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Coronavirus Tele-Town Halls, March 11

Expert answers on vaccines, prevention, personal finance and taxes

COVID’S Impact on People, Their Finances and Their Taxes Featuring Suze Orman

Listen to a replay of the live event above.


Margi Mannix: Hello. I am AARP Vice President and Editor-in-Chief Margi Mannix, and I want to welcome you to this very important discussion about the coronavirus. Before we begin, if you would like to hear this tele-town hall in Spanish, press *0 on your keypad. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. Today is a noteworthy day, since it was a year ago exactly that the pandemic was officially declared. Over the course of the last year, COVID-19 has disrupted peoples’ lives and finances in unprecedented ways. Many have experienced unemployment for the first time and may have lost loved ones because of the pandemic. Some have been forced to use retirement savings just to pay their bills and are now struggling with debt. These issues, plus an extremely complex tax season, are creating anxiety and confusion for many Americans.

         Tonight, we are joined by some very special guests who will address these issues and more. We’re very pleased to welcome Suze Orman, the world’s leading personal finance expert and host of the Women & Money (and the Men Smart Enough to Listen) podcast, who will share savings, retirement planning and debt advice, and steps you can take toward financial empowerment. We’ll also be joined by AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, who will share how AARP is supporting older adults and providing resources during the global coronavirus pandemic. We’ll also be joined later in the program by Erin M. Collins, National Taxpayer Advocate, known as the “voice of the taxpayer” within the IRS and before Congress; Deborah Owens, founder and CEO of WealthyU, financial expert and author; and Steve Conary, a volunteer with AARP Foundation Tax-Aide.

         If you’ve participated in one of our tele-town halls, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask your questions live. For those of you joining us on the phone, press *3 on your telephone to be connected now with an AARP staff member who will note your name and your question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. If you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments. And if you would like to listen  in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now.

         You’re in for a treat tonight as we have some very special guests. Hi, Suze.

Suze Orman: Hi, how are you, Margi?

Margi Mannix: Great to have you with us, Suze. Thanks so much for being here. Jo Ann Jenkins, welcome, chief executive officer of AARP. How are you tonight?

Jo Ann Jenkins: I’m good, Margi. Good to be here.

Margi Mannix: Great, thank you for joining us. And later in the program, we’ll hear from Erin M. Collins, the IRS’s National Taxpayer Advocate; financial expert and author Deborah Owens; and Tax-Aide volunteer Steve Conary. We will also be joined by my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand, who will help facilitate your calls tonight.

         This event is being recorded and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up here tonight. So let’s get started. We’re a year into something no one expected — a pandemic that has changed our lives and challenged us in some unique ways, but who better to discuss the impact of the pandemic on our pocketbooks than Suze Orman, and who better to discuss the impact of the pandemic on older adults than Jo Ann Jenkins. Let’s hand over our conversation to our very special guests; Suzi and Jo Ann, take it away.

Jo Ann Jenkins: Thank you everyone for being here with us tonight, we appreciate you taking the time to have a conversation with Suze and myself, and our other guests who will be with us. You know, in many ways, this is a very somber occasion, the one-year anniversary, or shall I say the unhappy anniversary of COVID-19. You know, our nation has lost over 530,000 Americans to COVID, and our nursing homes have been especially hit hard. And we’ve heard from so many of you all across the country about how it’s affected you personally and your family, and many of you have lost loved ones. But I’m really proud of the way we’ve all come together to really protect each other as advocates, to be there for each other, to be caregivers for each other — and, really, that’s what the AARP family is all about. And I’m so proud that AARP has been there to provide that trusted information, advocacy and innovation in helping our nearly 38 million members all across this country, and people over the age of 50 and their families, as they sort of navigate what I like to call the 1-2 punch of health and economic consequences that this pandemic has brought forth on us.

         But we’re still here. So we have reason to celebrate, and there is some light at the end of the tunnel. But I’m reminded … we’re all always asking questions about what has COVID taught you, and as Suze and I spoke a little earlier today, we were reminded that one of the things that she has been feeding into our heads for years [is] how important it is to have a savings account for that rainy day — and who would have thought on March 12th of last year that we would all have needed a rainy day fund to help us get through an entire year? So I want to bring in Suze here and say, Suze, I guess we should be listening to everything you tell us, because obviously you were able to see through how important it was for us to maintain that savings account in a rainy day.

Suze Orman: What’s interesting, Jo Ann, is that it doesn’t take a pandemic for us to have to say, we need an emergency fund. It can be an illness; you can lose a job. Look back in 2008, 2009, and what happened by losing a house and everything. So it’s not just about these once- (hopefully) in-a- lifetime events, like the pandemic, that says, oh my God, we need this emergency fund. It’s really, really about we always need it, because here’s the point, everybody, is that you have to ask yourself the question: What is the goal of money? And the answer to that question is the goal of money is to make you feel secure. And nothing will make you feel more secure than knowing that no matter what happens to you, no matter what happens in the economy, that you know you’re able to take care of yourself and your family for now at least one year. You know, I used to say, Jo Ann, that … all you needed was an eight-month emergency fund. And many times pundits would say, you only need three months, six months. Wrong. Now I’m saying, everybody, you need at least a 12-month emergency fund. If we’ve learned anything, hopefully we have learned that lesson now.

Jo Ann Jenkins: That is so important because so many of our members who work in part-time jobs or even in full-time jobs or in the service industry lost their income in totality and have had to adapt, either relying on that emergency fund or family or friends and sort of going through that. So that’s so important. You know, we were talking about caregiving, and I know you lost your mother not too long ago, but how important it is for us to think through our care for our loved ones. I know for me, my sister and I take care of my two brothers who live in my parents’ house down in Alabama, and how difficult it is to really try to address those caregiving needs so far away, and the high cost of home care.

Suze Orman: You know, what’s interesting is that just to combine the emergency fund along with the stimulus checks that people are going to get, along with the fact that we are now taking care of so many people, it’s really important that when these stimulus checks come in — and they’re going to come in for a lot of money hopefully for a lot of you, because remember the … new stimulus says, if you are taking care of an adult parent, for instance, as a dependent, you’re now going to be able to claim that $1,400. So please, when you get these stimulus checks, please just don’t go out — and if you don’t have an emergency fund, you don’t have any money to your name, you don’t know when you’re going to get your job back — don’t go out and take all of this money and pay down all your credit card debt with it. Don’t do that. Keep this money safe and sound. Even if that means you’re only paying the minimum payment due until things get better. But to go along with your question, Jo Ann, about taking care of parents — it is a big deal, and it is expensive. And all I can say — and maybe you can’t afford it right now because you don’t have the money to do so — but when you do, you should absolutely look into a long-term care insurance policy, because I can guarantee you that you will pay less in all the years that you pay premiums than you will for one year of care if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket.

         So these are just a few of the things that we have to think about. But the main point that I think we should be making, Jo Ann, is that when you get these stimulus checks, when you get the child tax care credits, when you get the certain things that you’re going to be hopefully getting right now, really think about the lessons that you learned last year. And where you said, “Oh, I wish I had done this. I wish I had saved this.” Just think twice before you go out and just spend this money.

Jo Ann Jenkins: That is so important. And I’m so happy that the president actually signed that third stimulus bill this afternoon, and we’re already hearing that checks will be going out within the week for those who get direct deposits. So that’s important for all of us to think about what you do with that money and how important it is to make sure that you’re taking care of your financial health before you spend money on things that may be a want and not necessarily a need. So that’s very important to us. I was so happy to think about the work that AARP has done, particularly as it relates to what’s coming in through the stimulus, and also how we’ve had to build up relationships all across this country with other governmental officials. And we couldn’t have done that without our AARP colleagues, but more importantly, with all of our volunteers and our members out there who made their voices heard in state capitals and in mayors’ offices all over this country, because it’s not just the impact of COVID. It’s COVID on top of the financial hardships. And that’s so key to us to make sure that we’re focused on.

         Suze, so you get your stimulus check … what are the things that they should be paying?

Suze Orman: Here’s what I think everybody really needs to do. Get a grip on reality as to what is really going on in your life right now. Make a list of every single must-pay bill. You must pay your health insurance. You must pay your rent payment, your mortgage payment, whatever it may be. And make a list of that … money that you must pay every single month. But what is on the list that you don’t have to pay every month? And if you don’t really have to pay them, at least in full, then think twice about spending that money. I’m very aware that the government is wishing and praying and hoping that all of you take this money and you go out and you spend it to stimulate the economy. I get that. And they think that’s going to save everybody. I’m asking you to understand that you have to save yourself because in reality, nobody else can save you — but you. And I know a lot of you may start to feel guilty; oh, my kids didn’t have these toys for last Christmas. It’s their birthday now, and so I’m going to go and spend a little bit of this money. No, you have to ask yourself the question before you spend 1 cent: Is this a want, as Jo Ann just said, or is this a need? A need is food at a grocery store; a want is food at a restaurant. And I understand that we want to support restaurants so that they can stay in business, but I need you to be able to stay afloat more than anything else. If it’s a need, you spend the money. If it’s a want, you do not spend it. And really, Jo Ann, it’s just that simple.

         And I just want to go back for one second … I don’t think people understand the important work that AARP did in order to make it so that the dependents that weren’t under the age of 17 — that were still possibly in college, that were elderly adults, that many of you are taking care of — now you can get a stimulus check for. That is huge. That’s not a little thing. That is a big thing. So for those of you who are older and you have older parents — and you are taking care of them, and maybe you haven’t claimed them as a dependent or whatever it may be, and you’re paying for more than half of their income or their needs — you might want to think about absolutely making sure that you get a $1,400 check for them as well.

Jo Ann Jenkins: Thank you for the shout-out, Suze, because it is so true. Were it not for AARP on many of these issues in this stimulus bill, they would not have been accounted for in the bill that the president just signed. I also think it’s true that … we say here at AARP, one thing is for certain: You’re either going to need a caregiver, or you’re going to be a caregiver. And that couldn’t be so true at this important time in our history. And that’s why it’s so important for all of us to get vaccinated. Hopefully the number of vaccines that have been signed off on for emergency use, the three that are here in the U.S., that even though it’s difficult to get that appointment, it is well worth it. I know that both my husband and I have gotten our second vaccines, and what a relief that is. Never did think I would be happy to have a preexisting to be able to do this. But I just want to encourage everybody that is so important, because we know that the majority of people who have died in this country had either lived or worked in nursing homes. And so that’s important for us to keep thinking about.

Suze Orman: One other thing, though, that I do want to say to you … and by the way, I did get my vaccine as well. I got the Johnson & Johnson one, because I just wanted to make sure, let me just get that, right. But I want to say one other thing to answer your question about what do you do with the stimulus checks. Because you have to look at the world right now, and in my opinion, you have the haves and the have-nots. You have many people that actually benefited from the pandemic financially speaking, because they got to work from home, they didn’t have to pay money to get to work anymore, eat out, and things like that. So I just want to say one other thing.

         If any of you are listening and you’re in a good financial situation — you really didn’t lose your job, your expenses are not that high, and you’re going to get stimulus checks very shortly here. And the truth of the matter is, you don’t need the money. There are many people that you may know that really do need the money. And if you don’t need the money — everything is good; you have a 12-month emergency fund; you’re not into credit card debt; things like that — you might want to think about extending those payments from you to give them to somebody who really, really is behind in rent, is going to be evicted if they don’t come up with all their rent money. Things like that. So where we really learn how to help one another, as you started this conversation with.

Jo Ann Jenkins: Thank you, Suze. That’s a very important comment to make. And we know that one of the things that we fought for in this new stimulus package was to extend the coverage for people not to be evicted out of their homes. And so that’s another important issue. I know Margi, you’re champing at the bit to get in here and have our members ask questions of Suze, so I think we’ll throw it over back to you. And then Suze and I will be here for the next few minutes or so to answer any questions that we might have.

Margi Mannix: Yes. Thank you. What a great conversation and such great advice from both of you. Now it’s time to address our callers’ questions about the coronavirus’s impact on their taxes and finance. And once again, I want to remind you, we are with Suze Orman and Jo Ann Jenkins. I’d now like to bring in my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand to help facilitate your calls. Welcome, Jean.

Jean Setzfand: Thanks so much, Margi. Delighted to be here.

Margi Mannix: Let’s take our first question.

Jean Setzfand: All right. Our first caller is Robert from Michigan.

Margi Mannix: Robert from Michigan, great to have you here. What is your question?

Robert: My question is around you have been talking about the stimulus checks. I haven’t gotten the second one yet. And my question around that is I’m going to be paying, filling out my taxes this year, and they said something about that you could claim this on your taxes, but what happened to the second one? Did they stop it all?

Suze Orman: Robert, what I’d like to say … this is Suze … is that — and everybody listening right now — in a few minutes, you’re going to have true tax experts on the line that you can really ask those kinds of questions for and to. And what I would really hope is that we can use this time to ask more personal finance questions than tax questions, because I really think you should get it from the tax experts themselves. Is that all right with you, Robert?

Margi Mannix: That sounds like a great plan, Suze. That’s a wonderful plan.

Thank you. Do we have another caller, Jean?

Jean Setzfand: Yes, we do. We have Brenda from, I believe, Louisiana.

Margi Mannix: Brenda from Louisiana. That’s great. What is your question for Suze or Jo Ann?

Brenda: Mine was the same, I guess, kind of tax also, but about 401k. … I didn’t try to get anything [out of the 401k] for the first time, ’cause I had … extended savings. I always practiced that, but now that I’m unemployed, we will be reaching to that 401k now. Will we be penalized?

Suze Orman: So, here’s what I’d like to ask you, Brenda. And I’d like to just make you aware of something, which is that all of us need to really understand that the money in a 401k plan or a retirement plan is protected against bankruptcy. OK. So what I would be asking you is, for instance, let’s just say … I don’t know how much you have in your 401k plan, but let’s say just all that you happen to have in it would be $10,000. And now you want to take out some money from your 401k plan just to pay your bills. And now you’re out of money in your 401k plan and you still don’t have money, and now you have to claim bankruptcy. Do you understand what a mistake that would have been? Last year when they allowed you to take money out of your 401k plan, up to like $100,000 if it was a COVID-related thing — that no longer is in effect at this point in time. So, therefore, if you currently are not working … are you no longer working with your plan?

Brenda: No ma’am, I’m not working.

Suze Orman: All right, and how old are you?

Brenda: 58.

Suze Orman: Great. And when was it that you left service? Was it this year? Last year?

Brenda: No, I left on disability in ’17. I was in a car accident.

Suze Orman: All right. So you haven’t been working for a while, is that correct?

Margi Mannix: Since 2017.

Suze Orman: Since 2017. So I was going to say, if you had left service … in the year of when you turned 55 or older, you could have taken money out of your 401k and just paid taxes on it. You might … now at 58, there are certain things that you might want to do, but … for a disability you may be able to be excused from the 10 percent penalty, as a hardship withdrawal. But just think twice about what I just said to you, though, about possibly having to claim bankruptcy, if that happens to be your case. The other thing I just want to say is, you have stimulus checks that are about to come into you, right? So if you could just hold off a little bit, and hopefully that stimulus check will get you a little bit further down the line, that would probably be a great thing to think about.

Margi Mannix: OK, thank you, Suze. Great, great advice. … I’d love to hear more from another caller. Jean, who do we have next?

Jean Setzfand: We have questions coming in from Facebook and YouTube as well, and this one’s coming from Glenda on Facebook, and she’s asking, “Should I pay off my mortgage at this time? I’m retired, age 67. I’m in good health and I’ve already gotten my first vaccine injection, and I’m single.”

Suze Orman: Right. And did Glenda say, was she 57 or 67?

Jean Setzfand: 67.

Suze Orman: 67, great. Glenda, the answer to that question would really depend on if you plan on staying in that house for the rest of your life. Because if you plan on staying in that house for the rest of your life, there is nothing that makes somebody more secure, especially a woman, than owning her own home outright. So if you have the money to pay off the mortgage in full — and chances are you’re at the latter end of your mortgage where your tax write-offs aren’t that great anymore — so if you have the money to pay that mortgage off in full, still have a 12-month emergency fund, hopefully be out of credit card debt and car loan debt and debt of all kinds, and that would make you feel more secure, oh, you betcha, girlfriend. You should pay it off.

Margi Mannix: Thank you, Suze.

Suze Orman: Good question.

Margi Mannix: Next question, Jean.

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Scott from Ohio.

Margi Mannix: Go ahead, Scott from Ohio.

Scott: I love listening to you, Suze. I’ve got a question. I’m retired, 66 years old. I watch a lot of TV and all I see is commercials about buying gold or silver. I’ve never invested in either one. I want to know your opinion on investing in gold or silver.

Suze Orman: So, I can tell you this. I would not be investing in gold and silver at this point in time. If you are looking for an alternative investment and something where you could really take a risk — meaning … a little sum of money, maybe $100 a month, $200 a month, a little bit — I would be talking to you about Bitcoin. On my Women & Money podcast, I’ve been telling people since Bitcoin was at 11,000 that I think that Bitcoin, not as a currency, but eventually will be a legitimate investment. The way that I personally would be doing it would be through PayPal, where the commissions are not that great, and the liquidity, you don’t need all these wallets and everything, but I would not be investing right now on any level, Scott, into something like that without seriously, you’ve been saying, OK, if I moved all my money, I’m OK. If you decide that you do want to go into gold or silver, please do not buy the physical commodity itself. I would do it through an ETF, GLD or whatever, but gold is not on any level one of my favorite investments at this point in time.

Margi Mannix: Thank you, Suze, for that straight-up advice. Thanks so much. Jean, do we have another caller?

Jean Setzfand: We do, this is Denise Anne, and I think she’s from Chester.

Margi Mannix: Denise Anne from Chester. What is your question?

Denise Anne: Our question is if with the stimulus checks that we’ve been getting and possibly a little bit more to put with it, in terms of having your savings ready, would it be advisable to get an annuity? Since that is, you’d be drawing interest on your money all the time. If she doesn’t recommend an annuity, what would she recommend just as a good investment that’s not silver and gold?

Suze Orman: Denise Anne, it would depend on seriously what kind of an annuity you’re talking about, because there are many different types of annuities, and then it also would depend on your needs of this money. I’m not loving immediate annuities right now, or single life annuities that give you an income right now, because interest rates are so seriously low, and your payments will absolutely be based on the interest rate along with your age currently. And so it depends on the goal of this money. Are you looking for income or are you looking for an emergency fund?

Denise Anne: I’m looking for income.

Suze Orman: If you’re looking for income, then it really depends, you can look into immediate annuities for yourself … but I would not be doing it with a large sum of money at all right here. You can look into also preferred stocks — paying nice dividends and they’re not as volatile as regular common stocks and things like that. Treasury bonds are starting to go up in yields, or Treasury notes, actually. I would, however, stay away from long-term bond funds, and I would be just careful with that way, but I wouldn’t have a problem if you looked into a 10-year Treasury note, into high yield savings accounts, into preferred stocks, and things like that with a combination of possibly an annuity. Just be very careful and do your shopping very well when it comes to annuities, OK?

Denise Anne: OK, what kind of a bond?

Suze Orman: The Treasury notes, if you could hold off just a little bit here in time — I think you might see interest rates, I’m not sure, but they’ve been ticking up a little, they might tick down a little, but it just depends again what you’re looking for. And so a 10-year Treasury note is yielding you higher than it has yielded in a while. So you might want to take a look at that, but I don’t think you’re going to do a whole lot better than if you put your money in a high yield savings account of some kind, and just see what happens at that rate. But if you could just be patient for a little bit and do an annuity in a year or two from now, I think you would be far better off.

Margi Mannix: Great, Suze, thanks so much. Do we have another live question, Jean?

Jean Setzfand: Yes, we have one last question for Suze. This is Leisha from Ohio.

Margi Mannix: Leisha from Ohio. What is your question tonight?

Leisha: Hello, how are you?

Suze Orman: We’re great, Leisha.

Leisha: Good. I became disabled in 2018. I’m 55 now. I’ve got my life insurance, is all taken care of. I have a lot of debt I incurred on credit cards, and my line of credit that I took out is like at $27,000. I’m trying to pay it off. These all occurred because of being a Social Security Disability, and the limited income that I get, and having to pay for prescriptions and doctor bills and that sort of thing. Is it best if I change the line of credit to a second mortgage at a fixed rate?

Suze Orman: Let me ask you a question. I heard you say you have life insurance is all taken care of. What kind of life insurance do you have?

Leisha: I have whole life.

Suze Orman: And what is the cash value of that?

Leisha: I’m not sure.

Suze Orman: All right, is anybody financial dependent on you?

Leisha: No, just myself.

Suze Orman: Thank you. Listen to me closely now. It makes absolutely no sense on any level that you have a whole life insurance policy, because who are you having insurance for? We want to make sure that you get to live your whole life as much as you can. So given the fact that you have insurance, and you don’t need it, chances are your whole life insurance policy has a cash value on it. And it will have … and you could surrender that, and who cares? Right. You surrender it, you then stop having to pay the premiums for it, possibly, unless it’s paid up already, but so you would stop paying premiums, you get the cash value, and now you have some cash in hand. I would be very, very careful if I were you about taking out a second on the house and doing all that because the $27,000 that you have is secured debt, which means if you can’t pay it, they will take your house away from you. So I would forego the credit card debt, paying the absolute minimum on it or whatever, and I would do everything I could to pay down the $27,000 of a line of credit that you happen to have. I’m sure the interest rate on the line of credit is equal right now to what it would be if you did a second, there might be closing costs, things like that. So I would just leave the line of credit like it is right now, and do everything in my power to get rid of it.

Leisha: OK.

Margi Mannix: Great. Thank you, Suze, so much. Thank you both, caller and Suze. I’d like to turn it a little bit back to Jo Ann here. Jo Ann, can you tell us what types of tools that AARP has that can help people navigate the financial challenges brought about by the pandemic?

Jo Ann Jenkins: Certainly. AARP has been really working in this area for many, many years. And if you go to aarp.org and type in the financial solutions, you’ll see a whole host of information there related to the work that AARP does in the financial security area — from helping you to manage your money and some of the suggestions that Suze has said; to helping you file your taxes through our AARP Foundation, and we have someone on the line that’s going to be there a little later; as well as helping them think through their retirement; and how to look at Social Security and when you should be drawing that Social Security; and how you can really derive more benefits from the use of your money. We’re very proud of the work that we’ve been doing in the financial security area, and know that it is so important that we don’t outlive our money. Suze has given us a whole host of tips. I’ve been keeping notes as she’s been talking as well, just thinking through family and friends and everybody else who needs to make sure that they have information — the best information available for people to be making their individual decisions.

Margi Mannix: Great. Thank you so much, Suzi and Jo Ann, and we know you need to leave us right now. Can’t thank you enough for this important discussion and all the wonderful advice that we’ve heard tonight. And now for the next part of our program, I am very happy to bring in additional special guests: first, Erin M. Collins, the IRS’s National Taxpayer Advocate. Then we have money expert and author Deborah Owens, and Tax-Aide volunteer Steve Conary. Welcome to all of you.

         Erin, let’s start with you. If anyone knows how difficult this tax season is for Americans, it is you. Let’s do a quick Q&A of the top questions you’re seeing this year. What has the pandemic changed about this tax season and what should people consider as they are filing their 2020 taxes?

Erin Collins: Thanks, Margi. First let me just do a very high-level background of myself. Good afternoon or good evening, depending on where you’re all sitting, and thank you so much for inviting me to participate in today’s town hall. As we’ve been talking about this for the past year under COVID, it has created many challenges in all of our personal lives or businesses, and even with our dealings with the IRS. Last March, I had the privilege of being sworn in as the National Taxpayer Advocate, and I lead a tremendous group of employees in the Taxpayer Advocate Service. My position and the Taxpayer Advocate Service was created by Congress to help taxpayers, free of charge, when facing financial difficulties or dealing with problems when IRS systems or procedures fail. Our charge is to be the voice of taxpayers. And we get to advocate both for administrative change within the IRS and legislative change within Congress. So it’s a unique role where we get to represent all taxpayers across the nation and propose changes that affect them. And as you noted, this has been a tough year for taxpayers; it’s been a tough year for the IRS. And the pandemic has truly highlighted the challenges that the IRS has been facing for the past decade. Its budget has been decreased by about 20 percent. Its staffing decreased from 94,000 employees in 2010 to about 75,000 today. Unfortunately, the IRS is a paper-driven agency, and last year paper was not kind to the IRS. With their closed offices, employees working remotely, paper tax returns, paper correspondence, social distancing requirements, the IRS has faced one challenge after the next, and unfortunately, taxpayers are bearing the brunt of it. So my recommendation circling back to your question for 2021 is everyone should try and file the returns electronically. I strongly encourage everyone to make the effort to file it and include your bank routing information, so you could receive your refunds timely. Typically, if there are no issues with the electronically filed return, it can be processed timely, and refunds would be issued under 21 days, and often as quick as one week. But if there is a discrepancy between your tax return and the IRS records, unfortunately, the IRS has limited staff to manually work those, and there will be delays. So again, I urge people to please file electronically, find a friend, find a family member or use AARP’s Tax-Aide filing program. But file electronically and get confirmations that the IRS accepted your return.

         And one other thing to think about is to prevent identity theft, which is truly a challenge across the country, consider applying for what is referred to with the IRS as the identity protection pin. That will prevent someone else from filing a return under your name and claiming your refund. On Tuesday, my office posted a blog, under the National Taxpayer Advocate blog, that explains what you need to do to apply for a pin. So it’s an extra level of protection in this day and age that is very important. You can also go to irs.gov, you can go to our Taxpayer Advocate Service webpage or our blogs for both practical tips and information on the pin, as well as other information for IRS purposes.

Margi Mannix: Great. Thank you, Erin, for that inside peek at what’s going on at the IRS and our returns. You did mention the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide locator service, and I wanted to remind our callers that if you want to know more about it you can go to aarpfoundation.org/taxaide. And if you don’t have a computer, we have a [toll-free] number — it’s 888-OUR AARP, that’s 888-687-2277. Now, Erin, back to you. Last year, the filing season was moved from April 15 to July 15. Will the filing date be moved this year, just like last year?

Erin Collins: That has been a question that’s being asked for the last couple of months. In my opinion, postponing the filing date past April 15 together with the impact of COVID last year caused a lot of administrative problems that, unfortunately, the IRS is still cleaning up today — including unprocessed back, paper returns, backlog of correspondence, issuance of incorrect notices. The IRS is still trying to catch up from delaying that filing date. And again, taxpayers are paying the price for that. I know many organizations, including AARP and members of Congress, have been pushing the IRS to extend the date. I believe the IRS feels that it currently has no operational issues for it to extend it, but at the same time, it’s a balancing act. You’ve got to do what is best for taxpayers as well as what is best for tax administration impacting taxpayers. I don’t have a crystal ball, but today I believe the IRS does not intend on postponing the filing season. But one thing you should think about is, if you need more time, if the taxpayer has particular issues, they can always file a request for an extension by filing a Form 4868 by April 15. That will provide an automatic extension for you to file your return until Oct. 15. But just to note, if you owe tax, the tax is due on April 15, even if your filing date has been moved to October. A lot of taxpayers are looking at refunds, so again, if you needed the additional time to get your return files, you can file that extension. And then also, just to note, I believe it was today or yesterday, the Federation of Tax Administrators, which I think consists of most of the states’ taxing agencies, they too came out and said they do not want the IRS extending the date, because when you think about it, if the IRS extends, that means all the states also extend. I think a lot of the taxing administrations are pushing back and would prefer not to extend the date. So long answer for I don’t believe it’s going to happen, but, unfortunately, I don’t make the final decision. So now keep an eye on tax news, newspapers. I’m sure if it did happen, it will be front page of half of the newspapers we all read.

Margi Mannix: OK. Great, Erin. We will definitely keep an eye on that. So with the impact of the pandemic and having IRS employees working remotely, we’ve heard that the IRS is struggling with providing telephone service for taxpayers. What’s the current availability of the IRS customer service representatives on the toll-free lines?

Erin Collins: This has been a longstanding problem for taxpayers. And, unfortunately, today the IRS is only answering about 1 out of every 5 calls due to both increased volume and limited staff. Unfortunately, taxpayers are and should be prepared to have long delays, and they should consider other options — whether it’s irs.gov, other resources, resources such as AARP — to be able to find their answers.

Margi Mannix: OK. Now I’ve got about two questions on the stimulus payments — we get a lot of questions about that. First, is it possible for taxpayers to verify the issuance of the first or second stimulus payment? In other words, how can they confirm that the IRS sent it, when they sent it, and what the amount was?

Erin Collins: That’s a good question for a couple of reasons. One is, as I indicated earlier, if you have an inconsistency on your upcoming tax return with respect to the stimulus payments, your return potentially will get pulled out for manual review. So you do want to make sure it is correct. Without getting into too many of the details, the previous stimulus payments, the first one was about April and the second one was in January, the IRS should have sent out a notice about 15 days after the payment was made; it’s called Notice 1444, entitled Your Economic Payment, which should have reflected the date of the payment and the amount of the repayment. If you received both, you should have received two letters, one in the summer and one in February. But you can also go onto the IRS webpage. There’s a tool called Get My Payment, and it will show you the amounts and dates of the payments that the IRS believes you received. The challenge is if you do not agree with the IRS, you have an option of working with the IRS and asking them to trace that payment. So again, on irs.gov, it provides a phone number and a fax number where you could ask the IRS to verify that information. So before you file your current return requesting additional funds because you believe you did not receive it, you might want to work with the IRS to make sure your return is not bounced.

Margi Mannix: OK. Great. Thank you. And my last question for you right now is one that we do get a lot, and I think we did get this earlier in the conversation: “I did not receive my economic stimulus payment. What do I need to do to get my payment?”

Erin Collins: I think that was your first caller’s question, I believe his name was Robert. If you are eligible, and you did not receive the first, the second, or the full amount of your stimulus payments, what you are required to do is to file a 2020 tax return, a 1040 or 1040SR for seniors. And you would put in there that you received — for example, let’s say you didn’t get either payment, you would put zero. And as a result, potentially depending on what your income was, you could receive $1,200 for the first payment and $600 in the second payment. By filing your 2020 tax return, you could reflect that you did not receive the $1,800 of stimulus money, and the IRS would pay that as part of your 2020 tax return. Again, that’s something you might want to check with your advisers or the AARP Tax-Aide to see the dollars and your eligibility, but it is something that in order to get the money — and Robert, if you’re listening, you need to file the 2020 tax return, which will give you the first two stimulus payments. I think we’ve all seen the news; President Biden signed today the new package, the new relief for individuals, and that includes a third stimulus payment, which will be made. If you are a Social Security recipient, the IRS will automatically pay you your stimulus payment if you’re in the Social Security system and you have bank deposit information. You will receive that. If you’re not, and you don’t receive Social Security, filing your 2020 return will make you eligible for that third amount if your income is below: If you’re single $75,000; if you’re filing jointly, it’s the $150,000.

Margi Mannix: Great. Thank you so much for that valuable information, Erin, we really appreciate it. I just want to remind our callers that we also have a wealth of information on our website, and we do have several pieces of informative educational articles on the recovery refund credit that Erin mentioned. You just need to go to aarp.org/taxes, and we have more information there. Let’s turn now to Deborah Owens at WealthyU. Deborah, are there opportunities to help advance your career and financial goals during a pandemic? Say if someone has been laid off, or just has time on their hands, what should they be doing?

Deborah Owens: Yes, well, I tell you it’s been the best of times and the worst of times depending upon what industry you’re in. Let’s tackle that first question around career. What we’re seeing in our community is that the people who are weathering this pandemic the best in terms of careers are going where the growth is. And what I mean by that is even though we’ve seen industries like transportation and restaurants really be the hardest hit in this, what we’ve seen, though, is there are companies that are hiring more than ever. And so if you’re thinking about what are some ways that I can find … job opportunities or career opportunities, the place to be looking are companies like Amazon. They hired, they are hiring over 120,000 people, and they were already expanding in certain markets; that was announced even before the pandemic. And in addition to that, talk about the best of times, today we just saw another record on the S&P 500. And so for what that means, it bodes well certainly if you’ve got retirement savings, but also the other industry that’s hiring are the financial services companies. And the good news there is, one of the kind of unintended consequences, or benefits I would say, of the pandemic is that many of companies are now hiring virtually. So you’re no longer limited, or limited by geography, particularly in financial services. We know that many of those jobs were in metropolitan areas — large cities like New York, which is the sort of finance capital of the United States or the world, if you will. Now, many of these companies — like Fidelity, E*Trade — are all hiring people, customer service agents; and sometimes you do need licensing, but talking about ways that you can really upgrade your skills right now. Another benefit to the pandemic is many of the universities and community colleges are allowing people to take classes and upgrade their skills with some certification with little or reduced fees. So just some encouragement for our audience —maybe you’re struggling through this — to kind of think about what are the things that you can position yourself for, to take advantage of what has really been of very unfortunate time for so many of us.

Margi Mannix: Great. Thank you, Deborah. So there are some opportunities out there and there’s also some more education that people can turn to. That is great to hear. Thank you. Now I’d like to turn to Steve. Steve, how can people access some of the free services the AARP Foundation offers to help people understand and prepare their tax forms?

Steve Conary: Thanks, Margi. The first step is to go to the AARPFoundation.org/taxaide website. There you get a full menu of services that we’re offering. Pre-pandemic we were operating about 5,000 sites across the country. We have been impacted as we deal with the safety of the taxpayers, the volunteers and our host site personnel during this pandemic. It has curtailed some of the operation. We do not have as many sites as we’ve had in the past, but we are offering more ways to help taxpayers to file this year. We have some of our traditional in-person sites available by appointment. We have our low-contact model, where taxpayers can interact with the volunteers and one or two short in-person meetings to exchange documents, again by appointment, and that’s all on the website. We have a contact-free offering where we work with the taxpayers online or by phone and exchange documents electronically, and we also offer some self-preparation services, including coaching from a volunteer to help an individual work through the process of preparing their own return with free tax filing software. Again, the best way is to go to the AARPFoundation.org/taxaide website.

Margi Mannix: Thank you, Steve. A lot of options there. The pandemic has impacted how people are filing their taxes. What resources are available to people who may be doing their taxes themselves for the very first time?

Steve Conary: We offer coaching by IRS-certified volunteers for taxpayers using some free tax software. The various IRS free-file software packages that … you can access from the IRS website also include great guided preparation. So you really only need to answer some simple questions if you’re self-preparing. It does all the math, too, and as Erin mentioned earlier, e-filing continues to be the easiest and the safest and the fastest way to file a complete and accurate tax return.

Margi Mannix: Great. Thank you so much, Steve. We appreciate your sharing that information. I know you have to leave, but I just want to thank you very much for joining us this evening. It’s now time to address your questions about the impact of the coronavirus on your taxes and your finances with Erin Collins of the IRS and Deborah Owens of WealthyU. Jean, did we have somebody on the line?

Jean Setzfand: We do. Our first caller is Kay from Ohio.

Margi Mannix: Hi, Kay from Ohio. What’s your question?

Kay: I had asked the question about the stimulus return and the income tax credit.

Margi Mannix: Sure. Go ahead.

Kay: You get $1,400 for the individual. Do you get $1,400 for the child, too?

Margi Mannix: Erin, do you want to take that question?

Erin Collins: Sure. Kay, yes, it depends on what the IRS calls your adjusted gross income. If that amount is below $75,000, you would get the full amount for a qualifying child and the full amount for yourself. As you go above the $75,000 of adjusted gross income, the amount is reduced down to zero by the time you hit $80,000. So individuals between that $75,000 and $80,000 will get a partial payment for themselves and a partial payment for their child.

Margi Mannix: Great. Thank you, Erin. Jean, do we have another caller?

Jean Setzfand: We do. This is Paula from New York.

Margi Mannix: Hi, Paula from New York. What is your question?

Paula: Hi, I received unemployment benefits in 2020. I made an error, so I have to repay a portion. I repaid it in 2021. OK, I haven’t done my tax return yet, but what troubles me is I had the taxes taken out when they sent me … when I got my payments. In repaying it, they have you send back full amount, the tax part that they took out that you never received, they have you pay it back, which I’ll never understand, but I’m not questioning that. Well, now that I see that the government is going to forgive the $10,000, the first $10,200 of income, which applies to me, it’s such a mess. I’m trying to understand, how is this going to be reflected in this year’s tax, in my 2020 tax return? I mean, do you even understand ...

Erin Collins: You don’t ask an easy question, do you?

Paula: Well, should I say it again? Should I say it again more slowly?

Erin Collins: No, I do understand the question. The challenge you’re going to have, and I would always recommend, is when you have complicated situations to get tax advice. But you would reflect the total amount of unemployment income with respect to 2020. If it is above $10,000, you would only pay tax on the amount above $10,200. With respect to the amount that you returned, you would then get a benefit in your next filed tax return. So that gets a little bit more complicated because you’re going over different tax years. Since the law was literally just signed today, the IRS has not provided guidance on how to do the calculation, so I think some people are recommending you hold off filing your return until the IRS provides that guidance. And if you’ve already filed your return, where some people may have done, they may be entitled to a refund, but again, I think I would wait at least a week or two to see what advice the IRS comes out with, with respect to how to proceed on this issue. So, Paula, you have a difficult situation, but it is … you just need to walk it through on the tax return to get to the right answer.

Margi Mannix: OK. All right. Thank you, Erin. Great answer, and I’m sure all of our callers appreciated that information. Let’s go back to the line. Who do we have next, Jean?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Ruby from Michigan.

Margi Mannix: Hi, Ruby from Michigan. What is your question?

Ruby: My question is that I’m trying to find a local place that I can go to. I used to go to AARP where they had right at the civic center, which was very convenient. And I called in January and they said that they were already booked up, and it’s like … where do you go to get your taxes done for free?

Margi Mannix: Thanks, Ruby, for that question. And I’ll turn that over to Steve. Can you give her some advice here, Steve?

Steve Conary: We are finding that a lot of our sites are booked, and that’s why we’re encouraging those who can to try … self-preparation with our coaching so that you can get your tax return prepared. There are not a lot of the other alternatives. The pandemic has had a big impact, considering a lot of our volunteers are in the most susceptible group. We have to take the safety precautions; we just don’t have the capacity that we have had in the past. I’m sorry to say.

Margi Mannix: But she might be able to make, make use of some of those options you talked about, like the coaching and things like that.

Steve Conary: That’s correct. Yes.

Margi Mannix: OK, great. All right. Let’s turn to our next caller. Jean, who do we have?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Joyce from California.

Margi Mannix: Hi, Joyce from California. How are you?

