Local News

Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva Hosts COVID-19 Teleconference

Local California State Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva hosted a COVID-19 teleconference on April 2 to respond to questions submitted by constituents. 71 participants dialed in to hear answers to some of the 160 questions her office received. Questions not included on the call would be answered by phone or email after the call. In addition, her office is fully staffed to answer questions by phone at 714-525-6515.

Quirk-Silva provided a summary of updates from the governor’s daily briefings. She said there is a 90-day hold on Medical renewals and Covered California enrollment has been extended until June 30. Sales tax payments are delayed for small businesses and micro-loans will be available from the state for businesses that do not qualify for the federal small business loan program. She recommended visiting treasurer.ca.gov and calchamber.com to find resources available for small businesses.

She told parents to, “Create a day that works for you,” acknowledging that home schooling while working from home is a challenge. She said that parents could contact her office if they need help accessing technology resources for “distance learning” and recommended taking advantage of websites for learning online. She said she has even read a story and made a video about her garden on Facebook.

She said the $2 trillion “stimulus” money from the federal government would be coming over the next 4 weeks though, “Not soon enough.” She said there are “thousands” applying for unemployment and its taking up to 4 weeks for qualified recipients to receive a check once their application is submitted. She reminded people that the governor’s executive order on rent and evictions requires that renters “Must speak with your landlord to get an extension” and there was no extension made to the April 10 due date for property tax.

In response to questions, Quirk-Silva talked about limits and closures. Restaurants will be restricted to take-out sales only as long as the governor’s order remains in place. Schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year as directed by Tony Thurmond, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, with K-12 students working from home and college classes continuing online.

A dog walker in Fullerton asked if she could assist her elderly clients. Quirk-Silva cautioned her about social distancing. She said it safe to assist by leaving a meal at the door and to wear a mask and gloves.

Another Fullerton caller asked if there is a curfew. The assemblywoman said there is none mandated, but the stay at home order asks that one only go out for essentials, such as pharmaceuticals, food, gas, takeout, banks, laundry, and to provide necessary services like farmworkers, trash pickup, law enforcement and firefighters. Non-essential businesses, such as fitness centers, convention centers, hair and nail salons, and others are closed.

A Cypress resident asked what Quirk-Silva was doing to give property tax relief. She responded that county and city services depend on it for safety services and infrastructure and so there would be no extension. She did, however, note that the governor negotiated with 5 banks to defer mortgage payments for up to 3 months, but like renters communicating to landlords, homeowners must contact their lender first.

A man in Buena Park asked what affect the shutdowns, unemployment, and payment deferrals will have on the local economy. Quirk-Silva said she was, “Really sorry to say there will be major impacts on our economy. Small businesses will close and some will be resilient and recover.” She said, “It keeps me up at night,” because the state is already struggling with housing issues and “people picking crops, gardeners, and housekeepers, won’t be able to apply for help.”

She recommended that those who could should donate diapers, gift cards, and food to food banks and those providing community services. She said constituents could call her office to find a trustworthy program to send donations.

She responded to a question asking when one could expect to receive the additional $600 in unemployment benefits recently approved under the CARES Act. She said the state will distribute it, but the state is waiting on the federal government to say how to distribute. She suggested calling the Employment Development Department (EDD) to get help with that information.

A resident of Anaheim asked whether there was a need for volunteers with a medical background. Quirk-Silva said the state has a website, covid19.ca.gov/healthcorps, asking for recent healthcare retirees to apply to help and over 35,000 people responded. She said, “People are doing amazing things in this time of crisis.”

She was asked if the state is opening Fairview hospital in Costa Mesa for homeless people. She said the 118-acre site will be used for “patients that do not have COVID-19 but need major healthcare,” with up to 1,100 beds if surge occurs as predicted. “It’s definitely going to be part of the solution.”

She said postal service would continue with postal carriers, “Putting themselves at risk.

They are making testing available and getting results quicker, but there is, “Not a vaccine, but (she’s) going to keep (her) fingers crossed.”

The state income tax filing deadline has been postponed from April to July 15 the same as federal income tax filings, but reiterated that the property tax deadline was not extended beyond April 10.

Quirk-Silva announced an American Red Cross Blood Drive on April 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hillcrest Park by appointment only and she will be hosting another call in future. In the meantime, people can call her office at 714-525-6515 and should “Stay safe, stay home, and stay healthy.”