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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. 

 

  • Effective May 15, 2020, Louisiana will be in "Phase 1 Reopening" until at least June 5, 2020.
  • All evictions have been suspended.  While you still owe rent payments, your landlord cannot start the eviction process.
  • Foreclosures on government-backed mortgage loans are suspended until at least June 30, 2020. If you have a government-backed mortgage, the servicer cannot start the foreclosure process at this time. You may also not evict your tenant during that time if you have a government-backed mortgage on the property. 
  • Louisiana has suspended the termination of utilities.  This means utilities will not be disconnected for a person's inability to pay.  You will still owe your bill. 
  • Many telecommunications carriers have waived data limits.
  • Schools have closed but many are distributing student meals twice daily. 
  • Courts are operating on extremely limited bases, but if you need protection from abuse, resources are available. 
  • OMV offices are closed. Some expiration dates for licenses have been extended. 
  • Federal income tax payments have been delayed for employees (who receive W-2s) (but not "independent contractors" who receive 1099s).
  • Louisiana individual income tax filing deadline has been delayed to July 15, 2020. The state filing extension is automatic for eligible taxes and no extension request is necessary. Louisiana Department of Revenue will not apply penalties or interest to any applicable returns or payments submitted by the extended July 15 deadline. 

 

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

Other News

Questions and Answers about COVID-19 Impacts

What does the Governor's "Phase 1 Reopening" plan mean for me? +

Effective May 15, 2020, Louisiana will be in "Phase 1 Reopening" until at least June 5, 2020.

 

While the "Stay at Home" order is no longer in effect, high risk individuals are still encouraged to stay home. Additionally, everyone in the state of Louisiana is encouraged to wear a face mask or covering while in public. In the City of New Orleans, face covering are not optional and must be worn.

 

Limitations: Many businessess are only able to operate at 25% capacity. If you do have the chance to visit these businesses, you will notice extra sanitation options and space for physical distancing. Please be patient and consider staying home when going out is not necessary.

 

Establishments now open (with the Limitations described above):
  • Churches
  • Solo and non-contact sports
  • Barbers and salons
  • Museums, zoos, acquariums
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • In malls, only stores with exterior entrances
  • Restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes
  • Bars and breweries with LDH food permits - takeout, delivery and dine-in seating only
  • Theaters
  • Casinos and video poker
  • Racetracks (not open to spectators)

 

Establishments still closed:
  • Massage establishments and spas
  • Tatto parlors
  • Carnivals
  • Amusement parks
  • Water parks
  • Trampoline parks
  • Arcades
  • Fairs
  • Bars and breweries without LDH food permits
  • Pool halls
  • Contact sports
  • Children's play centers
  • Playgrounds
  • Theme parks
  • Adult entertainment venues
  • Other similar businesses

 

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. 

 

Are schools closed? What about school-based meals? +

UPDATE: All K-12 schools in Louisiana are closed for the remainder of the school year.

 

Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, all public schools in the State of Louisiana shall close facilities to students until April 13, 2020. While schools are closed, these Louisiana schools will continue to offer daily weekday meal service.  
 

Distance Learning 

  • Schools may offer complete distance learning, as capabilities exist. 
  • With appropriate social distancing measures, schools shall continue to provide meals or other essential services with applicable staff. 
  • Instructional minute requirements shall be temporarily suspended for distance education courses and for curriculum delivery. 
  • The required 63,720 instructional minute requirement per year shall also be suspended. 
  • The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education shall report to the Governor and the Legislature any further actions necessary to ensure that eligible students achieve successful student grading, promotion, and graduation.

Read Gov. John Bel Edwards' Proclamation

Are courts still open? What if I need to file something? +

Courts across the U.S. have implemented closures and restrictionsWhile we are updating this information as quickly as possible, information changes quickly and the most up-to-date information may not be available here. 

 

Jury Trials are Postponed

The Louisiana Supreme Court has ordered all jury trials postposed until at least June 30, 2020.

 

 In-Person Hearings / Proceedings are Resuming 

In person hearings are resuming in all Louisiana courts. HOWEVER, evictions are still suspended by order of the Governor. 

 

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.

 
Additional Resources

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

The Louisiana Public Service Commission has issued an order banning all Louisiana public utility companies from disconnecting services for non-payment until further notice.

 

This does not mean you won't have to pay your bills eventually. If your utilities are cut off for failure to pay your bill, you may want to call an attorney to get help.

 

Entergy Louisiana has suspended electric and natural gas service disconnections for at least 30 days after March 13. Entergy encourages customers to continue making payments to avoid adding to any outstanding balance. Customers should contact Entergy if they are having difficulty making payments.  

 

Related Resources:

 

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

Governor John Bel Edwards has ordered a halt on evictions until at least June 5, 2020. 

 

  • If you had an eviction hearing scheduled between March 16 and June 5: This means your eviction hearing may now be held on a different date. The court will let you know.

 

  • If your landlord is threating to evict you: This order also means that courts are not accepting new eviction cases until after June 5, 2020. Therefore, your landlord would not be able to file for eviction until after June 5, 2020.

 

This does not mean you won't have to pay your rent or go to court. Instead, it just means you may have extra time to pay your landlord what you owe, or your case will be scheduled later. Please understand that if your next month's rent comes due, you will have to pay 2+ month's rent before the courts allow evictions again.

 

It is illegal for your landlord to lock you out, throw your belongings out, or cut off your utilities at any time. Your landlord must get a court order to evict you. If this happens, to you, seek the advice of an attorney.

 

Related Resources:

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

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single-family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages for 60 days from March 18, 2020. The moratorium applies to homeowners with FHA-insured Title II Single-Family forward and Home Equity Conversion (reverse) mortgages and directs mortgage servicers to: 

 

  • halt all new foreclosure actions and suspend all foreclosure actions currently in progress; and
  • cease all evictions of persons from FHA-insured single-family properties.

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.

 

April Tax Court trial dates for New Orleans and Shreveport have been cancelled and will be rescheduled.

 

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. 

To learn more, check out their press release

 

Gov. John Bel Edwards suspended the following provisions related to the Office of Motor Vehicles:

  • The expiration date of driver's licenses which expire on or after March 9, 2020, but on or before May 10, 2020, is suspended and the expiration date is extended to May 20, 2020.
  • The expiration of a temporary driver's license issued pursuant to La. R.S. 32:667(A) which were issued on or after March 9, 2020, through May 10, 2020, is suspended until June 9, 2020. 
  • All students who enroll in a driver's education course after March 9, 2020, shall be allowed to begin the driver's education course without the issuance of the temporary instructional permit until May 10, 2020.
  • Any suspension for which the official notice of withdrawal was issued on or after February 17, 2020, but before May 10, 2020, shall remain pending until June 9, 2020.

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 gods 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

  •  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: Apr 16, 2020
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