Caller: I’m from Harrisburg. Am I up next?

Margi Mannix: Sure, go ahead.

Caller: OK. I’m sorry. My question is last year for 2020, I filed my taxes with a CPA … July the 5th, because it was extended because of the pandemic. And I filed electronically, but I never received the money for my income tax refund. So how will I go about getting that money? I checked with the CPA. He said I should have had it. But when I called my banking institution, there was never any monies deposited into my account.

Margi Mannix: That sounds like a question for you, Erin.

Erin Collins: Have you had an opportunity to try and call the IRS and ask or go online to the “Where’s My Refund” to see what the IRS records reflect?

Caller: Yes, I did. And I never got a response back at all. I went out there several times and never got a response back.

Erin Collins: Do you have access to the internet or computer?

Caller: Yes, I do. And that’s where I went through.

Erin Collins: And you went to “Where’s My Refund,” cause it should come up and either tell you it’s been processed or it’s in processing.

Caller: It said, no record found.

Erin Collins: OK. So that means there’s a problem with the IRS, and I think I mentioned earlier on this call that we understand that over 6 million of the refunds or returns still have not been processed. They are sitting in a holding pattern, unfortunately, you may be one of those. The IRS does recommend you don’t file additional returns, but at some point, you need to do something to get this moving along. I would definitely continue to reach out to the IRS and see if they can tell you when, and if, it’s been processed and where it is in the system.

Margi Mannix: Thank you so much, Erin. And thank you all, callers, for your questions. I’d like right now to turn back to our experts. Erin, a common scam spikes around tax time every year. Criminals pose as the IRS calling for back taxes, and then they threaten arrest if it’s not paid immediately. What should someone do if they get that kind of call?

Erin Collins: Unfortunately, scams spike around this time of the year. So absolutely, be alert. First, you should know the IRS does not contact taxpayers by email, text message or using any sort of social media to request any personal information. The IRS should contact you by mail first, and they will never request local police to participate and they will never demand a credit card number. So if you’re hearing that, and if you have any doubt, just end the call; get their information; call the IRS, verify whether or not that is, in fact, an IRS employee; and that what their purpose is. We’re seeing a number of scams right now, anything from suspending Social Security payments, where they’re threatening to sue or seize your bank accounts; scams on requesting assistance for the disasters, trying to take advantage of people’s generosity. If anyone reaches out to you from a government agency that you were not expecting, please make sure you verify that that individual, in fact, works for that government agency. And when in doubt, call and verify. Unfortunately, one of the scams we’re seeing as a result of COVID has to do with unemployment insurance, and it is rampant throughout the entire United States. Fraud unemployment claims were filed in multiple states using someone else’s identity. So let’s say someone filed  unemployment compensation or benefits under Erin Collins and used my Social Security number. What will happen is now I will get a Form 1099 indicating that I have unemployment insurance. If you receive that 1099, you need to reach out back to the state to get that corrected, and please do not report that to the IRS, because that is not your income. If you did not receive the income, do not include it on your tax return, but continue to work with the state agencies to have them correct that 1099 and submit a correct one to the IRS.

Margi Mannix: Oh my gosh. OK. I want to remind our callers we have a wonderful program in AARP called the AARP Fraud Watch Network. And we do have information about those two scams that Erin just mentioned on our website. You can find it at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can also call during business hours; it’s 877-908-3360. Thank you so much, Erin, for that information.

Now let’s turn to Deborah. Deborah, how has the pandemic impacted retirement savings, and how can people make up for losses if they lost their job, for example, and couldn’t save?

Deborah Owens: A couple of things … more than 33 percent of Americans actually withdrew or borrowed money from their IRA during the pandemic. But the good news is this, and I know it was mentioned earlier, but … with the Cares Act you’re allowed to withdraw up to a $100,000 without paying the 10 percent penalty that you would if you’re under 59 1/2. Certainly, I’m not suggesting someone do that, but we do know that people have been financially stressed. Unlike in the past where you only had 60 days if you took a withdrawal out of your IRA, you now have more than three years to pay that back. I know someone asked earlier about that. So that is the good news, right? Because that penalty typically is more than 10 percent if you were, if you had to take the money out. So that’s the good news.

         And the other thing is that if you weren’t able to contribute to your 401k … and for many people, they had to kind of make a choice, right? In this environment the fact is — and I think Suze said it very eloquently — that in these uncertain times, most people really need to think about how can they replenish their savings or either start an emergency savings fund in the event that the economy does not recover.

Margi Mannix: OK. Thank you, Deborah. Now Suze touched on this a little bit, but I also wanted to ask you. With another round of stimulus checks going out, if someone is approaching retirement and has debt, how do they decide whether to invest the money for retirement or to pay off debt? Do you have anything to add to that?

Deborah Owens: I do. I would concur with Suze. But … one of the earlier callers said should she … I think she was disabled and so she had a lot of credit card debt. And one of the things that I know, and I really want to encourage people, is to go to AARP, which has some great resources around managing debt. And for people who are dealing with debt, one of the most effective ways for you to get assistance is to get help from the National Credit Counseling Agency. Because particularly in this environment, they may be able to negotiate some of those debts or some of those interest rates down because that is what’s really impacting people — paying those minimums but knowing that if you’re disabled or retired you may not be able to afford to [and] all those balances are just going to continue to compound. I really want to encourage people to take advantage of the tools on AARP, but also to call and get assistance. In many states there are nonprofit credit counseling agencies that can really advocate on your behalf.

Margi Mannix: Thank you so much, Deborah, for that practical advice. I know I speak on behalf of our callers and thank you so much for that. This has been a very informative discussion. Thanks to each of you for answering our questions. And thank you, our AARP members, volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we are providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and prevent its spread to others while taking care of themselves. All of the resources referenced, including a recording of today’s Q&A event can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus on March 12. Again, that web address is aarp.org/coronavirus. Go there if your question wasn’t addressed tonight, and you will find the latest updates, as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers. We hope that you learned something that could help keep you and your loved ones healthy. And please join us on March 25 at 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. ET for two more live coronavirus Q&A events. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

Margi Mannix:  Hello. I am AARP Vice President and Editor-in-Chief Margi Mannix, and I want to welcome you to this very important discussion about the coronavirus. Before we begin, if you would like to hear this tele-town hall in Spanish, press *0 on your keypad. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. Today is a noteworthy day, since it was a year ago exactly that the pandemic was officially declared. Over the course of the last year, COVID-19 has disrupted peoples’ lives and finances in unprecedented ways. Many have experienced unemployment for the first time and may have lost loved ones because of the pandemic. Some have been forced to use retirement savings just to pay their bills and are now struggling with debt. These issues, plus an extremely complex tax season, are creating anxiety and confusion for many Americans.

[00:01:10] Tonight, we are joined by some very special guests who will address these issues and more. We’re very pleased to welcome Suze Orman, the world’s leading personal finance expert and host of the Women & Money [and the Men Smart Enough to Listen] podcast, who will share savings, retirement planning and debt advice, and steps you can take toward financial empowerment. We’ll also be joined by AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, who will share how AARP is supporting older adults and providing resources during the global coronavirus pandemic. We’ll also be joined later in the program by Erin M. Collins, National Taxpayer Advocate, known as the “voice of the taxpayer” within the IRS and before Congress; Deborah Owens, founder and CEO of WealthyU, financial expert and author; and Steve Conary, a volunteer with AARP Foundation Tax-Aide.

[00:02:03] If you’ve participated in one of our tele-town halls, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask your questions live. For those of you joining us on the phone, press *3 on your telephone to be connected now with an AARP staff member who will note your name and your question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. If you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments. And if you would like to listen in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now.

[00:02:38] You’re in for a treat tonight as we have some very special guests. Hi, Suze.

[00:03:03]Suze Orman:  Hi, how are you, Margi?

[00:03:05]Margi Mannix:  Great to have you with us, Suze. Thanks so much for being here. Jo Ann Jenkins, welcome, chief executive officer of AARP. How are you tonight?

[00:03:14]Jo Ann Jenkins:  I’m good, Margi. Good to be here.

[00:03:16]Margi Mannix:  Great, thank you for joining us. And later in the program, we’ll hear from Erin M. Collins, the IRS’s National Taxpayer Advocate; financial expert and author Deborah Owens; and Tax-Aide volunteer Steve Conary. We will also be joined by my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand, who will help facilitate your calls tonight.

[00:03:37] This event is being recorded and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up here tonight. So let’s get started. We’re a year into something no one expected — a pandemic that has changed our lives and challenged us in some unique ways, but who better to discuss the impact of the pandemic on our pocketbooks than Suze Orman, and who better to discuss the impact of the pandemic on older adults than Jo Ann Jenkins. Let’s hand over our conversation to our very special guests; Suzi and Jo Ann, take it away.

[00:04:14]Jo Ann Jenkins:  Thank you everyone for being here with us tonight, we appreciate you taking the time to have a conversation with Suze and myself, and our other guests who will be with us. You know, in many ways, this is a very somber occasion, the one-year anniversary, or shall I say the unhappy anniversary of COVID-19. You know, our nation has lost over 530,000 Americans to COVID, and our nursing homes have been especially hit hard. And we’ve heard from so many of you all across the country about how it’s affected you personally and your family, and many of you have lost loved ones. But I’m really proud of the way we’ve all come together to really protect each other as advocates, to be there for each other, to be caregivers for each other — and, really, that’s what the AARP family is all about. And I’m so proud that AARP has been there to provide that trusted information, advocacy and innovation in helping our nearly 38 million members all across this country, and people over the age of 50 and their families, as they sort of navigate what I like to call the 1-2 punch of health and economic consequences that this pandemic has brought forth on us.

[00:05:32] But we’re still here. So we have reason to celebrate, and there is some light at the end of the tunnel. But I’m reminded … we’re all always asking questions about what has COVID taught you, and as Suze and I spoke a little earlier today, we were reminded that one of the things that she has been feeding into our heads for years [is] how important it is to have a savings account for that rainy day — and who would have thought on March 12th of last year that we would all have needed a rainy day fund to help us get through an entire year? So I want to bring in Suze here and say, Suze, I guess we should be listening to everything you tell us, because obviously you were able to see through how important it was for us to maintain that savings account in a rainy day.

[00:06:30]Suze Orman:  What’s interesting, Jo Ann, is that it doesn’t take a pandemic for us to have to say, we need an emergency fund. It can be an illness; you can lose a job. Look back in 2008, 2009, and what happened by losing a house and everything. So it’s not just about these once- [hopefully] in-a- lifetime events, like the pandemic, that says, oh my God, we need this emergency fund. It’s really, really about we always need it, because here’s the point, everybody, is that you have to ask yourself the question: What is the goal of money? And the answer to that question is the goal of money is to make you feel secure. And nothing will make you feel more secure than knowing that no matter what happens to you, no matter what happens in the economy, that you know you’re able to take care of yourself and your family for now at least one year. You know, I used to say, Jo Ann, that … all you needed was an eight-month emergency fund. And many times pundits would say, you only need three months, six months. Wrong. Now I’m saying, everybody, you need at least a 12-month emergency fund. If we’ve learned anything, hopefully we have learned that lesson now.

[00:07:50]Jo Ann Jenkins:  That is so important because so many of our members who work in part-time jobs or even in full-time jobs or in the service industry lost their income in totality and have had to adapt, either relying on that emergency fund or family or friends and sort of going through that. So that’s so important. You know, we were talking about caregiving, and I know you lost your mother not too long ago, but how important it is for us to think through our care for our loved ones. I know for me, my sister and I take care of my two brothers who live in my parents’ house down in Alabama, and how difficult it is to really try to address those caregiving needs so far away, and the high cost of home care.

[00:08:46]Suze Orman:  You know, what’s interesting is that just to combine the emergency fund along with the stimulus checks that people are going to get, along with the fact that we are now taking care of so many people, it’s really important that when these stimulus checks come in — and they’re going to come in for a lot of money hopefully for a lot of you, because remember the … new stimulus says, if you are taking care of an adult parent, for instance, as a dependent, you’re now going to be able to claim that $1,400. So please, when you get these stimulus checks, please just don’t go out — and if you don’t have an emergency fund, you don’t have any money to your name, you don’t know when you’re going to get your job back — don’t go out and take all of this money and pay down all your credit card debt with it. Don’t do that. Keep this money safe and sound. Even if that means you’re only paying the minimum payment due until things get better. But to go along with your question, Jo Ann, about taking care of parents — it is a big deal, and it is expensive. And all I can say — and maybe you can’t afford it right now because you don’t have the money to do so — but when you do, you should absolutely look into a long-term care insurance policy, because I can guarantee you that you will pay less in all the years that you pay premiums than you will for one year of care if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket.

[00:10:22] So these are just a few of the things that we have to think about. But the main point that I think we should be making, Jo Ann, is that when you get these stimulus checks, when you get the child tax care credits, when you get the certain things that you’re going to be hopefully getting right now, really think about the lessons that you learned last year. And where you said, “Oh, I wish I had done this. I wish I had saved this.” Just think twice before you go out and just spend this money.

[00:10:57]Jo Ann Jenkins:  That is so important. And I’m so happy that the president actually signed that third stimulus bill this afternoon, and we’re already hearing that checks will be going out within the week for those who get direct deposits. So that’s important for all of us to think about what you do with that money and how important it is to make sure that you’re taking care of your financial health before you spend money on things that may be a want and not necessarily a need. So that’s very important to us. I was so happy to think about the work that AARP has done, particularly as it relates to what’s coming in through the stimulus, and also how we’ve had to build up relationships all across this country with other governmental officials. And we couldn’t have done that without our AARP colleagues, but more importantly, with all of our volunteers and our members out there who made their voices heard in state capitals and in mayors’ offices all over this country, because it’s not just the impact of COVID. It’s COVID on top of the financial hardships. And that’s so key to us to make sure that we’re focused on.

[00:12:13] Suze, so you get your stimulus check … what are the things that they should be paying?

[00:12:23]Suze Orman:  Here’s what I think everybody really needs to do. Get a grip on reality as to what is really going on in your life right now. Make a list of every single must-pay bill. You must pay your health insurance. You must pay your rent payment, your mortgage payment, whatever it may be. And make a list of that … money that you must pay every single month. But what is on the list that you don’t have to pay every month? And if you don’t really have to pay them, at least in full, then think twice about spending that money. I’m very aware that the government is wishing and praying and hoping that all of you take this money and you go out and you spend it to stimulate the economy. I get that. And they think that’s going to save everybody. I’m asking you to understand that you have to save yourself because in reality, nobody else can save you — but you. And I know a lot of you may start to feel guilty; oh, my kids didn’t have these toys for last Christmas. It’s their birthday now, and so I’m going to go and spend a little bit of this money. No, you have to ask yourself the question before you spend 1 cent: Is this a want, as Jo Ann just said, or is this a need? A need is food at a grocery store; a want is food at a restaurant. And I understand that we want to support restaurants so that they can stay in business, but I need you to be able to stay afloat more than anything else. If it’s a need, you spend the money. If it’s a want, you do not spend it. And really, Jo Ann, it’s just that simple.

[00:14:06] And I just want to go back for one second … I don’t think people understand the important work that AARP did in order to make it so that the dependents that weren’t under the age of 17 — that were still possibly in college, that were elderly adults, that many of you are taking care of — now you can get a stimulus check for. That is huge. That’s not a little thing. That is a big thing. So for those of you who are older and you have older parents — and you are taking care of them, and maybe you haven’t claimed them as a dependent or whatever it may be, and you’re paying for more than half of their income or their needs — you might want to think about absolutely making sure that you get a $1,400 check for them as well.

[00:14:59]Jo Ann Jenkins:  Thank you for the shout-out, Suze, because it is so true. Were it not for AARP on many of these issues in this stimulus bill, they would not have been accounted for in the bill that the president just signed. I also think it’s true that … we say here at AARP, one thing is for certain: You’re either going to need a caregiver, or you’re going to be a caregiver. And that couldn’t be so true at this important time in our history. And that’s why it’s so important for all of us to get vaccinated. Hopefully the number of vaccines that have been signed off on for emergency use, the three that are here in the U.S., that even though it’s difficult to get that appointment, it is well worth it. I know that both my husband and I have gotten our second vaccines, and what a relief that is. Never did think I would be happy to have a preexisting to be able to do this. But I just want to encourage everybody that is so important, because we know that the majority of people who have died in this country had either lived or worked in nursing homes. And so that’s important for us to keep thinking about.

[00:16:14]Suze Orman:  One other thing, though, that I do want to say to you … and by the way, I did get my vaccine as well. I got the Johnson & Johnson one, because I just wanted to make sure, let me just get that, right. But I want to say one other thing to answer your question about what do you do with the stimulus checks. Because you have to look at the world right now, and in my opinion, you have the haves and the have-nots. You have many people that actually benefited from the pandemic financially speaking, because they got to work from home, they didn’t have to pay money to get to work anymore, eat out, and things like that. So I just want to say one other thing.

[00:16:51] If any of you are listening and you’re in a good financial situation — you really didn’t lose your job, your expenses are not that high, and you’re going to get stimulus checks very shortly here. And the truth of the matter is, you don’t need the money. There are many people that you may know that really do need the money. And if you don’t need the money — everything is good; you have a 12-month emergency fund; you’re not into credit card debt; things like that — you might want to think about extending those payments from you to give them to somebody who really, really is behind in rent, is going to be evicted if they don’t come up with all their rent money. Things like that. So where we really learn how to help one another, as you started this conversation with.

[00:17:39]Jo Ann Jenkins:  Thank you, Suze. That’s a very important comment to make. And we know that one of the things that we fought for in this new stimulus package was to extend the coverage for people not to be evicted out of their homes. And so that’s another important issue. I know Margi, you’re champing at the bit to get in here and have our members ask questions of Suze, so I think we’ll throw it over back to you. And then Suze and I will be here for the next few minutes or so to answer any questions that we might have.

[00:18:11]Margi Mannix:  Yes. Thank you. What a great conversation and such great advice from both of you. Now it’s time to address our callers’ questions about the coronavirus’s impact on their taxes and finance. And once again, I want to remind you, we are with Suze Orman and Jo Ann Jenkins. I’d now like to bring in my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand to help facilitate your calls. Welcome, Jean.

[00:18:41]Jean Setzfand:  Thanks so much, Margi. Delighted to be here.

[00:18:45]Margi Mannix:  Let’s take our first question.

[00:18:48]Jean Setzfand:  All right. Our first caller is Robert from Michigan.

[00:18:52]Margi Mannix:  Robert from Michigan, great to have you here. What is your question?

[00:18:56]Robert:  My question is around you have been talking about the stimulus checks. I haven’t gotten the second one yet. And my question around that is I’m going to be paying, filling out my taxes this year, and they said something about that you could claim this on your taxes, but what happened to the second one? Did they stop it all?

[00:19:23]Suze Orman:  Robert, what I’d like to say … this is Suze … is that — and everybody listening right now — in a few minutes, you’re going to have true tax experts on the line that you can really ask those kinds of questions for and to. And what I would really hope is that we can use this time to ask more personal finance questions than tax questions, because I really think you should get it from the tax experts themselves. Is that all right with you, Robert?

[00:19:55]Margi Mannix:  That sounds like a great plan, Suze. That’s a wonderful plan.

[00:19:58] Thank you. Do we have another caller, Jean?

[00:20:03]Jean Setzfand:  Yes, we do. We have Brenda from, I believe, Louisiana.

[00:20:07]Margi Mannix:  Brenda from Louisiana. That’s great. What is your question for Suze or Jo Ann?

[00:20:12]Brenda:  Mine was the same, I guess, kind of tax also, but about 401k. … I didn’t try to get anything [out of the 401k] for the first time, ’cause I had … extended savings. I always practiced that, but now that I’m unemployed, we will be reaching to that 401k now. Will we be penalized?

[00:20:37]Suze Orman:  So, here’s what I’d like to ask you, Brenda. And I’d like to just make you aware of something, which is that all of us need to really understand that the money in a 401k plan or a retirement plan is protected against bankruptcy. OK. So what I would be asking you is, for instance, let’s just say … I don’t know how much you have in your 401k plan, but let’s say just all that you happen to have in it would be $10,000. And now you want to take out some money from your 401k plan just to pay your bills. And now you’re out of money in your 401k plan and you still don’t have money, and now you have to claim bankruptcy. Do you understand what a mistake that would have been? Last year when they allowed you to take money out of your 401k plan, up to like $100,000 if it was a COVID-related thing — that no longer is in effect at this point in time. So, therefore, if you currently are not working … are you no longer working with your plan?

[00:21:48]Brenda:  No ma’am, I’m not working.

[00:21:50]Suze Orman:  All right, and how old are you?

[00:21:53]Brenda:  58.

[00:21:55]Suze Orman:  Great. And when was it that you left service? Was it this year? Last year?

[00:22:00]Brenda:  No, I left on disability in ’17. I was in a car accident.

[00:22:05]Suze Orman:  All right. So you haven’t been working for a while, is that correct?

[00:22:12]Margi Mannix:  Since 2017.

[00:22:14]Suze Orman:  Since 2017. So I was going to say, if you had left service … in the year of when you turned 55 or older, you could have taken money out of your 401k and just paid taxes on it. You might … now at 58, there are certain things that you might want to do, but … for a disability you may be able to be excused from the 10 percent penalty, as a hardship withdrawal. But just think twice about what I just said to you, though, about possibly having to claim bankruptcy, if that happens to be your case. The other thing I just want to say is, you have stimulus checks that are about to come into you, right? So if you could just hold off a little bit, and hopefully that stimulus check will get you a little bit further down the line, that would probably be a great thing to think about.

[00:23:14]Margi Mannix:  OK, thank you, Suze. Great, great advice. … I’d love to hear more from another caller. Jean, who do we have next?

[00:23:23]Jean Setzfand:  We have questions coming in from Facebook and YouTube as well, and this one’s coming from Glenda on Facebook, and she’s asking, “Should I pay off my mortgage at this time? I’m retired, age 67. I’m in good health and I’ve already gotten my first vaccine injection, and I’m single.”

[00:23:40]Suze Orman:  Right. And did Glenda say, was she 57 or 67?

[00:23:45]Jean Setzfand:  67.

[00:23:47]Suze Orman:  67, great. Glenda, the answer to that question would really depend on if you plan on staying in that house for the rest of your life. Because if you plan on staying in that house for the rest of your life, there is nothing that makes somebody more secure, especially a woman, than owning her own home outright. So if you have the money to pay off the mortgage in full — and chances are you’re at the latter end of your mortgage where your tax write-offs aren’t that great anymore — so if you have the money to pay that mortgage off in full, still have a 12-month emergency fund, hopefully be out of credit card debt and car loan debt and debt of all kinds, and that would make you feel more secure, oh, you betcha, girlfriend. You should pay it off.

[00:24:45]Margi Mannix:  Thank you, Suze.

[00:24:47]Suze Orman:  Good question.

[00:24:48]Margi Mannix:  Next question, Jean.

[00:24:50]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Scott from Ohio.

[00:24:54]Margi Mannix:  Go ahead, Scott from Ohio.

[00:24:57]Scott:  I love listening to you, Suze. I’ve got a question. I’m retired, 66 years old. I watch a lot of TV and all I see is commercials about buying gold or silver. I’ve never invested in either one. I want to know your opinion on investing in gold or silver.

[00:25:17]Suze Orman:  So, I can tell you this. I would not be investing in gold and silver at this point in time. If you are looking for an alternative investment and something where you could really take a risk — meaning … a little sum of money, maybe $100 a month, $200 a month, a little bit — I would be talking to you about Bitcoin. On my Women & Money podcast, I’ve been telling people since Bitcoin was at 11,000 that I think that Bitcoin, not as a currency, but eventually will be a legitimate investment. The way that I personally would be doing it would be through PayPal, where the commissions are not that great, and the liquidity, you don’t need all these wallets and everything, but I would not be investing right now on any level, Scott, into something like that without seriously, you’ve been saying, OK, if I moved all my money, I’m OK. If you decide that you do want to go into gold or silver, please do not buy the physical commodity itself. I would do it through an ETF, GLD or whatever, but gold is not on any level one of my favorite investments at this point in time.

[00:26:34]Margi Mannix:  Thank you, Suze, for that straight-up advice. Thanks so much. Jean, do we have another caller?

[00:26:41]Jean Setzfand:  We do, this is Denise Anne, and I think she’s from Chester.

[00:26:46]Margi Mannix:  Denise Anne from Chester. What is your question?

[00:26:50]Denise Anne:  Our question is if with the stimulus checks that we’ve been getting and possibly a little bit more to put with it, in terms of having your savings ready, would it be advisable to get an annuity? Since that is, you’d be drawing interest on your money all the time. If she doesn’t recommend an annuity, what would she recommend just as a good investment that’s not silver and gold?

[00:27:21]Suze Orman:  Denise Anne, it would depend on seriously what kind of an annuity you’re talking about, because there are many different types of annuities, and then it also would depend on your needs of this money. I’m not loving immediate annuities right now, or single life annuities that give you an income right now, because interest rates are so seriously low, and your payments will absolutely be based on the interest rate along with your age currently. And so it depends on the goal of this money. Are you looking for income or are you looking for an emergency fund?

[00:28:03]Denise Anne:  I’m looking for income.

[00:28:05]Suze Orman:  If you’re looking for income, then it really depends, you can look into immediate annuities for yourself … but I would not be doing it with a large sum of money at all right here. You can look into also preferred stocks — paying nice dividends and they’re not as volatile as regular common stocks and things like that. Treasury bonds are starting to go up in yields, or Treasury notes, actually. I would, however, stay away from long-term bond funds, and I would be just careful with that way, but I wouldn’t have a problem if you looked into a 10-year Treasury note, into high yield savings accounts, into preferred stocks, and things like that with a combination of possibly an annuity. Just be very careful and do your shopping very well when it comes to annuities, OK?

[00:29:05]Denise Anne:  OK, what kind of a bond?

[00:29:10]Suze Orman:  The Treasury notes, if you could hold off just a little bit here in time — I think you might see interest rates, I’m not sure, but they’ve been ticking up a little, they might tick down a little, but it just depends again what you’re looking for. And so a 10-year Treasury note is yielding you higher than it has yielded in a while. So you might want to take a look at that, but I don’t think you’re going to do a whole lot better than if you put your money in a high yield savings account of some kind, and just see what happens at that rate. But if you could just be patient for a little bit and do an annuity in a year or two from now, I think you would be far better off.

[00:29:57]Margi Mannix:  Great, Suze, thanks so much. Do we have another live question, Jean?

[00:30:03]Jean Setzfand:  Yes, we have one last question for Suze. This is Leisha from Ohio.

[00:30:08]Margi Mannix:  Leisha from Ohio. What is your question tonight?

[00:30:12]Leisha:  Hello, how are you?

[00:30:14]Suze Orman:  We’re great, Leisha.

[00:30:17]Leisha:  Good. I became disabled in 2018. I’m 55 now. I’ve got my life insurance, is all taken care of. I have a lot of debt I incurred on credit cards, and my line of credit that I took out is like at $27,000. I’m trying to pay it off. These all occurred because of being a Social Security Disability, and the limited income that I get, and having to pay for prescriptions and doctor bills and that sort of thing. Is it best if I change the line of credit to a second mortgage at a fixed rate?

[00:31:12]Suze Orman:  Let me ask you a question. I heard you say you have life insurance is all taken care of. What kind of life insurance do you have?

[00:31:20]Leisha:  I have whole life.

[00:31:23]Suze Orman:  And what is the cash value of that?

[00:31:26]Leisha:  I’m not sure.

[00:31:32]Suze Orman:  All right, is anybody financial dependent on you?

[00:31:37]Leisha:  No, just myself.

[00:31:39]Suze Orman:  Thank you. Listen to me closely now. It makes absolutely no sense on any level that you have a whole life insurance policy, because who are you having insurance for? We want to make sure that you get to live your whole life as much as you can. So given the fact that you have insurance, and you don’t need it, chances are your whole life insurance policy has a cash value on it. And it will have … and you could surrender that, and who cares? Right. You surrender it, you then stop having to pay the premiums for it, possibly, unless it’s paid up already, but so you would stop paying premiums, you get the cash value, and now you have some cash in hand. I would be very, very careful if I were you about taking out a second on the house and doing all that because the $27,000 that you have is secured debt, which means if you can’t pay it, they will take your house away from you. So I would forego the credit card debt, paying the absolute minimum on it or whatever, and I would do everything I could to pay down the $27,000 of a line of credit that you happen to have. I’m sure the interest rate on the line of credit is equal right now to what it would be if you did a second, there might be closing costs, things like that. So I would just leave the line of credit like it is right now, and do everything in my power to get rid of it.

[00:33:20]Leisha:  OK.

[00:33:21]Margi Mannix:  Great. Thank you, Suze, so much. Thank you both, caller and Suze. I’d like to turn it a little bit back to Jo Ann here. Jo Ann, can you tell us what types of tools that AARP has that can help people navigate the financial challenges brought about by the pandemic?

[00:33:41]Jo Ann Jenkins:  Certainly. AARP has been really working in this area for many, many years. And if you go to aarp.org and type in the financial solutions, you’ll see a whole host of information there related to the work that AARP does in the financial security area — from helping you to manage your money and some of the suggestions that Suze has said; to helping you file your taxes through our AARP Foundation, and we have someone on the line that’s going to be there a little later; as well as helping them think through their retirement; and how to look at Social Security and when you should be drawing that Social Security; and how you can really derive more benefits from the use of your money. We’re very proud of the work that we’ve been doing in the financial security area, and know that it is so important that we don’t outlive our money. Suze has given us a whole host of tips. I’ve been keeping notes as she’s been talking as well, just thinking through family and friends and everybody else who needs to make sure that they have information — the best information available for people to be making their individual decisions.

[00:34:57]Margi Mannix:  Great. Thank you so much, Suzi and Jo Ann, and we know you need to leave us right now. Can’t thank you enough for this important discussion and all the wonderful advice that we’ve heard tonight. And now for the next part of our program, I am very happy to bring in additional special guests: first, Erin M. Collins, the IRS’s National Taxpayer Advocate. Then we have money expert and author Deborah Owens, and Tax-Aide volunteer Steve Conary. Welcome to all of you.

[00:35:33] Erin, let’s start with you. If anyone knows how difficult this tax season is for Americans, it is you. Let’s do a quick Q&A of the top questions you’re seeing this year. What has the pandemic changed about this tax season and what should people consider as they are filing their 2020 taxes?

[00:35:52]Erin Collins:  Thanks, Margi. First let me just do a very high-level background of myself. Good afternoon or good evening, depending on where you’re all sitting, and thank you so much for inviting me to participate in today’s town hall. As we’ve been talking about this for the past year under COVID, it has created many challenges in all of our personal lives or businesses, and even with our dealings with the IRS. Last March, I had the privilege of being sworn in as the National Taxpayer Advocate, and I lead a tremendous group of employees in the Taxpayer Advocate Service. My position and the Taxpayer Advocate Service was created by Congress to help taxpayers, free of charge, when facing financial difficulties or dealing with problems when IRS systems or procedures fail. Our charge is to be the voice of taxpayers. And we get to advocate both for administrative change within the IRS and legislative change within Congress. So it’s a unique role where we get to represent all taxpayers across the nation and propose changes that affect them. And as you noted, this has been a tough year for taxpayers; it’s been a tough year for the IRS. And the pandemic has truly highlighted the challenges that the IRS has been facing for the past decade. Its budget has been decreased by about 20 percent. Its staffing decreased from 94,000 employees in 2010 to about 75,000 today. Unfortunately, the IRS is a paper-driven agency, and last year paper was not kind to the IRS. With their closed offices, employees working remotely, paper tax returns, paper correspondence, social distancing requirements, the IRS has faced one challenge after the next, and unfortunately, taxpayers are bearing the brunt of it. So my recommendation circling back to your question for 2021 is everyone should try and file the returns electronically. I strongly encourage everyone to make the effort to file it and include your bank routing information, so you could receive your refunds timely. Typically, if there are no issues with the electronically filed return, it can be processed timely, and refunds would be issued under 21 days, and often as quick as one week. But if there is a discrepancy between your tax return and the IRS records, unfortunately, the IRS has limited staff to manually work those, and there will be delays. So again, I urge people to please file electronically, find a friend, find a family member or use AARP’s Tax-Aide filing program. But file electronically and get confirmations that the IRS accepted your return.

[00:38:39] And one other thing to think about is to prevent identity theft, which is truly a challenge across the country, consider applying for what is referred to with the IRS as the identity protection pin. That will prevent someone else from filing a return under your name and claiming your refund. On Tuesday, my office posted a blog, under the National Taxpayer Advocate blog, that explains what you need to do to apply for a pin. So it’s an extra level of protection in this day and age that is very important. You can also go to irs.gov, you can go to our Taxpayer Advocate Service webpage or our blogs for both practical tips and information on the pin, as well as other information for IRS purposes.

[00:39:28]Margi Mannix:  Great. Thank you, Erin, for that inside peek at what’s going on at the IRS and our returns. You did mention the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide locator service, and I wanted to remind our callers that if you want to know more about it you can go to aarpfoundation.org/taxaide. And if you don’t have a computer, we have a [toll-free] number — it’s 888-OUR AARP, that’s 888-687-2277. Now, Erin, back to you. Last year, the filing season was moved from April 15 to July 15. Will the filing date be moved this year, just like last year?

[00:40:12]Erin Collins:  That has been a question that’s being asked for the last couple of months. In my opinion, postponing the filing date past April 15 together with the impact of COVID last year caused a lot of administrative problems that, unfortunately, the IRS is still cleaning up today — including unprocessed back, paper returns, backlog of correspondence, issuance of incorrect notices. The IRS is still trying to catch up from delaying that filing date. And again, taxpayers are paying the price for that. I know many organizations, including AARP and members of Congress, have been pushing the IRS to extend the date. I believe the IRS feels that it currently has no operational issues for it to extend it, but at the same time, it’s a balancing act. You’ve got to do what is best for taxpayers as well as what is best for tax administration impacting taxpayers. I don’t have a crystal ball, but today I believe the IRS does not intend on postponing the filing season. But one thing you should think about is, if you need more time, if the taxpayer has particular issues, they can always file a request for an extension by filing a Form 4868 by April 15. That will provide an automatic extension for you to file your return until Oct. 15. But just to note, if you owe tax, the tax is due on April 15, even if your filing date has been moved to October. A lot of taxpayers are looking at refunds, so again, if you needed the additional time to get your return files, you can file that extension. And then also, just to note, I believe it was today or yesterday, the Federation of Tax Administrators, which I think consists of most of the states’ taxing agencies, they too came out and said they do not want the IRS extending the date, because when you think about it, if the IRS extends, that means all the states also extend. I think a lot of the taxing administrations are pushing back and would prefer not to extend the date. So long answer for I don’t believe it’s going to happen, but, unfortunately, I don’t make the final decision. So now keep an eye on tax news, newspapers. I’m sure if it did happen, it will be front page of half of the newspapers we all read.

[00:42:31]Margi Mannix:  OK. Great, Erin. We will definitely keep an eye on that. So with the impact of the pandemic and having IRS employees working remotely, we’ve heard that the IRS is struggling with providing telephone service for taxpayers. What’s the current availability of the IRS customer service representatives on the toll-free lines?

[00:42:49]Erin Collins:  This has been a longstanding problem for taxpayers. And, unfortunately, today the IRS is only answering about 1 out of every 5 calls due to both increased volume and limited staff. Unfortunately, taxpayers are and should be prepared to have long delays, and they should consider other options — whether it’s irs.gov, other resources, resources such as AARP — to be able to find their answers.

[00:43:17]Margi Mannix:  OK. Now I’ve got about two questions on the stimulus payments — we get a lot of questions about that. First, is it possible for taxpayers to verify the issuance of the first or second stimulus payment? In other words, how can they confirm that the IRS sent it, when they sent it, and what the amount was?

[00:43:37]Erin Collins:  That’s a good question for a couple of reasons. One is, as I indicated earlier, if you have an inconsistency on your upcoming tax return with respect to the stimulus payments, your return potentially will get pulled out for manual review. So you do want to make sure it is correct. Without getting into too many of the details, the previous stimulus payments, the first one was about April and the second one was in January, the IRS should have sent out a notice about 15 days after the payment was made; it’s called Notice 1444, entitled Your Economic Payment, which should have reflected the date of the payment and the amount of the repayment. If you received both, you should have received two letters, one in the summer and one in February. But you can also go onto the IRS webpage. There’s a tool called Get My Payment, and it will show you the amounts and dates of the payments that the IRS believes you received. The challenge is if you do not agree with the IRS, you have an option of working with the IRS and asking them to trace that payment. So again, on irs.gov, it provides a phone number and a fax number where you could ask the IRS to verify that information. So before you file your current return requesting additional funds because you believe you did not receive it, you might want to work with the IRS to make sure your return is not bounced.

[00:45:05]Margi Mannix:  OK. Great. Thank you. And my last question for you right now is one that we do get a lot, and I think we did get this earlier in the conversation: “I did not receive my economic stimulus payment. What do I need to do to get my payment?”

[00:45:21]Erin Collins:  I think that was your first caller’s question, I believe his name was Robert. If you are eligible, and you did not receive the first, the second, or the full amount of your stimulus payments, what you are required to do is to file a 2020 tax return, a 1040 or 1040SR for seniors. And you would put in there that you received — for example, let’s say you didn’t get either payment, you would put zero. And as a result, potentially depending on what your income was, you could receive $1,200 for the first payment and $600 in the second payment. By filing your 2020 tax return, you could reflect that you did not receive the $1,800 of stimulus money, and the IRS would pay that as part of your 2020 tax return. Again, that’s something you might want to check with your advisers or the AARP Tax-Aide to see the dollars and your eligibility, but it is something that in order to get the money — and Robert, if you’re listening, you need to file the 2020 tax return, which will give you the first two stimulus payments. I think we’ve all seen the news; President Biden signed today the new package, the new relief for individuals, and that includes a third stimulus payment, which will be made. If you are a Social Security recipient, the IRS will automatically pay you your stimulus payment if you’re in the Social Security system and you have bank deposit information. You will receive that. If you’re not, and you don’t receive Social Security, filing your 2020 return will make you eligible for that third amount if your income is below: If you’re single $75,000; if you’re filing jointly, it’s the $150,000.

[00:47:16]Margi Mannix:  Great. Thank you so much for that valuable information, Erin, we really appreciate it. I just want to remind our callers that we also have a wealth of information on our website, and we do have several pieces of informative educational articles on the recovery refund credit that Erin mentioned. You just need to go to aarp.org/taxes, and we have more information there. Let’s turn now to Deborah Owens at WealthyU. Deborah, are there opportunities to help advance your career and financial goals during a pandemic? Say if someone has been laid off, or just has time on their hands, what should they be doing?

