Dealing with Fear and Anxiety during a Pandemic
The news of the COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus) pandemic is everywhere and all-consuming these days. The state of events is constantly changing. Every day there are new closures and new recommendations from government officials. All of this can easily lead to feeling an increased amount of fear and anxiety.
Fear and anxiety are normal reactions to uncertainty. And, there is definitely a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. Below are some tips to help keep the fear and anxiety at bay:
1. Take breaks from the news and social media – it is responsible to stay informed about the current state of things. However, it can easily become overwhelming keeping up with the 24-hour news cycle. Commit to only checking social media once or twice a day and only watch the news for a half-hour to an hour per day.
2. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally – exercise, eat healthy meals, stay hydrated, get enough sleep. Be sure to also make time to relax, meditate, spend time on hobbies and activities you enjoy. Or, give mindfulness a try. The point of mindfulness is to focus on the present. By doing so it takes your mind out of the future and “what if” scenarios where fear and anxiety live.
3. Take control of what you can – Recognize there are things about this situation that we can’t control. But there are still things we can control. Taking control of what we can leads to a sense of calm. Things you can control include washing your hands, disinfecting frequently used items like doorknobs, taking care of your mental and physical health, checking in on friends, loved ones and neighbors, etc.
4. Get outside – getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine or spending time in nature can help calm nerves. Take walks around your neighborhood, take a hike or a bike ride (while keeping a safe physical distance from others, of course).
5. Maintain social connections, remotely – we’ve been asked to socially distance, but that doesn’t mean we need to be emotionally distant. Use technology to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. Call a friend while taking a walk, facetime your friends, participate in virtual gatherings.
Keep in mind, while you may feel isolated, you are not alone in this. Everyone in the community is dealing with the same restrictions, closures, and changes.
Visit www.cityofwestminster.us/covid-19 for more news and resources including:
If you need assistance finding food, paying housing bills or other essential services visit 211Colorado.org or dial 211 to get connected to services. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, dial 911.
If you have COVID-19 or believe you do, please isolate at home and contact your primary care physician. Please call 911 only if you are experiencing life-threatening conditions. Calling 911 will not expedite testing.
For questions about critical business designations and permissible activities, please visit the State of Colorado's COVID-19 web site for details and answers to frequently asked questions.
Questions related to COVID-19 and the city’s response, services or other issues, can be emailed to email@example.com.
CARES Act Provides Relief to Individuals and Businesses
On Friday, March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. This $2 trillion emergency relief package is intended to assist individuals and businesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and accompanying economic crisis. Major relief provisions are summarized here.
The legislation provides for:
An additional $600 weekly benefit to those collecting unemployment benefits, through July 31, 2020
An additional 13 weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits, through the end of 2020, for individuals who exhaust their state unemployment benefits
Targeted federal reimbursement of state unemployment compensation designed to eliminate state one-week delays in providing benefits
Unemployment benefits through 2020 for many who would not otherwise qualify, including independent contractors and part-time workers
Most individuals will receive a direct payment from the federal government. Technically a 2020 refundable income tax credit, the rebate amount will be calculated based on 2019 tax returns filed (2018 returns in cases where a 2019 return hasn't been filed) and sent automatically via check or direct deposit to qualifying individuals. To qualify for a payment, individuals generally must have a Social Security number and must not qualify as the dependent of another individual.
The amount of the recovery rebate is $1,200 ($2,400 if married filing a joint return) plus $500 for each qualifying child under age 17. Recovery rebates are phased out for those with adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeding $75,000 ($150,000 if married filing a joint return, $112,500 for those filing as head of household). For those with AGI exceeding the threshold amount, the allowable rebate is reduced by $5 for every $100 in income over the threshold.
While details are still being worked out, the IRS will be coordinating with other federal agencies to facilitate payment determination and distribution. For example, eligible individuals collecting Social Security benefits may not need to file a tax return in order to receive a payment.
Retirement Plan Provisions
Required minimum distributions (RMDs) from employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs will not apply for the 2020 calendar year; this includes any 2019 RMDs that would otherwise have to be taken in 2020
The 10% early-distribution penalty tax that would normally apply to distributions made prior to age 59½ (unless an exception applies) is waived for retirement plan distributions of up to $100,000 relating to the coronavirus; special re-contribution rules and income inclusion rules for tax purposes apply as well
Limits on loans from employer-sponsored retirement plans are expanded, with repayment delays provided
The legislation provides a six-month automatic payment suspension for any student loan held by the federal government; this six-month period ends on September 30, 2020
Under already existing rules, up to $5,250 in payments made by an employer under an education assistance program could be excluded from an employee's taxable income; this exclusion is expanded to include eligible student loan repayments an employer makes on an employee's behalf before January 1, 2021
An employee retention tax credit is now available to employers significantly impacted by the crisis and is applied to offset Social Security payroll taxes; the credit is equal to 50% of qualified wages up to a certain maximum
Employers may defer paying the employer portion of Social Security payroll taxes through the end of 2020 and may pay the deferred taxes over a two-year period of time; self-employed individuals are able to do the same
Net operating loss rules expanded
Deductibility of business interest expanded
Provisions relating to specified Small Business Administration (SBA) loans increase the federal government guarantee to 100% and allow small businesses to borrow up to $10 million and defer payments for six months to one year; self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and sole proprietors may qualify for loans
Prior Legislative Relief Provisions
Signed into law roughly two weeks prior to the CARES Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) also included relief provisions worth noting:
Requirement that health plans cover COVID-19 testing at no cost to the patient
Requirement that employers with fewer than 500 employees generally must provide paid sick leave to employees affected by COVID-19 who meet certain criteria, and paid emergency family and medical leave in other circumstances
Payroll tax credits allowed for required sick leave as well as family and medical leave paid
The material presented includes information and opinions provided by a party not related to Advent Lutheran Church or Thrivent. It has been obtained from sources deemed reliable; but no independent verification has been made, nor is its accuracy or completeness guaranteed.
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