Welcoming Spring & Preparing for Passover

March 25, 2021

 

 

Happy Spring, dear reader! Passover begins this weekend, marking the second year in a row that we will observe the holiday during the pandemic. Many of us will have empty seats at Seder, either due to the tragic loss of loved ones, or need to continue social distancing. Passover focuses on freedom, spring and rebirth - all themes that are especially relevant now. Out of darkness comes hope and light. Last Passover, we were at the beginning of our new COVID normal. Our celebrations may still look different this year, but we are getting closer to being together again for Seders and other celebrations, observances and milestones.

The new season is beginning to show its presence here in the Valley. While the weather may be coaxing us to gather into crowds, please resist that temptation. As we have seen in other regions around the country, a carefree spring break can come at the cost of your health! And as much as we would like it to be, the Coronavirus is not over in California. Let us keep wearing our masks, physical distancing, limiting gatherings to small groups, and sticking to exploring our own corner of the Golden State. I also encourage you to visit this link on my Facebook page to sign up through the City of L.A. and Carbon Health to get up to the minute vaccine availability, text and email alerts, and a lot more. We need to keep doing our part to continue stopping the spread of this terrible virus. I know I can count on your help.

As you will learn below, there are still many resources in the Valley that can help us stay safe and informed. Keep reading to learn more about the latest COVID numbers, and possible financial help for those who have lost loved ones due to the pandemic. There is also information about additional renters’ assistance, a chance to take part in an important local business survey, and even a couple of opportunities to celebrate local art. I know we still have a long way to go, but just as we turn the corner into spring, and as many people around our community will break matzah during their Passover Seders, we also know our Valley has brighter days ahead.

As always, please connect with me through FacebookTwitter, and via email. Almost every day, I post updates about bills I am working on this year, important community news and more. Be sure to join me, and let me know what is happening in your neighborhood today.

Stay safe and be well,


Bob Hertzberg

HEALTH AND SAFETY

VALLEY SEEING DRAMATIC DECREASE IN COVID-19 CASES
With only an additional 702 new cases of COVID-19 identified this week, it’s a great sign that things are improving in the San Fernando Valley. Efforts to lessen cases in the communities most affected by the coronavirus are working in North Hollywood (72), Pacoima (26) and Sylmar (37), resulting in about a 58 percent decrease in the number of identified cases. Since the pandemic began one year ago, there have been 212,120 total cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the Valley. To learn more on how to continue to protect your loved ones, visit the CDC website. To see additional numbers and other reporting data, visit the County Public Health website.
 

FEMA OFFERS FUNERAL ASSISTANCE FOR COVID-RELATED DEATHS
If you, or someone you know, has lost a loved one due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can help provide financial assistance for funeral expenses. Starting in April, if you meet the required conditions, you may apply for assistance. Specific documentation is required. If you are eligible for funeral assistance, you will receive a check by mail, or by direct deposit, depending on the option you choose when you apply for assistance. For more details, please visit the FEMA website. 

VACCINE AVAILABILITY UPDATE FROM THE CITY OF L.A.
The CDC reports that 75 million people have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 95.6% of people getting their second dose within the proper time frame. To date, more than 45 million people across the country are fully vaccinated, but more needs to be done. That is why the City of Los Angeles is continuing to reach out to get approximately 50,000 first dose appointments confirmed, and 20,000 second doses completed - across seven permanent and eight mobile vaccination sites.

Eligible people can receive the vaccine at sites throughout our region, including Pierce College, San Fernando Park and Hansen Dam, among others. Check to see if you qualify through either the City of L.A. resource page or the MyTurn website. The City of Los Angeles also developed the Mobile Outreach for Vaccine Equity (MOVE) program to reach the most vulnerable Angelenos - targeting local people of color, those who cannot travel beyond their neighborhoods, and the vaccine hesitant.


AFTER YOUR SHOT - GET A FREE KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUT
Krispy Kreme is offering a sweet deal! Now through the end of 2021, people who show a valid COVID-19 vaccination card will be eligible to receive a free glazed original doughnut. If you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, (which requires two doses), you will qualify after the first dose. For further details, visit the Krispy Kreme website.

SPECIFIC BRAND OF ALKALINE WATER MAY CAUSE ILLNESS
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that consumers, restaurants, and retailers discontinue drinking, cooking with, selling or serving “Real Water” alkaline water. This advisory is due to reports of acute non-viral hepatitis found in Nevada. The consumption of “Real Water” was the only common link identified between all the cases.

While our local Public Health Department has not received any reports in L.A. County of acute non-viral hepatitis illness, “Real Water” may still be available in this region. If you have purchased this product, do not to consume the water - throw it away or take it back to the retailer and ask for a refund. For more information regarding the recall, visit the FDA website.
 