[00:47:57]Deborah Owens:  Yes, well, I tell you it’s been the best of times and the worst of times depending upon what industry you’re in. Let’s tackle that first question around career. What we’re seeing in our community is that the people who are weathering this pandemic the best in terms of careers are going where the growth is. And what I mean by that is even though we’ve seen industries like transportation and restaurants really be the hardest hit in this, what we’ve seen, though, is there are companies that are hiring more than ever. And so if you’re thinking about what are some ways that I can find … job opportunities or career opportunities, the place to be looking are companies like Amazon. They hired, they are hiring over 120,000 people, and they were already expanding in certain markets; that was announced even before the pandemic. And in addition to that, talk about the best of times, today we just saw another record on the S&P 500. And so for what that means, it bodes well certainly if you’ve got retirement savings, but also the other industry that’s hiring are the financial services companies. And the good news there is, one of the kind of unintended consequences, or benefits I would say, of the pandemic is that many of companies are now hiring virtually. So you’re no longer limited, or limited by geography, particularly in financial services. We know that many of those jobs were in metropolitan areas — large cities like New York, which is the sort of finance capital of the United States or the world, if you will. Now, many of these companies — like Fidelity, E*Trade — are all hiring people, customer service agents; and sometimes you do need licensing, but talking about ways that you can really upgrade your skills right now. Another benefit to the pandemic is many of the universities and community colleges are allowing people to take classes and upgrade their skills with some certification with little or reduced fees. So just some encouragement for our audience —maybe you’re struggling through this — to kind of think about what are the things that you can position yourself for, to take advantage of what has really been of very unfortunate time for so many of us.

[00:50:52]Margi Mannix:  Great. Thank you, Deborah. So there are some opportunities out there and there’s also some more education that people can turn to. That is great to hear. Thank you. Now I’d like to turn to Steve. Steve, how can people access some of the free services the AARP Foundation offers to help people understand and prepare their tax forms?

[00:51:20]Steve Conary:  Thanks, Margi. The first step is to go to the AARPFoundation.org/taxaide website. There you get a full menu of services that we’re offering. Pre-pandemic we were operating about 5,000 sites across the country. We have been impacted as we deal with the safety of the taxpayers, the volunteers and our host site personnel during this pandemic. It has curtailed some of the operation. We do not have as many sites as we’ve had in the past, but we are offering more ways to help taxpayers to file this year. We have some of our traditional in-person sites available by appointment. We have our low-contact model, where taxpayers can interact with the volunteers and one or two short in-person meetings to exchange documents, again by appointment, and that’s all on the website. We have a contact-free offering where we work with the taxpayers online or by phone and exchange documents electronically, and we also offer some self-preparation services, including coaching from a volunteer to help an individual work through the process of preparing their own return with free tax filing software. Again, the best way is to go to the AARPFoundation.org/taxaide website.

[00:52:48]Margi Mannix:  Thank you, Steve. A lot of options there. The pandemic has impacted how people are filing their taxes. What resources are available to people who may be doing their taxes themselves for the very first time?

[00:53:04]Steve Conary:  We offer coaching by IRS-certified volunteers for taxpayers using some free tax software. The various IRS free-file software packages that … you can access from the IRS website also include great guided preparation. So you really only need to answer some simple questions if you’re self-preparing. It does all the math, too, and as Erin mentioned earlier, e-filing continues to be the easiest and the safest and the fastest way to file a complete and accurate tax return.

[00:53:41]Margi Mannix:  Great. Thank you so much, Steve. We appreciate your sharing that information. I know you have to leave, but I just want to thank you very much for joining us this evening. It’s now time to address your questions about the impact of the coronavirus on your taxes and your finances with Erin Collins of the IRS and Deborah Owens of WealthyU. Jean, did we have somebody on the line?

[00:54:16]Jean Setzfand:  We do. Our first caller is Kay from Ohio.

[00:54:21]Margi Mannix:  Hi, Kay from Ohio. What’s your question?

[00:54:26]Kay:  I had asked the question about the stimulus return and the income tax credit.

[00:54:35]Margi Mannix:  Sure. Go ahead.

[00:54:38]Kay:  You get $1,400 for the individual. Do you get $1,400 for the child, too?

[00:54:46]Margi Mannix:  Erin, do you want to take that question?

[00:54:48]Erin Collins:  Sure. Kay, yes, it depends on what the IRS calls your adjusted gross income. If that amount is below $75,000, you would get the full amount for a qualifying child and the full amount for yourself. As you go above the $75,000 of adjusted gross income, the amount is reduced down to zero by the time you hit $80,000. So individuals between that $75,000 and $80,000 will get a partial payment for themselves and a partial payment for their child.

[00:55:26]Margi Mannix:  Great. Thank you, Erin. Jean, do we have another caller?

[00:55:30]Jean Setzfand:  We do. This is Paula from New York.

[00:55:34]Margi Mannix:  Hi, Paula from New York. What is your question?

[00:55:37]Paula:  Hi, I received unemployment benefits in 2020. I made an error, so I have to repay a portion. I repaid it in 2021. OK, I haven’t done my tax return yet, but what troubles me is I had the taxes taken out when they sent me … when I got my payments. In repaying it, they have you send back full amount, the tax part that they took out that you never received, they have you pay it back, which I’ll never understand, but I’m not questioning that. Well, now that I see that the government is going to forgive the $10,000, the first $10,200 of income, which applies to me, it’s such a mess. I’m trying to understand, how is this going to be reflected in this year’s tax, in my 2020 tax return? I mean, do you even understand ...

[00:56:39]Erin Collins:  You don’t ask an easy question, do you?

[00:56:43]Paula:  Well, should I say it again? Should I say it again more slowly?

[00:56:48]Erin Collins:  No, I do understand the question. The challenge you’re going to have, and I would always recommend, is when you have complicated situations to get tax advice. But you would reflect the total amount of unemployment income with respect to 2020. If it is above $10,000, you would only pay tax on the amount above $10,200. With respect to the amount that you returned, you would then get a benefit in your next filed tax return. So that gets a little bit more complicated because you’re going over different tax years. Since the law was literally just signed today, the IRS has not provided guidance on how to do the calculation, so I think some people are recommending you hold off filing your return until the IRS provides that guidance. And if you’ve already filed your return, where some people may have done, they may be entitled to a refund, but again, I think I would wait at least a week or two to see what advice the IRS comes out with, with respect to how to proceed on this issue. So, Paula, you have a difficult situation, but it is … you just need to walk it through on the tax return to get to the right answer.

[00:58:04]Margi Mannix:  OK. All right. Thank you, Erin. Great answer, and I’m sure all of our callers appreciated that information. Let’s go back to the line. Who do we have next, Jean?

[00:58:15]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Ruby from Michigan.

[00:58:18]Margi Mannix:  Hi, Ruby from Michigan. What is your question?

[00:58:22]Ruby:  My question is that I’m trying to find a local place that I can go to. I used to go to AARP where they had right at the civic center, which was very convenient. And I called in January and they said that they were already booked up, and it’s like … where do you go to get your taxes done for free?

[00:58:46]Margi Mannix:  Thanks, Ruby, for that question. And I’ll turn that over to Steve. Can you give her some advice here, Steve?

[00:58:52]Steve Conary:  We are finding that a lot of our sites are booked, and that’s why we’re encouraging those who can to try … self-preparation with our coaching so that you can get your tax return prepared. There are not a lot of the other alternatives. The pandemic has had a big impact, considering a lot of our volunteers are in the most susceptible group. We have to take the safety precautions; we just don’t have the capacity that we have had in the past. I’m sorry to say.

[00:59:28]Margi Mannix:  But she might be able to make, make use of some of those options you talked about, like the coaching and things like that.

[00:59:36]Steve Conary:  That’s correct. Yes.

[00:59:38]Margi Mannix:  OK, great. All right. Let’s turn to our next caller. Jean, who do we have?

[00:59:44]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Joyce from California.

[00:59:48]Margi Mannix:  Hi, Joyce from California. How are you?

[00:59:54]Caller:  I’m from Harrisburg. Am I up next?

[01:00:00]Margi Mannix:  Sure, go ahead.

[01:00:02]Caller:  OK. I’m sorry. My question is last year for 2020, I filed my taxes with a CPA … July the 5th, because it was extended because of the pandemic. And I filed electronically, but I never received the money for my income tax refund. So how will I go about getting that money? I checked with the CPA. He said I should have had it. But when I called my banking institution, there was never any monies deposited into my account.

[01:00:46]Margi Mannix:  That sounds like a question for you, Erin.

[01:00:49]Erin Collins:  Have you had an opportunity to try and call the IRS and ask or go online to the “Where’s My Refund” to see what the IRS records reflect?

[01:01:01]Caller:  Yes, I did. And I never got a response back at all. I went out there several times and never got a response back.

[01:01:10]Erin Collins:  Do you have access to the internet or computer?

[01:01:17]Caller:  Yes, I do. And that’s where I went through.

[01:01:20]Erin Collins:  And you went to “Where’s My Refund,” cause it should come up and either tell you it’s been processed or it’s in processing.

[01:01:29]Caller:  It said, no record found.

[01:01:32]Erin Collins:  OK. So that means there’s a problem with the IRS, and I think I mentioned earlier on this call that we understand that over 6 million of the refunds or returns still have not been processed. They are sitting in a holding pattern, unfortunately, you may be one of those. The IRS does recommend you don’t file additional returns, but at some point, you need to do something to get this moving along. I would definitely continue to reach out to the IRS and see if they can tell you when, and if, it’s been processed and where it is in the system.

[01:02:12]Margi Mannix:  Thank you so much, Erin. And thank you all, callers, for your questions. I’d like right now to turn back to our experts. Erin, a common scam spikes around tax time every year. Criminals pose as the IRS calling for back taxes, and then they threaten arrest if it’s not paid immediately. What should someone do if they get that kind of call?

[01:02:32]Erin Collins:  Unfortunately, scams spike around this time of the year. So absolutely, be alert. First, you should know the IRS does not contact taxpayers by email, text message or using any sort of social media to request any personal information. The IRS should contact you by mail first, and they will never request local police to participate and they will never demand a credit card number. So if you’re hearing that, and if you have any doubt, just end the call; get their information; call the IRS, verify whether or not that is, in fact, an IRS employee; and that what their purpose is. We’re seeing a number of scams right now, anything from suspending Social Security payments, where they’re threatening to sue or seize your bank accounts; scams on requesting assistance for the disasters, trying to take advantage of people’s generosity. If anyone reaches out to you from a government agency that you were not expecting, please make sure you verify that that individual, in fact, works for that government agency. And when in doubt, call and verify. Unfortunately, one of the scams we’re seeing as a result of COVID has to do with unemployment insurance, and it is rampant throughout the entire United States. Fraud unemployment claims were filed in multiple states using someone else’s identity. So let’s say someone filed unemployment compensation or benefits under Erin Collins and used my Social Security number. What will happen is now I will get a Form 1099 indicating that I have unemployment insurance. If you receive that 1099, you need to reach out back to the state to get that corrected, and please do not report that to the IRS, because that is not your income. If you did not receive the income, do not include it on your tax return, but continue to work with the state agencies to have them correct that 1099 and submit a correct one to the IRS.

[01:04:36]Margi Mannix:  Oh my gosh. OK. I want to remind our callers we have a wonderful program in AARP called the AARP Fraud Watch Network. And we do have information about those two scams that Erin just mentioned on our website. You can find it at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can also call during business hours; it’s 877-908-3360. Thank you so much, Erin, for that information.

[01:05:09] Now let’s turn to Deborah. Deborah, how has the pandemic impacted retirement savings, and how can people make up for losses if they lost their job, for example, and couldn’t save?

[01:05:23]Deborah Owens:  A couple of things … more than 33 percent of Americans actually withdrew or borrowed money from their IRA during the pandemic. But the good news is this, and I know it was mentioned earlier, but … with the Cares Act you’re allowed to withdraw up to a $100,000 without paying the 10 percent penalty that you would if you’re under 59 1/2. Certainly, I’m not suggesting someone do that, but we do know that people have been financially stressed. Unlike in the past where you only had 60 days if you took a withdrawal out of your IRA, you now have more than three years to pay that back. I know someone asked earlier about that. So that is the good news, right? Because that penalty typically is more than 10 percent if you were, if you had to take the money out. So that’s the good news.

[01:06:22] And the other thing is that if you weren’t able to contribute to your 401k … and for many people, they had to kind of make a choice, right? In this environment the fact is — and I think Suze said it very eloquently — that in these uncertain times, most people really need to think about how can they replenish their savings or either start an emergency savings fund in the event that the economy does not recover.

[01:06:59]Margi Mannix:  OK. Thank you, Deborah. Now Suze touched on this a little bit, but I also wanted to ask you. With another round of stimulus checks going out, if someone is approaching retirement and has debt, how do they decide whether to invest the money for retirement or to pay off debt? Do you have anything to add to that?

[01:07:18]Deborah Owens:  I do. I would concur with Suze. But … one of the earlier callers said should she … I think she was disabled and so she had a lot of credit card debt. And one of the things that I know, and I really want to encourage people, is to go to AARP, which has some great resources around managing debt. And for people who are dealing with debt, one of the most effective ways for you to get assistance is to get help from the National Credit Counseling Agency. Because particularly in this environment, they may be able to negotiate some of those debts or some of those interest rates down because that is what’s really impacting people — paying those minimums but knowing that if you’re disabled or retired you may not be able to afford to [and] all those balances are just going to continue to compound. I really want to encourage people to take advantage of the tools on AARP, but also to call and get assistance. In many states there are nonprofit credit counseling agencies that can really advocate on your behalf.

[01:08:37]Margi Mannix:  Thank you so much, Deborah, for that practical advice. I know I speak on behalf of our callers and thank you so much for that. This has been a very informative discussion. Thanks to each of you for answering our questions. And thank you, our AARP members, volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we are providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and prevent its spread to others while taking care of themselves. All of the resources referenced, including a recording of today’s Q&A event can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus on March 12. Again, that web address is aarp.org/coronavirus. Go there if your question wasn’t addressed tonight, and you will find the latest updates, as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers. We hope that you learned something that could help keep you and your loved ones healthy. And please join us on March 25 at 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. ET for two more live coronavirus Q&A events. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

[01:10:00]

Margi Mannix: Hola. Soy la vicepresidenta y editora en jefe de AARP, Margi Mannix, y quiero darles la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre el coronavirus. Antes de comenzar, si deseas escuchar esta teleasamblea en español, presiona * 0 en tu teclado ahora.

 

AARP, una organización de membresía sin fines de lucro y no partidista, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores durante más de 60 años. Frente a la pandemia mundial de coronavirus, AARP proporciona información y recursos para ayudar a los adultos mayores y a quienes los cuidan.

 

Hoy es un día digno de mención ya que fue hace un año exactamente que se declaró oficialmente la pandemia. En el transcurso del último año, la COVID-19 ha alterado la vida y las finanzas de las personas de formas sin precedentes. Muchos han experimentado el desempleo por primera vez y pueden haber perdido a sus seres queridos a causa de la pandemia.

 

Algunos se han visto obligados a utilizar los ahorros de la jubilación solo para pagar sus facturas y ahora están luchando contra las deudas. Estos problemas, además de una temporada de impuestos extremadamente compleja, están creando ansiedad y confusión para muchas personas.

 

Esta noche, nos acompañan algunos invitados muy especiales que abordarán estos temas y otros. Nos complace dar la bienvenida a Suze Orman, la experta en finanzas personales líder en el mundo y presentadora del pódcast Women and Money (And Men Smart Enough to Listen), quien compartirá consejos sobre ahorros, planificación de la jubilación y deudas, y los pasos que puedes tomar para lograr el empoderamiento financiero. También nos acompañará la directora ejecutiva de AARP, Jo Ann Jenkins, quien compartirá cómo AARP está apoyando a los adultos mayores y brindando recursos durante la pandemia mundial de coronavirus.

 

También nos acompañarán más adelante en el programa Erin M. Collins, Defensora Nacional del Contribuyente conocida como la "voz del contribuyente" dentro del IRS y ante el Congreso, Deborah Owens, fundadora y directora ejecutiva de WealthyU, experta financiera y autora, y Steve Conary, voluntario de AARP Foundation Tax Aide.

 

Si ya has participado en alguna de nuestras teleasambleas, sabes que esto es similar a un programa de entrevistas de radio y tendrás la oportunidad de hacer tus preguntas en vivo. Para aquellos de ustedes que nos acompañan por teléfono, presionen * 3 en su teléfono para conectarse ahora con un miembro del personal de AARP que anotará su nombre y su pregunta y lo colocará en una lista para hacer esa pregunta en vivo. Si te unes a través de Facebook o YouTube, puedes publicar tu pregunta en los comentarios. Y si deseas escuchar en español, presiona * 0 en el teclado de tu teléfono ahora.

 

Hola, si acabas de unirte, soy Margi Mannix de AARP y quiero darte la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre la pandemia mundial de coronavirus. Estaremos hablando con principales expertos y respondiendo sus preguntas en vivo. Te espera una buena noche, ya que tenemos algunos invitados muy especiales. Hoy nos acompaña Suze Orman, la experta en finanzas personales líder en el mundo. Hola, Suze.

 

Suze Orman: Hola, ¿cómo estás, Margi?

 

Margi Mannix: Un placer tenerte con nosotros, Suze. Muchas gracias por estar aquí. Jo Ann Jenkins, bienvenida, directora ejecutiva de AARP. ¿Cómo estás esta noche?

 

Jo Ann Jenkins: Estoy bien, Margi. Un placer estar aquí.

 

Margi Mannix: Genial. Gracias por estar con nosotros. Y más adelante en el programa, escucharemos a Erin M. Collins, la Defensora Nacional del Contribuyente del IRS, la experta financiera y autora Deborah Owens, y el voluntario de Tax Aide Steve Conary. También nos acompañará mi colega de AARP, Jean Setzfand, quien ayudará a facilitar sus llamadas esta noche. Este evento está siendo grabado y podrán acceder a la grabación en www.aarp.org/elcoronavirus 24 horas después de que terminemos aquí esta noche. Empecemos.

 

Llevamos un año en algo que nadie esperaba, una pandemia que ha cambiado nuestra vida y nos ha desafiado de formas únicas. Pero, ¿quién mejor para discutir el impacto de la pandemia en nuestros bolsillos que Suze Orman? ¿Y quién mejor para discutir el impacto de la pandemia en los adultos mayores que Jo Ann Jenkins? Entreguemos nuestra conversación a nuestros invitados especiales. Suze y Jo Ann, pueden comenzar.

 

Jo Ann Jenkins: Gracias a todos por estar aquí con nosotros esta noche. Agradecemos que se hayan tomado el tiempo de conversar con Suze y conmigo, y con los demás invitados que estarán aquí con nosotros. En muchos sentidos, esta es una ocasión muy sombría, el primer aniversario o, mejor dicho, el infeliz aniversario de la COVID-19.

 

Nuestra nación ha perdido a más de 530,000 personas a causa de la COVID-19. Y nuestros hogares de ancianos se han visto especialmente afectados. Y hemos escuchado de muchos de ustedes en todo el país sobre cómo les ha afectado a ustedes personalmente y a su familia. Y muchos de ustedes han perdido a sus seres queridos. Pero estoy muy orgullosa de la forma en que todos nos hemos unido para protegernos unos a otros, como defensores, para estar ahí el uno para el otro, para cuidarnos unos a otros. Y realmente, de eso se trata la familia AARP.

 

Y estoy muy orgullosa de que AARP haya estado allí para brindar esa información confiable, promoción e innovación para ayudar a nuestros casi 38 millones de socios en todo este país, y a las personas mayores de 50 años y sus familias, mientras navegan por lo que me gusta llamar el doble impacto de las consecuencias económicas y de salud que esta pandemia nos ha traído. Pero todavía estamos aquí, así que tenemos motivos para celebrar. Y hay algo de luz al final del túnel.

 

Pero recuerdo que siempre nos hacemos estas preguntas sobre "¿qué te ha enseñado la COVID-19?" Y mientras Suze y yo hablábamos más temprano hoy, recordamos que una de las cosas que ella nos ha estado metiendo en la cabeza durante años es lo importante que es tener una cuenta de ahorros para ese día. ¿Y quién hubiera pensado que el 12 de marzo del año pasado todos necesitaríamos un fondo de emergencia para ayudarnos a pasar un año entero? Entonces, quiero traer a Suze aquí y decir, Suze, creo que deberíamos estar escuchando todo lo que nos dices porque obviamente pudiste ver lo importante que era para nosotros mantener esa cuenta de ahorros en los tiempos difíciles.

 

Suze Orman: ¿Sabes? Lo interesante, Jo Ann, es que no hace falta una pandemia para que tengamos que decir que necesitamos un fondo de emergencia. Puede ser una enfermedad. Puedes perder un trabajo. Mira hacia atrás en el 2008, 2009 y lo que sucedió al perder una casa y todo. No se trata solo de estos eventos que se espera ocurran una vez en la vida, como la pandemia, que dicen: "Dios mío, necesitamos este fondo de emergencia". Realmente, realmente, siempre lo necesitamos.

 

Porque aquí está el punto, todos deben hacerse la pregunta: "¿Cuál es el objetivo del dinero?" Y la respuesta a esa pregunta es que el objetivo del dinero es hacerte sentir seguro. Y nada te hará sentir más seguro que saber que no importa lo que te suceda, no importa lo que suceda en la economía, sabes que puedes cuidarte a ti mismo y a tu familia por ahora al menos un año.

 

Yo solía decir, Jo Ann, que todo lo que necesitabas era un fondo de emergencia de ocho meses. Y muchas veces, los expertos decían: "Oh, solo necesitas tres meses, seis meses". No es así. Ahora les digo a todos que necesitan al menos un fondo de emergencia de 12 meses. Si hemos aprendido algo, con suerte, hemos aprendido esa lección ahora.

 

Jo Ann Jenkins: Bueno, y eso es muy importante porque muchos de nuestros socios que tienen trabajos de medio tiempo, o incluso trabajos de tiempo completo o en la industria de servicios, realmente perdieron sus ingresos en su totalidad y han tenido que adaptarse, ya sea confiando en ese fondo de emergencia o en familiares o amigos y pasar por eso. Entonces, eso es tan importante.

 

Estábamos hablando de cuidar a alguien y sé que no hace mucho que perdiste a tu madre, pero lo importante que es para nosotros pensar en el cuidado de nuestros seres queridos. Sé, para mí, mi hermana y yo cuidamos de mis dos hermanos que viven en la casa de mis padres en Alabama, y ​​lo difícil que es realmente tratar de abordar esas necesidades de cuidado desde tan lejos y el costo de la atención domiciliaria.

 

Suze Orman: Lo interesante es que combinar el fondo de emergencia junto con los cheques de estímulo que la gente va a recibir, junto con el hecho de que ahora estamos cuidando a tanta gente, es realmente importante que cuando estos cheques de estímulo entren, y van a entrar por mucho dinero, con suerte, para muchos de ustedes, porque recuerden, dice la nueva ley, el nuevo estímulo dice que si están cuidando a un padre adulto, por ejemplo, como dependiente, ahora podrás reclamar esos $1,400. Entonces, por favor, cuando reciban estos cheques de estímulo, y si no tienen un fondo de emergencia, no tienen dinero a su nombre, no saben cuándo van a recuperar su trabajo, no salgan y con todo este dinero y paguen todas las deudas de su tarjeta de crédito. No hagan eso.

 

Mantengan este dinero sano y salvo, incluso si eso significa que solo pagarán el mínimo adeudado hasta que las cosas mejoren. Pero para continuar con tu pregunta, Jo Ann, sobre el cuidado de los padres, es un gran problema y es caro. Y todo lo que puedo decir, tal vez no puedas pagarlo en este momento porque no tienes el dinero para hacerlo, pero cuando lo tengas, deberías considerar una póliza de seguro de atención a largo plazo. Porque puedo garantizar que pagarás menos en todos los años que pagues primas de lo que pagarás por un año de atención si tienes que pagarlo de tu propio bolsillo.

 

Estas son solo algunas de las cosas en las que tenemos que pensar. Pero el punto principal que creo que deberíamos plantear, Jo Ann, es que cuando recibas estos cheques de estímulo, cuando obtengas el crédito tributario por cuidado infantil, cuando obtengas ciertas cosas que, con suerte, obtendrás ahora, realmente pienses en las lecciones que aprendiste el año pasado, cuando dijiste: "Oh, desearía haber hecho esto, desearía haber guardado esto", solo piénsalo dos veces antes de salir y gastar este dinero.

 

Jo Ann Jenkins: Y eso es muy importante. Y estoy muy feliz de que el presidente haya firmado ese primer proyecto de ley de estímulo esta tarde. Y ya estamos escuchando que los cheques saldrán dentro de la semana para aquellos que reciben depósito directo. Por lo tanto, es importante que todos pensemos en qué hacer con ese dinero y lo importante que es asegurarse de estar cuidando su salud financiera antes de gastar dinero en cosas que pueden ser un deseo y no necesariamente una necesidad. Entonces, eso es muy importante para nosotros.

 

Estaba tan feliz de pensar en el trabajo que ha hecho AARP, particularmente en lo que se refiere a lo que está llegando a través del estímulo y también cómo tuvimos que construir relaciones en todo este país con otros funcionarios gubernamentales. Y no podríamos haber hecho eso sin nuestros colegas de AARP, pero más importante aún, con todos nuestros voluntarios y nuestros socios, quienes hicieron oír su voz en los capitolios estatales y en las alcaldías de todo el país. Porque no es solo el impacto de la COVID-19. Es la COVID-19 además de las dificultades financieras. Y es muy clave para nosotros asegurarnos de estar enfocados en eso. Suze, obtienes tu cheque de estímulo, ¿cuáles son las cosas que deberían pagar?

 

Suze Orman: Esto es lo que creo que todo el mundo realmente necesita hacer: controlar la realidad en cuanto a lo que realmente está sucediendo en su vida en este momento. Hacer una lista de todas las facturas que debe pagar. Debes pagar tu seguro médico. Debes pagar el alquiler, el pago de tu hipoteca, lo que sea. Y haz una lista de eso. Y ese es dinero que debes pagar todos los meses.

 

Pero, ¿qué hay en la lista que no tienes que pagar todos los meses? Y si realmente no tienes que pagarlo, al menos en su totalidad, piénsalo dos veces antes de gastar ese dinero. Soy muy consciente de que el Gobierno está deseando y orando y esperando que todos ustedes tomen este dinero y salgan y lo gasten para estimular la economía. Lo entiendo. Y creen que eso salvará a todos.

 

Les pido que entiendan que tienen que salvarse a ustedes mismos. Porque realmente, en realidad, nadie más puede salvarte más que tú. Entonces, sé que muchos de ustedes pueden comenzar a sentirse culpables, "Oh, mis hijos no tuvieron estos juguetes para la Navidad pasada. Ahora es su cumpleaños, así que voy a gastar un poco de este dinero". No. Tienes que hacerte una pregunta antes de gastar un centavo: "¿Es esto un deseo?", como acaba de decir Jo Ann, "¿O es una necesidad?" Una necesidad es comida en una tienda de comestibles. Un deseo es comida en un restaurante.

 

Y entiendo que queremos apoyar a los restaurantes para que puedan seguir funcionando. Pero necesito que puedas mantenerte a flote más que cualquier otra cosa. Si es una necesidad, gasta el dinero. Si es un deseo, no lo gastes. Y realmente, Jo Ann, es así de simple. Y solo quiero retroceder por un segundo, que no creo que la gente entiende el importante trabajo que hizo AARP para que los dependientes que no tenían menos de 17 años, que posiblemente todavía estuvieran en la universidad, que eran adultos mayores que muchos de ustedes están cuidando ahora, puedan obtener un cheque de estímulo. Eso es enorme. Eso no es poca cosa. Eso es algo muy importante.

 

Para aquellos de ustedes que son mayores y tienen padres mayores y los están cuidando, y tal vez no los han declarado como dependientes, o lo que sea, y están pagando por más de la mitad de sus necesidades, es posible que deban pensar en asegurarse absolutamente de obtener un cheque de $1,400 por ellos también.

 

Jo Ann Jenkins: Bueno, gracias por mencionarlo, Suze, porque es muy cierto. Si no fuera por AARP, en muchos de estos temas en el proyecto de ley de estímulo, no se habrían tenido en cuenta en el proyecto de ley que acaba de firmar el presidente. También creo que es cierto que ... Decimos aquí en AARP, una cosa es segura, o vas a necesitar un cuidador o serás un cuidador. Y eso no podría ser más cierto en este momento importante de nuestra historia. Y por eso es tan importante que todos nos vacunemos.

 

Con suerte, la cantidad de vacunas que se han aprobado para uso de emergencia, las tres que están aquí en EE.UU., aunque es difícil conseguir esa cita, bien vale la pena. Sé que tanto mi esposo como yo hemos recibido nuestra segunda vacuna. Y qué alivio es eso. Nunca pensé que estaría feliz de tener una condición preexistente, de poder hacer esto. Pero solo quiero animar a todos a que eso es tan importante. Porque sabemos que la mayoría de las personas que han muerto en este país han vivido o trabajado en hogares de ancianos. Por eso, es muy importante que sigamos pensando en eso.

 

Suze Orman: Sí. Sin embargo, otra cosa que quiero decirles es que, por cierto, también me vacuné. Recibí la Johnson & Johnson, porque solo quería asegurarme de recibir esa. Quiero decir algo más para responder a su pregunta, ¿qué hacer con el cheque de estímulo? Porque tienes que mirar el mundo ahora mismo. Y, en mi opinión, tienes a los que "tienen" y a los que "no tienen". Hay muchas personas que realmente se beneficiaron de la pandemia, financieramente hablando, porque pudieron trabajar desde casa, ya no tenían que pagar dinero para ir a trabajar, salir a comer y cosas así.

 

Entonces, solo quiero decir una cosa más. Si alguno de ustedes está escuchando y está en una buena situación financiera, realmente no perdió su trabajo, sus gastos no son tan altos y van a recibir cheques de estímulo muy pronto aquí, y la verdad del asunto es que no necesitas el dinero, hay muchas personas que quizás conozcas que realmente lo necesitan. Y si no necesitas el dinero, todo está bien, tienes un fondo de emergencia para 12 meses, no estás endeudado con tarjetas de crédito, cosas así, quizás quieras pensar en extender esos pagos tuyos para darles a alguien que realmente, realmente está atrasado en el alquiler, lo van a desalojar si no aporta todo el dinero del alquiler, cosas así. Entonces, donde realmente aprendemos cómo ayudarnos unos a otros, como comenzó esta conversación.

 

Jo Ann Jenkins: Bueno, gracias, Suze. Ese es un comentario muy importante. Y sabemos que una de las cosas por las que luchamos en este nuevo paquete de estímulo fue extender la cobertura para que las personas no sean desalojadas de su hogar. Y entonces, ese es otro tema importante. Lo sé, Margi, estás ansiosa por entrar aquí y que nuestros socios le hagan preguntas a Suze. Entonces, creo que te devolveremos el lugar. Y luego, Suze y yo estaremos aquí durante los próximos minutos más o menos para responder cualquier pregunta que podamos tener.

 

Margi Mannix: Sí, gracias. Qué gran conversación y tan buenos consejos de ustedes dos. Ahora es el momento de abordar las preguntas de las personas que llaman sobre el impacto del coronavirus en sus impuestos y finanzas. Y una vez más, quiero recordarles que estamos con Suze Orman y Jo Ann Jenkins. Presiona * 3, es decir * 3, en cualquier momento en el teclado de tu teléfono para conectarte con el personal de AARP y compartir tu pregunta. Ahora me gustaría traer a mi colega de AARP Jean Setzfand para ayudar a facilitar sus llamadas. Bienvenida, Jean.

 

Jean Setzfand: Muchas gracias, Margi. Encantada de estar aquí.

 

Margi Mannix: Tomemos nuestra primera pregunta.

 

Jean Setzfand: Está bien. Nuestro primer interlocutor es Robert de Míchigan.

 

Margi Mannix: Robert de Míchigan, es un placer tenerte aquí. ¿Cuál es tu pregunta?

 

Robert: Mi pregunta es... Han estado hablando de los cheques de estímulo. Todavía no he recibido el segundo. Y mi pregunta al respecto es, voy a completar mis impuestos este año, y dijeron algo sobre que uno podría reclamar esto en sus impuestos. Pero, ¿qué pasó con el segundo? ¿Se detuvieron?

 

Suze Orman: Robert, lo que me gustaría decir, soy Suze, es que, y todo el mundo escuchando ahora, en unos minutos, tendrás verdaderos expertos en impuestos en la línea a los que realmente puedes hacer ambos tipos de preguntas. Y lo que realmente espero es que podamos usar este tiempo para hacer más preguntas sobre finanzas personales que sobre impuestos porque realmente creo que deberías obtener respuesta de los expertos en impuestos. ¿Te parece bien, Robert?

 

Margi Mannix: Sí, parece un buen plan, Suze. Ese es un plan maravilloso. ¿Tenemos otra llamada, Jean?

 

Jean Setzfand: Sí, tenemos. Tenemos a Brenda de, creo, Luisiana.

 

Margi Mannix: Brenda de Luisiana. Genial. ¿Cuál es tu pregunta para Suze o Jo Ann?

 

Brenda: La mía era igual. Supongo que también sería sobre impuesto, sobre el 401k. No intenté sacar nada del 401k la primera vez porque tenía, como dices, esos ahorros extendidos. Yo siempre practico eso. Pero ahora que estoy desempleada, si tocamos ese 401k ahora, ¿seremos penalizados?

 

Suze Orman: Esto es lo que me gustaría preguntarte, Brenda, y me gustaría hacerte consciente de algo, que es que todos debemos entender realmente, que ese dinero en un plan 401k o un plan de jubilación está protegido contra la quiebra. Lo que te estaría preguntando es, por ejemplo, digamos que no sé cuánto tienes en tu plan 401k, pero digamos que todo lo que tienes en él serían $10,000. Y ahora deseas sacar algo de dinero de tu plan 401k solo para pagar tus facturas. Y ahora te has quedado sin dinero en tu plan 401k, y todavía no tienes dinero, y ahora tienes que declararte en quiebra. ¿Entiendes el error que habría sido? El año pasado, cuando permitieron sacar dinero del plan 401k hasta $ 100,000 si era algo relacionado con la COVID-19, eso ya no está vigente en este momento. Por lo tanto, si actualmente no estás trabajando, ¿ya no trabajas con tu plan?

 

Brenda: No, señora, no estoy trabajando.

 

Suze Orman: ¿Y cuántos años tienes?

 

Brenda: 58.

 

Suze Orman: Genial. ¿Y cuándo dejaste el servicio? ¿Fue este año, el año pasado?

 

Brenda: No. Me fui por discapacidad en el 2017. Tuve un accidente automovilístico.

 

Suze Orman: Está bien, entonces no has estado trabajando por un tiempo, ¿es correcto?

 

Margi Mannix: Desde el 2017.

 

Suze Orman: Desde el 2017. Iba a decir, si dejaste el servicio en el año en que cumpliste 55 años o más, podrías haber retirado dinero de tu 401k y simplemente haber pagado impuestos sobre él. Es posible que ahora, a los 58 años, hay ciertas cosas que podrías hacer, pero debes, por una discapacidad, es posible que puedas ser eximido de la multa del 10%.

 

Brenda: Está bien.

 

Suze Orman: Como un retiro por dificultades. Pero piensa dos veces sobre lo que te acabo de decir, sobre la posibilidad de tener que declararte en quiebra si ese es tu caso. La otra cosa que quiero decir es que tienes cheques de estímulo en camino. Entonces, si pudieras esperar un poco, y con suerte, ese cheque de estímulo te llevará un poco más lejos, probablemente sería algo en qué pensar.

 

Margi Mannix: Bueno, gracias, Suze. Un gran consejo para planificar la jubilación. Me encantaría escuchar más de otro oyente. Jean, ¿a quién tenemos ahora?

 

Jean Setzfand: También tenemos preguntas de Facebook y YouTube. Y esta viene de Linda en Facebook. Y ella pregunta: "¿Debería cancelar mi hipoteca en este momento? Estoy jubilada, tengo 67 años, gozo de buena salud, ya me inyectaron la primera vacuna y estoy soltera.

 

Suze Orman: ¿Y Linda dijo que tenía 57 o 67?

 

Jean Setzfand: 67.

 

Suze Orman: 67, genial. De verdad, Linda, la respuesta a esa pregunta dependería de si planeas quedarte en ese casa por el resto de tu vida. Porque si planeas quedarte en esa casa por el resto de tu vida, no hay nada que haga que alguien esté más seguro, especialmente una mujer, que ser dueña de su propia casa por completo. Entonces, si tienes el dinero para pagar la hipoteca en su totalidad, y es probable que te encuentres en el último tramo de tu hipoteca, donde las deducciones de impuestos ya no son tan buenas, así que, si tienes el dinero para pagar esa hipoteca en su totalidad, todavía tienes un fondo de emergencia de 12 meses, con suerte estarás libre de deudas de tarjetas de crédito y préstamos de automóviles y deudas de todo tipo, y eso te haría sentir más segura, oh, puedes apostar, amiga, deberías pagarla.

 

Margi Mannix: Gracias, Suze.

 

Suze Orman: Sí.

 

Margi Mannix: Siguiente pregunta, Jean.

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestro próximo interlocutor es Scott de Ohio.

 

Margi Mannix: Adelante, Scott de Ohio.

 

Scott: Sí, me encanta escucharte, Suze. Tengo una pregunta. Estoy jubilado, 66 años. Veo mucha televisión y todo lo que veo son comerciales sobre la compra de oro o plata. Nunca he invertido en ninguno. Quiero saber tu opinión sobre invertir en oro o plata.

 

Suze Orman: Puedo decirte esto. No invertiría en oro y plata en este momento. Si estás buscando una inversión alternativa y algo en lo que realmente puedas correr un riesgo, es decir, una pequeña suma de dinero, tal vez $100 al mes, $200 al mes, un poco, hablaría de Bitcoin. En mi pódcast Women and Money, le he estado diciendo a la gente desde que Bitcoin estaba en 11,000 que creo que Bitcoin, no como moneda, pero eventualmente será una inversión legítima.

