April 6, 2020

Marylanders have always come together in the face of adversity. COVID-19 is putting that spirit to the test, but we must stay united in our resolve to combat this virus and the economic crisis it has created. I’ve been coordinating and checking in with folks around our state since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis – health care workers, community leaders, small business owners, non-profit organizations, educators, elected officials, parents, seniors, and others. 

Your questions have been straightforward: How do we keep our families and employees safe and healthy through the coronavirus crisis? How do we pay the bills? When will it end?

While experts share a range of projections for when the coronavirus will peak in Maryland, we must continue to stay safe by practicing social distancing, washing our hands, and following the instructions of our state and local authorities and the CDC. It’s important to stay healthy, get exercise, and contact your health care provider if you think you may be ill. 

If you or people you know do not have health insurance, please encourage them to sign up now at MarylandHealthConnection.gov before the emergency special enrollment period ends. See below for more state resources, including food assistance and help finding child care for essential workers. 

As Marylanders do their part, Congress is acting to support the nationwide pandemic response. To learn what’s in Congress’s first two COVID-19 response and relief bills, click here

Congress has also acted to help Marylanders pay their bills, support workers who have lost their jobs, and help hard hit businesses and other employers weather this storm. To learn about our most recent bill, including full information on new assistance for small and medium businesses and non-profits, and expanded unemployment payments for workers and families, click here. Or see a summary of federal actions and links to state resources below.


Now that Congress has provided these funds, I’m working every day to ensure that federal agencies are getting them out to Marylanders as quickly as possible.


           Chris Van Hollen 



  • New unemployment insurance benefits and how to get them: More workers now qualify for unemployment insurance, including self-employed and gig economy workers. Regular unemployment benefits in Maryland range from $50 to $430 per week, and the legislation increases everyone’s benefit by $600 per week through July 31. Additionally, workers can claim up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits – a 13-week increase. Click here to apply.

    • Full funding is also provided for Maryland’s “work sharing” program, and workers covered by this program as a result of having their hours cut by their employer will also be eligible for the $600 boost in weekly unemployment benefits.
  • New paid sick leave benefits and who gets them: Most Marylanders who work full-time for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, as well as government employees, get two weeks paid sick leave at full pay (up to $511/day) for coronavirus-related reasons, or two weeks at two-thirds pay (up to $200/day) to care for someone else affected by coronavirus. In addition, most Marylanders at businesses with fewer than 500 employees get up to 12 weeks of leave at two-thirds pay (up to $200/day) to care for children whose schools or daycares are closed due to coronavirus.
  • Refundable tax credit: Employers get a refundable tax credit to fully cover the cost of paying sick leave wages and health benefits paid under this bill. Self-employed workers can also claim this credit.
  • Direct cash payments: Each adult gets $1,200 ($2,400 for couples), and families get $500 for each child. The amount begins to be reduced for people whose adjusted gross income was above $75,000 ($150,000 for couples). You can use this tool to calculate your direct payment. An automatic payment will be sent to households that filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, and recipients of Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits – others can claim their payment by filing a tax return.
  • Keeping people in their homes: Federally-backed mortgages, including those guaranteed or insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs, are protected from foreclosure for 60 days beginning on March 18, 2020. Additionally, borrowers should be able to suspend or reduce payments for up to six months without penalties or late fees, and the lender cannot report the loan as late. Foreclosure or eviction proceedings against renters and homeowners cannot start until at least May 17 if the landlord has a government-backed mortgage. 
  • Student loan relief: Payments and interest accrual on federal student loans are suspended through September 30, as are collections on overdue loans. Loans for any semester interrupted by the virus are forgiven, and those loans and Pell grants don’t count against a student’s limit. Schools can continue to pay work-study students who can’t work and make other emergency grants to cover students’ virus-related expenses. 
  • Personal tax breaks: Withdrawals of up to $100,000 from retirement accounts without the normal 10% penalty are allowed this year for hardships related to COVID-19. A $300 charitable giving deduction without itemizing deductions is available for 2020. For those whose employers help repay their student loans, up to $5,250 of this assistance is tax-free for you in 2020. And separately from the CARES Act, state and federal income tax filing and payment deadlines have been postponed.
  • Homelessness: Increases funding that states can use to assist families, veterans, and others experiencing homelessness. 
  • Protect jobs at large employers: To preserve jobs at large companies, some federal assistance is necessary. While this assistance should have come with greater protections for workers, Senate Democrats fought for oversight provisions that will help prevent these taxpayer funds from being abused. 


You can find more information on these programs and how to apply on the pages listed in Senator Van Hollen’s Small and Medium Business Owner and Non-profit Guide to CARES Act.

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Zero-fee forgivable Small Business Administration (SBA) loans of up to $10 million, at 1% interest, to keep workers on payroll and pay fixed costs such as rent. (p. 2)

    ***The application window for PPP opened Friday, April 3 (April 10 for independent contractors and sole proprietors), and funds are limited. We encourage you to apply quickly through any qualified lender. Click here to learn more.
  • SBA Debt Relief: Existing and new SBA borrowers get all loan payments covered, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months, except for PPP loans. (p. 6)
  • Emergency Grants and Disaster Loans: A $10,000 grant can be provided to SBA disaster loan applicants. The full loan can go up to $2 million. (p. 7)
  • Employee retention tax credit: Business tax credit worth up to $5,000 per employee for salary and health benefits paid by the hardest-hit firms. (p. 11)
  • Payroll tax deferral: Half of 2020 payroll taxes can be deferred through the end of 2021, and half until the end of 2022. (p. 11)
  • Eligible businesses: Small and medium businesses currently eligible for SBA programs, as well as other businesses and charitable nonprofit organizations with 500 or fewer employees. Businesses in certain industries, including hospitality, are included if they have 500 or fewer employees per location.
Small business owners can also benefit from these provisions:
  • Other tax deductions: Increased business loss and interest deductions. Fixed “retail glitch” for restaurants and retail businesses. 
  • Reimbursement for employee sick leave: Employee sick leave was covered through refundable tax credits in the Phase 2 bill. CARES provides those credits faster.  

Non-profit organizations can benefit from these provisions:

  • Eligible for the above-mentioned Paycheck Protection Program, SBA emergency grant, employee retention credit, and payroll tax deferral programs.
  • Loans: An additional Treasury loan facility for non-profits of any size (not limited to 500 employees).
  • Disaster relief: A $45 billion Disaster Relief Fund for organizations providing critical and essential services.
  • Deduction for donors: A special above-the-line charitable giving deduction for 2020 should also boost donations. 


  • No evictions: The state has ordered that no Maryland family or business who suffered a substantial loss of income due to COVID-19 or related closures can be evicted during the coronavirus state of emergency. The obligation to make rent and mortgage payments remains. Landlords may continue to file failure to pay rent cases, which will be considered after the state of emergency ends.
  • No repossessions: Marylanders’ cars, mobile homes, trailers, and house boats cannot be repossessed during the coronavirus emergency. The obligation to make rent and mortgage payments remains. Landlords may continue to file failure to pay rent cases, which will be considered after the state of emergency ends.
  • Senior citizens seeking information and resources on COVID-19 can click here.
  • To find school meals nearby, visit the Maryland State Department of Education’s meals site.
  • To find child care, call Maryland’s LOCATE referral system at 1-877-261-0060, or click here.
  • For temporary cash assistance to families with dependent children, click here.
  • For state small business help (separate from the Federal programs listed above), click here.