JOBS AND ECONOMY

IRS AND CALIFORNIA FRANCHISE TAX BOARD EXTEND TAX DEADLINE
The IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board have extended the deadline to file your taxes to Monday, May 17.

There are a few ways to file your Federal taxes cost free, depending on your income:

$72,000 and below:

  • Free federal tax filing on an IRS partner site
  • State tax filing (free with some offers)
  • Guided preparation - simply answer questions
  • Online service does all the math

Income greater than $72,000:

  • Free electronic forms you fill out and file yourself
  • No state tax filing
  • You should know how to prepare paper forms 
  • Basic calculations with limited guidance

To learn more about State income tax deadlines, go to the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) site. You can also find out if you qualify for a variety of free California tax filing sites (based on income) by visiting the FTB filing resource page. If you have not filed yet, and are income qualified, be sure to take advantage of the free tax preparation services available through non-profit partners, such as the United Way of Greater L.A. If you prefer, you can text "TAXCREDITSLA" to 211-211.  Even if you do not normally file income tax returns, you should check out the preceding two resources as you may be eligible for tax credits, such as EITC.


APPLICATIONS FOR EMERGENCY RENT ASSISTANCE OPEN ON MARCH 30
Renters in need of payment assistance can soon begin to apply for the 2021 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Starting March 30, the City of Los Angeles will use $235.5 million in State and Federal funds to support renters and rental property owners affected by the pandemic. The 2021 Emergency Rental Assistance Program is open to all income eligible renters in Los Angeles, and immigration status is not considered. The last day to apply is April 30. For more information, go to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program website. If you are NOT a City of L.A. resident, you can still visit the State website (housingiskey.com) to apply for the California COVID-19 Rent Relief Program.


YOUR HELP IS NEEDED WITH A SURVEY ABOUT VALLEY SMALL BUSINESS CLIMATE
The California State University Northridge (CSUN) Nazarian School of Business is conducting a small research study to help chart the path forward for Valley small businesses. They want to hear from you! The online survey only takes about ten minutes. CSUN researchers hope to learn what small business owners need to rebuild and strengthen the Valley economically, in the wake of COVID-19. The survey provides a platform for Valley business owners, including sole proprietors, to express what may mitigate the impact of the pandemic on Valley small businesses. Click here to participate in the CSUN Small Business Research Study. The deadline to complete the survey is April 2.

NEW WEBSITE HELPS TO RECRUIT DOCTORS FOR LOCAL MEDICAL TEAM
The L.A. County Health Services unit is looking for physicians and dentists from all over the world to come to our region to work. If you, or someone you know, is a medical professional who is looking to help people and join a reliable, dedicated team, visit the L.A. County Health Services portal at ladhsphysicianjobs.com. The site is free and open to the public.

 

VALLEY LIFE

“GREAT WALL” IN NORTH HOLLYWOOD TO UNDERGO AN EXPANSION
In anticipation of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, organizers are working to expand the Great Wall mural in North Hollywood. Many know that this mural, created in the 1970s and 80s by Chicana muralist Judy Baca, runs along Coldwater Canyon. The art pays homage to California’s history, focusing on immigrant and minority groups, and organizers report that Judy will be back to help with the restoration project. The wall is one of the longest pieces of art in the world, and serves as a National Historic Site. The expansion of the mural will also include a bridge over the wash, lighting and signs with explanations of the mural scenes. If you see this project in progress, snap a photo and let us know how it is going!

LOCAL BUSINESS RECEIVES GOLD AWARD
The San Fernando Valley Business Journal often highlights different businesses and organizations throughout the region that work to improve their neighborhoods. The Plaza Del Valle in Panorama City received one of the publication’s 2021 Gold Awards for Best Redevelopment Project. This plaza is not just beautiful - it also provides a safe place for people to enjoy a variety of shops and restaurants, all while following proper health and safety measures in the fight against COVID-19. The work that is been done to restore this facility means a lot to our community, and it is wonderful that they are being recognized and celebrated. Congratulations to everyone who helped to make this award possible.


EXPERIENCE ART FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME
If you have diligently stayed home to protect yourself from the Coronavirus, but find yourself missing artistic experiences, there is a fun, safe way to do both. The Music Center’s “For the Love of L.A.” is offering a new series of dance, music and visual works from Los Angeles-based artists. From now through April 20, you can visit the Music Center site from home every Tuesday for an updated presentation. Be sure to connect with my team, and let us know which pieces are your favorite!


REMEMBER, WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER
I appreciate hearing from you. If you have a specific question or concern, please click here to send me an email or call my office at (818) 901-5588. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.