 

La forma en que yo personalmente lo haría sería a través de PayPal, donde las comisiones no son tan buenas y la liquidez, no necesita todas estas billeteras y todo. Pero no invertiría en este momento a ningún nivel, Scott, en algo así sin decir seriamente: "Está bien, si pierdo todo mi dinero, estoy bien". Si decides que quieres invertir en oro o plata, no compres el producto físico en sí. Lo haría a través de un ETF como GLD o lo que sea. Pero el oro no es en ningún nivel una de mis inversiones favoritas en este momento.

 

Margi Mannix: Está bien. Gracias. Gracias, Suze, por ese consejo tan directo. Muchas gracias. Jean, tenemos otra llamada.

 

Jean Setzfand: Así es. De Denice Ann. Y creo que es de Chester.

 

Margi Mannix: Denice Ann de Chester, ¿cuál es tu pregunta?

 

Denice Ann: Nuestra pregunta es si, con los cheques de estímulo que hemos estado recibiendo, y posiblemente un poco más, en términos de tener los ahorros listos, ¿sería aconsejable obtener una anualidad, ya que estarías generando intereses por tu dinero todo el tiempo? Si ella no recomienda una anualidad, ¿qué recomendaría como una buena inversión que no sea plata y oro?

 

Suze Orman: Sí. Denice Ann, dependería verdaderamente de qué tipo de anualidad estás hablando, porque hay muchos tipos diferentes de anualidades. Y luego, también dependería de sus necesidades de este dinero. No me gustan las anualidades inmediatas en este momento, o las anualidades vitalicias individuales que brindan un ingreso en este momento, porque las tasas de interés son muy bajas. Y sus pagos se basarán absolutamente en la tasa de interés junto con su edad actual. Y entonces, depende del objetivo de este dinero. ¿Buscas ingresos? ¿O buscas un fondo de emergencia?

 

Denise Ann: Estoy buscando ingresos.

 

Suze Orman: Si estás buscando ingresos, realmente depende. Puedes buscar anualidades inmediatas por ti misma. Pero no lo haría con una gran suma de dinero aquí mismo. Puede consultar, además, las acciones preferentes están pagando buenos dividendos y no son tan volátiles como las acciones ordinarias y cosas por el estilo. Los bonos del Tesoro están comenzando a subir en rendimiento, los bonos del Tesoro, en realidad. Sin embargo, me mantendría alejada de los fondos de bonos a largo plazo. Y tendría cuidado con eso.

 

Pero no tendría ningún problema en indagar en un pagaré del Tesoro a 10 años, en cuentas de ahorro de alto rendimiento, en acciones preferentes y cosas por el estilo, con una combinación de posiblemente una anualidad. Solo ten mucho cuidado y haz tus compras muy bien cuando se trata de anualidades, ¿de acuerdo?

 

Denise Ann: Está bien. Qué tipo de bono...

 

Suze Orman: Las notas del Tesoro. Si pudieras esperar un poco, creo que podrías ver las tasas de interés, no estoy segura, pero han estado subiendo un poco. Es posible que disminuyan un poco. Pero depende, de nuevo, de lo que estés buscando. Un pagaré del Tesoro a 10 años está rindiendo más de lo que ha producido en un tiempo. Entonces, es posible que desees echar un vistazo a eso. Pero no creo que te vaya a ir mucho mejor que si pones tu dinero en una cuenta de ahorros de alto rendimiento de algún tipo y simplemente ves lo que sucede a ese ritmo. Pero si pudieras ser paciente un poco y hacer una anualidad en uno o dos años a partir de ahora, creo que estarías mucho mejor.

 

Margi Mannix: Bien, genial, Suze. Muchas gracias. ¿Tenemos otra pregunta en vivo, Jean?

 

Jean Setzfand: Sí. Tenemos una última pregunta para Suze. Esta es Lisha de Ohio.

 

Margi Mannix: Lisha de Ohio, ¿cuál es tu pregunta esta noche?

 

Lisha: Hola. ¿Cómo estás?

 

Suze Orman: Estamos genial, Lisha.

 

Lisha: Bien. Quedé discapacitada en el 2018. Ahora tengo 55 años. Tengo mi seguro de vida todo arreglado. Tengo muchas deudas contraídas con tarjetas de crédito. Y mi línea de crédito que saqué es de $27,000. Estoy tratando de pagarla. Todo esto ocurrió por estar en el Seguro Social por discapacidad y los ingresos limitados que obtengo y tener que pagar recetas y facturas del médico y ese tipo de cosas. ¿Es mejor si cambio la línea de crédito a una segunda hipoteca a una tasa fija? O...

 

Suze Orman: Déjame hacerte una pregunta. Te escuché decir que tienes un seguro de vida, todo está arreglado. ¿Qué tipo de seguro de vida tienes?

 

Lisha: Tengo toda la vida.

 

Suze Orman: Ajá. ¿Y cuál es el valor en efectivo de eso?

 

Lisha: No estoy segura. Sé...

 

Suze Orman: ¿Alguien depende económicamente de ti?

 

Lisha: No, solo yo.

 

Suze Orman: Gracias. Escúchame atentamente ahora. No tiene absolutamente ningún sentido en ningún nivel que tengas una póliza de seguro de vida completa, porque ¿para quién tienes el seguro? Queremos asegurarnos de que puedas vivir toda tu vida tanto como puedas. Entonces, dado el hecho de que tienes un seguro y no lo necesitas, es probable que tu póliza de seguro de vida total tenga un valor en efectivo. Y podrías renunciar a eso. ¿A quién le importa? Lo renuncias, luego dejas de tener que pagar las primas posiblemente, a menos que ya esté pagado. Entonces, dejaría de pagar primas, obtendrías el valor en efectivo y ahora tienes algo de efectivo en la mano.

 

Sería muy, muy cuidadosa, si fuera tú, de sacar una segunda de la casa y hacer todo eso porque los $27,000 que tienes son una deuda garantizada, lo que significa que si no puedes pagarla, te quitarán tu casa. Entonces, renunciaría a la deuda de la tarjeta de crédito, pagaría el mínimo absoluto, o lo que sea, y haría todo lo posible para pagar los $27,000 de una línea de crédito que tienes. Estoy segura de que la tasa de interés de la línea de crédito es igual en este momento a la que sería si tomaras una segunda. Puede haber costos de cierre, cosas así. Entonces, simplemente dejaría la línea de crédito como está ahora y haría todo lo que esté en mi poder para deshacerme de ella.

 

Lisha: Está bien, genial.

 

Margi Mannix: Gracias. Muchas gracias, Suze.

 

Suze Orman: Claro, no es nada.

 

Margi Mannix: Gracias, tanto a la persona que llama como a Suze. Me gustaría volver un poco a Jo Ann. Jo Ann, ¿puede decirnos qué tipos de herramientas tiene AARP que pueden ayudar a las personas a superar los desafíos financieros provocados por la pandemia?

 

Jo Ann Jenkins: Ciertamente. AARP ha estado trabajando en esta área durante muchos, muchos años. Y si vas a www.aarp.org y escribes "soluciones financieras", verás una gran cantidad de información relacionada con el trabajo que AARP realiza en el área de seguridad financiera, desde ayudarte a administrar tu dinero y algunas de las sugerencias que Suze había dicho, para ayudarte a presentar tus impuestos a través de AARP Foundation. Y tenemos a alguien en la línea que vendrá un poco más tarde, además de ayudar a pensar en su jubilación y cómo ver el Seguro Social y cuándo se debería obtener ese Seguro Social y cómo se puede realmente obtener más beneficios del uso de su dinero.

 

Estamos muy orgullosos del trabajo que hemos estado haciendo en el área de seguridad financiera. Y sepan que es tan importante que no sobrevivamos a nuestro dinero. Suze nos ha dado una gran cantidad de consejos. También he estado tomando notas mientras ella habla, solo pensando en familiares y amigos y en todos los demás que necesitan asegurarse de tener información, la mejor información disponible para que las personas tomen sus decisiones individuales.

 

Margi Mannix: Genial. Muchas gracias. Suze y Jo Ann, sabemos que deben dejarnos ahora. No puedo agradecerles lo suficiente por esta importante discusión y todos los maravillosos consejos que hemos escuchado esta noche. Solo quería recordarles a quienes llamen que deben presionar * 3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para comunicarse con el personal de AARP y compartir su pregunta.

 

Y ahora, para la siguiente parte de nuestro programa, estoy muy feliz de traer invitados especiales adicionales. Primero, Erin M. Collins, Defensora Nacional del Contribuyente del IRS. Luego tenemos a la experta en dinero y autora Deborah Owens y al voluntario de Tax Aide, Steve Conary. Bienvenidos todos. Erin, comencemos contigo. Si alguien sabe lo difícil que es esta temporada de impuestos para las personas, eres tú. Hagamos una rápida sesión de preguntas y respuestas sobre las principales preguntas que ves este año. ¿Qué ha cambiado la pandemia en esta temporada de impuestos? ¿Y qué deberían considerar las personas al presentar sus impuestos del 2020?

 

Erin M. Collins: Gracias, Margi. Primero, permítanme hacer un trasfondo superficial sobre mí. Buenas tardes o buenas noches, dependiendo de dónde estén sentados. Y muchas gracias por invitarme a participar de la asamblea de hoy. Como hemos estado hablando, el año pasado bajo la COVID-19, ha creado muchos desafíos en toda nuestra vida personal, nuestros negocios e incluso en nuestra relación con el IRS.

 

En marzo pasado, tuve el privilegio de ser juramentada como Defensora del Contribuyente Nacional. Y dirijo un grupo tremendo de empleados en el Servicio de Defensa del Contribuyente. Mi puesto en el Servicio de Defensa del Contribuyente fue creado por el Congreso para ayudar a los contribuyentes de forma gratuita cuando enfrentan dificultades financieras o se enfrentan a problemas cuando los sistemas o procedimientos del IRS fallan. Nuestro deber es ser la voz de los contribuyentes. Y podemos defender tanto el cambio administrativo dentro del IRS como el cambio legislativo con el Congreso.

 

Es un rol único en el que podemos representar a todos los contribuyentes de la nación y proponer cambios que los afecten. Y como has señalado, este ha sido un año difícil para los contribuyentes, ha sido un año difícil para el IRS. Y la pandemia realmente ha puesto en evidencia los desafíos a los que se ha enfrentado el IRS durante la última década. Su presupuesto se ha reducido en aproximadamente un 20%, su dotación de personal disminuyó de 94,000 empleados en el 2010 a alrededor de 75,000 en la actualidad.

 

Desafortunadamente, el IRS es una agencia basada en papel. Y el año pasado, el papel no fue amable con el IRS. Con sus oficinas cerradas, empleados que trabajan de forma remota, declaraciones de impuestos en papel, correspondencia en papel, requisitos de distanciamiento social, el IRS se ha enfrentado a un desafío tras otro. Y, lamentablemente, los contribuyentes son los más afectados.

 

Entonces, mi recomendación, volviendo a tu pregunta, para el 2021 es que todos deberían intentar presentar sus declaraciones electrónicamente. Recomiendo encarecidamente a todos que hagan el esfuerzo de presentarlas e incluir su información de ruta bancaria para que puedan recibir sus reembolsos a tiempo. Por lo general, si no hay problemas con la declaración presentada electrónicamente, se puede procesar oportunamente y los reembolsos se emitirán en menos de 21 días y, a menudo, en tan solo una semana.

 

Pero si hay una discrepancia entre la devolución de impuestos y los registros del IRS, desafortunadamente, el IRS tiene personal limitado para trabajar manualmente y habrá demoras. Una vez más, insto a las personas a que presenten su solicitud electrónicamente. Encuentren a un amigo, encuentren a un miembro de la familia o usen el programa de presentación de impuestos de AARP Tax Aide. Pero presenten la declaración electrónicamente y obtengan la confirmación de que el IRS aceptó su declaración.

 

Y otra cosa en la que pensar es, para prevenir el robo de identidad, que es realmente un desafío en todo el país, considera solicitar lo que se conoce en el IRS como el PIN de protección de identidad. Eso evitará que otra persona presente una declaración a tu nombre y reclame tu reembolso. El martes, mi oficina publicó un blog en el Blog del Defensor del Contribuyente Nacional que explica lo que se debe hacer para solicitar un PIN. Es un nivel extra de protección. En esta época, eso es muy importante. También puedes ir a www.irs.gov. Puedes visitar nuestra página web del Servicio del Defensor del Contribuyente o nuestros blogs para obtener consejos prácticos e información sobre el PIN, así como otra información para propósitos del IRS.

 

Margi Mannix: Genial. Gracias, Erin, por ese vistazo interno a lo que está sucediendo en el IRS y nuestras declaraciones. Mencionaste Tax Aide, el servicio de localización de Tax Aide de AARP Foundation. Y quería recordarles a quienes nos llaman que si quieren saber más al respecto, pueden ir a www.aarpfoundation.org/taxaide. Y si no tienes una computadora, tenemos un número 800. Es 888-OUR-AARP. Eso es 888-687-2277.

 

Ahora, Erin, volviendo a ti. El año pasado, la temporada de presentación se trasladó del 15 de abril al 15 de julio. ¿Se trasladará la fecha de presentación este año, como el año pasado?

 

Erin M. Collins: Esa ha sido una pregunta que se ha hecho durante los últimos meses. En mi opinión, posponer la fecha de presentación después del 15 de abril, junto con el impacto de la COVID-19, el año pasado causó muchos problemas administrativos que, desafortunadamente, el IRS todavía está limpiando hoy, incluidas las devoluciones en papel sin procesar, el atraso de correspondencia, la emisión de avisos incorrectos. Y el IRS todavía está tratando de ponerse al día para no retrasar esa fecha de presentación. Y nuevamente, los contribuyentes están pagando el precio por eso.

 

Sé que muchas organizaciones, incluida AARP y miembros del Congreso, han estado presionando al IRS para que extienda la fecha. Creo que el IRS siente que actualmente no tiene problemas operativos para extenderla. Pero al mismo tiempo, es un acto de equilibrio. Tienes que hacer lo mejor para los contribuyentes, así como lo mejor para la administración tributaria que impacta a los contribuyentes. No tengo una bola de cristal, pero hoy, creo que el IRS no tiene la intención de posponer la temporada de presentación. Pero una cosa en la que se debe pensar es, si necesitas más tiempo, si el contribuyente tiene problemas particulares, siempre puedes presentar una solicitud de extensión presentando un formulario 4868 antes del 15 de abril. Eso te proporcionará una extensión automática para que presentes tu declaración hasta el 15 de octubre.

 

Pero ten en cuenta que si debes impuestos, el impuesto vence el 15 de abril, incluso si su fecha de presentación se ha trasladado a octubre. Muchos contribuyentes están buscando reembolsos. Nuevamente, si necesitas tiempo adicional para presentar tu declaración, puedes presentar esa extensión. Y luego, también, solo para señalar, creo que fue hoy o ayer, la Federación de Administradores Tributarios, que creo que consiste en la mayoría de las agencias tributarias estatales, ellos también salieron y dijeron que no quieren que el IRS extienda la fecha.

 

Porque cuando lo piensas, si el IRS se extiende, eso significa que todos los estados también se extienden Entonces, creo que muchas de las administraciones tributarias están retrocediendo y preferirían no extender la fecha. Entonces, es una forma larga de decir que no creo que vaya a suceder, pero, lamentablemente, yo no tomo la decisión final. Estate atento a las noticias fiscales, los periódicos. Estoy segura de que si sucedió, será la portada de la mitad de los periódicos que todos leemos.

 

Margi Mannix: Está bien. Genial, Erin. Definitivamente lo tendremos en cuenta. Con el impacto de la pandemia y el hecho de que los empleados del IRS trabajen de forma remota, hemos escuchado que el IRS está luchando para brindar servicio telefónico a los contribuyentes. ¿Cuál es la disponibilidad actual de los representantes de servicio al cliente del IRS en las líneas gratuitas?

 

Erin M. Collins: Sí, este ha sido un problema de larga data para los contribuyentes. Y desafortunadamente, hoy en día, el IRS solo responde aproximadamente una de cada cinco llamadas debido al aumento del volumen y al personal limitado. Desafortunadamente, los contribuyentes deben estar preparados para tener retrasos prolongados y deben considerar otras opciones, ya sea www.irs.gov, otros recursos, recursos como AARP, para poder encontrar sus respuestas.

 

Margi Mannix: Está bien, de acuerdo. Ahora tengo unas dos preguntas sobre los pagos de estímulo, que recibimos muchas preguntas sobre eso. Primero, ¿es posible que los contribuyentes verifiquen la emisión del primer o segundo pago de estímulo? En otras palabras, ¿cómo pueden confirmar que el IRS lo envió, cuándo lo envió y cuál fue el monto?

 

Erin M. Collins: Sí, esa es una buena pregunta por un par de razones. Uno, como indiqué anteriormente, si tienes una inconsistencia en tu próxima declaración de impuestos con respecto a los pagos de estímulo, tu declaración será potencialmente retirada para revisión manual. Por lo tanto, debes asegurarte de que sea correcto. Sin entrar en demasiados detalles, los pagos de estímulo anteriores, el primero fue en abril y el segundo en enero, el IRS debería haber enviado un aviso unos 15 días después de que se realizó el pago.

 

Se llama Aviso 1444, titulado "Su pago económico", que debería haber reflejado la fecha del pago y el monto del pago. Si uno recibió ambos, debería haber recibido dos cartas, una en el verano y otra en febrero. Pero también puedes ir a la página web del IRS. Hay una herramienta llamada "Get My Payment". Y te mostrará las cantidades y las fechas del pago que el IRS cree que uno recibió.

 

El desafío es que si uno no está de acuerdo con el IRS, tiene la opción de trabajar con el IRS y pedirles que rastreen ese pago. Nuevamente, en www.irs.gov, se proporciona un número de teléfono y un número de fax donde puedes pedirle al IRS que verifique esa información. Antes de presentar tu declaración actual solicitando fondos adicionales, porque crees que no los has recibido, es posible que quieras trabajar con el IRS para asegurarte de que tu declaración no haya rebotado.

 

Margi Mannix: Bien, genial. Gracias, Deborah. Mi última pregunta para ti en este momento es una que recibimos mucho. Y creo que la hicieron antes en la conversación. No recibí mi pago de estímulo económico. ¿Qué debo hacer para recibir mi pago?

 

Erin M. Collins: Sí, creo que esa fue la pregunta de la primera persona que llamó. Creo que su nombre era Robert. Si califica y no recibió el primero, el segundo o el monto total de sus pagos de estímulo, lo que debe hacer es presentar una declaración de impuestos del 2020, un 1040 o 1040-SR para personas mayores, y le haría poner allí lo que recibió: por ejemplo, digamos que no recibió ninguno de los pagos. Pondría cero.

 

Y como resultado, potencialmente, dependiendo de sus ingresos, podría recibir $1,200 por el primer pago y $600 en el segundo pago. Por lo tanto, al presentar su declaración de impuestos del 2020, podría reflejar que no recibió los $1,800 del dinero de estímulo, y el IRS lo pagaría eso como parte de su declaración de impuestos del 2020. Una vez más, es algo que recomendamos que consulten con sus asesores o con el asistente fiscal de AARP para ver los dólares y su elegibilidad. Pero es algo que, para obtener el dinero, y Robert, si estás escuchando, debes presentar la declaración de impuestos del 2020, que te dará los dos primeros pagos de estímulo.

 

Creo que todos hemos visto las noticias. El presidente Biden firmó hoy el nuevo paquete, el nuevo lanzamiento para las personas, y que incluye un tercer pago de estímulo que se realizará. Si eres beneficiario del Seguro Social, el IRS te pagará automáticamente el pago de estímulo si estás en el sistema del Seguro Social y tienes información de depósito bancario. Recibirás eso. Si no lo eres y no recibes Seguro Social, presentar tu declaración del 2020 te hará elegible para ese tercer monto si tus ingresos son inferiores, si eres soltero, 75,000, si presentas una declaración conjunta, son 150,000.

 

Margi Mannix: Genial. Muchas gracias por esa valiosa información, Erin. Nosotros realmente lo apreciamos. Solo quiero recordarles a quienes nos llaman que también tenemos una gran cantidad de información en nuestro sitio web. Y tenemos varios artículos educativos informativos sobre el crédito de reembolso de recuperación que Erin mencionó. Solo tienes que ir a www.aarp.org/taxes. Y tenemos más información allí. Pasemos ahora a Deborah Owens de WealthyU. Deborah, ¿existen oportunidades para ayudar a uno a avanzar en su carrera y sus metas financieras durante una pandemia? Por ejemplo si alguien ha sido despedido o simplemente tiene tiempo libre, ¿qué debería estar haciendo?

 

Deborah Owens: Sí, te digo que han sido los mejores y los peores tiempos dependiendo de la industria en la que uno se encuentre. Abordemos la primera pregunta sobre la carrera. Lo que estamos viendo en nuestra comunidad es que las personas que están soportando mejor esta pandemia, en términos de carreras, van adonde está el crecimiento. Y lo que quiero decir con eso es que, aunque hemos visto industrias como el transporte y los restaurantes realmente ser las más afectadas en esto, lo que hemos visto, sin embargo, es que hay empresas que están contratando más que nunca.

 

Entonces, si estás pensando en algunas formas en que puede uno encontrar oportunidades laborales u oportunidades profesionales, el lugar para buscar son empresas como Amazon. Están contratando a más de 120,000 personas. Y ya se estaban expandiendo en ciertos mercados. Eso fue anunciado incluso antes de la pandemia. Y además de eso, hablando de los mejores tiempos, hoy acabamos de ver otro récord en el S&P 500. Y, por lo que eso significa, es un buen augurio, ciertamente, si tienes ahorros para la jubilación.

 

Pero también, la otra industria que está contratando son las empresas de servicios financieros. Y la buena noticia es que una de las consecuencias o beneficios no deseados, diría yo, de la pandemia es que muchas empresas ahora están contratando virtualmente. Ya no estás limitado por la geografía, especialmente en los servicios financieros. Sabemos que muchos de esos trabajos estaban en áreas metropolitanas, grandes ciudades como Nueva York, que es la capital financiera de Estados Unidos, o del mundo, por así decirlo.

 

Ahora, muchas de estas empresas, como Fidelity, E-Trade, están contratando personas, agentes de servicio al cliente. Y a veces necesitan una licencia. Pero hablando de formas en las que uno puede mejorar sus habilidades en este momento, otro beneficio de la pandemia es que muchas de las universidades y colegios comunitarios están permitiendo que las personas tomen clases y mejoren sus habilidades con certificaciones con tarifas pequeñas o reducidas. Solo un poco de aliento para nuestra audiencia, que tal vez está luchando con esto, para pensar en cuáles son las cosas en las que uno puede posicionarse para aprovechar lo que realmente ha sido un momento muy desafortunado para muchos de nosotros.

 

Margi Mannix: Genial. Gracias, Deborah. Hay algunas oportunidades, y también hay más educación a la que la gente puede acudir. Es genial escuchar eso. Gracias. Como recordatorio para las personas que llaman, para hacer su pregunta, presionen * 3 porque muy pronto responderemos más de sus preguntas en vivo.

 

Ahora me gustaría dirigirme a Steve. Steve, ¿cómo pueden las personas acceder a algunos de los servicios gratuitos que ofrece AARP Foundation para ayudar a las personas a comprender y preparar sus formularios de impuestos?

 

Steve Conary: Gracias, Margi. Bueno, el primer paso es ir al sitio web www.aarpfoundation.org Tax Aide. Allí, tienes un menú completo de los servicios que ofrecemos. Antes de la pandemia, estábamos operando alrededor de 5000 sitios en todo el país. Nos hemos visto afectados al lidiar con la seguridad de los contribuyentes, los voluntarios y el personal de nuestro sitio anfitrión durante esta pandemia.

 

Ha reducido algunas de las operaciones. No tenemos tantos sitios como en el pasado. Pero estamos ofreciendo más formas de ayudar a los contribuyentes a presentar su declaración de impuestos este año. Tenemos algunos de nuestros sitios tradicionales en persona disponibles con cita previa. Tenemos un modelo de bajo contacto donde los contribuyentes pueden interactuar con los voluntarios en una o dos reuniones breves en persona para intercambiar documentos, nuevamente, con cita previa. Y eso está todo en el sitio web.

 

Tenemos una oferta sin contacto donde trabajamos con los contribuyentes en línea o por teléfono e intercambiamos documentos electrónicamente. Y también ofrecemos algunos servicios de preparación personal, incluido el asesoramiento de un voluntario para ayudar a una persona a trabajar en el proceso de preparación de su propia declaración con un software gratuito de presentación de impuestos. Nuevamente, la mejor manera es ir al sitio web www.aarpfoundation.org/taxaide.

 

Margi Mannix: Gracias, Steve. Hay muchas opciones. La pandemia ha afectado la forma en que las personas presentan sus impuestos. Entonces, ¿qué recursos están disponibles para las personas que pueden estar haciendo sus propios impuestos por primera vez?

 

Steve Conary: Bueno, nuevamente, ofrecemos capacitación por voluntarios certificados por el IRS para contribuyentes que utilizan algún software de impuestos gratuito. Los diversos paquetes de software de archivos gratuitos del IRS a los que puede acceder desde el sitio web del IRS también incluyen una excelente preparación guiada. Realmente solo necesitas responder algunas preguntas simples si te estás preparando solo. También hace toda la matemática. Y como Erin mencionó anteriormente, la presentación electrónica sigue siendo la forma más fácil, segura y rápida de presentar una declaración de impuestos completa y precisa.

 

Margi Mannix: Genial. Muchas gracias, Steve. Agradecemos que comparta esa información. Sé que tienes que irte, pero solo quiero darte las gracias por acompañarnos esta noche. Como recordatorio para las personas que llaman, para hacer una pregunta, presionen * 3. Ahora es el momento de abordar sus preguntas sobre el impacto del coronavirus en sus impuestos y sus finanzas con Erin Collins del IRS y Deborah Owens de WealthyU. Nuevamente, presiona * 3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de tu teléfono para comunicarte con el personal de AARP y compartir tu pregunta. Jean, ¿tenemos a alguien en la línea?

 

Jean Setzfand: Así es. Nuestra primera llamada es Kay de Ohio.

 

Margi Mannix: Hola. Kay de Ohio, ¿cuál es tu pregunta?

 

Kay: Yo había hecho la pregunta sobre la devolución de estímulo y el crédito fiscal sobre la renta de los hijos.

 

Margi Mannix: Claro. Adelante.

 

Kay: Obtienes $1,400 por persona. ¿También recibes $1,400 para el niño?

 

Margi Mannix: Erin, ¿quieres responder esa pregunta?

 

Erin M. Collins: Claro. Kay, sí. Depende de lo que el IRS llama tu ingreso bruto ajustado. Si ese monto es inferior a $75,000, obtendrás el monto total por un hijo calificado y el monto total para ti. A medida que supera los $75,000 de ingreso bruto ajustado, la cantidad se reduce a 0 cuando llegas a $80,000. Entonces, las personas entre esos $75,000 y $80,000 obtendrán un pago parcial para ellos y un pago parcial para su hijo.

 

Margi Mannix: Genial. Gracias, Erin. Jean, ¿tenemos otra llamada?

 

Jean Setzfand: Así es. Esta es Paula de Nueva York.

 

Margi Mannix: Hola, Paula de Nueva York. ¿Cuál es tu pregunta?

 

Paula: Hola. Recibí beneficios de desempleo en el 2020. Cometí un error, así que tengo que reembolsar una parte. Lo pagué en el 2021. De acuerdo, todavía no he hecho mi declaración de impuestos, pero lo que me preocupa es que me quitaron los impuestos cuando recibí mis pagos. Al devolverlo, te piden que devuelvas el importe total. La parte del impuesto que sacaron que nunca recibiste, te la devuelven, lo que nunca entenderé, pero no lo cuestiono. Bueno, ahora que veo que el Gobierno va a perdonar los primeros $10,200 de ingresos, lo que se aplica a mí, es un desastre. Estoy tratando de entender. ¿Cómo se reflejará esto en el impuesto de este año, en mi declaración de impuestos del 2020? Quiero decir... ¿Entiendes siquiera lo que está pasando?

 

Erin M. Collins: No haces una pregunta fácil, ¿verdad?

 

Paula: ¿Debería decirlo de nuevo? ¿Debería repetirlo más lentamente?

 

Erin M. Collins: No, entiendo la pregunta. El desafío que vas a tener, y siempre lo recomendaría cuando tengas situaciones complicadas para obtener asesoramiento fiscal. Pero reflejaría la cantidad total de ingresos por desempleo con respecto al 2020. Si es superior a $10,000, solo pagaría impuestos sobre la cantidad superior a $10,200. Con respecto a la cantidad que has devuelto, entonces obtendrías un beneficio en la próxima declaración de impuestos presentada. Eso se vuelve un poco más complicado porque está pasando por diferentes años fiscales.

 

Dado que la ley se acaba de firmar literalmente hoy, el IRS no ha brindado orientación sobre cómo hacer el cálculo. Por lo tanto, creo que algunas personas recomiendan que pospongas la presentación de tu declaración hasta que el IRS proporcione esa orientación. Y si ya has presentado tu declaración, donde algunas personas pueden haberlo hecho, es posible que tengan derecho a un reembolso. Pero, de nuevo, creo que esperaría al menos una semana o dos para ver qué consejo da el IRS con respecto a cómo proceder con este tema. Paula, tienes una situación difícil, pero solo necesitas revisarla en la declaración de impuestos para llegar a la respuesta correcta.

 

Margi Mannix: Está bien. Está bien, gracias, Erin. Buena respuesta. Y estoy seguro de que todas las personas que llamaron apreciaron esa información. Volvamos a la línea. ¿A quién tenemos ahora, Jean?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima llamada es Ruby de Míchigan.

 

Margi Mannix: Hola, Ruby de Míchigan. ¿Cuál es tu pregunta?

 

Ruby: Mi pregunta es, es que estoy tratando de encontrar un lugar local al que pueda ir. Solía ​​ir a AARP, donde tenían justo en el Civic Center, lo cual era muy conveniente. Y llamé en enero y dijeron que ya estaban reservados. Y es como, ¿a dónde vas para hacer tus impuestos gratis?

 

Erin M. Collins: Gracias, Ruby, por esa pregunta. Le dejaré eso a Steve. ¿Puedes darle algún consejo, Steve?

 

Steve Conary: Bueno, nos hemos dado cuenta de que muchos de nuestros sitios están reservados, y es por eso que alentamos a los que pueden a que prueben la autopreparación con nuestro coaching, para que puedan preparar su declaración de impuestos. No hay muchas otras alternativas. La pandemia ha tenido un gran impacto, considerando que muchos de nuestros voluntarios están en el grupo más susceptible. Tienen que tomar las precauciones de seguridad. Simplemente no tenemos la capacidad que teníamos en el pasado, lamento decir.

 

Margi Mannix: Pero ella podría hacer uso de algunas de las opciones de las que hablaste, como la capacitación y cosas por el estilo.

 

Steve Conary: Eso es correcto, sí.

 

Margi Mannix: Bien, genial. Muy bien, pasemos a nuestra próxima llamada. Jean, ¿a quién tenemos?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima llamada es Joyce de California.

 

Margi Mannix: Hola, Joyce de California. ¿Cómo estás?

 

Joyce: Soy de Harrisburg. ¿Soy el siguiente?

 

Jean Setzfand: Sí, lo eres.

 

Margi Mannix: Claro, adelante.

 

Joyce: Está bien. Lo siento. Mi pregunta es, el año pasado para el 2020, presenté mis impuestos con un CPA el 5 de julio porque se extendió debido a la pandemia. Y presenté la solicitud electrónicamente, pero nunca recibí el dinero para el reembolso de mi impuesto sobre la renta. ¿Cómo voy a conseguir ese dinero? Verifiqué con el CPA. Dijeron que debería haberlo tenido. Pero cuando llamé a mi institución bancaria, nunca se depositó dinero en mi cuenta.

 

Margi Mannix: Suena como una pregunta para ti, Erin.

 

Erin M. Collins: Sí. ¿Ha tenido la oportunidad de intentar llamar al IRS y preguntar, o ir en línea a "dónde está mi reembolso" para ver lo que reflejan los registros del IRS?

 

Joyce: Sí, lo hice. Y nunca obtuve una respuesta en absoluto. Salí allí varias veces y nunca obtuve una respuesta.

 

Erin M. Collins: ¿Tienes acceso a internet o una computadora?

 

Joyce: Sí, tengo. Y ahí es por donde pasé.

 

Erin M. Collins: Está bien. ¿Y fuiste a "dónde está mi reembolso"? Porque debería aparecer y decirle que se ha procesado o que está en proceso.

 

Joyce: Decía "no se encontró ningún registro".

 

Erin M. Collins: Está bien. Eso significa que hay un problema con el IRS. Y creo que mencioné anteriormente en esta llamada que entendemos que más de 6 millones de las devoluciones aún no se han procesado. Están parados en un patrón de espera. Desafortunadamente, puedes ser uno de esos. El IRS recomienda que no se presenten declaraciones adicionales. Pero en algún momento, debes hacer algo para que esto avance. Por lo tanto, definitivamente continuaría comunicándome con el IRS para ver si pueden decirte cuándo y si se ha procesado y dónde está en el sistema.

 

Margi Mannix: Está bien. Muchas gracias, Erin. Y gracias a todos los que llaman por sus preguntas. Ahora mismo me gustaría volver a nuestros expertos. Erin, una estafa común se dispara cada año durante la época de impuestos. Los delincuentes se hacen pasar por el IRS pidiendo impuestos atrasados ​​y luego amenazan con arrestarlos si no se pagan de inmediato. ¿Qué debería hacer alguien si recibe ese tipo de llamada?

 

Erin M. Collins: Sí, desafortunadamente, las estafas aumentan en esta época del año. Entonces, absolutamente, estén alerta. Primero, deben saber que el IRS no se comunica con los contribuyentes por correo electrónico, mensaje de texto o mediante ningún tipo de redes sociales para solicitar información personal. El IRS debe comunicarse con usted primero por correo. Y nunca solicitarán la participación de la policía local, y nunca exigirán un número de tarjeta de crédito.

 

Entonces, si estás escuchando eso, y si tienes alguna duda, simplemente finaliza la llamada, obtén tu información, llama al IRS, verifica si ese es, de hecho, un empleado del IRS y cuál es su propósito. Estamos viendo una serie de estafas en este momento, desde suspender los pagos del Seguro Social, donde amenazan con demandar o apoderarse de sus cuentas bancarias, estafas al solicitar asistencia para los desastres, tratan de aprovecharse de la generosidad de la gente. Si alguien se comunica contigo de una agencia gubernamental que no estás esperando, asegúrate de verificar que esa persona de hecho trabaje para esa agencia gubernamental. Y en caso de duda, llama y verifica.

 

Desafortunadamente, una de las estafas que estamos viendo como resultado de la COVID-19 tiene que ver con el seguro de desempleo. Y es desenfrenado en todo Estados Unidos. Los reclamos de desempleo fraudulentos se presentaron en varios estados utilizando la identidad de otra persona. Digamos que alguien presenta una compensación o beneficios por desempleo bajo Erin Collins y usó mi número de Seguro Social. Lo que sucederá ahora es que obtendré un formulario 1099 que indica que tengo seguro de desempleo. Si uno recibió ese 1099, debe comunicarse con el estado para corregirlo. Y por favor no informe eso al IRS porque ese no es su ingreso. Si no has recibido el ingreso, no lo incluyas en tu declaración de impuestos, pero continúa trabajando con las agencias estatales para que corrijan ese 1099 y presenten uno correcto al IRS.

 

Margi Mannix: Dios mío, está bien. En realidad, quería recordarles a quienes llaman que tenemos un programa maravilloso en AARP llamado Red contra el Fraude, de AARP. Y tenemos información sobre esas dos estafas que Erin acaba de mencionar en nuestro sitio web. Puedes encontrarlo en www.aarp.org/fraude. Si no tienes acceso a una computadora, también puedes llamar durante el horario comercial. Es 877-908-3360. Muchas gracias, Erin, por esa información.

 

Pasemos ahora a Deborah. Deborah, ¿cómo ha afectado la pandemia los ahorros para la jubilación? ¿Y cómo pueden las personas compensar las pérdidas si, por ejemplo, pierden su trabajo y no pueden ahorrar?

 

Deborah Owens: Bueno, un par de cosas. Más del 33% de las personas retiraron o pidieron prestado dinero de su IRA durante la pandemia. Pero la buena noticia es esta: y sé que se mencionó anteriormente, pero puedes... Con la Ley CARES, puedes retirar hasta $100,000 sin pagar la multa del 10% que pagarías si tuvieras menos de 59.5 años. Pero ciertamente, no estoy sugiriendo que alguien haga eso, pero sabemos que la gente ha estado estresada económicamente. A diferencia del pasado, donde solo tenías 60 días si sacabas un retiro de tu IRA, ahora tienes más de 3 años para devolverlo.

 

Sé que alguien preguntó antes sobre eso, así que esa es la buena noticia, ¿verdad? Porque esa multa suele ser más del 10% si tuvieras que retirar el dinero. Esa es la buena noticia. Y la otra cosa es que si no pudiste contribuir a tu 401k, y para muchas personas, tuvieron que tomar una decisión en este entorno, el hecho es que, y creo que Suze lo dijo de manera muy elocuente, en estos tiempos de incertidumbre, la mayoría de las personas realmente necesitan pensar en cómo pueden reponer sus ahorros o iniciar un fondo de ahorro de emergencia en caso de que la economía no se recupere.

 

Margi Mannix: Está bien. Bueno, gracias, Deborah. Ahora, Suze mencionó esto un poco, pero también quería preguntarte a ti. Con otra ronda de cheques de estímulo saliendo, si alguien se acerca a la jubilación y tiene deudas, ¿cómo deciden si invertir el dinero para la jubilación o saldar la deuda? ¿Tienes algo que agregar a eso?

 

Deborah Owens: Sí, tengo. Estoy de acuerdo con Suze. Pero creo que una de las personas que llamó antes dijo... Creo que estaba discapacitada y, por lo tanto, tenía muchas deudas con las tarjetas de crédito. Y una de las cosas que sé, y realmente quiero alentar a la gente que haga, es ir a AARP. Realmente tiene excelentes recursos en torno a la gestión de la deuda. Entonces, para las personas que están lidiando con deudas, una de las formas más efectivas de obtener ayuda es con la Agencia Nacional de Asesoramiento Crediticio.

