed recognized these areas as hot zones for the virus.

“Obviously we’re dealing with the virus in different capacities in different places around the country,” Reed said. “I think what the travel advisory recognizes is that you’re going to have hot zones, and when those hot zones go off in particular, you need to raise to the highest level that directive to try to contain the spread of that hot zone.”

He continued: “I’m of the belief that the virus obviously is here, that it will come through naturally according to mother nature the entire country and because of that I encourage people don’t fear, per se, the virus. Just make sure that we are working together to minimize the spread of it, as slow as possible, so that our healthcare workers have the capacity to deliver the healthcare services to us when we need them the most. And also recognize that the vast majority of people… are not going to require hospitalization, are not going to have that ICU experience that we’ve all seen on TV.”

While testing for COVID-19 continues to be an issue not only in New York State but throughout the country, Reed said the bigger issue is reagent fluid supply that goes into the testing kits.

“We do have confirmation that they are getting to kits; they are getting access the reagent fluid,” Reed said. “But we need a stronger supply and foundation of that going forward and that’s what we’re trying to supplement as we stay in communication.”

Reed said the rapid test for COVID-19 has been reviewed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

He urges anyone who may have questions or need assistance to call his office or visit his website.

“We are here as a resource,” Reed said. “We’re facing this crisis all together. We’re in this together, and our job is to serve 24/7 to make sure that if people have an issue, they have a concern, especially in this crisis. I am committed to them and our team is committed to them to do whatever is necessary to try to help them through this crisis as I said, standing together.”

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