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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. 

 

Are courts still open? +

In-Person Hearings / Proceedings are Resuming 

In-person hearings are resuming in all Louisiana courts. 

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

Check out Know Your Rights-Unemployment Benefits during Covid-19

You may qualify for up to $300 per week in unemployment compensation benefits if:

  • Your work hours have been reduced because of a 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

In late December, Congress passed an additional stimulus bill providing new relief for many, including federal unemployment benefits. These benefits are sometimes called PUA and PEUC. This blog from SLLS explains the changes resulting from the December stimulus. 

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 June 30, 2020. 

However, to be safe from eviction, you must qualify and take proactive steps. This resource from SLLS explains the qualifications and steps required to be protected. This blog article from SLLS includes information on the extended eviction moratorium. 

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, unless you come to an arrangement with your mortgageholder. 

You may qualify for forbearance under the CARES Act. Contact your mortgage servicer for more information. 

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:

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.

Scams That Have Been Observed During COVID-19:

In times of widespread distress, we often see widespread scams as well. Here are some scams you should avoid during the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • Social Security: There have been fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19-related office closures. Social Security will not suspend or discontinue benefits because our offices are closed to walk-in visitors. Read more about Social Security Scams.
  • Medicare: Scammers are offering unapproved and illegitimate COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. Learn about this and other COVID-19 fraud from HHS.
  • Phone Scams Related to the Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus): The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is alerting people about various COVID-19-related fraud and scams. From contact tracing scams to treatment claims, government imposter scams, and fraud related to economic impact payments, learn about all COVID-19-related fraud and scams at ftc.gov/coronavirus/resources and report the scams you see at ftc.gov/complaintVisit Treasury’s website if you suspect economic impact payment fraud.
  • Remember: No government agency will contact you offering COVID-19-related grants or economic impact payments in exchange for personal financial information, an advance fee, or gift cards. Please do not respond. These are scams. 

Common Characteristics of Scams and Methods Used by Scammers

  • "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 make 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 tests.

  •  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 seriously. 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. 

How can I stay safe in the workplace during COVID-19? +

For information on how to stay safe in the workplace during COVID-19, check out this blog: Safe Workplace in COVID-19.

What other resources should I know about? +

Last Review and Update: Mar 19, 2021
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