 

Porque particularmente en este entorno, es posible que puedan negociar algunas de esas deudas o algunas de esas tasas de interés porque eso es lo que realmente impacta a las personas, pagar esos mínimos, pero sabiendo que si estás discapacitado o jubilado, es posible que no puedas permitírtelo, todos esos saldos simplemente continuarán acumulándose. Por lo tanto, realmente quiero alentar a las personas a que aprovechen las herramientas de AARP, pero también a que llamen y obtengan asistencia. En muchos estados, existen agencias de asesoría crediticia sin fines de lucro que realmente pueden abogar por uno.

 

Margi Mannix: Está bien. Bueno, muchas gracias, Deborah, por ese consejo práctico. Sé que hablo en nombre de quienes nos llaman y muchas gracias por eso. Esta ha sido una discusión muy informativa. Gracias a todos ustedes por responder a nuestras preguntas. Y gracias a nuestros socios, voluntarios y oyentes de AARP por participar en esta discusión.

 

AARP, una organización de membresía sin fines de lucro y no partidista, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores durante más de 60 años. Frente a esta crisis, estamos brindando información y recursos para ayudar a los adultos mayores y a quienes los cuidan a protegerse del virus y evitar su propagación a otros mientras se cuidan. Todos los recursos mencionados, incluida una grabación del evento de preguntas y respuestas de hoy, se podrán encontrar en www.aarp.org/elcoronavirus el 12 de marzo, mañana. Nuevamente, esa dirección web es www.aarp.org/elcoronavirus. Ve allí si tu pregunta no fue respondida esta noche, y encontrarás las últimas actualizaciones, así como información creada específicamente para adultos mayores y cuidadores familiares.

 

Esperamos que hayas aprendido algo que pueda ayudarte a ti y a tus seres queridos a mantenerse saludables. Y acompáñennos el 25 de marzo a la 1:00 p.m. y nuevamente a las 7:00 p.m., hora del este, para escuchar dos eventos más de preguntas y respuestas sobre el coronavirus en vivo. Gracias y que tengan un buen día.

 

Con esto concluye nuestra llamada.

 

Taxpayers are navigating an extremely complex tax season as result of unemployment, scams, the loss of a loved one, or their own health issues related to the pandemic. This tele-town hall helped listeners navigate questions related to stimulus payments, retirement investments and minimum distributions.

The live event began with a moderated discussion between Suze Orman, the world’s personal finance expert, who shared advice and steps people can take toward financial empowerment, and AARP Chief Executive Officer Jo Ann Jenkins, who shared how AARP is supporting older adults and providing resources during the pandemic. This discussion was followed by a panel of experts who responded to caller questions and shared additional tax and financial information.

The Experts:

  • Erin M. Collins
    National Taxpayer Advocate

  • Deborah Owens
    Financial Expert and Author,
    Founder and CEO of WealthyU

  • Steve Conary
    AARP Tax Aide

 Resources:

 


Tele-Town Hall, 1 PM – One Year of the Coronavirus Pandemic:

Staying Safe and Caring for Loved Ones

Bill Walsh: Hello, I am AARP Vice President Bill Walsh, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. Before we begin, if you'd like to hear this tele-town hall in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. One year ago today, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. During this remarkable year, people's lives have been upended, financial well-being has been under pressure, and of course, over 500,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. It's worth remembering that 95 percent of those who have died are people over the age of 50. It's an unfathomable loss.

Progress is being made on vaccine distribution with more than two million vaccine doses a day. Still many older people have been stymied by confusing sign-up systems and are frustrated as they wait for appointments to open up. A year into the pandemic people are still coping with the many changes that COVID has wrought and wondering how far away normal might be.

Today's panel of experts will address these issues and more, and we'll be taking your questions live. If you've participated in one of our tele-town halls in the past, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask your questions live. For those of you joining us on the phone, if you'd like to ask a question about the coronavirus pandemic, press *3 on your telephone to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. If you're joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments section.

Joining us today are Thomas Campbell, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Anschutz Medical Campus Multidisciplinary Center on Aging. Also, Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and Donna Benton, Ph.D., director of the family Caregiving Support Center at the University of Southern California. We'll also be joined by my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand, who will help facilitate your calls today. This event is being recorded and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up.

And now to our panel; I'd like to bring in our guests. Thomas Campbell, M.D. is a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Anschutz Medical Campus Multidisciplinary Center on Aging. Thanks for joining us today, Dr. Campbell.

Thomas Campbell: Hi, Bill. Yes, thanks very much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here today.

Bill Walsh: Oh, we're delighted to have you. Also joining us is Adriane Casalotti. She is the chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, which represents nearly 3,000 local government health departments. Welcome, Adriane.

Adriane Casalotti: Hi, thanks for having me.

Bill Walsh: All right, thanks for being here. And finally, Donna Benton, Ph.D. She is the director of the Family Caregiver Support Center at the University of Southern California. Welcome back to the program, Dr. Benton.

Donna Benton: It's so nice to be here, Bill, and thank you.

Bill Walsh: Right, well thanks, all of you for being here. Let's go ahead and get started with our discussion. The cover of the AARP Bulletin member newspaper this month is called “The Path Forward: Lessons Learned From the Pandemic.” As we reflect on one year of living under this global pandemic that has taken so many lives and changed our lives in dramatic ways, I'd like to ask each of our panelists what they have learned that can help us move forward. Dr. Campbell, let's start with you. What have you learned during this extraordinary year?

Thomas Campbell: It has been an extraordinary year and we've had some, some really remarkable progress made in areas in COVID, including a treatment, and as we'll talk about later, vaccines. And I think that that's a really a game changer for us, the availability of vaccines. And I think as we move forward into our second year of COVID, we will be seeing some palpable differences.

Bill Walsh: Hmm. Thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. Adriane Casalotti, what about you? What have you learned during this year?

Adriane Casalotti: You know, I think we've definitely seen this greater understanding of the role of public health. So not just health care and how it plays in the basic functionings of our society, and within that, the role that each of us play. So, whether that's mask-wearing and social distancing, putting off that vacation, working with contact tracers who call, getting vaccinated when it's your turn. You know, the pandemic can seem overwhelming day in and day out, but we all do play a part in managing it now and making it through, and even as we're separate, we're all in this together.

Bill Walsh: Thanks very much, Adriane, and Dr. Benton, what have we learned that can help us move forward?

Donna Benton: You know, the one thing I really have noticed is that people now have a greater understanding of the impact of social isolation, impacts on how, when we're caring for somebody and we don't necessarily have any kind of relief, people are beginning to be a little more empathetic around understanding family caregiving. But we've also learned a lot of resiliency and how to help each other in just more creative ways.

Bill Walsh: Hmm, and maybe how to take care of ourselves as caregivers, as well.

Donna Benton: Yes.

Bill Walsh: Thank you very much. Great points, everybody. Dr. Campbell, I'd like to turn it back to you. We received some good news last week that the vaccine supply is expected to be enough for most every American to have access in May. What does this news mean?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so we have three vaccines now that have received emergency use authorization, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for prevention of COVID-19 illness. And so what the availability of the vaccines means, hopefully by the end of May as has been projected, is that now every adult American will have the option of being vaccinated. And these vaccines are very effective in preventing people from getting sick from COVID. And so this will provide us with a way to protect ourselves from illness, from COVID, and help enable us to start going back towards a life as we used to know it before a year ago.

Bill Walsh: Well, thank you very much. And just to be clear for our listeners, many of whom have been frustrated at not being able to get an appointment, having enough vaccine supply by the end of May doesn't mean that everyone will be vaccinated, correct?

Thomas Campbell: That's correct. And there are a lot of factors that play into that, you know the ability to distribute the vaccine and administer the vaccine, and we know that for the vaccines that require two doses, we don't get full protection until about two weeks after that second dose. So even though the vaccines are available, it doesn't mean that everyone will be fully immunized by the end of May. The other point I would make is that we are only giving the vaccines to adults at this time. And we don't know yet, whether the vaccines are safe and effective in children, which represent about 25 percent of our population. And, so that will be an important 25 percent that will not be getting vaccinated by the end of May.

Bill Walsh: Very interesting point. Dr. Campbell, you had referenced the three vaccines we now have available in this country. You know, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both require two shots and extreme cold storage. The newest, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just a single shot and not as extreme cold storage. What are the key differences for consumers among these vaccines and are all three equally safe and effective?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, the available evidence that we have is that all three of these vaccines are very safe and very effective. And, I think when we talk about comparing how well the vaccines work against each other, none of these vaccines have been compared head-to-head. We have data from basically three separate clinical trials that show that all work very, very well. Going into the vaccine development, the FDA set the bar for what it would call an efficacious vaccine at 50 percent efficacy. And all three of these vaccines exceed that bar that was set about a year ago. So, I would say to everyone that these are all very safe and effective. There are some differences in storage. The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored in ultra-cold freezer temperatures. The Moderna vaccine has to be stored in a regular freezer or in a refrigerator for up to a month, whereas the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored in refrigerators for up to three months. So it has a lot of advantages for more easy distribution, particularly to smaller clinics or rural areas that might not have the ultra-cold storage that's needed, for say, the Pfizer vaccine.

Bill Walsh: Now how would you compare the effectiveness of these vaccines to ones that maybe our listeners know more about, like a seasonal flu vaccine?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so the efficacy of these vaccines, all equal or exceed what we get from other common vaccines such as the flu vaccine or the shingles vaccine. The efficacy of those vaccines, in general, is in the 60 to 70, maybe 80 percent range. And so, we're at or above that with all three of these vaccines.

Bill Walsh: And we've heard a number of questions from our members about, you know, now that there are three out there, people are saying, ‘Oh, I have a choice. I don't know which one to pick.’ What would you say to somebody who makes that point?

Thomas Campbell: Well, what I would say is that everyone should get a vaccine, whichever one they're offered, as soon as they are offered it. So we shouldn't be shopping for one or the other. The reason I say that is, even though we talk about these efficacy numbers, we also have to remember, when we say efficacy, well what is the measure of that efficacy? And the main measure has been prevention of symptomatic COVID illness, so in other words, people feeling sick from COVID. But all three of these vaccines are equally effective and highly effective in the 80 to 90 percent or greater range for preventing more severe consequences like hospitalization and death. And so these vaccines are very important, and it's important to get one as soon as you can, to prevent those much more severe outcomes of hospitalization or dying from COVID.

Bill Walsh: OK, Dr. Campbell, thanks for making that point. Adriane, I'd like to bring you in here. With this new announcement we were just discussing about the expected increase in supply, what are state and local health departments doing to prepare to actually get shots in people's arms.

Adriane Casalotti: Yeah, so we're really excited that the supply should be increasing. Supply issues has been the No. 1 challenge for local health departments to have the capacity, who have capacity to give more shots and certainly demand for more but not enough to go around. With the knowledge that more are coming, there's a lot to do to staff up, to strengthen registration systems that we know have been clunky and challenging, and working to build vaccine confidence so that there continues to be strong demand once supplies increase. So, we know that right now, we see a lot of people who want access to the vaccine and not a lot of supply. As supplies go up, we'll be able to get vaccine to all those folks who are waiting in line, but really to get through the pandemic, we need to get everyone vaccinated. And so we're having those conversations now to make sure people understand, you know, just like what was just said, getting the vaccine when it's out, when you're eligible is really important, answer people's questions about why they should do it based on their personal health status and their family status, so that we can build demand so we’re ready to go once we have more vaccines available.

You know, we also are working to address barriers to access that folks have experienced. So despite the fact that we have tons of people per appointment who want to get vaccinated, we know that that's not uniform across communities and across the country. And so we want to make sure that we address access points that are leading to challenges with equitable uptick of the vaccine, as well. So things like that are figuring out additional registration options. So not everyone has the Wi-Fi speed or the time or the capacity to be refreshing online to try and register. You can't just have internet-based options. People are setting up phone banks and other ways for in-person kind of tabling and communities to get people signed up for different ways to improve access, both now and when we have more supply to go. And we're translating materials into other languages because unfortunately a lot of the signups that had been set up by states are only in English and that doesn't necessarily work either for the individual or for the people who are trying to help them get vaccinated.

With additional supply, we also hope to open more access points. So folks are working with private providers and additional pharmacies right now to make sure that they have what they need to be ready to go once supplies are available, and continue to monitor data to identify and address some of these equity issues and other challenges, so that we can learn from what we've been dealing with over the past couple of months, so once we have supply, we can really hit the ground running.

Bill Walsh: Great. Thanks for that, Adriane. And just a note to our listeners, if you do have access to the internet on your own or through a family member or loved one, AARP has created a tremendous resource to understand the vaccine distribution process in your state. You can find that at aarp.org/vaccineinfo. Go there and see state-by-state guides, in English and in Spanish, for the various rules and regulations on vaccine distribution close to you.

Dr. Benton, let's turn to you. Nursing homes have been the absolute ground zero for the pandemic with staff and residents accounting for 35 to 40 percent of deaths while representing just 1 percent of the population. We're finally seeing cases and deaths drop due to the vaccinations. What has the pandemic exposed about the situation in nursing homes, and what needs to be done going forward?

Donna Benton: You know, thank you. I think what we really saw in the nursing homes was a combination of historical factors that women, new immigrants, minorities, and these are low paid jobs. And the workers in the facilities, they're understaffed, there weren't good regulations, and they are more likely to be working multiple jobs. So we really saw all of those historical factors come together in the nursing home. And these were aides who provided the bulk of very personal care, you know, bedside bathing and dressing, but they had to stretch it across a lot of people. They had short periods of time and the things that would normally, like all your handwashing and all of the things that would keep down infections, just weren't there. So, what we really began to see now is the importance of taking the responsibility for understanding that these essential workers need to have decent wages, so that they don't have to work so many jobs. We need to have better training for the workers in the homes. And so I think those are the kinds of things that were really exposed during this pandemic; the conditions of the underrepresented workers there.

Bill Walsh: All right. Well, let's hope we remember those lessons even post-pandemic. Thank you, Dr. Benton, for that. We're going to take some of those questions shortly, but before we do, I wanted to bring in Bill Sweeney. Bill is the senior vice president of Government Affairs at AARP, and he's going to give us an update on what AARP has been doing on COVID and the COVID vaccine front. Welcome, Bill.

Bill Sweeney: Hi, thank you.

Bill Walsh: So Bill, we've seen some positive news recently. We've seen some positive news recently on vaccines and some additional action to address the pandemic. Can you bring us up to speed and, and tell us what AARP has been doing?

Bill Sweeney: Thanks, Bill. Yes, this coronavirus pandemic upended our lives a year ago, and it's had a devastating toll. Older Americans have been hit especially hard. More than 95 percent of the 525,000-plus deaths have been among those age 50 or older. You know, recent news about increases in vaccine supply are welcome, but we still need to take steps to fix what has been an unacceptable experience for many older adults. AARP is continuing to fight for older adults to be prioritized and advocating to make sure the processes to register are easier so that you can go to one place to get clear information about when, where and how to sign up to get vaccinated. And we're pleased to see several AARP priorities on this front included in the new pandemic relief package passed by Congress that'll be signed later today. We are also working with state and local officials to help provide critical information to older adults about the vaccine, where they can access it and what they need to do. As the rollout continues, we will keep the pressure up. To stay up-to-date on all of these efforts and find summaries of state plans for vaccine distribution in your state, please visit www.aarp.org/vaccineinfo.

Bill Walsh: Thanks for that, Bill. I want to ask you about another dire situation, and this one is regarding the troubling data that we're seeing in anti-Asian hate crimes seemingly related to the pandemic. What is AARP's reaction to this?

Bill Sweeney: Well, Bill, we've been unnerved by the troubling new compiled hate crime data statistics that show a real spike last year, in some cases by triple digits, in anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of the nation's largest cities. These first spikes occurred in March and April of 2020 coinciding with the rise in COVID-19 cases and negative stereotyping of Asian American and Pacific Islander community members, Chinese Americans, in particular. These troubling new data mean that older Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders not only are concerned about coronavirus, but they now face increased violence and harassment fueled by prejudice, hatred and xenophobia. This is a combination that could create barriers to seeking treatment, testing information or vaccination, at a time when we, as a country, must come together and do everything in our power to help contain COVID spread. You know, AARP strongly condemns all racially motivated violence and harassment.

Bill Walsh: OK, Bill. Thanks for that update. We really appreciate it. We are going to get to those questions in just a moment. But I want to address an important issue that's come up a lot among our members and our listeners. We know that many of you are having challenges registering for vaccines in your state and community because many places require sign-ups through online forums. And if you don't have access to a computer, this can be a real challenge. AARP wants to help. We've established an AARP Vaccine Registration Team to try to assist in these cases. So if you're listening today and you don't have a computer, and you can't register her for a vaccine in your community because you don't have access to technology, please press 1 to be added to a list to receive a phone call from AARP staff to assist you. When you do, you'll be asked to confirm that selection and then be returned to this call.

Now, it's time to address your questions about the coronavirus with Dr. Thomas Campbell, Adriane Casalotti and Dr. Donna Benton. Please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member to share your question. Now, I'd like to bring in my AARP colleague, Jean Setzfand, to help facilitate your calls. Welcome, Jean.

Jean Setzfand: Thanks, Bill, happy to be here for this important conversation.

Bill Walsh: OK, who is our first caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our first caller is Lou from Illinois.

Bill Walsh: Hey Lou, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Lou: My question regards, for senior citizens, all of whom have had both shots of the vaccine, and it's been a period of over two weeks, is it safe for them to play cards with each other?

Bill Walsh: OK, great question. Dr. Campbell, can you answer that question for Lou? I know we've had some recent guidance from the CDC on this point.

Thomas Campbell: We do indeed. That's a very timely question. So just this week, the CDC issued new guidance that people who have been fully vaccinated, and that means exactly what you said, sir, is 14 days after the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or 14 days after the Johnson & Johnson single dose, that if everybody meets that criteria, people can gather in small groups and not wear masks or need to socially distance. So, for instance, getting together for a card game or a book club, things like that do meet the CDC guidance, if everybody is 14 days after their required vaccine doses.

Bill Walsh: What did the CDC say, Dr. Campbell, about going out in public, even if you've been vaccinated.

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so it's still important that when we go out in public that we still adhere to the public health guidelines that we know are effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19. So this includes wearing a mask. It includes maintaining a social distance. The reason for that is that, even though we know that these vaccines work very well to protect us from getting sick from COVID, we don't yet have good enough data to say whether or not they are highly effective in preventing us from transmitting COVID to other people. So we do know that the vaccines are not a hundred percent effective, and some people do get COVID, and some people do get asymptomatic COVID after they've been vaccinated. And it's possible that someone who is vaccinated may be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 and be able to transmit it to other people who have not been vaccinated. So, the reason for wearing the mask in public is to protect others in case you are one of those asymptomatically infected people.

Bill Walsh: Great. Thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Mary from Mississippi.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Mary, welcome to the show. Go ahead with your question.

Mary: OK, did you say Mary?

Bill Walsh: Yep, sure did. Go ahead.

Mary: OK, I'm calling about my husband who is 92 years old. He is bedridden and I can't get anybody to administer one of those vaccines to him. He's on a home health, but they said that they are not permitted to give one. To take him to a place out, he already has an appointment, I just went and got him an appointment, it costs almost $1,000 dollars to take him in an ambulance. I'm wondering if there's any way that you could help us to get him a vaccine. Can you get anybody to give him a vaccine?

Bill Walsh: All right, Mary. Thanks for that question. It's one a lot of people are facing around the country with homebound folks. And how do they get the vaccine? Maybe, Adriane Casalotti, do you want to take a stab at this and maybe Dr. Benton weigh in, as well?

Adriane Casalotti: Sure, without knowing where you are in Mississippi, I'm not necessarily sure which jurisdiction you're in, but in general, this is definitely something that we're hearing across the country, and that we are hearing local health departments trying to find different ways to partner, to access homebound individuals. You know, some have been doing it in a limited basis. Others have been really partnering with senior centers and areas on aging to help do this work. We're really excited about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for this reason because it's so much easier to transport and it's only one-shot doses. So you're not having to go back to someone's home more than once, and you're not having to worry about that cold chain of how we keep things ultra-cold on the way to someone's home. We're also, local health forums are working with senior living facilities and others for those types of areas. For your specific issue, you know, it's hard to give very concrete advice. But I'm glad you did get that initial appointment, and I'm not sure if she can connect back to you all at AARP, with that amazing service that you're now providing to help people get appointments, or if there's some way that we can continue that conversation, because it will depend on where you live specifically who we need to call.

Bill Walsh: OK. She's in Laurel, Mississippi. I don't know if that helps you at all, Adriane. But we are looking for some resources for her. OK and, Dr. Benton, did you want to weigh in on Mary's question? Again, it's something we're seeing a lot around the country with homebound people.

Donna Benton: Yeah. First of all, Mary, you know, God bless you. This is such a hard time. And you are really trying to make your husband safe during this time. I would say that what also might be good — this is why we need advocacy. Being able to talk to your local legislator, calling your area agency on aging and really telling your story, because you represent hundreds of thousands of people who are caring for somebody who's bedbound, and we really just don't have that infrastructure in place, so that it could be down the corner and people need to be coming to our homes. So tell your story and don't be afraid to call your local representative and just say, what are you going to do? People are, like my husband, we can't take him out of the house that easily and it's expensive. So either they need to reimburse this, or they need to find a way of bringing somebody into the home through the home health agency. And so speak up, speak up, speak up like you did today.

Bill Walsh: All right. And Mary, I can tell you that our state office in Mississippi is going to reach out to you to see if we can help you in some way. We've got your phone number here, so hopefully we can help you with that. And just a notice to our other listeners, AARP has state-by-state guides for how vaccine distribution is working in your states. To check that out, go to aarp.org/vaccineinfo. You can pull up your state there and see a lot of toll-free numbers to call and get important information about vaccine distribution. OK, Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Josephine from Arizona.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Josephine, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Josephine: Oh, thank you for taking my call. Yes, my question is I had the first and second vaccination, OK. I had the second one yesterday, and I was OK, but today I have a fever and I have a pain in my body, and my neck and my ears, and I did measure the fever. It's 100 and they told me at the doctor's office, they told me not to take Advil. I should get Tylenol, but I don't have a Tylenol in my house. And is it safe for me to take an Advil instead of Tylenol?

Bill Walsh: Well, let's check with Dr. Campbell, and see what he has to say about that. Dr. Campbell, we're hearing in some cases people are having some additional side effects with the second dose. What can they, and what could Josephine do?

Thomas Campbell: Yes, so Josephine, the side effects that you're having are very common, particularly after the second dose. We do know that these side effects happen; pain, swelling at the injection site, fevers, chills, muscle aches, fatigue and all of these do occur more commonly after the second dose. What I would advise is if the side effects are not too terrible for you, just wait it out, and they usually resolve within 24 hours on their own. If you feel that you need to take something, that it's too intolerable, then either Tylenol or ibuprofen is fine. I would prefer Tylenol, first, if you have it. If you don't have it, ibuprofen is OK. There is some theoretical concern that ibuprofen could interfere with how well the vaccine works, but it's really theoretical, and it's not been observed so far. About 10 percent of people in the clinical trials had to take some type of medication for side effects like what you're having.

Bill Walsh: And so, Josephine was told not to take Advil. Is that a common recommendation for folks who are feeling these side effects?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, Advil is the brand name for the generic ibuprofen. And there is, as I mentioned, some theoretical concern that ibuprofen could blunt the protective effects of the vaccine. And so that's the general reason why we don't recommend that up front. And that's why we would prefer Tylenol in this type of situation.

Bill Walsh: OK, got it. Thank you very much, Dr. Campbell. And I want to emphasize a new service that AARP is offering. It's the AARP Vaccine Registration Team. These are folks on the line today who may not have computer access, access to the internet to make an appointment. You can press 1 on your phone to be added to a list to receive a phone call from an AARP staff member to assist you. So if you don't have internet access or a computer, and you want to get in the queue to get a vaccine appointment, we can help. All right, Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Ardis from Kansas.

Bill Walsh: Hey Ardis, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your call.

Ardis: Thank you. I think the CDC just came out with new guidelines relaxing nursing home visitations, and I would guess that pertains to assisted-living also. Is that dependent on the facility will they choose to do those guidelines, and also, I would guess it would make a difference, too, if the visitor had also been fully vaccinated.

Bill Walsh: That's a great question, and very timely. Dr. Benton, would you address that? As I understand it, these are recommendations at this point.

Donna Benton: Right, these are recommendations. So it is still a negotiation with most of the nursing homes because I think they are still concerned about secondary transmission. They don't know how many people in the nursing home are vaccinated, nor are their employees at this time. But as things get loose, you know, in terms of vaccine, and if you're vaccinated with the two weeks and everything that's been discussed, this is going to be a good time to really talk with the nursing home about how they might begin to do visitation. I know that some of the nursing homes here have started doing the outdoor visitations and letting people, if both parties are vaccinated, so they can see each other beyond looking at them on an iPhone or waving through a window, but actually come a little closer.

Bill Walsh: What would you recommend to somebody like Ardis? I'm assuming she has a loved one in assisted-living or a nursing home. Should she wait to hear what they're going to do? Or should she be advocating on behalf of her loved ones?

Donna Benton: Oh, absolutely you advocate on behalf of your loved one. You know that they're very, very busy. They're trying to work on other things, and if they don't hear from you, they're going to do status quo of what makes it easier for their day-to-day job. And you're not trying to make it harder for them, but they don't have time to reach out; you're not going to be a priority. So you have to make, you and your family, a priority.

Bill Walsh: Great. OK, Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: We have quite a few questions on YouTube and Facebook. So this one's coming from YouTube. Jennifer is asking, "I'm still waiting for my first shot. Most places I went to for registration show no availability. I live in Dallas, Texas. What can I do? And is Pfizer or Moderna more preferable?"

Bill Walsh: Adriane, do you want to take a crack at that one? Jennifer is anxious to get an appointment and can't seem to do it.

Adriane Casalotti: Well, you are not alone. I think many of us feel that way across the country. And in Dallas, I do know that there is a registration system, even if you don't have an appointment yet. So if you're not on that, make sure to do so because they are inviting people to make appointments based on that registration system. This is the challenge we have right now when there is so much more demand than supply. It's unfortunate that things are getting snapped up this quickly, but it is fortunate that there's such interest in getting vaccinated and that's going to help us move forward. A couple of things I mentioned earlier about how folks are ramping up to have the additional doses on board really apply here. So, no matter where you live, figuring out, is there a centralized registration system like there is in Dallas, figuring out, there's a couple of different ways that vaccines are coming into communities right now. So one is through the health department, but that's not the only way. There's also the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which is sending vaccines directly to pharmacies in different states. And there are lists of kind of what chains in Texas you should be looking for, for example, that may have access to the vaccine. So reaching out to your local pharmacy is a good idea, as well. There are, depending upon who your provider is, some community health centers that are getting vaccine directly to them. And then I would also make sure to flag for your private health care provider if you have one, that you're interested in being vaccinated. They may not have access to the vaccines right now, but they may have them going forward in the next few weeks. So making sure they know that you're interested so they could call you if they actually have access to it. I know it's hard to go to all these different places. I know it's hard to wait, especially when there's so much promise on the back end of those vaccines, but there should be more opportunities, increasing opportunities over the next few weeks for people to actually get vaccinated.

Bill Walsh: OK, thank you, Adriane. And Jennifer in Dallas, just two bits of information. The State’s Health and Human Services phone line is 211. They might be able to give you some information. Also, you can check out your state vaccine distribution rules and regulations at aarp.org/vaccineinfo. And in fact, everyone on the call can look up their own state there and find out about local resources to help you get an appointment. OK, thank you for all those questions. We're going to take more in just a few minutes.

Now let's turn back to our experts for a moment, and Adriane, picking up on something you were just discussing. You know, while the situation varies from state to state, and even within states from county to county oftentimes, if someone's having a problem getting a vaccine appointment locally, can you give us some best practices on what steps they should take?

Adriane Casalotti: Sure, so, you're right. Things vary a great deal, and we, in some ways, have had to build the plane while flying it once the vaccines were available, making sure that the system was working well. And there are definitely things that continue to be done to improve the system. It's not there yet. I think the key piece is using the resources, like you just mentioned, the state health department websites, as well as what you all have been putting together at AARP, that's a really amazing resource. Reaching out to your local health department or your county. If you do have access to the internet, most of them have a box around COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccinations, and depending upon where you are, that can be a really great resource to help put you on a list locally. The retail pharmacy program that I mentioned to the last caller, that's another place to be looking because additional vaccines are being put into that every single week. And so states determine which pharmacy chains to partner with within the states, and so as more vaccine gets sent out, more locations should have access to that. We also recognize that not every community has a retail pharmacy, and we hope that that's not a barrier, and so really the local health department likely is the place for you to turn. That being said, we do have some challenges — local health departments don't always have the information that they need from the state level to really know what's going on just within your county or within your city, so looking at both those resources, local and state is really important.

Bill Walsh: OK, thank you very much for that. Dr. Benton, let's turn to you. We've heard from AARP volunteers who are raising grandchildren how important a topic this is. What do we know about the current vaccines and the new variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil? Even with the vaccines, we're going to have to adjust some of our normal activities. We've been doing a lot like grocery shopping. Will a booster shot be needed for this? Actually, that's a question for Dr. Campbell.

Donna Benton: Hold on, that's not Donna.

Bill Walsh: Yeah, Dr. Campbell. Sorry about that. Dr. Campbell, can you address that? Are we going to need a booster shot in the face of all of these new variants?

Thomas Campbell: So, the short answer, I believe is, yes, and I'll explain that. So, there are three, what we call variants of concern, and these arose in different parts of the world including the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. And the reason that we are concerned about these variants is they have mutations in the part of the coronavirus spike protein where we believe the vaccines exert their protection. And so, these variants, because of the mutations they carry, the vaccines are not quite as effective. Now, the vaccines are still effective and still very effective, but not quite as much as when these mutations are not present. And just to give you some comparisons, the vaccines, in general with the current, the main strain that we have in the U.S., as we've seen with Pfizer and Moderna, there's about 95 percent efficacy. And that probably drops down to about 85 percent with the U.K. variant and down to about 65 percent with the South African variant. We don't have good data yet on the Brazil variant, but I'd expect it to be similar to the South African variant. So we still have good protection, and that's protection against symptomatic COVID. And importantly, the vaccines retain their protection against severe and critical COVID, the type of COVID that can lead to death. But what we do expect is that the companies who make these vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna, they've already started developing vaccines that are more effective against the variants. And we expect that those variant vaccines or adjusted vaccines will be used as a booster shots, perhaps as early as this fall.

Bill Walsh: OK, thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. And Dr. Benton, let me circle back to you. We've been living under this pandemic for a year and grandparents are caring for grandchildren and remote learning, and many people are doing the same while caring for older loved ones. How do family caregivers combat burnout and ensure that they're getting a break?

Donna Benton: Yeah, and that has become more difficult because of safety concerns, so we can't invite a neighbor over like we used to, or pay for respite, although for some agencies where they've made sure that people have vaccines now, it might be OK for you to reach out to a local agency that might be able to come in for an hour or two so that you can actually just go sleep uninterrupted, but feel like whoever you're caring for is safe during that time. Of course, there's shorter things that you can do. And I really find that during this time, just standing outside of your enclosed house, walk out the door and breathe in the fresh air. Now it might be too cold in some places, you know in California, I can walk out the door and a little more days, but just going outside and just breathing in good air. Another thing inside your house, when you have those down times while maybe somebody is, you know the kids are there watching school and the other person's taking a nap, take that time to do something that gives you pleasure. And that can be listening to one or two songs. That's five minutes of relaxation. Taking time to read a paragraph in a book that you like or taking a little time to really enjoy some ice cream in the middle of the day. I think, of course, you can eat ice cream any time of day, but do a guilty-pleasure thing like eat some ice cream, get that nice piece of chocolate. Those are really quick ways to relax, in addition to, if it's safe, having a home health agency come in and help you.

Bill Walsh: All right, terrific. Thank you for that, Dr. Benton, and thank you for giving us all permission to eat ice cream in the middle of the day. I know we're grateful for that. Dr. Campbell, I want to follow up on a question that came up from one of our callers, and it has to do with the side effects of the second shots from Moderna and Pfizer. What should people expect, generally speaking, and are the side effects a reason not to get the vaccines?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so, what everyone should expect is the possibility of having either what we call a local injection-site reaction, and that means things like pain, redness, swelling at the injection site in the shoulder, or having systemic symptoms, and what we mean by that are flu-like symptoms. So this includes headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue. These side effects are very common with both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, perhaps a little bit less common with the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And we know that they occur, when they do occur, it's typically 24 to 48 hours after either the first or second dose of Pfizer and Moderna, but more commonly after the second dose than the first dose. And we know that these are transient. They typically last 24 to 48 hours and go away spontaneously. So people should not be concerned if these side effects happen. As we were discussing with Josephine earlier, if they're really troublesome, you can take some Tylenol, or preferably Tylenol or ibuprofen if needed, to reduce the symptoms. And in answer to your question, they are not a reason, if you had them after the first dose, they're not a reason not to get the second dose. I would highly recommend that you still proceed with the second dose.

Bill Walsh: OK, very good. Thank you very much, Dr. Campbell, and a reminder to our listeners, we know that some folks have had difficulty registering for a vaccine appointment because many of the registration systems are online and they don't have a computer, or they don't feel comfortable navigating online. AARP wants to help. We have established an AARP Vaccine Registration Team to assist in these cases. So if you're listening today and you don't have a computer, and you can't register for a vaccine because you don't have access to technology, please press 1 on your telephone to be added to a list to receive a phone call from AARP staff to assist you.

OK, Jean, who do we have on the line now?

Adriane Casalotti: Our next caller is Marilyn from Missouri.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Marilyn. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Marilyn: Thank you very much. My question's concerning allergic reactions and if it's advisable to take the vaccine. Just to make a real short history, of course this was when I was younger, was given penicillin and found out after the penicillin shot, was allergic to it, so they had to give me adrenaline. Then later on, this would have been when I was in my late 20s, ate some gooseberries of all things, and found out I was allergic to that. Lips swelled up and throat swelled and rash. I had to go to the hospital. They gave me a shot of Benadryl and found out after giving me the shot of Benadryl that I was allergic to that, so we had to do adrenaline again. I was told, you know, never to take penicillin again, never take Benadryl again. My concern is after reading everything that, you know, it's safe, OK, if you have had allergic reactions that they will just watch you a little longer. But I guess the concern is just watching you and then if that happens again, then what? I mean, is it worth the risk to take the vaccine or ...

Bill Walsh: Well, that's a great question, Marilyn, and it's a question we're getting a lot, because people are, or have been allergic to various medicines. Dr. Campbell, what advice would you have for Marilyn and folks in her situation?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah. So, allergic reactions do occur after both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. I've not seen any data yet for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. With the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the risk of an allergic reaction overall is very low. It's about a two to maybe five in a million, and we do know that people who have had severe allergic reactions, like yourself, are at greater risk of having an allergic reaction from the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Now, what I would say is that we have to balance that risk against the risk of COVID. We know that if persons get COVID, they can get severely ill and can be ill for a long period of time if they recover from COVID, and we know that COVID kills people. So, what we know about the allergic reactions from the vaccine is when they do occur, they can be treated very easily with epinephrine, which is, the medical term for adrenaline. And so what I would advise is that if you do get the vaccine that you make sure that the site that is giving the vaccine to you has an epinephrine pen, an EpiPen, on hand, so that if you did have an allergic reaction, they could treat you very quickly for it. That's certainly what our practice here at my site is we make sure that we have that EpiPen present in our site when we're giving the vaccine.

Bill Walsh: And as I understand it, isn't it the protocol to watch people for a certain amount of time after they've been given the vaccine just to make sure they haven't had an allergic reaction?

Thomas Campbell: That's correct. And people who have had an allergic reaction are observed longer. I'm sorry, people who have had a history of severe allergic reactions are observed longer than people who do not, but to the caller's point, observation doesn't do that much good if you just don't have something to give, should an allergic reaction occur. So I think it's important to make sure that the site that is giving the vaccine has an EpiPen on hand in case it's needed.

Bill Walsh: OK. Did one of our other panelists want to weigh in on that question?

Adriane Casalotti: Yeah, sorry. This is Adriane Casalotti. It raises also an important point when it comes to public health. So we are continuing to collect people's experiences with side effects and any other potential reactions through the, if you do have access to a smartphone, CDC has set up VSafe, and so “V” as in vaccine, Safe, and it's a way for people to help track the experiences that they have, and that gives us all better data moving forward. So if you are getting your vaccine, ask people about how to enroll in that, and that helps us all as a country move forward, knowing better and more about how the vaccines interact with each of us.

Bill Walsh: OK. Thanks both of you for that. Oh, go ahead. Is that Dr. Benton?

Donna Benton: Hi. Yeah, no, I was just going to say the VSafe is really easy. I have it on my phone, and they send a little text message. It's like three questions every day, and you just click. And then you submit and it's over. And so they send you reminders, you get it once a day. And I know that it is going into a big database that will give information for all of us to help us in future problems and health issues. So I do encourage people to sign up for the VSafe, it's very easy if you have a smartphone of any kind.

Bill Walsh: OK. Thank you very much. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our next question is coming from Facebook and this one's coming from Michele, and she's asking, "I have registered on the site in my state to receive the vaccine, but now I have no idea what I'm supposed to do next. Are they supposed to send me an email and then appointment, place and time? Or do I just start looking around for appointments?

Bill Walsh: Hmm, I guess she didn't say what state she was from.

Jean Setzfand: She did not.

Bill Walsh: OK. I wonder, Adriane, if you have any advice for Michele or folks who may have pre-registered and are kind of now sitting and waiting.

Adriane Casalotti: Yeah. So a couple things. One is I would look back and see if you got an email confirmation to make sure that there's not any information in there about next steps. In general, if you are registering or preregistering, most areas when they're doing that is to then reach out to you when an appointment slot is available or a time to make your appointment. And different locations are kind of addressing those lists in different ways. So some that may be all everyone over a certain age, some may be kind of taking pockets of that and segments of that, depending upon how many vaccines they have coming in. One of the new things that's happening is for a while there nobody really knew how many vaccines they were going to have until like Friday for Monday. The federal government is now trying to give a more, long-term projection. So three, four weeks, which is long-term in this world. And then, hopefully local health departments then also have that level of projection, although that's not necessarily happening everywhere at this point, but that really allows people to start registering and then booking appointments longer out. A lot of people have been doing very short-term appointment times because they don't want to set you up with one and then have to cancel if the vaccine isn't actually available. So again, with more supply coming in, we should be able to be opening more of those slots going forward.

