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Coronavirus COVID-19 Information

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
Contents

COVID-19 Impacts

 

In times of uncertainty, information is critical. Inform yourself using reliable sources. Always double-check information found on social media. This page will be updated with resources from state and federal governments as they become available. In general, extraordinary measures are in place to ensure personal stability in the face of potential economic challenges. 

 

Getting Legal Help

Acadiana Legal Service Corporation and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services provide free legal assistance to those that qualify - typically at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Please do not visit legal service providers in person during this time. Due to the virus, all organizations are encouraging people to contact them over the telephone, or by applying for services online.

 

If you don't qualify for free legal services, you may qualify for the Modest Means Directory. You may also be able to submit a question and get legal advice online through the Louisiana Free Legal Answers program.

 

If your income is still too high for the Modest Means Directory or Louisiana Free Legal Answers, you'll need to find a private attorney through the Louisiana State Bar Association. 

 

Information and Resources Related to COVID-19 in Louisiana

Resources and Assistance

Information

 

Questions and Answers about COVID-19 Impacts

What do I need to know about staying safe from COVID-19? +

The Center for Disease Control has put together this flyer about how to stay safe and what to expect. 

 

Will schools be open during the 2020-2021 school year? +

On June 30, 2020, the Louisiana Department of Education issued "Strong Start 2020" Guidelines for schools across Louisiana.

 

These guidelines outline procedures and best practices for re-opening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guide will give you insights on what to expect for the upcoming school year. 

 

Each school will handle their re-opening differently, so it's best to contact your local school system for the most accurate information.

 

See these resources from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services for more information:

Are courts still open? +

 

In-Person Hearings / Proceedings are Resuming 

In person hearings are resuming in all Louisiana courts. This includes evictions. 

 

When you go to court, you can expect to see measures taken to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. This includes enforcing social distancing and increased sanitation. Some courthouses may require temperature checks at the door. 

 

Virtual Court 

Some courts may still use telephone or video conferencing to hold hearings without in-person attendance. If you have an upcoming court date, call your court to get the most up-to-date information on whether the hearing will go forward as scheduled or whether any changes, like video or audio conferencing, will be in place.  Check the Louisiana Supreme Court page to see which courts have made changes to their regular operations.

 

Related Resources:

 

What are my options if I'm out of work due to COVID-19? +

Louisiana Unemployment Benefits

 

You may qualify for up to $247 per week in unemployment compensation benefits if:

 

  • Your work hours have been reduced because of lack of work due to Coronavirus.
  • Your workplace closes temporarily, and you are not being compensated.
  • You have been instructed not to go to work, and you are not being paid while at home.

 

Please note that you need to apply for benefits every week you are unemployed to receive the assistance.

 

You can file a claim at www.louisianaworks.net/hire or by calling the Louisiana Workforce Commission's Claim Center at 866-783-5567.

 

For instructions on how to apply for benefits, visit the Louisiana Workforce Commission's page on their COVID-19 response.

 

Federal Unemployment Benefits

 

Under the CARES Act recently passed by the Federal Government, you may qualify for an additional $600 per week on top of your state unemplyoment benefits. This will be handled through your applicaiton with the Louisiana Workforce Commission and you do not need to submit a separate application. 

 

It may take a few weeks for the additional Federal benefits to show up in your Louisiana Unemployment payment, so please be patient.

 

These benefits are scheduled to expire on July 31, 2020. Unless Congress renews these benefits, you will not receive the additional payments after July 31, 2020. However, you can still apply for state unemployment benefits each week.

 
Additional Resources

Will my utilities be cut off if I can't pay? +

On July 1, 2020, the Louisiana Public Service Commission order banning all Louisiana public utility companies from disconnecting services for non-payment until further notice expired. 

 

Therefore, you will need to pay your utilities on time to avoid having them disconnected. 

 

There may be programs in your area that can help with payments. Call 211 to be directed to the right program in your area, if one exists.

I'm not making enough money at work due to the coronavirus and I can't pay my rent. Will I be evicted? +

Evictions have resumed in Louisiana, but certain evictions have been stopped by the CDC until December 31, 2020. 

 

However, to be safe from eviciton, you must qualify and take proactive steps. This resource from SLLS explains the qualifications and steps required to be protected.

 

 

Related Resources:

What if I can't pay my FHA-insured mortgage? +

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) foreclosure and eviction moratorium has expired. Therefore, you will need to pay your mortgage on time to avoid foreclosure on your home.