Bill Walsh: OK. And now I've said it before, I'll say it again, that AARP has created state-by-state guides, that provide local toll-free numbers so folks like Michelle or others can get on the phone and hopefully talk to a person and ask questions like this. You know, how long should I expect to wait? What has been the supply in my state? You can find that resource at aarp.org/vaccineinfo.

Adriane Casalotti: OK, so one of the things I neglected to mention when someone was asking how to find an appointment, is we've just stood up a system called Vaccine Finder, which had already existed, but now we're opening it up to COVID. So currently Alaska, Tennessee, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, Utah and New York State are now showing vaccine availability through that system, vaccinefinder.com. And more states should be coming on board in the coming weeks. But for folks in those states, that's another avenue to look and try and find where vaccine is in your community.

Bill Walsh: And will they alert you if you're registered?

Adriane Casalotti: I think that is an option. I'm not sure if it's functional yet. The kind of soft launch happened about a week and a half ago.

Bill Walsh: I see, OK, very good. Jean, who is our next caller?

Adriane Casalotti: I have another question coming in from YouTube, actually a couple of questions all around what we discussed before related to Advil, taking Advil after a vaccine. Both Theresa and Barbara asked whether they blunted their vaccine as a result of taking Advil, and they wanted some reassurance about that.

Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so, as we were discussing with some of the previous questions, there is theoretical concern that ibuprofen, which is the medicine in Advil, could blunt a vaccine response. I emphasize that that is only theoretical, and we don't know for sure whether or not ibuprofen, in fact, affects the efficacy of the COVID vaccines. So I encourage people to not take anything unless they need it, but if you need it and you have to take something, then you can do it, but we don't know for sure whether or not there is any effect. It's been studied in other vaccines, and for the most part, there is not any adverse consequences of taking ibuprofen, but we don't know for sure.

Bill Walsh: OK. Thank you for that, Dr. Campbell. Who do we have next on the line, Jean?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Cynthia from New York.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Cynthia, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Bill Walsh: Hi, Cynthia. Go ahead with your question. Sorry, I'm hearing something in the background.

Cynthia: Hi. Hi. OK. My mother, and I am her full-time caregiver, we had the second doses of the Pfizer vaccine on March 3. And, so I was just concerned because I just found out that the caregiver that took in my mom a couple of months ago, she said that she had COVID in January, but she said she's still having a positive result, you know? I mean, how long does it last this positive result? Like how long should my mother avoid being having any contact with her?

Bill Walsh: So your mom's caregiver, in January, tested positive for COVID and is still feeling the symptoms of that.

Cynthia: Yeah. Yeah. And she still, she has ...

Bill Walsh: And you and your mother, I'm sorry, and so your mom has taken both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, the most recent on the third of March.

Cynthia: Yeah. I also, myself, too.

Bill Walsh: And you as well. I got it, and so the question is, should your mom or you limit contact with this caregiver?

Cynthia: Yeah. And also, she said her children had it also back in January and then her mother had it. They all live together. I don't know about her husband.

Bill Walsh: OK. Dr. Campbell, do you have any advice there, and if any of our other panelists want to weigh in, they can.

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so if I understood the question correctly, it's that the caregiver has had COVID, but is still persistently testing positive. And what we know is that people will continue to have the virus detected in their nose and their upper respiratory tract for sometimes weeks or even months after they've gotten better from the illness. But the ability to transmit the infection is only during the first 10 days. So, if the person has recovered from COVID, is not feeling sick anymore, and has past that 10 days, then we can have good assurance that they're not infectious to others. The second thing I would say about that though is that people who are immunosuppressed, so people who have had organ transplants or have had cancer chemotherapy, and have a suppressed immune system, may continue to shed virus, infectious virus, for longer periods of time, and in general, we want to have those people quarantine themselves for at least three weeks from the time that they start feeling better.

Bill Walsh: OK, very good. And the fact that Cynthia and her mom just got their second doses, well, about a week ago now, are they still in any danger zone or should they feel like they can interact with others at least in their home?

Thomas Campbell: So we recommend that we don't do that until 14 days after the second dose. So in order to get full protection, it requires the body's immune system to have 14 days after the second dose to respond to the vaccine. So in terms of relaxing any restrictions, I would wait for those 14 days. In the meantime, it would be important to continue social distancing and masking in the home.

Bill Walsh: OK. Thank you, and Dr. Benton, did you want to weigh in on this? I know you work with caregivers quite a bit.

Donna Benton: No, I don't have anything to add.

Bill Walsh: OK.

Donna Benton: But I do understand her hesitation, and I'm glad that she reached out today to get very clear directions on how to keep herself and her mom safe.

Bill Walsh: OK. Well, very good. Thank you, Dr. Benton, Dr. Campbell and Adriane Casalotti. Any closing thoughts or recommendations that our listeners should understand most from our conversation today? Dr. Campbell, do you want to start us off?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so I think the important points about our conversations around vaccines are that we have three vaccines that are very safe and very effective in that everyone should get vaccinated as soon as they have the chance. We didn't get to this, but there has been some concern amongst African Americans and Hispanic Americans that we don't have enough data on the safety and efficacy of these vaccines in their populations. But, in fact, we do, and we know that these vaccines work well for everyone. So everyone should get vaccinated as soon as they can.

Bill Walsh: OK, thank you very much for that. Adriane Casalotti, any closing thoughts?

Adriane Casalotti: Sure, and I definitely agree with everything that was just said. I think taking another step back is, you know, we are in this place, a year-plus now into working on this, and hopefully we're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, but I think it's important to remember that there's a lot of issues, including public health issues, that we haven't really been focusing on for the past year. And so, the more that we can support that work, whether we're in pandemic times or not, the better off we'll be because the folks who've been on the front lines doing this testing and contact tracing, and trying to work with schools and businesses, are now leading the vaccine work. And they're going to have a lot to pick up after we get through the pandemic. So, hopefully, they can continue to support you all, get everyone vaccinated, and then we can continue to support them in the important work they do day in and day out.

Bill Walsh: OK, Adriane, thank you very much for that. And Dr. Benton, any closing thoughts or recommendations?

Donna Benton: I was just thinking that, it's been a year, we're getting closer to where we'll be into what we're calling our new normal, and as we get vaccinated, and we've had our two weeks, and you feel like you want to get together with people, I kind of want to go back to what Lou had asked is, can he have a card game? And I would say let's ease back into the social interactions. Maybe start with Go Fish before you get into the poker game.

Bill Walsh: (chuckles) You think poker's going to raise our stress levels too much, is that it?

Donna Benton: Yeah. Yeah. You know, we may not know how to react to poker, but let's start with Go Fish.

Bill Walsh: All right. Well, Lou didn't sound like a Go Fish player to me, but there it is. He's got that advice. Well, thank you all. This has been a really informative discussion. I want to thank each of you for answering our questions, and thank you, our AARP members, volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion today. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we're providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and prevent its spread to others while taking care of themselves.

All of the resources referenced today, including a recording of today's Q&A event can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus beginning March 12, tomorrow. Again, that web address is aarp.org/coronavirus. Go there if your question was not addressed, and you will find the latest updates, as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers. We hope you learned something today that can help keep you and your loved ones healthy.

Please join us again tonight at 7:00 p.m. ET for a special live event with personal finance expert, Suze Orman, and AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins where they'll discuss COVID's impact on your finances and taxes. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

One Year of the Coronavirus Pandemic Transcript With Timestamps

Bill Walsh:  Hello, I am AARP Vice President Bill Walsh, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. Before we begin, if you'd like to hear this tele-town hall in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. One year ago today, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. During this remarkable year, people's lives have been upended, financial well-being has been under pressure, and of course, over 500,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. It's worth remembering that 95 percent of those who have died are people over the age of 50. It's an unfathomable loss.

[00:01:01] Progress is being made on vaccine distribution with more than two million vaccine doses a day. Still many older people have been stymied by confusing sign-up systems and are frustrated as they wait for appointments to open up. A year into the pandemic people are still coping with the many changes that COVID has wrought and wondering how far away normal might be.

[00:01:24] Today's panel of experts will address these issues and more, and we'll be taking your questions live. If you've participated in one of our tele-town halls in the past, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask your questions live. For those of you joining us on the phone, if you'd like to ask a question about the coronavirus pandemic, press *3 on your telephone to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. If you're joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments section.

[00:02:28] Joining us today are Thomas Campbell, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Anschutz Medical Campus Multidisciplinary Center on Aging. Also, Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and Donna Benton, Ph.D., director of the family Caregiving Support Center at the University of Southern California. We'll also be joined by my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand, who will help facilitate your calls today. This event is being recorded and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up.

[00:03:28] And now to our panel; I'd like to bring in our guests. Thomas Campbell, M.D. is a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Anschutz Medical Campus Multidisciplinary Center on Aging. Thanks for joining us today, Dr. Campbell.

[00:03:47]Thomas Campbell:  Hi, Bill. Yes, thanks very much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here today.

[00:03:52]Bill Walsh:  Oh, we're delighted to have you. Also joining us is Adriane Casalotti. She is the chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, which represents nearly 3,000 local government health departments. Welcome, Adriane.

[00:04:10]Adriane Casalotti:  Hi, thanks for having me.

[00:04:12]Bill Walsh:  All right, thanks for being here. And finally, Donna Benton, Ph.D. She is the director of the Family Caregiver Support Center at the University of Southern California. Welcome back to the program, Dr. Benton.

[00:04:25]Donna Benton:  It's so nice to be here, Bill, and thank you.

[00:04:27]Bill Walsh:  Right, well thanks, all of you for being here. Let's go ahead and get started with our discussion. The cover of the AARP Bulletin member newspaper this month is called “The Path Forward: Lessons Learned From the Pandemic.” As we reflect on one year of living under this global pandemic that has taken so many lives and changed our lives in dramatic ways, I'd like to ask each of our panelists what they have learned that can help us move forward. Dr. Campbell, let's start with you. What have you learned during this extraordinary year?

[00:05:10]Thomas Campbell:  It has been an extraordinary year and we've had some, some really remarkable progress made in areas in COVID, including a treatment, and as we'll talk about later, vaccines. And I think that that's a really a game changer for us, the availability of vaccines. And I think as we move forward into our second year of COVID, we will be seeing some palpable differences.

[00:05:42]Bill Walsh:  Hmm. Thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. Adriane Casalotti, what about you? What have you learned during this year?

[00:05:48]Adriane Casalotti:  You know, I think we've definitely seen this greater understanding of the role of public health. So not just health care and how it plays in the basic functionings of our society, and within that, the role that each of us play. So, whether that's mask-wearing and social distancing, putting off that vacation, working with contact tracers who call, getting vaccinated when it's your turn. You know, the pandemic can seem overwhelming day in and day out, but we all do play a part in managing it now and making it through, and even as we're separate, we're all in this together.

[00:06:19]Bill Walsh:  Thanks very much, Adriane, and Dr. Benton, what have we learned that can help us move forward?

[00:06:25]Donna Benton:  You know, the one thing I really have noticed is that people now have a greater understanding of the impact of social isolation, impacts on how, when we're caring for somebody and we don't necessarily have any kind of relief, people are beginning to be a little more empathetic around understanding family caregiving. But we've also learned a lot of resiliency and how to help each other in just more creative ways.

[00:06:54]Bill Walsh:  Hmm, and maybe how to take care of ourselves as caregivers, as well.

[00:06:58]Donna Benton:  Yes.

[00:06:59]Bill Walsh:  Thank you very much. Great points, everybody. Dr. Campbell, I'd like to turn it back to you. We received some good news last week that the vaccine supply is expected to be enough for most every American to have access in May. What does this news mean?

[00:07:14]Thomas Campbell:  Yeah, so we have three vaccines now that have received emergency use authorization, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for prevention of COVID-19 illness. And so what the availability of the vaccines means, hopefully by the end of May as has been projected, is that now every adult American will have the option of being vaccinated. And these vaccines are very effective in preventing people from getting sick from COVID. And so this will provide us with a way to protect ourselves from illness, from COVID, and help enable us to start going back towards a life as we used to know it before a year ago.

[00:08:13]Bill Walsh:  Well, thank you very much. And just to be clear for our listeners, many of whom have been frustrated at not being able to get an appointment, having enough vaccine supply by the end of May doesn't mean that everyone will be vaccinated, correct?

[00:08:28]Thomas Campbell:  That's correct. And there are a lot of factors that play into that, you know the ability to distribute the vaccine and administer the vaccine, and we know that for the vaccines that require two doses, we don't get full protection until about two weeks after that second dose. So even though the vaccines are available, it doesn't mean that everyone will be fully immunized by the end of May. The other point I would make is that we are only giving the vaccines to adults at this time. And we don't know yet, whether the vaccines are safe and effective in children, which represent about 25 percent of our population. And, so that will be an important 25 percent that will not be getting vaccinated by the end of May.

[00:09:24]Bill Walsh:  Very interesting point. Dr. Campbell, you had referenced the three vaccines we now have available in this country. You know, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both require two shots and extreme cold storage. The newest, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just a single shot and not as extreme cold storage. What are the key differences for consumers among these vaccines and are all three equally safe and effective?

[00:09:53]Thomas Campbell:  Yeah, the available evidence that we have is that all three of these vaccines are very safe and very effective. And, I think when we talk about comparing how well the vaccines work against each other, none of these vaccines have been compared head-to-head. We have data from basically three separate clinical trials that show that all work very, very well. Going into the vaccine development, the FDA set the bar for what it would call an efficacious vaccine at 50 percent efficacy. And all three of these vaccines exceed that bar that was set about a year ago. So, I would say to everyone that these are all very safe and effective. There are some differences in storage. The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored in ultra-cold freezer temperatures. The Moderna vaccine has to be stored in a regular freezer or in a refrigerator for up to a month, whereas the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored in refrigerators for up to three months. So it has a lot of advantages for more easy distribution, particularly to smaller clinics or rural areas that might not have the ultra-cold storage that's needed, for say, the Pfizer vaccine.

[00:11:30]Bill Walsh:  Now how would you compare the effectiveness of these vaccines to ones that maybe our listeners know more about, like a seasonal flu vaccine?

[00:11:38]Thomas Campbell:  Yeah, so the efficacy of these vaccines, all equal or exceed what we get from other common vaccines such as the flu vaccine or the shingles vaccine. The efficacy of those vaccines, in general, is in the 60 to 70, maybe 80 percent range. And so, we're at or above that with all three of these vaccines.

[00:12:09]Bill Walsh:  And we've heard a number of questions from our members about, you know, now that there are three out there, people are saying, ‘Oh, I have a choice. I don't know which one to pick.’ What would you say to somebody who makes that point?

[00:12:21]Thomas Campbell:  Well, what I would say is that everyone should get a vaccine, whichever one they're offered, as soon as they are offered it. So we shouldn't be shopping for one or the other. The reason I say that is, even though we talk about these efficacy numbers, we also have to remember, when we say efficacy, well what is the measure of that efficacy? And the main measure has been prevention of symptomatic COVID illness, so in other words, people feeling sick from COVID. But all three of these vaccines are equally effective and highly effective in the 80 to 90 percent or greater range for preventing more severe consequences like hospitalization and death. And so these vaccines are very important, and it's important to get one as soon as you can, to prevent those much more severe outcomes of hospitalization or dying from COVID.

[00:13:28]Bill Walsh:  OK, Dr. Campbell, thanks for making that point. Adriane, I'd like to bring you in here. With this new announcement we were just discussing about the expected increase in supply, what are state and local health departments doing to prepare to actually get shots in people's arms.

[00:13:45]Adriane Casalotti:  Yeah, so we're really excited that the supply should be increasing. Supply issues has been the No. 1 challenge for local health departments to have the capacity, who have capacity to give more shots and certainly demand for more but not enough to go around. With the knowledge that more are coming, there's a lot to do to staff up, to strengthen registration systems that we know have been clunky and challenging, and working to build vaccine confidence so that there continues to be strong demand once supplies increase. So, we know that right now, we see a lot of people who want access to the vaccine and not a lot of supply. As supplies go up, we'll be able to get vaccine to all those folks who are waiting in line, but really to get through the pandemic, we need to get everyone vaccinated. And so we're having those conversations now to make sure people understand, you know, just like what was just said, getting the vaccine when it's out, when you're eligible is really important, answer people's questions about why they should do it based on their personal health status and their family status, so that we can build demand so we’re ready to go once we have more vaccines available.

[00:14:49] You know, we also are working to address barriers to access that folks have experienced. So despite the fact that we have tons of people per appointment who want to get vaccinated, we know that that's not uniform across communities and across the country. And so we want to make sure that we address access points that are leading to challenges with equitable uptick of the vaccine, as well. So things like that are figuring out additional registration options. So not everyone has the Wi-Fi speed or the time or the capacity to be refreshing online to try and register. You can't just have internet-based options. People are setting up phone banks and other ways for in-person kind of tabling and communities to get people signed up for different ways to improve access, both now and when we have more supply to go. And we're translating materials into other languages because unfortunately a lot of the signups that had been set up by states are only in English and that doesn't necessarily work either for the individual or for the people who are trying to help them get vaccinated.

[00:15:52] With additional supply, we also hope to open more access points. So folks are working with private providers and additional pharmacies right now to make sure that they have what they need to be ready to go once supplies are available, and continue to monitor data to identify and address some of these equity issues and other challenges, so that we can learn from what we've been dealing with over the past couple of months, so once we have supply, we can really hit the ground running.

[00:16:20]Bill Walsh:  Great. Thanks for that, Adriane. And just a note to our listeners, if you do have access to the internet on your own or through a family member or loved one, AARP has created a tremendous resource to understand the vaccine distribution process in your state. You can find that at aarp.org/vaccineinfo. Go there and see state-by-state guides, in English and in Spanish, for the various rules and regulations on vaccine distribution close to you.

[00:16:57] Dr. Benton, let's turn to you. Nursing homes have been the absolute ground zero for the pandemic with staff and residents accounting for 35 to 40 percent of deaths while representing just 1 percent of the population. We're finally seeing cases and deaths drop due to the vaccinations. What has the pandemic exposed about the situation in nursing homes, and what needs to be done going forward?

[00:17:22]Donna Benton:  You know, thank you. I think what we really saw in the nursing homes was a combination of historical factors that women, new immigrants, minorities, and these are low paid jobs. And the workers in the facilities, they're understaffed, there weren't good regulations, and they are more likely to be working multiple jobs. So we really saw all of those historical factors come together in the nursing home. And these were aides who provided the bulk of very personal care, you know, bedside bathing and dressing, but they had to stretch it across a lot of people. They had short periods of time and the things that would normally, like all your handwashing and all of the things that would keep down infections, just weren't there. So, what we really began to see now is the importance of taking the responsibility for understanding that these essential workers need to have decent wages, so that they don't have to work so many jobs. We need to have better training for the workers in the homes. And so I think those are the kinds of things that were really exposed during this pandemic; the conditions of the underrepresented workers there.

[00:18:56]Bill Walsh:  All right. Well, let's hope we remember those lessons even post-pandemic. Thank you, Dr. Benton, for that. We're going to take some of those questions shortly, but before we do, I wanted to bring in Bill Sweeney. Bill is the senior vice president of Government Affairs at AARP, and he's going to give us an update on what AARP has been doing on COVID and the COVID vaccine front. Welcome, Bill.

[00:19:34]Bill Sweeney:  Hi, thank you.

[00:19:37]Bill Walsh:  So Bill, we've seen some positive news recently. We've seen some positive news recently on vaccines and some additional action to address the pandemic. Can you bring us up to speed and, and tell us what AARP has been doing?

[00:19:52]Bill Sweeney:  Thanks, Bill. Yes, this coronavirus pandemic upended our lives a year ago, and it's had a devastating toll. Older Americans have been hit especially hard. More than 95 percent of the 525,000-plus deaths have been among those age 50 or older. You know, recent news about increases in vaccine supply are welcome, but we still need to take steps to fix what has been an unacceptable experience for many older adults. AARP is continuing to fight for older adults to be prioritized and advocating to make sure the processes to register are easier so that you can go to one place to get clear information about when, where and how to sign up to get vaccinated. And we're pleased to see several AARP priorities on this front included in the new pandemic relief package passed by Congress that'll be signed later today. We are also working with state and local officials to help provide critical information to older adults about the vaccine, where they can access it and what they need to do. As the rollout continues, we will keep the pressure up. To stay up-to-date on all of these efforts and find summaries of state plans for vaccine distribution in your state, please visit www.aarp.org/vaccineinfo.

[00:21:17]Bill Walsh:  Thanks for that, Bill. I want to ask you about another dire situation, and this one is regarding the troubling data that we're seeing in anti-Asian hate crimes seemingly related to the pandemic. What is AARP's reaction to this?

[00:21:36]Bill Sweeney:  Well, Bill, we've been unnerved by the troubling new compiled hate crime data statistics that show a real spike last year, in some cases by triple digits, in anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of the nation's largest cities. These first spikes occurred in March and April of 2020 coinciding with the rise in COVID-19 cases and negative stereotyping of Asian American and Pacific Islander community members, Chinese Americans, in particular. These troubling new data mean that older Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders not only are concerned about coronavirus, but they now face increased violence and harassment fueled by prejudice, hatred and xenophobia. This is a combination that could create barriers to seeking treatment, testing information or vaccination, at a time when we, as a country, must come together and do everything in our power to help contain COVID spread. You know, AARP strongly condemns all racially motivated violence and harassment.

[00:22:43]Bill Walsh:  OK, Bill. Thanks for that update. We really appreciate it. We are going to get to those questions in just a moment. But I want to address an important issue that's come up a lot among our members and our listeners. We know that many of you are having challenges registering for vaccines in your state and community because many places require sign-ups through online forums. And if you don't have access to a computer, this can be a real challenge. AARP wants to help. We've established an AARP Vaccine Registration Team to try to assist in these cases. So if you're listening today and you don't have a computer, and you can't register her for a vaccine in your community because you don't have access to technology, please press 1 to be added to a list to receive a phone call from AARP staff to assist you. When you do, you'll be asked to confirm that selection and then be returned to this call.

[00:24:05] Now, it's time to address your questions about the coronavirus with Dr. Thomas Campbell, Adriane Casalotti and Dr. Donna Benton. Please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member to share your question. Now, I'd like to bring in my AARP colleague, Jean Setzfand, to help facilitate your calls. Welcome, Jean.

[00:24:28]Jean Setzfand:  Thanks, Bill, happy to be here for this important conversation.

[00:24:31]Bill Walsh:  OK, who is our first caller?

[00:24:33]Jean Setzfand:  Our first caller is Lou from Illinois.

[00:24:37]Bill Walsh:  Hey Lou, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:24:41]Lou:  My question regards, for senior citizens, all of whom have had both shots of the vaccine, and it's been a period of over two weeks, is it safe for them to play cards with each other?

[00:24:58]Bill Walsh:  OK, great question. Dr. Campbell, can you answer that question for Lou? I know we've had some recent guidance from the CDC on this point.

[00:25:05]Thomas Campbell:  We do indeed. That's a very timely question. So just this week, the CDC issued new guidance that people who have been fully vaccinated, and that means exactly what you said, sir, is 14 days after the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or 14 days after the Johnson & Johnson single dose, that if everybody meets that criteria, people can gather in small groups and not wear masks or need to socially distance. So, for instance, getting together for a card game or a book club, things like that do meet the CDC guidance, if everybody is 14 days after their required vaccine doses.

[00:26:02]Bill Walsh:  What did the CDC say, Dr. Campbell, about going out in public, even if you've been vaccinated.

[00:26:09]Thomas Campbell:  Yeah, so it's still important that when we go out in public that we still adhere to the public health guidelines that we know are effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19. So this includes wearing a mask. It includes maintaining a social distance. The reason for that is that, even though we know that these vaccines work very well to protect us from getting sick from COVID, we don't yet have good enough data to say whether or not they are highly effective in preventing us from transmitting COVID to other people. So we do know that the vaccines are not a hundred percent effective, and some people do get COVID, and some people do get asymptomatic COVID after they've been vaccinated. And it's possible that someone who is vaccinated may be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 and be able to transmit it to other people who have not been vaccinated. So, the reason for wearing the mask in public is to protect others in case you are one of those asymptomatically infected people.

[00:27:26]Bill Walsh:  Great. Thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:27:31]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Mary from Mississippi.

[00:27:35]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Mary, welcome to the show. Go ahead with your question.

[00:27:40]Mary:  OK, did you say Mary?

[00:27:42]Bill Walsh:  Yep, sure did. Go ahead.

[00:27:43]Mary:  OK, I'm calling about my husband who is 92 years old. He is bedridden and I can't get anybody to administer one of those vaccines to him. He's on a home health, but they said that they are not permitted to give one. To take him to a place out, he already has an appointment, I just went and got him an appointment, it costs almost $1,000 dollars to take him in an ambulance. I'm wondering if there's any way that you could help us to get him a vaccine. Can you get anybody to give him a vaccine?

[00:28:25]Bill Walsh:  All right, Mary. Thanks for that question. It's one a lot of people are facing around the country with homebound folks. And how do they get the vaccine? Maybe, Adriane Casalotti, do you want to take a stab at this and maybe Dr. Benton weigh in, as well?

[00:28:39]Adriane Casalotti:  Sure, without knowing where you are in Mississippi, I'm not necessarily sure which jurisdiction you're in, but in general, this is definitely something that we're hearing across the country, and that we are hearing local health departments trying to find different ways to partner, to access homebound individuals. You know, some have been doing it in a limited basis. Others have been really partnering with senior centers and areas on aging to help do this work. We're really excited about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for this reason because it's so much easier to transport and it's only one-shot doses. So you're not having to go back to someone's home more than once, and you're not having to worry about that cold chain of how we keep things ultra-cold on the way to someone's home. We're also, local health forums are working with senior living facilities and others for those types of areas. For your specific issue, you know, it's hard to give very concrete advice. But I'm glad you did get that initial appointment, and I'm not sure if she can connect back to you all at AARP, with that amazing service that you're now providing to help people get appointments, or if there's some way that we can continue that conversation, because it will depend on where you live specifically who we need to call.

[00:29:59]Bill Walsh:  OK. She's in Laurel, Mississippi. I don't know if that helps you at all, Adriane. But we are looking for some resources for her. OK and, Dr. Benton, did you want to weigh in on Mary's question? Again, it's something we're seeing a lot around the country with homebound people.

[00:30:15]Donna Benton:  Yeah. First of all, Mary, you know, God bless you. This is such a hard time. And you are really trying to make your husband safe during this time. I would say that what also might be good — this is why we need advocacy. Being able to talk to your local legislator, calling your area agency on aging and really telling your story, because you represent hundreds of thousands of people who are caring for somebody who's bedbound, and we really just don't have that infrastructure in place, so that it could be down the corner and people need to be coming to our homes. So tell your story and don't be afraid to call your local representative and just say, what are you going to do? People are, like my husband, we can't take him out of the house that easily and it's expensive. So either they need to reimburse this, or they need to find a way of bringing somebody into the home through the home health agency. And so speak up, speak up, speak up like you did today.

[00:31:25]Bill Walsh:  All right. And Mary, I can tell you that our state office in Mississippi is going to reach out to you to see if we can help you in some way. We've got your phone number here, so hopefully we can help you with that. And just a notice to our other listeners, AARP has state-by-state guides for how vaccine distribution is working in your states. To check that out, go to aarp.org/vaccineinfo. You can pull up your state there and see a lot of toll-free numbers to call and get important information about vaccine distribution. OK, Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:32:05]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Josephine from Arizona.

[00:32:09]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Josephine, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:32:12]Josephine:  Oh, thank you for taking my call. Yes, my question is I had the first and second vaccination, OK. I had the second one yesterday, and I was OK, but today I have a fever and I have a pain in my body, and my neck and my ears, and I did measure the fever. It's 100 and they told me at the doctor's office, they told me not to take Advil. I should get Tylenol, but I don't have a Tylenol in my house. And is it safe for me to take an Advil instead of Tylenol?

[00:33:04]Bill Walsh:  Well, let's check with Dr. Campbell, and see what he has to say about that. Dr. Campbell, we're hearing in some cases people are having some additional side effects with the second dose. What can they, and what could Josephine do?

[00:33:17]Thomas Campbell:  Yes, so Josephine, the side effects that you're having are very common, particularly after the second dose. We do know that these side effects happen; pain, swelling at the injection site, fevers, chills, muscle aches, fatigue and all of these do occur more commonly after the second dose. What I would advise is if the side effects are not too terrible for you, just wait it out, and they usually resolve within 24 hours on their own. If you feel that you need to take something, that it's too intolerable, then either Tylenol or ibuprofen is fine. I would prefer Tylenol, first, if you have it. If you don't have it, ibuprofen is OK. There is some theoretical concern that ibuprofen could interfere with how well the vaccine works, but it's really theoretical, and it's not been observed so far. About 10 percent of people in the clinical trials had to take some type of medication for side effects like what you're having.

[00:34:35]Bill Walsh:  And so, Josephine was told not to take Advil. Is that a common recommendation for folks who are feeling these side effects?

[00:34:44]Thomas Campbell:  Yeah, Advil is the brand name for the generic ibuprofen. And there is, as I mentioned, some theoretical concern that ibuprofen could blunt the protective effects of the vaccine. And so that's the general reason why we don't recommend that up front. And that's why we would prefer Tylenol in this type of situation.

[00:35:11]Bill Walsh:  OK, got it. Thank you very much, Dr. Campbell. And I want to emphasize a new service that AARP is offering. It's the AARP Vaccine Registration Team. These are folks on the line today who may not have computer access, access to the internet to make an appointment. You can press 1 on your phone to be added to a list to receive a phone call from an AARP staff member to assist you. So if you don't have internet access or a computer, and you want to get in the queue to get a vaccine appointment, we can help. All right, Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:36:00]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Ardis from Kansas.

[00:36:03]Bill Walsh:  Hey Ardis, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your call.

[00:36:09]Ardis:  Thank you. I think the CDC just came out with new guidelines relaxing nursing home visitations, and I would guess that pertains to assisted-living also. Is that dependent on the facility will they choose to do those guidelines, and also, I would guess it would make a difference, too, if the visitor had also been fully vaccinated.

[00:36:33]Bill Walsh:  That's a great question, and very timely. Dr. Benton, would you address that? As I understand it, these are recommendations at this point.

[00:36:42]Donna Benton:  Right, these are recommendations. So it is still a negotiation with most of the nursing homes because I think they are still concerned about secondary transmission. They don't know how many people in the nursing home are vaccinated, nor are their employees at this time. But as things get loose, you know, in terms of vaccine, and if you're vaccinated with the two weeks and everything that's been discussed, this is going to be a good time to really talk with the nursing home about how they might begin to do visitation. I know that some of the nursing homes here have started doing the outdoor visitations and letting people, if both parties are vaccinated, so they can see each other beyond looking at them on an iPhone or waving through a window, but actually come a little closer.

[00:37:37]Bill Walsh:  What would you recommend to somebody like Ardis? I'm assuming she has a loved one in assisted-living or a nursing home. Should she wait to hear what they're going to do? Or should she be advocating on behalf of her loved ones?

[00:37:48]Donna Benton:  Oh, absolutely you advocate on behalf of your loved one. You know that they're very, very busy. They're trying to work on other things, and if they don't hear from you, they're going to do status quo of what makes it easier for their day-to-day job. And you're not trying to make it harder for them, but they don't have time to reach out; you're not going to be a priority. So you have to make, you and your family, a priority.

[00:38:17]Bill Walsh:  Great. OK, Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:38:21]Jean Setzfand:  We have quite a few questions on YouTube and Facebook. So this one's coming from YouTube. Jennifer is asking, "I'm still waiting for my first shot. Most places I went to for registration show no availability. I live in Dallas, Texas. What can I do? And is Pfizer or Moderna more preferable?"

[00:38:42]Bill Walsh:  Adriane, do you want to take a crack at that one? Jennifer is anxious to get an appointment and can't seem to do it.

[00:38:50]Adriane Casalotti:  Well, you are not alone. I think many of us feel that way across the country. And in Dallas, I do know that there is a registration system, even if you don't have an appointment yet. So if you're not on that, make sure to do so because they are inviting people to make appointments based on that registration system. This is the challenge we have right now when there is so much more demand than supply. It's unfortunate that things are getting snapped up this quickly, but it is fortunate that there's such interest in getting vaccinated and that's going to help us move forward. A couple of things I mentioned earlier about how folks are ramping up to have the additional doses on board really apply here. So, no matter where you live, figuring out, is there a centralized registration system like there is in Dallas, figuring out, there's a couple of different ways that vaccines are coming into communities right now. So one is through the health department, but that's not the only way. There's also the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which is sending vaccines directly to pharmacies in different states. And there are lists of kind of what chains in Texas you should be looking for, for example, that may have access to the vaccine. So reaching out to your local pharmacy is a good idea, as well. There are, depending upon who your provider is, some community health centers that are getting vaccine directly to them. And then I would also make sure to flag for your private health care provider if you have one, that you're interested in being vaccinated. They may not have access to the vaccines right now, but they may have them going forward in the next few weeks. So making sure they know that you're interested so they could call you if they actually have access to it. I know it's hard to go to all these different places. I know it's hard to wait, especially when there's so much promise on the back end of those vaccines, but there should be more opportunities, increasing opportunities over the next few weeks for people to actually get vaccinated.

[00:40:56]Bill Walsh:  OK, thank you, Adriane. And Jennifer in Dallas, just two bits of information. The State’s Health and Human Services phone line is 211. They might be able to give you some information. Also, you can check out your state vaccine distribution rules and regulations at aarp.org/vaccineinfo. And in fact, everyone on the call can look up their own state there and find out about local resources to help you get an appointment. OK, thank you for all those questions. We're going to take more in just a few minutes.

[00:41:40] Now let's turn back to our experts for a moment, and Adriane, picking up on something you were just discussing. You know, while the situation varies from state to state, and even within states from county to county oftentimes, if someone's having a problem getting a vaccine appointment locally, can you give us some best practices on what steps they should take?

[00:42:03]Adriane Casalotti:  Sure, so, you're right. Things vary a great deal, and we, in some ways, have had to build the plane while flying it once the vaccines were available, making sure that the system was working well. And there are definitely things that continue to be done to improve the system. It's not there yet. I think the key piece is using the resources, like you just mentioned, the state health department websites, as well as what you all have been putting together at AARP, that's a really amazing resource. Reaching out to your local health department or your county. If you do have access to the internet, most of them have a box around COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccinations, and depending upon where you are, that can be a really great resource to help put you on a list locally. The retail pharmacy program that I mentioned to the last caller, that's another place to be looking because additional vaccines are being put into that every single week. And so states determine which pharmacy chains to partner with within the states, and so as more vaccine gets sent out, more locations should have access to that. We also recognize that not every community has a retail pharmacy, and we hope that that's not a barrier, and so really the local health department likely is the place for you to turn. That being said, we do have some challenges — local health departments don't always have the information that they need from the state level to really know what's going on just within your county or within your city, so looking at both those resources, local and state is really important.

[00:43:44]Bill Walsh:  OK, thank you very much for that. Dr. Benton, let's turn to you. We've heard from AARP volunteers who are raising grandchildren how important a topic this is. What do we know about the current vaccines and the new variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil? Even with the vaccines, we're going to have to adjust some of our normal activities. We've been doing a lot like grocery shopping. Will a booster shot be needed for this? Actually, that's a question for Dr. Campbell.

[00:44:16]Donna Benton:  Hold on, that's not Donna.

[00:44:18]Bill Walsh:  Yeah, Dr. Campbell. Sorry about that. Dr. Campbell, can you address that? Are we going to need a booster shot in the face of all of these new variants?

[00:44:27]Thomas Campbell:  So, the short answer, I believe is, yes, and I'll explain that. So, there are three, what we call variants of concern, and these arose in different parts of the world including the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. And the reason that we are concerned about these variants is they have mutations in the part of the coronavirus spike protein where we believe the vaccines exert their protection. And so, these variants, because of the mutations they carry, the vaccines are not quite as effective. Now, the vaccines are still effective and still very effective, but not quite as much as when these mutations are not present. And just to give you some comparisons, the vaccines, in general with the current, the main strain that we have in the U.S., as we've seen with Pfizer and Moderna, there's about 95 percent efficacy. And that probably drops down to about 85 percent with the U.K. variant and down to about 65 percent with the South African variant. We don't have good data yet on the Brazil variant, but I'd expect it to be similar to the South African variant. So we still have good protection, and that's protection against symptomatic COVID. And importantly, the vaccines retain their protection against severe and critical COVID, the type of COVID that can lead to death. But what we do expect is that the companies who make these vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna, they've already started developing vaccines that are more effective against the variants. And we expect that those variant vaccines or adjusted vaccines will be used as a booster shots, perhaps as early as this fall.

[00:46:45]Bill Walsh:  OK, thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. And Dr. Benton, let me circle back to you. We've been living under this pandemic for a year and grandparents are caring for grandchildren and remote learning, and many people are doing the same while caring for older loved ones. How do family caregivers combat burnout and ensure that they're getting a break?

[00:47:07]Donna Benton:  Yeah, and that has become more difficult because of safety concerns, so we can't invite a neighbor over like we used to, or pay for respite, although for some agencies where they've made sure that people have vaccines now, it might be OK for you to reach out to a local agency that might be able to come in for an hour or two so that you can actually just go sleep uninterrupted, but feel like whoever you're caring for is safe during that time. Of course, there's shorter things that you can do. And I really find that during this time, just standing outside of your enclosed house, walk out the door and breathe in the fresh air. Now it might be too cold in some places, you know in California, I can walk out the door and a little more days, but just going outside and just breathing in good air. Another thing inside your house, when you have those down times while maybe somebody is, you know the kids are there watching school and the other person's taking a nap, take that time to do something that gives you pleasure. And that can be listening to one or two songs. That's five minutes of relaxation. Taking time to read a paragraph in a book that you like or taking a little time to really enjoy some ice cream in the middle of the day. I think, of course, you can eat ice cream any time of day, but do a guilty-pleasure thing like eat some ice cream, get that nice piece of chocolate. Those are really quick ways to relax, in addition to, if it's safe, having a home health agency come in and help you.

[00:48:53]Bill Walsh:  All right, terrific. Thank you for that, Dr. Benton, and thank you for giving us all permission to eat ice cream in the middle of the day. I know we're grateful for that. Dr. Campbell, I want to follow up on a question that came up from one of our callers, and it has to do with the side effects of the second shots from Moderna and Pfizer. What should people expect, generally speaking, and are the side effects a reason not to get the vaccines?

[00:49:18]Thomas Campbell:  Yeah, so, what everyone should expect is the possibility of having either what we call a local injection-site reaction, and that means things like pain, redness, swelling at the injection site in the shoulder, or having systemic symptoms, and what we mean by that are flu-like symptoms. So this includes headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue. These side effects are very common with both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, perhaps a little bit less common with the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And we know that they occur, when they do occur, it's typically 24 to 48 hours after either the first or second dose of Pfizer and Moderna, but more commonly after the second dose than the first dose. And we know that these are transient. They typically last 24 to 48 hours and go away spontaneously. So people should not be concerned if these side effects happen. As we were discussing with Josephine earlier, if they're really troublesome, you can take some Tylenol, or preferably Tylenol or ibuprofen if needed, to reduce the symptoms. And in answer to your question, they are not a reason, if you had them after the first dose, they're not a reason not to get the second dose. I would highly recommend that you still proceed with the second dose.

[00:51:07]Bill Walsh:  OK, very good. Thank you very much, Dr. Campbell, and a reminder to our listeners, we know that some folks have had difficulty registering for a vaccine appointment because many of the registration systems are online and they don't have a computer, or they don't feel comfortable navigating online. AARP wants to help. We have established an AARP Vaccine Registration Team to assist in these cases. So if you're listening today and you don't have a computer, and you can't register for a vaccine because you don't have access to technology, please press 1 on your telephone to be added to a list to receive a phone call from AARP staff to assist you.

[00:52:08] OK, Jean, who do we have on the line now?

[00:52:28]Adriane Casalotti:  Our next caller is Marilyn from Missouri.

[00:52:32]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Marilyn. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:52:36]Marilyn:  Thank you very much. My question's concerning allergic reactions and if it's advisable to take the vaccine. Just to make a real short history, of course this was when I was younger, was given penicillin and found out after the penicillin shot, was allergic to it, so they had to give me adrenaline. Then later on, this would have been when I was in my late 20s, ate some gooseberries of all things, and found out I was allergic to that. Lips swelled up and throat swelled and rash. I had to go to the hospital. They gave me a shot of Benadryl and found out after giving me the shot of Benadryl that I was allergic to that, so we had to do adrenaline again. I was told, you know, never to take penicillin again, never take Benadryl again. My concern is after reading everything that, you know, it's safe, OK, if you have had allergic reactions that they will just watch you a little longer. But I guess the concern is just watching you and then if that happens again, then what? I mean, is it worth the risk to take the vaccine or ...

[00:53:55]Bill Walsh:  Well, that's a great question, Marilyn, and it's a question we're getting a lot, because people are, or have been allergic to various medicines. Dr. Campbell, what advice would you have for Marilyn and folks in her situation?

[00:54:07]Thomas Campbell:  Yeah. So, allergic reactions do occur after both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. I've not seen any data yet for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. With the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the risk of an allergic reaction overall is very low. It's about a two to maybe five in a million, and we do know that people who have had severe allergic reactions, like yourself, are at greater risk of having an allergic reaction from the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Now, what I would say is that we have to balance that risk against the risk of COVID. We know that if persons get COVID, they can get severely ill and can be ill for a long period of time if they recover from COVID, and we know that COVID kills people. So, what we know about the allergic reactions from the vaccine is when they do occur, they can be treated very easily with epinephrine, which is, the medical term for adrenaline. And so what I would advise is that if you do get the vaccine that you make sure that the site that is giving the vaccine to you has an epinephrine pen, an EpiPen, on hand, so that if you did have an allergic reaction, they could treat you very quickly for it. That's certainly what our practice here at my site is we make sure that we have that EpiPen present in our site when we're giving the vaccine.

[00:55:58]Bill Walsh:  And as I understand it, isn't it the protocol to watch people for a certain amount of time after they've been given the vaccine just to make sure they haven't had an allergic reaction?

[00:56:08]Thomas Campbell:  That's correct. And people who have had an allergic reaction are observed longer. I'm sorry, people who have had a history of severe allergic reactions are observed longer than people who do not, but to the caller's point, observation doesn't do that much good if you just don't have something to give, should an allergic reaction occur. So I think it's important to make sure that the site that is giving the vaccine has an EpiPen on hand in case it's needed.

[00:56:42]Bill Walsh:  OK. Did one of our other panelists want to weigh in on that question?

[00:56:46]Adriane Casalotti:  Yeah, sorry. This is Adriane Casalotti. It raises also an important point when it comes to public health. So we are continuing to collect people's experiences with side effects and any other potential reactions through the, if you do have access to a smartphone, CDC has set up VSafe, and so “V” as in vaccine, Safe, and it's a way for people to help track the experiences that they have, and that gives us all better data moving forward. So if you are getting your vaccine, ask people about how to enroll in that, and that helps us all as a country move forward, knowing better and more about how the vaccines interact with each of us.

[00:57:25]Bill Walsh:  OK. Thanks both of you for that. Oh, go ahead. Is that Dr. Benton?

[00:57:29]Donna Benton:  Hi. Yeah, no, I was just going to say the VSafe is really easy. I have it on my phone, and they send a little text message. It's like three questions every day, and you just click. And then you submit and it's over. And so they send you reminders, you get it once a day. And I know that it is going into a big database that will give information for all of us to help us in future problems and health issues. So I do encourage people to sign up for the VSafe, it's very easy if you have a smartphone of any kind.

[00:58:07]Bill Walsh:  OK. Thank you very much. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:58:11]Jean Setzfand:  Our next question is coming from Facebook and this one's coming from Michele, and she's asking, "I have registered on the site in my state to receive the vaccine, but now I have no idea what I'm supposed to do next. Are they supposed to send me an email and then appointment, place and time? Or do I just start looking around for appointments?

[00:58:29]Bill Walsh:  Hmm, I guess she didn't say what state she was from.

[00:58:33]Jean Setzfand:  She did not.

[00:58:35]Bill Walsh:  OK. I wonder, Adriane, if you have any advice for Michele or folks who may have pre-registered and are kind of now sitting and waiting.

[00:58:45]Adriane Casalotti:  Yeah. So a couple things. One is I would look back and see if you got an email confirmation to make sure that there's not any information in there about next steps. In general, if you are registering or preregistering, most areas when they're doing that is to then reach out to you when an appointment slot is available or a time to make your appointment. And different locations are kind of addressing those lists in different ways. So some that may be all everyone over a certain age, some may be kind of taking pockets of that and segments of that, depending upon how many vaccines they have coming in. One of the new things that's happening is for a while there nobody really knew how many vaccines they were going to have until like Friday for Monday. The federal government is now trying to give a more, long-term projection. So three, four weeks, which is long-term in this world. And then, hopefully local health departments then also have that level of projection, although that's not necessarily happening everywhere at this point, but that really allows people to start registering and then booking appointments longer out. A lot of people have been doing very short-term appointment times because they don't want to set you up with one and then have to cancel if the vaccine isn't actually available. So again, with more supply coming in, we should be able to be opening more of those slots going forward.

[01:00:07]Bill Walsh:  OK. And now I've said it before, I'll say it again, that AARP has created state-by-state guides, that provide local toll-free numbers so folks like Michelle or others can get on the phone and hopefully talk to a person and ask questions like this. You know, how long should I expect to wait? What has been the supply in my state? You can find that resource at aarp.org/vaccineinfo.

[01:00:35]Adriane Casalotti:  OK, so one of the things I neglected to mention when someone was asking how to find an appointment, is we've just stood up a system called Vaccine Finder, which had already existed, but now we're opening it up to COVID. So currently Alaska, Tennessee, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, Utah and New York State are now showing vaccine availability through that system, vaccinefinder.com. And more states should be coming on board in the coming weeks. But for folks in those states, that's another avenue to look and try and find where vaccine is in your community.

[01:01:11]Bill Walsh:  And will they alert you if you're registered?

[01:01:16]Adriane Casalotti:  I think that is an option. I'm not sure if it's functional yet. The kind of soft launch happened about a week and a half ago.

[01:01:23]Bill Walsh:  I see, OK, very good. Jean, who is our next caller?

[01:01:27]Adriane Casalotti:  I have another question coming in from YouTube, actually a couple of questions all around what we discussed before related to Advil, taking Advil after a vaccine. Both Theresa and Barbara asked whether they blunted their vaccine as a result of taking Advil, and they wanted some reassurance about that.

[01:01:49]Bill Walsh:  Dr. Campbell?

[01:01:51]Thomas Campbell:  Yeah, so, as we were discussing with some of the previous questions, there is theoretical concern that ibuprofen, which is the medicine in Advil, could blunt a vaccine response. I emphasize that that is only theoretical, and we don't know for sure whether or not ibuprofen, in fact, affects the efficacy of the COVID vaccines. So I encourage people to not take anything unless they need it, but if you need it and you have to take something, then you can do it, but we don't know for sure whether or not there is any effect. It's been studied in other vaccines, and for the most part, there is not any adverse consequences of taking ibuprofen, but we don't know for sure.

[01:02:51]Bill Walsh:  OK. Thank you for that, Dr. Campbell. Who do we have next on the line, Jean?

[01:02:55]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Cynthia from New York.

[01:02:59]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Cynthia, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[01:03:11] Hi, Cynthia. Go ahead with your question. Sorry, I'm hearing something in the background.

[01:03:19]Cynthia:  Hi. Hi. OK. My mother, and I am her full-time caregiver, we had the second doses of the Pfizer vaccine on March 3. And, so I was just concerned because I just found out that the caregiver that took in my mom a couple of months ago, she said that she had COVID in January, but she said she's still having a positive result, you know? I mean, how long does it last this positive result? Like how long should my mother avoid being having any contact with her?

[01:03:56]Bill Walsh:  So your mom's caregiver, in January, tested positive for COVID and is still feeling the symptoms of that.

[01:04:04]Cynthia:  Yeah. Yeah. And she still, she has ...

[01:04:06]Bill Walsh:  And you and your mother, I'm sorry, and so your mom has taken both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, the most recent on the third of March.

[01:04:18]Cynthia:  Yeah. I also, myself, too.

[01:04:20]Bill Walsh:  And you as well. I got it, and so the question is, should your mom or you limit contact with this caregiver?

[01:04:28]Cynthia:  Yeah. And also, she said her children had it also back in January and then her mother had it. They all live together. I don't know about her husband.

[01:04:36]Bill Walsh:  OK. Dr. Campbell, do you have any advice there, and if any of our other panelists want to weigh in, they can.

[01:04:43]Thomas Campbell:  Yeah, so if I understood the question correctly, it's that the caregiver has had COVID, but is still persistently testing positive. And what we know is that people will continue to have the virus detected in their nose and their upper respiratory tract for sometimes weeks or even months after they've gotten better from the illness. But the ability to transmit the infection is only during the first 10 days. So, if the person has recovered from COVID, is not feeling sick anymore, and has past that 10 days, then we can have good assurance that they're not infectious to others. The second thing I would say about that though is that people who are immunosuppressed, so people who have had organ transplants or have had cancer chemotherapy, and have a suppressed immune system, may continue to shed virus, infectious virus, for longer periods of time, and in general, we want to have those people quarantine themselves for at least three weeks from the time that they start feeling better.

[01:06:10]Bill Walsh:  OK, very good. And the fact that Cynthia and her mom just got their second doses, well, about a week ago now, are they still in any danger zone or should they feel like they can interact with others at least in their home?

[01:06:30]Thomas Campbell:  So we recommend that we don't do that until 14 days after the second dose. So in order to get full protection, it requires the body's immune system to have 14 days after the second dose to respond to the vaccine. So in terms of relaxing any restrictions, I would wait for those 14 days. In the meantime, it would be important to continue social distancing and masking in the home.

[01:07:08]Bill Walsh:  OK. Thank you, and Dr. Benton, did you want to weigh in on this? I know you work with caregivers quite a bit.

[01:07:13]Donna Benton:  No, I don't have anything to add.

[01:07:20]Bill Walsh:  OK.

[01:07:21]Donna Benton:  But I do understand her hesitation, and I'm glad that she reached out today to get very clear directions on how to keep herself and her mom safe.

[01:07:33]Bill Walsh:  OK. Well, very good. Thank you, Dr. Benton, Dr. Campbell and Adriane Casalotti. Any closing thoughts or recommendations that our listeners should understand most from our conversation today? Dr. Campbell, do you want to start us off?

[01:07:50]Thomas Campbell:  Yeah, so I think the important points about our conversations around vaccines are that we have three vaccines that are very safe and very effective in that everyone should get vaccinated as soon as they have the chance. We didn't get to this, but there has been some concern amongst African Americans and Hispanic Americans that we don't have enough data on the safety and efficacy of these vaccines in their populations. But, in fact, we do, and we know that these vaccines work well for everyone. So everyone should get vaccinated as soon as they can.

[01:08:35]Bill Walsh:  OK, thank you very much for that. Adriane Casalotti, any closing thoughts?

[01:08:39]Adriane Casalotti:  Sure, and I definitely agree with everything that was just said. I think taking another step back is, you know, we are in this place, a year-plus now into working on this, and hopefully we're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, but I think it's important to remember that there's a lot of issues, including public health issues, that we haven't really been focusing on for the past year. And so, the more that we can support that work, whether we're in pandemic times or not, the better off we'll be because the folks who've been on the front lines doing this testing and contact tracing, and trying to work with schools and businesses, are now leading the vaccine work. And they're going to have a lot to pick up after we get through the pandemic. So, hopefully, they can continue to support you all, get everyone vaccinated, and then we can continue to support them in the important work they do day in and day out.

[01:09:32]Bill Walsh:  OK, Adriane, thank you very much for that. And Dr. Benton, any closing thoughts or recommendations?

[01:09:38]Donna Benton:  I was just thinking that, it's been a year, we're getting closer to where we'll be into what we're calling our new normal, and as we get vaccinated, and we've had our two weeks, and you feel like you want to get together with people, I kind of want to go back to what Lou had asked is, can he have a card game? And I would say let's ease back into the social interactions. Maybe start with Go Fish before you get into the poker game.

[01:10:06]Bill Walsh:  [chuckles] You think poker's going to raise our stress levels too much, is that it?

[01:10:11]Donna Benton:  Yeah. Yeah. You know, we may not know how to react to poker, but let's start with Go Fish.

[01:10:18]Bill Walsh:  All right. Well, Lou didn't sound like a Go Fish player to me, but there it is. He's got that advice. Well, thank you all. This has been a really informative discussion. I want to thank each of you for answering our questions, and thank you, our AARP members, volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion today. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we're providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and prevent its spread to others while taking care of themselves.

[01:10:58] All of the resources referenced today, including a recording of today's Q&A event can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus beginning March 12, tomorrow. Again, that web address is aarp.org/coronavirus. Go there if your question was not addressed, and you will find the latest updates, as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers. We hope you learned something today that can help keep you and your loved ones healthy.

[01:11:32] Please join us again tonight at 7:00 p.m. ET for a special live event with personal finance expert, Suze Orman, and AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins where they'll discuss COVID's impact on your finances and taxes. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

[01:11:54]

Bill Walsh: Hola, soy Bill Walsh, vicepresidente de AARP, Y quiero darles la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre el coronavirus. Antes de comenzar, si deseas escuchar esta teleasamblea en español, presiona *0 en el teclado de tu teléfono ahora.

 

AARP, una organización sin fines de lucro ni afiliación política, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores del país durante más de 60 años. Frente a la pandemia mundial de coronavirus, AARP proporciona información y recursos para ayudar a los adultos mayores y a quienes los cuidan.

 

Hoy hace un año que la Organización Mundial de la Salud declaró al coronavirus una pandemia mundial. Durante este año extraordinario, la vida de las personas ha cambiado, el bienestar financiero ha estado bajo presión y, por supuesto, más de 500,000 personas en el país han muerto a causa de la COVID-19. Vale la pena recordar que el 95% de los que han muerto son personas mayores de 50 años. Es una pérdida insondable.

 

Se está avanzando en la distribución de vacunas con más de 2 millones de dosis de vacunas al día. Aun así, muchas personas mayores se han visto obstaculizadas por los confusos sistemas de registro y se sienten frustrados mientras esperan que se habiliten las citas. Un año después de la pandemia, la gente todavía está lidiando con los muchos cambios que la COVID-19 ha provocado y se pregunta qué tan lejos podría estar la normalidad. El panel de expertos de hoy abordará estos problemas y otros, y responderemos sus preguntas en vivo.

 

Si han participado en alguna de nuestras teleasambleas en el pasado, sabrán que esto es similar a un programa de entrevistas de radio. Y tienes la oportunidad de hacer tus preguntas en vivo. Si deseas escuchar en español, presiona *0 en el teclado de tu teléfono ahora. Para aquellos de ustedes que nos acompañan al teléfono, si desean hacer una pregunta sobre la pandemia de coronavirus, presionen *3 en su teléfono para comunicarse con un miembro del personal de AARP, quien anotará su nombre, pregunta y los ubicará en turno para hacer esa pregunta en vivo. Si te unes a través de Facebook o YouTube, puedes publicar tu pregunta en la sección de comentarios.

 

Hola, si acabas de unirte, soy Bill Walsh de AARP y quiero darte la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre la pandemia mundial de coronavirus. Estaremos hablando con expertos líderes y respondiendo sus preguntas en vivo. Para hacer una pregunta, presiona *3 en el teclado de tu teléfono. Y si te unes a través de Facebook o YouTube, puedes publicar tu pregunta en la sección de comentarios.

 

Hoy nos acompañan El Dr. Thomas Campbell, profesor de Medicina en la División de Enfermedades Infecciosas de la Facultad de Medicina de Univeristy of Colorado y el Centro Multidisciplinario sobre el Envejecimiento del Campus Médico Anschutz. Además, Adriane Casalotti, Directora de Gobierno y Asuntos Públicos de la National Association of County and City Health Officials, Y la Dra. Donna Benton, Directora del Centro de Apoyo a Cuidadores Familiares de University of Southern California. También nos acompañará mi colega de AARP, Jean Setzfand, quien ayudará a facilitar sus llamadas hoy.

 

Este evento está siendo grabado y se podrá acceder a la grabación en www.aarp.org/coronavirus 24 horas después de que terminemos. Nuevamente, para hacer una pregunta, presiona *3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de tu teléfono para conectarte con un miembro del personal de AARP. O si te unes a través de Facebook o YouTube, coloca tu pregunta en los comentarios. Y ahora a nuestro panel.

 

Me gustaría traer a nuestro invitado, el Dr. Thomas Campbell, profesor de Medicina en la División de Enfermedades Infecciosas de la Facultad de Medicina de University of Colorado y el Centro Multidisciplinario sobre el Envejecimiento del Campus Médico Anschutz. Gracias por acompañarnos hoy, Dr. Campbell.

 

Thomas Campbell: Hola Bill, sí, muchas gracias por invitarme. Es un placer estar aquí hoy.

 

Bill Walsh: Estamos encantados de tenerle. También nos acompaña Adriane Casalotti, Directora de Gobierno y Asuntos Públicos de la National Association of County and City Health Officials que representa a casi 3,000 departamentos de salud del Gobierno local. Bienvenida, Adriane.

 

Adriane Casalotti: Hola, gracias por invitarme.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, gracias por estar aquí. Y finalmente, la Dra. Donna Benton, quien es la directora del Centro de Apoyo para cuidadores familiares de la University of Southern California. Bienvenida de nuevo al programa, Dra. Benton.

 

Donna Benton: Un placer estar aquí, Bill. Y gracias.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias a todos por estar aquí. Sigamos adelante y comencemos con nuestra discusión. Y solo un recordatorio, para hacer una pregunta, presionen * 3 en el teclado de su teléfono o déjenla en la sección de comentarios en Facebook o YouTube. El titular de la portada de este mes de AARP Bulletin, el boletín para socios de AARP, Dice “El camino a seguir, lecciones aprendidas de la pandemia”. Mientras reflexionamos sobre un año de vida bajo esta pandemia global que ha cobrado tantas vidas y ha cambiado nuestra vida de manera dramática, me gustaría preguntarle a cada uno de nuestros panelistas qué han aprendido que pueda ayudarnos a avanzar. Dr. Campbell, comencemos por usted. ¿Qué ha aprendido durante este año extraordinario?

 

Thomas Campbell: Ha sido un año extraordinario y hemos tenido algunos avances realmente notables en áreas de la COVID-19, incluido un tratamiento y, como hablaremos más adelante, vacunas. Y creo que eso realmente cambia las reglas del juego para nosotros, la disponibilidad de vacunas. Y creo que a medida que avancemos en nuestro segundo año de COVID-19, veremos algunas diferencias palpables.

 

Bill Walsh: Gracias, Dr. Campbell. Adriane Casalotti, ¿y usted? ¿Qué ha aprendido durante este año?

 

Adriane Casalotti: Sabes, creo que definitivamente hemos visto una mayor comprensión del papel de la salud pública, no solo la atención médica, y cómo desempeña un rol básico en nuestra sociedad. Y dentro de eso, el papel que juega cada uno de nosotros. Entonces, ya sea el uso de mascarillas y el distanciamiento social, posponer esas vacaciones, trabajar con rastreadores de contactos para llamar, vacunarse cuando sea tu turno. La pandemia puede parecer abrumadora día tras día, pero realmente todos jugamos un papel en su gestión ahora y superarla, y aunque estamos separados, todos estamos juntos en esto.

 

Bill Walsh: Muchas gracias, Adriane. Y Dra. Benton, ¿qué hemos aprendido que nos pueda ayudar a seguir adelante?

 

Donna Benton: Lo único que realmente he notado es que la gente ahora tiene un mayor entendimiento del impacto del aislamiento social. Impactos en cómo cuando cuidamos a alguien y no tenemos ningún tipo de alivio, las personas comienzan a ser un poco más empáticas en la comprensión del cuidado familiar. Pero también hemos aprendido a tener mucha resiliencia y cómo ayudarnos unos a otros de formas más creativas.

 

Bill Walsh: Ah. Y quizás también cómo cuidarnos como cuidadores.

 

Donna Benton: Sí.

 

Bill Walsh: Muchas gracias, muy buenos puntos todos. Dr. Campbell, me gustaría volver a usted. Recibimos buenas noticias la semana pasada de que se espera que el suministro de vacunas sea suficiente para que casi todas las personas en el país tengan acceso en mayo. ¿Qué significa esta noticia?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, ahora tenemos tres vacunas que han recibido autorización de uso de emergencia de la Administración de Alimentos y Medicamentos de EE.UU. para la prevención de la enfermedad COVID-19. Entonces, lo que significa la disponibilidad de las vacunas, con suerte para fines de mayo, como se ha proyectado, es que ahora todos los adultos tendrán la opción de vacunarse. Y estas vacunas son muy efectivas para prevenir que las personas se enfermen por la COVID-19, y esto nos proporcionará una forma de protegernos de COVID-19 y nos ayudará a comenzar a volver a la vida como solíamos conocerla hace un año.

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, muchas gracias. Y solo para ser claros para nuestros oyentes, muchos de los cuales se han sentido frustrados por no poder obtener una cita, tener suficiente suministro de vacunas para mayo no significa que todos estarán vacunados, ¿correcto?

 

Thomas Campbell: Eso es correcto. Y hay muchos factores que influyen en eso, la capacidad de distribuir la vacuna y administrar la vacuna. Y sabemos que para las vacunas que requieren dos dosis, no obtenemos protección completa hasta aproximadamente dos semanas después de esa segunda dosis. Entonces, aunque las vacunas están disponibles, no significa que todos estarán completamente inmunizados para fines de mayo. El otro punto que quisiera señalar es que en este momento solo estamos administrando las vacunas a adultos. Y aún no sabemos si las vacunas son seguras y efectivas en los niños, que representan alrededor del 25% de nuestra población. Así que será un importante 25% que no se vacunará a finales de mayo.

 

Bill Walsh: Punto muy interesante. Dr. Campbell, hizo referencia a las tres vacunas que ahora tenemos disponibles en este país. Las vacunas de Moderna y de Pfizer requieren dos dosis y almacenamiento en frío extremo. La más nueva, la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson, requiere una sola dosis y almacenamiento en un frío no tan extremo. ¿Cuáles son las diferencias clave para los consumidores entre estas vacunas? ¿Son las tres igualmente seguras y eficaces?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, la evidencia disponible que tenemos es que estas tres vacunas son muy seguras y muy efectivas. Y cuando hablamos de comparar qué tan bien funcionan las vacunas entre sí, ninguna de estas vacunas se ha comparado cara a cara. Tenemos datos de básicamente tres ensayos clínicos separados que muestran que todas funcionan muy, muy bien.

 

Al entrar en el desarrollo de la vacuna, la FDA estableció las pautas para lo que llamaría una vacuna eficaz con una eficacia del 50%, y las tres vacunas superan el nivel que se estableció hace aproximadamente un año. Así que les diría a todos que todas ellas son muy seguras y efectivas. Existen algunas diferencias en el almacenamiento. La vacuna de Pfizer debe almacenarse a temperaturas de congelación ultrafrías.

 

La vacuna de Moderna debe almacenarse en un congelador normal o en un refrigerador hasta por un mes, mientras que la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson se puede almacenar en refrigeradores hasta por tres meses. Por lo tanto, tiene muchas ventajas para una distribución más fácil, particularmente a clínicas más pequeñas o áreas rurales que podrían no tener el almacenamiento ultrafrío que se necesita para, por ejemplo, la vacuna de Pfizer.

 

Bill Walsh: Ahora, ¿cómo compararía la efectividad de estas vacunas con las que tal vez los oyentes conozcan más, como quizás una vacuna contra la influenza estacional?

 

Thomas Campbell: Bueno, la eficacia de estas vacunas es igual o superior a la que obtenemos de otras vacunas comunes, como la vacuna contra la gripe o la vacuna contra la culebrilla (herpes zóster). La eficacia de esas vacunas en general está en el rango del 60 al 70%, quizás del 80%. Y entonces alcanzamos o superamos ese rango con estas tres vacunas.

 

Bill Walsh: Y hemos escuchado una serie de preguntas de nuestros socios sobre ahora que hay tres, la gente dice: "Oh, tengo una opción. No sé cuál elegir". ¿Qué le dirías a alguien que dice algo así?

 

Thomas Campbell: Bueno, lo que yo diría es que todos deberían recibir una vacuna, cualquiera que se les ofrezca tan pronto como se les ofrezca. No deberíamos estar comprando una u otra. Y la razón por la que digo eso es que aunque hablamos de estos números de eficacia, también tenemos que recordar cuando decimos eficacia, bueno, ¿cuál es la medida de esa eficacia? Y la principal medida ha sido la prevención de la enfermedad COVID-19 sintomática.

 

En otras palabras, que la gente se sienta enferma por COVID-19. Pero las tres vacunas son igualmente efectivas y altamente efectivas, en el rango del 80 al 90% o más para prevenir consecuencias más graves como la hospitalización y la muerte. Entonces, estas vacunas son muy importantes, y es importante obtener una lo antes posible para evitar los resultados mucho más graves de la hospitalización o la muerte por COVID-19.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Dr. Campbell, gracias por señalar ese punto. Adriane, me gustaría traerte aquí. Con este nuevo anuncio, estábamos discutiendo sobre el aumento esperado en el suministro, qué están haciendo los departamentos de salud estatales y locales para prepararse para administrar vacunas a las personas.

 

Adriane Casalotti: Sí, estamos muy emocionados de que la oferta esté aumentando. El suministro ha sido el desafío número uno para los departamentos de salud locales que tienen la capacidad de administrar más dosis y ciertamente demandan más, pero no lo suficiente para todos. Con el conocimiento de que se avecinan más, queda mucho por hacer para fortalecer los sistemas de registro que sabemos que han sido tediosos y complicados y trabajar para generar confianza en las vacunas, para que continúe habiendo una fuerte demanda una vez que aumentan los suministros.

 

Sabemos que ahora mismo vemos a mucha gente que quiere tener acceso a la vacuna y no mucho suministro. A medida que aumenten los suministros, podremos llevar las vacunas a todas las personas que están esperando en la fila. Pero realmente para superar la pandemia, necesitamos vacunar a todos. Entonces, tener esas conversaciones ahora para asegurarnos de que la gente entienda, como se acaba de decir, es realmente importante recibir la vacuna cuando uno cumpla con el criterio.

 

Y si las personas tienen preguntas sobre por qué deberían hacerlo en función de su estado de salud personal y el estado de salud de su familia, podemos generar demanda para estar listos para avanzar una vez que tengamos más vacunas disponibles. También estamos trabajando para abordar las barreras de acceso que la gente ha experimentado. Entonces, a pesar del hecho de que tenemos toneladas de personas por cita que quieren vacunarse, sabemos que no es uniforme en todas las comunidades y en todo el país. Por eso, queremos asegurarnos de abordar los puntos de acceso que están generando desafíos con la asimilación equitativa de la vacuna también.

 

Entonces, este tipo de cosas son las que están resolviendo las opciones de registro adicionales. No todo el mundo tiene la velocidad de wifi o el tiempo o la capacidad de refrescar la página para intentar registrarse. No podemos simplemente tener opciones basadas en Internet. Se están creando bancos telefónicos y otras formas en persona en las comunidades para que la gente se registre, diferentes formas de mejorar el acceso tanto ahora como cuando tengamos más oferta.

 

Y estamos traduciendo materiales a otros idiomas porque, lamentablemente, muchos de los registros que han establecido los estados solo están en inglés, y eso no necesariamente funciona para el individuo o para las personas que están tratando de ayudar a que ellos se vacunen. Con el suministro adicional, también esperamos abrir más puntos de acceso.

 

Entones, la gente está trabajando con proveedores privados y farmacias adicionales en este momento para asegurarse de tener lo que necesitan para estar listos una vez que los suministros estén disponibles, y continúan monitoreando los datos para identificar y abordar algunos de estos problemas de equidad y otros desafíos para que podamos aprender de lo que hemos estado viviendo durante los últimos meses para que, una vez que tengamos suministro, podamos empezar a trabajar.

 

Bill Walsh: Genial, gracias por eso, Adriane. Y solo una nota para nuestros oyentes, si tienes acceso a internet por tu cuenta, o a través de un familiar o ser querido, AARP ha creado un recurso tremendo para comprender el proceso de distribución de vacunas en tu estado. Puedes encontrarlo en www.aarp.org/VerdadSobreVacunas, www.aarp.org/VerdadSobreVacunas. Ve allí y consulta las guías estado por estado en inglés y en español para conocer las diversas reglas y regulaciones sobre la distribución de vacunas cerca de ti.

 

Dra. Benton, volvamos a usted. Los hogares de ancianos han sido el punto cero absoluto de la pandemia, con el personal y los residentes representando entre el 35 y el 40% de las muertes, mientras que representan solo el 1% de la población. Finalmente estamos viendo que los casos y las muertes disminuyen debido a las vacunas. ¿Qué ha expuesto la pandemia sobre la situación en los hogares de ancianos y qué se debe hacer en el futuro?

 

Donna Benton: Gracias. Lo que realmente vimos en los hogares de ancianos fue la combinación de factores históricos de que las mujeres, los nuevos inmigrantes y las minorías tienen trabajos mal pagos. Y que los trabajadores en las instalaciones, no tienen suficiente personal, no había buenas regulaciones y es más probable que tengan varios trabajos. Así que realmente vimos todos esos factores históricos reunirse en los hogares de ancianos. Y se trataba de auxiliares que proporcionaban la mayor parte del cuidado personal, el baño y el vestido junto a la cama, pero tenían que repartirlos entre mucha gente.

 

Tenían cortos períodos de tiempo y las cosas que normalmente ocurrirían, todo el lavado de manos y todo lo que reduciría las infecciones, simplemente no estaban allí. Entonces, lo que realmente comenzamos a ver ahora es la importancia de tomar estos grupos, la responsabilidad de entender que estos trabajadores esenciales necesitan tener salarios dignos para no tener que trabajar en tantos lugares. Necesitan tener una mejor formación para los trabajadores de los hogares. Y creo que ese es el tipo de cosas que fueron realmente expuestas durante esta pandemia, las condiciones de los trabajadores subrepresentados allí.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, esperemos que recordemos esas lecciones incluso después de una pandemia. Gracias, Dra. Benton. Y como recordatorio para nuestros oyentes, para hacer una pregunta presiona *3 en el teclado de tu teléfono para conectarte con un miembro del personal de AARP y entrar en la lista para hacer esa pregunta en vivo. En breve, responderemos algunas de esas preguntas.

 

Pero antes de hacerlo, quería traer a Bill Sweeney. Bill es el vicepresidente sénior de asuntos gubernamentales de AARP y nos dará una actualización sobre lo que ha estado haciendo AARP frente a las vacunas contra la COVID-19 y la COVID-19 en general. Bienvenido, Bill.

 

Bill Sweeney: Hola, gracias.

 

Bill Walsh: Así que hemos visto algunas noticias positivas recientemente. Recientemente, hemos visto algunas noticias positivas sobre las vacunas y algunas acciones adicionales para abordar la pandemia. ¿Puedes ponernos al día y decirnos qué ha estado haciendo AARP?

 

Bill Sweeney: Gracias, Bill. Sí, esta pandemia de coronavirus cambió nuestras vidas hace un año y se ha cobrado un precio devastador. Los estadounidenses de edad avanzada se han visto especialmente afectados. Más del 95% de las más de 525,000 muertes se han producido entre personas de 50 años o más. Las noticias recientes sobre aumentos en el suministro de vacunas son bienvenidas, pero aún debemos tomar medidas para solucionar lo que ha sido una experiencia inaceptable para muchos adultos mayores.

 

AARP continúa luchando para que los adultos mayores sean priorizados y abogando para asegurarse de que los procesos de registro sean más fáciles, de modo que puedas ir a un lugar y obtener información clara sobre dónde, cuándo y cómo registrarse para vacunarse. Y nos complace ver varias prioridades de AARP en este frente incluidas en el nuevo paquete de ayuda pandémica aprobado por el Congreso. Se firmará hoy más tarde.

 

También estamos trabajando con funcionarios estatales y locales para ayudar a proporcionar información fundamental a los adultos mayores sobre la vacuna, dónde pueden acceder a ella y qué deben hacer. A medida que continúe el despliegue, mantendremos la presión. Para mantenerte actualizado sobre todos estos esfuerzos y encontrar resúmenes de los planes estatales para la distribución de vacunas en tu estado, visita www.AARP.org/vaccineinfo.

 

Bill Walsh: Gracias por eso, Bill. Quiero preguntarte sobre otra situación desesperada. Este es sobre los datos preocupantes que estamos viendo sobre los delitos de odio contra los asiáticos, aparentemente relacionados con la pandemia. ¿Cuál es la reacción de AARP a esto?

 

Bill Sweeney: Bueno, Bill, nos han desconcertado las nuevas y preocupantes estadísticas de datos sobre delitos de odio que muestran un aumento real el año pasado, en algunos casos de tres dígitos, en los delitos de odio contra los asiáticos en 16 de las ciudades más grandes del país. Estos primeros picos se produjeron en marzo y abril del 2020, y coinciden con el aumento de los casos de COVID-19 y los estereotipos negativos de los miembros de la comunidad asiático-americanos e isleños del Pacífico, en particular los chino-americanos.

 

Estos nuevos datos preocupantes significan que los estadounidenses de origen asiático y los habitantes de las islas del Pacífico no solo están preocupados por el coronavirus, sino que también enfrentan un aumento de la violencia y el acoso, alimentados por los prejuicios, el odio y la xenofobia. Esta es una combinación que podría crear barreras para buscar tratamiento, pruebas, información o vacunación en un momento en que nosotros, como país, debemos unirnos y hacer todo lo que esté a nuestro alcance para ayudar a contener la propagación de la COVID-19. Sabes, AARP condena enérgicamente toda violencia y acoso por motivos raciales.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, Bill, gracias por esa actualización. Nosotros realmente lo apreciamos. Y como recordatorio para nuestros oyentes, para hacer una pregunta, presionen *3 en el teclado de su teléfono en cualquier momento. Vamos a llegar a esas preguntas en un momento. Pero quería abordar un tema importante que ha surgido mucho entre nuestros socios y nuestros oyentes. Sabemos que muchos de ustedes tienen dificultades para registrarse para recibir vacunas en su estado y comunidad, porque muchos lugares requieren que se registren a través de formularios en línea. Y si no tienen acceso a una computadora, esto puede ser un verdadero desafío. AARP quiere ayudar.

 

Hemos establecido un equipo de registro de vacunas de AARP para tratar de ayudar en estos casos. Entonces, si estás escuchando hoy y no tienes una computadora y no puedes registrarte para una vacuna en tu comunidad porque no tienes acceso a la tecnología, presiona 1 para que te agreguen a una lista para recibir una llamada del personal de AARP para ayudarte. Nuevamente, si estás escuchando hoy y no tienes acceso a una computadora o Internet y no puedes registrarte para una vacuna debido a eso, presiona 1 para ser agregado a una lista para recibir una llamada telefónica. Cuando lo hagas, se te pedirá que confirmes esa selección y luego volverás a esta llamada.

 

Ahora es el momento de abordar sus preguntas sobre el coronavirus con el Dr. Thomas Campbell, Adrian Casalotti y la Dra. Donna Benton. Presionen *3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para comunicarse con un miembro del personal de AARP y compartir su pregunta. Ahora me gustaría traer a mi colega de AARP, Jean Setzfand, para ayudar a facilitar sus llamadas. Bienvenida, Jean.

 

Jean Setzfand: Gracias Bill, un gusto estar aquí para esta importante conversación.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, ¿de quién es nuestra primera llamada?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra primera llamada es Lou de Illinois.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola Lou, bienvenido al programa. Continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Lou: Mi pregunta se refiere a cuatro personas de la tercera edad, todas las cuales habían recibido ambas dosis de la vacuna, y ha pasado un período de más de dos semanas. ¿Es seguro para ellos jugar a las cartas entre ellos?

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, buena pregunta. Dr. Campbell, ¿puede responder esa pregunta para Lou? Sé que hemos recibido orientación reciente de los CDC sobre este punto.

 

Thomas Campbell: Así es. Es una pregunta muy oportuna. Esta semana, los CDC emitieron una nueva guía de que las personas que han sido completamente vacunadas, y eso significa exactamente lo que dijo, señor, es 14 días después de la segunda dosis de la vacuna Pfizer o Moderna o 14 días después de la dosis única de Johnson & Johnson, que si todos cumplen con ese criterio, la gente puede reunirse en pequeños grupos y no usar mascarillas ni necesitar distanciarse socialmente. Por ejemplo, reunirse para un juego de cartas o un club de lectura, cosas así, cumplen con las pautas de los CDC si todos pasaron 14 días después de la dosis de vacuna requerida.