 

There may be programs in your area that can help with payments. Call 211 to be directed to the right program in your area, if one exists.

How can I apply for food stamps (SNAP)? +

The basic steps can be found below, but visit the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services SNAP guide for more information.

 

Step One:

 

Step Two:

 

Step Three (for downloaded applications filled out by hand only):

  • Mail the completed form to the Document Processing Center:
    • DCFS Economic Stability
      P.O. Box 260031
      Baton Rouge, LA 70826
  • Drop off at the nearest local office
  • Or fax the completed form to:
    • (225) 663-3164

 

Step Four:

  • After receiving your application, a DCFS employee will call you to conduct an interview over the phone, saving you time. Please provide a valid telephone number for contact purposes, or
  • If a face-to-face interview is requested, you may schedule an appointment with any DCFS parish office.

 

Questions?

 

*Households composed entirely of people who are applying for or receiving SSI may apply for SNAP benefits through regular SNAP at the Social Security Administration office unless they already have a SNAP application pending.

 

Related Resources:

Are taxes still due? Do I still have Tax Court? +

For "Employees": 

  • The deadling for filing and paying your 2019 federal income taxes has been extended to July 14, 2020. If you cannot meet that deadline, you can ask for an extension using IRS Form 4868. If granted, this would extend your filing deadline to October 15, 2020 without penalty.

  • This deadline for payment does not change, even if you get a filing extension. It is recommended that you both file and pay your taxes by July 14, 2020.

 

For "Independent Contractors":

  • Your deadlines are not changed, and all Medicare and Social Security taxes must still be filed and payed by their usual date.

 

Related Resources:

Is the Office of Motor Vehicles open? What about expired documents or suspended licenses? +

Beginning May 18, 2020, some services will resume at 11 OMV offices across the state. 

 

However, many procedures and fees enforced by the OMV have been suspended or modified. See this resource for more information.

What scams should I be watching out for? +

Unfortunately misinformation and scams are all too common in times of crisis. As a general rule, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 

Common scams that are popping up include:

 

  • "Phishing" attempts through email, where the sender uses links to either infect your computer with a virus or malware, or tries to steal your personal information and possibly your identity

    • Never click links from people you don't know. Even if you think you know the person, be 100% sure it's from the right e-mail address. Scammers are getting more sophisticated and can mask their email address with the names of your family and friends

  • Price gouging

    • It is illegal for someone to increase the price of goods or services during (and up to 30 days after) a state of emergency

  • Charity scams and fake online fundraising through crowdsourcing sites

    • Do your research before donating to any charities claiming to be providing services for coronavirus victims. Only donate to reputable programs

    • Many people will try to take money from good people online through fake charity campaigns on sites like "GoFundMe." It can be impossible to know if their stories are real or not, but be careful and aware of this possibility

  • Medical misinformation and vaccine and/or COVID-19 testing offers

    • There are currently no approved vaccines for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

    • In some states, scammers are going door-to-door claiming they can test you for the virus and prescribe medication. This is completely false and illegal. They may also call you claiming similar things

    • Antibody test scams are also circulating. You should only seek antibody tests from your medical provider or blood donation centers that offer these test.

  •  Social media misinformation

    • It is very easy to spread misinformation and lies about government actions, cures, investment "opportunities", and more on social media. Do your research on things you see on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit before taking those claims serious. Only trust official government notices and reputable news sources

 

Reporting Scams

You can report scams and price gouging to the Louisiana Department of Justice at 1-800-351-4889 or at https:www.ag.state.la.us/Page/ConsumerDispute.

 

 

Related Resources:

How can I get legal help? +

Acadiana Legal Service Corporation and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services provide free legal assistance to those that qualify - typically at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty GuidelinesPlease do not visit legal service providers in person during this time. Due to the virus, all organizations are encouraging people to contact them over the telephone, or by applying for services online.

 

SLLS has a COVID-19 Hotline you can access by calling 844-244-7871.

 

If you don't qualify for free legal services, you may qualify for the Modest Means Directory. You may also be able to submit a question and get legal advice online through the Louisiana Free Legal Answers program.

 

If your income is still too high for the Modest Means Directory or Louisiana Free Legal Answers, you'll need to find a private attorney through the Louisiana State Bar Association. 

What other resources should i know about? +

Last Review and Update: Jul 02, 2020
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