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Qué dijeron los CDC, Dr. Campbell, sobre salir en público, incluso si uno ha sido vacunado?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, que es importante que cuando salgamos en público sigamos cumpliendo con las pautas de salud pública que sabemos que son eficaces para prevenir la transmisión de la COVID-19. Esto incluye usar una mascarilla. Incluye mantener una distancia social. La razón de esto es que, aunque sabemos que estas vacunas funcionan muy bien para protegernos de enfermarnos de COVID-19, todavía no tenemos datos lo suficientemente buenos para decir si son altamente efectivas para evitar que transmitamos la COVID-19 a otra gente.

 

Sabemos que las vacunas no son 100% efectivas. Y algunas personas contraen COVID-19. Y algunas personas contraen COVID-19 asintomático después de vacunarse. Y es posible que alguien que esté vacunado sea portador asintomático de COVID-19 y pueda transmitirlo a otras personas que no hayan sido vacunadas. Entonces, la razón para usar la mascarilla en público es proteger a los demás en caso de que seas una de esas personas infectadas asintomáticamente.

 

Bill Walsh: Genial, gracias, Dr. Campbell. Jean, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima llamada?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima llamada es Mary de Mississippi.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola Mary, bienvenida al programa. Continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Mary: Está bien, ¿dijiste Mary?

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, claro que sí. Adelante.

 

Mary: Está bien, llamo por mi esposo, que tiene 92 años. Está postrado en cama y no puedo conseguir que nadie le administre una de esas vacunas. Está en ayuda a domicilio, pero dijeron que no se les permite darle una vacuna. Para llevarlo a un lugar, él ya tiene una cita, yo fui y le conseguí una cita, me costará casi $ 1,000 llevarlo en una ambulancia. Me pregunto si podrían ayudarnos a ponerle la vacuna de alguna manera. ¿Pueden conseguir que alguien le coloque una vacuna?

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, Mary, gracias por esa pregunta. Es una situación a la que se enfrentan muchos en todo el país con personas confinadas a sus hogares y cómo se vacunan. Tal vez Adriane Casalotti, ¿quieres intentar contestar? ¿Y tal vez la Dra. Benton también quiera intervenir?

 

Adriane Casalotti: Claro, sin saber dónde se encuentra en Mississippi, no estoy necesariamente segura en qué jurisdicción se encuentra, pero en general esto es definitivamente algo que estamos escuchando en todo el país, y estamos escuchando que departamentos locales de salud intentan encontrar diferentes formas de asociarse para acceder a las personas confinadas en el hogar. Algunos lo han estado haciendo de forma limitada. Otros realmente se han asociado con centros y agencias para personas mayores sobre el envejecimiento para ayudar a hacer este trabajo.

 

Estamos realmente entusiasmados con la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson por esta razón, porque es mucho más fácil de transportar y se administra en una sola dosis. Entonces, no se debe volver a la casa de alguien más de una vez. Y no tienes que preocuparte por esa cadena de frío de tener que mantener las cosas muy frías en el camino a la casa de alguien. También estamos trabajando con los centros de salud locales que están trabajando con instalaciones para personas mayores y otras para ese tipo de áreas.

 

Para su problema específico, es difícil dar consejos muy concretos. Pero me alegro de que consiguiera esa cita inicial. Y no estoy segura de si ella puede comunicarse con todos ustedes en AARP con ese increíble servicio que están brindando ahora para ayudar a las personas a obtener citas o si hay alguna forma en que podamos continuar esa conversación, porque dependerá de dónde viva específicamente a quién debemos llamar.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, ella está en Laurel, Mississippi. No sé si eso te ayuda en algo, Adriane. Así que estamos buscando algunos recursos para ella. De acuerdo, y Dra. Benton, ¿quería opinar sobre la pregunta de Mary? Una vez más, es algo que estamos viendo mucho en todo el país con personas confinadas a sus hogares.

 

Donna Benton: Sí, bueno, en primer lugar, Mary, que Dios te bendiga. Este es un momento muy difícil y realmente está tratando de que su esposo esté a salvo durante este tiempo. Yo diría que lo que también podría ser bueno, por eso necesitamos la defensa. Poder hablar con nuestra legislatura local, llamar a la agencia sobre el envejecimiento de tu área y realmente contar su historia, porque representas a cientos de miles de personas que están cuidando alguien que está postrado en la cama, y ​​en realidad simplemente no tenemos esa infraestructura pero estamos cerca y la gente necesita venir a nuestro hogar.

 

Así que cuenta tu historia y no tengas miedo de llamar a tu representante local y simplemente decir "¿Qué vas a hacer? A la gente como mi esposo, no podemos sacarla de la casa tan fácilmente y es caro". Entonces, o necesitan reembolsar esto o necesitan encontrar una manera de traer a alguien al hogar a través de la agencia de salud en el hogar. Así que habla, habla, habla como lo hiciste hoy.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien. Y Mary, puedo decirle que nuestra oficina estatal en Mississippi se comunicará con ustedes para ver si podemos ayudarlos de alguna manera. Tenemos su número de teléfono aquí, así que esperamos poder ayudarlos con eso. Y solo un aviso para nuestros otros oyentes, AARP tiene guías estado por estado sobre cómo está funcionando la distribución de vacunas en sus estados. Para encontrarlas, visiten www.AARP.org/vaccineinfo. Pueden consultar su estado allí y ver muchos números gratuitos para llamar y obtener información importante sobre la distribución de vacunas. Bueno, Jean, ¿quién es la próxima persona que llama?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima llamada es Josephine de Arizona.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola Josephine, bienvenida al programa. Continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Josephine: ¡Oh, gracias por atender mi llamada! Sí, mi pregunta es que tuve la primera y la segunda vacunación, ¿de acuerdo? Ayer tuve la segunda y estaba bien. Pero hoy tengo fiebre y me duele el cuerpo, el cuello y los oídos. Y me tomé la fiebre. Es 100. Y me dijeron, en el consultorio del médico, me dijeron que no tomara Advil. Debería conseguir Tylenol. Pero no lo sé, no tengo Tylenol en mi casa. ¿Es seguro para mí tomar Advil en lugar de Tylenol?

 

Bill Walsh: Um, bueno, hablemos con el Dr. Campbell y veamos qué tiene para decir al respecto. Dr. Campbell, hemos escuchado que en algunos casos las personas tienen algunos efectos secundarios adicionales con la segunda dosis. ¿Qué pueden hacer ellos y Josephine?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, Josephine, los efectos secundarios que estás teniendo son muy comunes, especialmente después de la segunda dosis. Sabemos que estos efectos secundarios ocurren. Dolor, hinchazón en el lugar de la inyección, fiebre, escalofríos, dolores musculares, fatiga. Y todos estos ocurren con más frecuencia después de la segunda dosis. Lo que te recomendaría es que si los efectos secundarios no son demasiado terribles para ti, esperes.

 

Por lo general, se resuelven por sí solos en 24 horas. Si sientes que necesitas tomar algo, que es demasiado intolerable, entonces Tylenol o ibuprofeno está bien. Preferiría Tylenol primero, si lo tienes. Si no tienes, ibuprofeno está bien. Existe cierta preocupación teórica de que el ibuprofeno pueda interferir con la eficacia de la vacuna. Pero es realmente teórico y no se ha observado hasta ahora. Aproximadamente el 10% de las personas en los ensayos clínicos tuvo que tomar algún tipo de medicamento para efectos secundarios como el que estás teniendo.

 

Bill Walsh: Y entonces le dijeron a Josephine que no tomara Advil. ¿Es esa una recomendación común para las personas que sienten estos efectos secundarios?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, Advil es el nombre comercial del ibuprofeno genérico y, como mencioné, existen algunas preocupaciones teóricas de que el ibuprofeno podría mitigar los efectos protectores de la vacuna. Y esa es la razón general por la que no lo recomendamos desde el principio, y es por eso que preferiríamos Tylenol en este tipo de situación.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, entiendo. Muchas gracias, Dr. Campbell. Quiero enfatizar un nuevo servicio que ofrece AARP. Es el equipo de registro de vacunas de AARP. Es para personas que están en la línea hoy y que pueden no tener acceso a una computadora, acceso a Internet para hacer una cita. Puedes presionar 1 en tu teléfono para ser agregado a una lista y recibir una llamada telefónica de un miembro del personal de AARP para que te ayude. Entonces, si no tienes acceso a Internet o una computadora, y deseas hacer cola para obtener una cita para la vacuna, podemos ayudarte. Simplemente presiona 1 en tu teléfono para recibir una llamada nuestra, y te ayudaremos con eso. Muy bien, Jean, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima llamada?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima llamada es Artis de Kansas.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola Artis, bienvenido al programa. Continuemos con la llamada.

 

Artis: Bien, creo que los CDC acaban de publicar nuevas pautas para relajar las visitas a hogares de ancianos, y supongo que eso también se refiere a la vida asistida. ¿Depende eso de la instalación si deciden seguir esas pautas? Y también supongo que también marcaría la diferencia si el visitante ha sido completamente vacunado.

 

Bill Walsh: Esa es una buena pregunta y muy oportuna. Dra. Benton, ¿podría abordar eso? Según tengo entendido, estas son recomendaciones en este momento.

 

Donna Benton: Correcto, y estas son recomendaciones, por lo que todavía es una negociación con la mayoría de los hogares de ancianos, porque todavía están preocupados por la transmisión secundaria. No saben cuántas personas en el hogar de ancianos están vacunadas, ni tampoco sus empleados en este momento. Pero a medida que las cosas se aflojan en términos de vacunación, y si está vacunado con las dos semanas y todo lo que se ha discutido, este será un buen momento para hablar realmente con el hogar de ancianos sobre cómo podrían comenzar a hacer visitas.

 

Sé que algunos de los hogares de ancianos aquí han estado haciendo visitas al aire libre y permitiendo que las personas, si ambas partes están vacunadas, se puedan ver más allá de mirarse en un iPhone o saludarse a través de una ventana, sino acercarse un poco más.

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Qué le recomendaría a alguien como Artis? Supongo que tiene un ser querido en una residencia asistida o en un hogar de ancianos. ¿Debería esperar a escuchar lo que van a hacer? ¿O debería abogar por su ser querido?

 

Donna Benton: Oh, absolutamente abogar en nombre de sus seres queridos. Sabes que están muy, muy ocupados. Han intentado trabajar en otras cosas. Y si no tienen noticias tuyas, mantendrán el statu quo de lo que hace que sea más fácil para su trabajo diario. Y no es que estás tratando de hacérselo más difícil, pero no tienen tiempo para comunicarse, tú no serás una prioridad, por lo que debes hacer que tú y tu familia sean una prioridad.

 

Bill Walsh: Genial. Está bien, Jean, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima persona que llama?

 

Jean Setzfand: Tenemos bastantes preguntas en YouTube y Facebook. Esta viene de YouTube. Jennifer pregunta: "Todavía estoy esperando mi primera vacuna. La mayoría de los lugares a los que fui para registrarme no muestran disponibilidad. Vivo en Dallas, Texas. ¿Qué puedo hacer? ¿Y es más preferible Pfizer o Moderna?

 

Bill Walsh: Adriane, ¿quieres intentar responder? Jennifer está ansiosa por conseguir una cita y parece que no puede hacerlo.

 

Adriane Casalotti: Bueno, no estás sola. Creo que muchos otros se sienten así en todo el país. Y en Dallas, lo sé, hay un sistema de registro, incluso si aún no tiene una cita. Entonces, si no estás en él, asegúrate de hacerlo porque están invitando a las personas a hacer citas basadas en ese sistema de registro. Este es el desafío que tenemos ahora mismo cuando hay mucha más demanda que oferta. Es lamentable que los lugares se estén agotando tan rápido, pero es una suerte que haya tanto interés en vacunarnos, y eso nos ayudará a seguir adelante.

 

Un par de cosas que mencioné antes sobre cómo la gente se está preparando para tener las dosis adicionales a su disposición son realmente aplicables aquí. Entonces, no importa dónde vivas, averigua si existe un sistema de registro centralizado como en Dallas, averigua, hay un par de formas diferentes en que las vacunas están llegando a las comunidades en este momento. Entonces, una es a través del departamento de salud, pero esa no es la única forma.

 

También está el programa federal de farmacias minoristas, que envía vacunas directamente a farmacias en diferentes estados. Y hay listas de las cadenas en Texas que debes buscar, por ejemplo, que pueden tener acceso a la vacuna. Por lo tanto, comunicarte con tu farmacia local también es una buena idea. Existen, dependiendo de quién sea tu proveedor, algunos centros de salud comunitarios que les están proporcionando las vacunas directamente. Y luego también me aseguraría de señalarle a su proveedor privado de atención médica, si tiene uno, que le interesa vacunarse.

 

Es posible que no tengan acceso a las vacunas en este momento, pero es posible que las tengan en el futuro en las próximas semanas, así que asegúrense de que sepan que estás interesado para que puedan llamarte si realmente tienen acceso a ellas. Sé que es difícil ir a todos estos lugares diferentes. Sé que es difícil esperar, especialmente cuando hay tantas promesas al final de esas vacunas. Pero debería haber más oportunidades en las próximas semanas para que las personas realmente se vacunen.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias Adriane. Y Jennifer en Dallas, solo dos datos. La línea telefónica de Salud y Servicios Humanos del estado es 2-1-1. Es posible que puedan proporcionarle información. Además, puedes consultar las reglas y regulaciones de distribución de vacunas de tu estado en www.AARP.org/VerdadSobreVacunas De hecho, todos los que estén en la llamada pueden buscar allí su propio estado y obtener información sobre los recursos locales para ayudarlos a obtener una cita.

 

Bien, gracias por todas esas preguntas. Y tomaremos más en solo unos minutos. Recuerden, para hacer una pregunta, presionen *3. Ahora volvamos a nuestros expertos por un momento. Y Adriane, retomando algo de lo que acababas de hablar, ya sabes, si bien la situación varía de un estado a otro, e incluso dentro de los estados, de un condado a otro, a menudo, si alguien tiene problemas para conseguir una cita para vacunas a nivel local, ¿puedes darnos alguna información sobre los mejores pasos a seguir?

 

Adriane Casalotti: Seguro, tiene razón. Las cosas varían mucho. Y nosotros, de alguna manera, hemos tenido que construir el avión mientras lo volamos una vez que las vacunas estaban disponibles, asegurándonos de que el sistema funcionara bien. Y definitivamente hay cosas que se siguen haciendo para mejorar el sistema. Aún no está terminado. Creo que la pieza clave es utilizar los recursos que acaba de mencionar, los sitios web del Departamento de Estado y lo que todos han estado reuniendo en AARP.

 

Ese es un recurso realmente asombroso. Comunicarse con tu departamento de salud local o tu condado. Si tienes acceso a Internet, la mayoría de ellos tienen un recuadro sobre la vacunación contra la COVID-19. Y dependiendo de dónde uno se encuentre, ese puede ser un gran recurso para ayudarlo a ubicarlo en la lista localmente. El programa federal de farmacias minoristas que mencioné a la última persona que llamó es otro lugar para buscar, porque se están poniendo vacunas adicionales cada semana.

 

Los estados determinaron con qué cadenas de farmacias asociarse dentro del estado, y a medida que se envían más vacunas, más ubicaciones deberían tener acceso a eso. También reconocemos que no todas las comunidades tienen una farmacia minorista y esperamos que eso no sea una barrera. Por tanto, es probable que el departamento de salud local sea el lugar al que acudir. Dicho esto, tenemos algunos desafíos en los que los departamentos de salud locales no siempre tienen la información que necesitan a nivel estatal para saber realmente lo que está sucediendo dentro de su condado o dentro de su ciudad. Por lo tanto, considerar ambos recursos, locales y estatales, es realmente importante.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias por eso. Dra. Benton, volvamos a usted. Hemos escuchado a los voluntarios de AARP que están criando a sus nietos y lo importante que es este tema. ¿Qué sabemos sobre las vacunas actuales y las nuevas variantes del Reino Unido, Sudáfrica y Brasil? Incluso con las vacunas, ¿tendremos que ajustar algunas de nuestras actividades normales? Haremos muchas compras. ¿Se necesitará una vacuna de refuerzo para esto? En realidad, esa es una pregunta para el Dr. Campbell.

 

Donna Benton: Esta no es Donna. [RISAS]

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, lo siento. Dr. Campbell, ¿puede abordar eso? ¿Necesitamos un refuerzo ante todas estas variantes?

 

Thomas Campbell: Creo que la respuesta corta es sí, y la explicaré. Hay tres que llamamos "variantes de preocupación". Y surgieron en diferentes partes del mundo, incluidos el Reino Unido, Sudáfrica y Brasil. Y la razón por la que nos preocupan estas variantes es que tienen mutaciones en la parte de la proteína de pico de coronavirus donde creemos que las vacunas ejercen su protección. Y entonces con estas variantes, debido a las mutaciones que llevan, las vacunas no son tan efectivas.

 

Ahora, las vacunas siguen siendo eficaces. Y siguen siendo muy eficaces. Pero no tanto como cuando estas mutaciones no están tan presentes. Y sólo para darle algunas comparaciones de las vacunas, en general con la actual, la cepa principal que tenemos en EE.UU., como hemos visto con Pfizer y Moderna, hay alrededor del 95% de eficacia. Y eso probablemente se reduce a aproximadamente el 85% con la variante del Reino Unido y a aproximadamente del 65% con la variante sudafricana.

 

Todavía no tenemos buenos datos sobre la variante de Brasil, pero espero que sea similar a la variante sudafricana. Entonces todavía tenemos una buena protección. Y eso es protección contra la COVID-19 sintomático. Y lo que es más importante, la vacuna conserva su protección contra la COVID-19 grave y crítica, el tipo de COVID-19 que puede provocar la muerte. Pero lo que sí esperamos es que las empresas que fabrican estas vacunas, como Pfizer y Moderna, ya hayan comenzado a desarrollar vacunas que sean más efectivas contra las variantes. Y esperamos que esas vacunas variantes o vacunas ajustadas se utilicen como dosis de refuerzo, tal vez a partir de este otoño.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias, Dr. Campbell. Y Dra. Benton, permítame regresar a usted. Hemos estado viviendo bajo esta pandemia durante un año, y los abuelos están cuidando a sus nietos y están aprendiendo a distancia, y muchas personas están haciendo lo mismo mientras cuidan a sus seres queridos mayores. ¿Cómo combaten los cuidadores familiares el agotamiento y se aseguran de tener un descanso?

 

Donna Benton: Sí, y eso se ha vuelto más difícil debido a preocupaciones de seguridad. Así que no podemos invitar a un vecino como solíamos hacerlo ni pagar por cuidado de relevo. Aunque para algunas agencias en las que se han asegurado de que las personas tengan vacunas ahora, podría estar bien que se comunique con una agencia local que pueda venir durante una o dos horas para poder dormir sin interrupciones, pero sentir que la persona a la que estás cuidando está a salvo durante ese tiempo.

 

Por supuesto, hay cosas más breves que podemos hacer, simplemente pararnos afuera de la casa, salir por la puerta y respirar aire fresco. Ahora puede que haga demasiado frío en algunos lugares. En California, puedo salir por la puerta unos días más. Pero simplemente salir y respirar buen aire. Otra cosa dentro de tu casa cuando tienes esos momentos de inactividad, tal vez los niños estén ahí mirando la escuela y la otra persona esté durmiendo la siesta. Tómate ese tiempo para hacer algo que te dé placer.

 

Y eso puede ser escuchar una o dos canciones. Son cinco minutos de relajación. Tomarse el tiempo para leer un párrafo de un libro que te guste o tomarse un poco de tiempo para disfrutar realmente de un helado en el medio del día. Por supuesto, creo que puedes comer helado en cualquier momento del día, pero haz algo que te de placer como comer un helado. Consigue ese buen trozo de chocolate. Esas son formas realmente rápidas de relajarse además de, si es seguro, que una agencia de atención médica en el hogar venga y te ayude.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, genial. Gracias, Dra. Benton. Y gracias por darnos permiso a todos para comer helado a la mitad del día. Sé que estamos agradecidos por eso. Dr. Campbell, quería dar seguimiento a una pregunta que surgió a una de nuestras personas que llamaron, que tiene que ver con los efectos secundarios de la segunda dosis de Moderna y de Pfizer. ¿Qué deben esperar las personas, en términos generales, y son los efectos secundarios una razón para no vacunarse?

 

Thomas Campbell: Lo que todos deberían esperar es la posibilidad de tener lo que llamamos una reacción local en el lugar de la inyección. Y eso significa cosas como dolor, enrojecimiento, hinchazón en el lugar de la inyección en el hombro. O tener síntomas sistémicos. Y lo que queremos decir con eso son síntomas similares a los de la gripe. Esto incluye dolor de cabeza, fiebre, escalofríos, dolores musculares, fatiga. Estos efectos secundarios son muy comunes tanto con la vacuna de Pfizer como con la vacuna de Moderna. Quizás un poco menos común con la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson, de dosis única.

 

Y sabemos que ocurren, cuando ocurren, típicamente 24-48 horas después de la primera o segunda dosis de Pfizer o de Moderna. Pero más comúnmente después de la segunda dosis que después de la primera. Y sabemos que estos son transitorios. Por lo general, duran de 24 a 48 horas y desaparecen espontáneamente. Por lo tanto, las personas no deben preocuparse si ocurren estos efectos secundarios. Como discutimos con Josephine anteriormente, si son realmente molestos, pueden tomar un poco de Tylenol o, preferiblemente, Tylenol o ibuprofeno si es necesario para reducir los síntomas. Y en respuesta a tu pregunta, no son una razón, si lo has tomado después de la primera dosis, no es una razón para no recibir la segunda dosis. Recomiendo encarecidamente que continúen con la segunda dosis.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, muy bien. Muchas gracias, Dr. Campbell. Y un recordatorio para nuestros oyentes, sabemos que algunas personas han tenido dificultades para registrarse para una cita de vacunación, porque muchos de los sistemas de registro están en línea. Y no tienen una computadora, no se sienten cómodos navegando en línea. AARP quiere ayudar.

 

Hemos establecido un equipo de registro de vacunas de AARP para ayudar en estos casos. Entonces, si estás escuchando hoy, no tienes una computadora y no puedes registrarte para una vacuna porque no tienes acceso a la tecnología, presiona 1 en tu teléfono para ser agregado a una lista y recibir una llamada telefónica del personal de AARP para ayudarte. Nuevamente, si estás escuchando hoy y no tienes acceso a una computadora o internet y no puedes registrarte para una vacuna debido a eso, presiona 1 en tu teléfono para ser agregado a una lista para recibir una llamada de AARP. Nos comunicaremos e intentaremos ayudar a registrarte.

 

Bien, ahora es el momento de abordar más preguntas con el Dr. Thomas Campbell, Adriane Casalotti y la Dra. Donna Benton. Un recordatorio, presiona *3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de tu teléfono para estar conectado con un miembro del personal de AARP para hacer tu pregunta en vivo. Jean, ¿a quién tenemos en la línea ahora?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima llamada es Marilyn de Misuri.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola Marilyn, bienvenida al programa. Continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Marilyn: Muchas gracias. Mi pregunta es sobre las reacciones alérgicas y si es aconsejable vacunarse. Simplemente contaré una historia muy corta, cuando era más joven, me dieron penicilina y descubrí después de la inyección de penicilina que era alérgica a ella, por lo que tuvieron que darme adrenalina. Y luego, más tarde, esto habría sido cuando tenía veintitantos años, comí algunas grosellas y descubrí que era alérgica a eso. Los labios se me hincharon y la garganta se me hinchó y tuve una erupción. Tuve que ir al hospital. Me dieron una inyección de Benadryl y, después de aplicarme la inyección de Benadryl, descubrieron que era alérgica a eso. Así que tuvimos que volver a la adrenalina. Y me dijeron que nunca volviera a tomar penicilina, que nunca volviera a tomar Benadryl. Mi preocupación es que después de leer que todo es seguro, está bien si has tenido reacciones alérgicas, ellos solo te observarán un poco más, que supongo que mi preocupación es me observan y si eso vuelve a pasar, ¿entonces qué? Quiero decir, ¿vale la pena correr el riesgo de vacunarse o ...?

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, esa es una buena pregunta, Marilyn, y es una pregunta que recibimos mucho, porque la gente es o ha sido alérgica a varios medicamentos. Dr. Campbell, ¿qué consejo le daría a Marilyn y a la gente en su situación?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, las reacciones alérgicas ocurren después de las vacunas de Pfizer y de Moderna. Todavía no he visto ningún dato de la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson. Con las vacunas de Pfizer y de Moderna, el riesgo de una reacción alérgica en general es muy bajo. Se trata de 2 a quizás 5 en un millón. Y sabemos que las personas que han tenido reacciones alérgicas graves, como tú, tienen un mayor riesgo de tener una reacción alérgica a la vacuna de Pfizer o de Moderna. Ahora, lo que yo diría es que tenemos que equilibrar ese riesgo con el riesgo de COVID-19.

 

Sabemos que si una persona contrae COVID-19, puede enfermarse gravemente y puede estar enferma durante un largo período de tiempo si se recupera de COVID-19. Y sabemos que la COVID-19 mata gente. Entonces, lo que sabemos sobre las reacciones alérgicas a las vacunas es que, cuando ocurren, pueden tratarse muy fácilmente con epinefrina, que es el término médico para la adrenalina. Entonces, lo que le aconsejaría es que, si recibes la vacuna, te asegures de que el sitio que te está administrando la vacuna tenga una pluma de epinefrina, un EpiPen a la mano que, si tuvieras una reacción alérgica, podrían tratarla muy bien, rápidamente. Eso es ciertamente lo que practicamos aquí en mi sitio. Nos aseguramos de tener ese EpiPen presente en nuestro sitio cuando administramos la vacuna.

 

Bill Walsh: Y según tengo entendido, ¿no es el protocolo observar a las personas durante un cierto período de tiempo después de haber recibido la vacuna solo para asegurarse de que no hayan tenido una reacción alérgica?

 

Thomas Campbell: Así es. Y se observa a las personas que han tenido una reacción alérgica; lo siento, las personas que tienen antecedentes de reacciones alérgicas graves se observan durante más tiempo que las personas que no lo tienen. Pero para el punto de vista de la persona que llama, la observación no sirve de mucho si no tienes algo que dar en caso de que ocurra una reacción alérgica. Creo que es importante asegurarse de que el sitio que administra la vacuna tenga una EpiPen a mano en caso de que sea necesario.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, ¿alguno de nuestros otros panelistas quería opinar sobre esa pregunta?

 

Adriane Casalotti: Sí, lo siento, soy Adriane Casalotti. También plantea un punto importante en lo que respecta a la salud pública. Por lo tanto, continuamos recopilando las experiencias de las personas con los efectos secundarios y cualquier otra reacción potencial: si tienes acceso a un teléfono inteligente, los CDC han configurado V-safe, V, de vacunas, seguro. Y es una forma de que las personas ayuden a realizar un seguimiento de las experiencias que tienen. Y eso nos brinda a todos mejores datos para avanzar. Entonces, si estás recibiendo la vacuna, pregunta a las personas cómo inscribirse en ella. Y eso nos ayuda a todos como país a avanzar sabiendo mejor y más sobre cómo las vacunas interactúan con cada uno de nosotros.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias a ambos por eso. Oh, adelante. ¿Esa es la Dra. Benton?

 

Donna Benton: Hola, sí, no, solo iba a decir que el V-safe es realmente fácil. Lo tengo en mi teléfono. Y envían un pequeño mensaje de texto. Son como tres preguntas todos los días. Y simplemente haces clic y luego envías y se acabó. Y te envían recordatorios. Los recibes una vez al día. Y sé que entrará en una gran base de datos que nos dará información a todos para ayudarnos con problemas futuros y problemas de salud. Así que animo a la gente a que se registre en V-safe. Es muy fácil si tienes un teléfono inteligente de cualquier tipo.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias. Jean, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima llamada?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima pregunta viene de Facebook. Y esta viene de Michelle. Y ella pregunta: "Me he registrado en el sitio de mi estado para recibir la vacuna, pero ahora no tengo idea de lo que se supone que debo hacer a continuación. ¿Se supone que deben enviarme un correo electrónico con el lugar y la hora de la cita? ¿O debo empezar a buscar citas?"

 

Bill Walsh: Hm, ¿supongo que no dijo de qué estado era?

 

Jean Setzfand: No lo hizo.

 

Bill Walsh: Me pregunto Adriane, si tienes algún consejo para Michelle, o para las personas que pueden haberse registrado previamente y ahora están sentadas y esperando.

 

Adriane Casalotti: Sí, un par de cosas. Una es que volvería y vería si recibió una confirmación por correo electrónico para asegurarse de que no haya información sobre los próximos pasos. En general, si te estás registrando o preregistrando, la mayoría de las áreas cuando lo están haciendo, es para comunicarse contigo cuando haya una cita disponible o un momento para programar tu cita. Y diferentes ubicaciones están abordando esas listas de diferentes maneras.

 

Algunos pueden ser todos mayores de cierta edad. Algunos pueden estar tomando partes de eso y segmentos de eso, dependiendo de cuántas vacunas tengan. Una de las cosas nuevas que está sucediendo es que por un tiempo, nadie sabía realmente cuántas vacunas iban a tener hasta el viernes para lunes. El Gobierno federal ahora está tratando de dar más proyecciones a largo plazo, es decir, tres o cuatro semanas, que es a largo plazo en este mundo.

 

Y luego, con suerte, los departamentos de salud locales también tengan ese nivel de proyección, aunque eso no necesariamente está sucediendo en todas partes en este momento. Pero eso realmente permite a las personas comenzar a registrarse y luego reservar citas por más tiempo. Mucha gente ha estado haciendo citas a muy corto plazo, porque no quieren programar una y luego tener que cancelar si la vacuna no está realmente disponible. Entonces, nuevamente, con más oferta entrando, deberíamos poder abrir más de esos espacios en el futuro.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, y lo he dicho antes. Lo diré de nuevo. AARP ha creado guías estado por estado que brindan números locales gratuitos, para que personas como Michelle u otras personas puedan comunicarse por teléfono y, con suerte, hablar con una persona y hacer preguntas como esta. ¿Cuánto tiempo debo esperar? Cuál ha sido la oferta en mi estado. Pueden encontrar ese recurso en www.AARP.org/VerdadSobreVacunas

 

Adriane Casalotti: Y Bill, una de las cosas que olvidé mencionar fue que alguien estaba preguntando cómo conseguir una cita. Acabamos de configurar un sistema llamado Vaccine Finder, que ya existía, pero ahora lo estamos abriendo a la COVID-19. Así que actualmente, Alaska, Tennessee, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, Utah y el estado de Nueva York muestran la disponibilidad de vacunas a través de ese sistema, www.VaccineFinder.com. Y más estados deberían incorporarse en las próximas semanas. Pero para las personas en esos estados, esa es otra vía para buscar e intentar encontrar dónde está la vacuna en su comunidad.

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Y te avisarán si estás registrado?

 

Adriane Casalotti: Creo que es una opción. No estoy segura de si es funcional todavía. Este es el lanzamiento limitado que ocurrió hace aproximadamente una semana.

 

Bill Walsh: Ya veo. Muy bien. Jean, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima llamada?

 

Jean Setzfand: Tengo otra pregunta procedente de YouTube. En realidad, un par de preguntas sobre lo que discutimos anteriormente relacionada con Advil, tomar Advil después de la vacuna. Tanto Theresa como Barbara preguntaron si debilitaron su vacuna como resultado de tomar Advil. Y querían algo de tranquilidad al respecto.

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Dr. Campbell?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, así como estábamos discutiendo con algunas de las preguntas anteriores, existe la preocupación teórica de que el ibuprofeno, que es el medicamento en Advil, pueda mitigar la respuesta a la vacuna. Hago hincapié en que eso es solo teórico, y no sabemos con certeza si el ibuprofeno afecta o no la eficacia de la vacuna contra la COVID-19. Así que animo a las personas a que no tomen nada a menos que lo necesiten. Pero si lo necesitas y tienes que tomar algo, entonces puedes hacerlo. Pero no sabemos con certeza si hay algún efecto o no. Se ha estudiado en otras vacunas. Y en su mayor parte, no hay consecuencias adversas por tomar ibuprofeno. Pero no lo sabemos con certeza.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias, Dr. Campbell. ¿A quién tenemos a continuación en la línea, Jean?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima llamada es Cynthia de Nueva York.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola Cynthia, bienvenida al programa. Continúa con tu pregunta. [DISCURSO INDISTINTO]

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Cynthia? ¿Cynthia? [DISCURSO INDISTINTO]

 

Cynthia: ¿Hola?

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Cynthia, sigue adelante con tu pregunta.

 

Bill Walsh: Lo siento, escucho algo de fondo.

 

Cynthia: Hola, está bien. Mi madre y yo somos algunos de [INDISTINTO] cuidadores. Recibimos la segunda dosis de la vacuna de Pfizer el 3 de marzo. Así que me preocupé porque descubrimos que la cuidadora que cuidaba a mi madre hace un par de meses, dijo que tenía COVID-19 en enero. Pero ella dijo que todavía está teniendo un resultado positivo, ya sabes. Me refiero a cuánto dura el resultado positivo. Por ejemplo, ¿cuánto tiempo debería mi madre evitar tener contacto con esta persona?

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Entonces el cuidador de su madre en enero dio positivo a la COVID-19 y todavía siente los síntomas de eso?

 

Cynthia: Sí, y todavía...

 

Bill Walsh: Y tú y tu madre, lo siento, y tu madre ha recibido ambas dosis de la vacuna de Pfizer, la más reciente el 3 de marzo.

 

Cynthia: Sí, y también yo.

 

Bill Walsh: Y tú también.

 

Cynthia: 3 de marzo, sí.

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Entonces la pregunta es si tu mamá o tú deben limitar el contacto con este cuidador?

 

Cynthia: Sé que dijo que sus hijos también la tuvieron en enero y luego la tuvo su madre. Todos viven juntos. No sé sobre su esposo, pero...

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Dr. Campbell, ¿tiene algún consejo? Y si alguna de nuestras otras panelistas quieren opinar, pueden hacerlo.

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, si entendí la pregunta correctamente, es que un cuidador ha tenido COVID-19 pero sigue dando positivo de forma persistente. Y lo que sabemos es que a las personas se les seguirá detectando el virus en la nariz, en el tracto respiratorio superior, a veces durante semanas o meses después de que se hayan recuperado de la enfermedad. Pero la capacidad de transmitir la infección es solo durante los primeros 10 días.

 

Entonces, si la persona se ha recuperado de COVID-19, ya no se siente mal, han pasado esos 10 días, entonces podemos estar seguros de que no es contagioso para los demás. Sin embargo, lo segundo que diría al respecto es que las personas que están inmunodeprimidas, es decir, las personas que han tenido trasplantes de órganos o han recibido quimioterapia contra el cáncer y tienen un sistema inmunitario deprimido, pueden continuar diseminando virus, virus infecciosos, durante períodos más prolongados de tiempo. Y, en general, queremos que esas personas se pongan en cuarentena durante al menos tres semanas desde el momento en que comienzan a sentirse mejor.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, muy bien. Y el hecho de que Cynthia y su madre acabaran de recibir su segunda dosis hace aproximadamente una semana, ¿todavía están en alguna zona de peligro? ¿O deberían sentir que pueden interactuar con otros, al menos en su hogar?

 

Thomas Campbell: Por eso, recomendamos no hacerlo hasta 14 días después de la segunda dosis. Entonces, para obtener una protección completa, es necesario que el sistema inmunitario tenga 14 días después de la segunda dosis para responder a la vacuna. Entonces, en términos de relajar las restricciones, esperaría esos 14 días. Mientras tanto, sería importante continuar el distanciamiento social y el uso de mascarilla en el hogar.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, gracias. Y Dra. Benton, ¿quería opinar sobre esto? Sé que trabaja bastante con los cuidadores.

 

Donna Benton: Realmente, no, no tengo nada que agregar.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien.

 

Donna Benton: Pero entiendo su vacilación, y me alegra que se haya acercado hoy para obtener instrucciones muy claras sobre cómo mantenerse a salvo ella y a su madre.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Bueno, muy bien. Gracias Dra. Benton, Dr. Campbell y Adriane Casalotti. ¿Algún pensamiento final o recomendación que nuestros oyentes deberían entender más de nuestra conversación de hoy? Dr. Campbell, ¿quiere comenzar?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, creo que los puntos importantes de nuestras conversaciones sobre las vacunas son que tenemos tres vacunas que son muy seguras y efectivas, y que todos deberían vacunarse tan pronto como tengan la oportunidad. No llegamos a esto, pero ha habido cierta preocupación entre los afroamericanos y los hispanos de que no tenemos suficientes datos sobre la seguridad y eficacia de estas vacunas en sus poblaciones. Pero, de hecho, sí tenemos. Y sabemos que estas vacunas funcionan bien para todos. Por tanto, todo el mundo debería vacunarse lo antes posible.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias por eso. Adriane Casalotti, ¿algún pensamiento final?

 

Adriane Casalotti: Claro, y definitivamente estoy de acuerdo con todo lo que se acaba de decir. Creo que dar un paso atrás es que estamos en este lugar, hace más de un año, trabajando en esto. Y, con suerte, veremos la luz al final del túnel. Pero creo que es importante recordar que hay muchos problemas, incluidos los de salud pública, en los que no nos hemos centrado realmente durante el año pasado. Entonces, cuanto más podamos apoyar ese trabajo, ya sea que estemos en tiempos de pandemia o no, mejor estaremos, porque las personas que han estado en primera línea haciendo esto, probando, rastreando contactos y tratando de trabajar con las escuelas y las empresas ahora están liderando el trabajo de vacunas. Y tendrán mucho que aprender después de que superemos la pandemia. Así que, con suerte, ellos puedan continuar apoyándolos a todos, vacunar a todos y luego podemos continuar apoyándolos a ellos y al importante trabajo que hacen día tras día.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Adriane, muchas gracias por eso. Y Dra. Benton, ¿algún pensamiento o recomendación final?

 

Donna Benton: Estaba pensando que ha pasado un año. Nos estamos acercando a donde estaremos en lo que llamamos nuestra "nueva normalidad". Y a medida que nos vacunamos y hemos tenido nuestras dos semanas y sentimos que queremos juntarnos con la gente, quiero volver a lo que Lou había preguntado: ¿puede jugar a las de cartas? Y yo diría que volvamos a las interacciones sociales, tal vez comencemos con Go Fish antes de entrar en un juego de póquer.

 

Bill Walsh: [RISAS] Crees que el póquer va a elevar demasiado nuestros niveles de estrés, ¿verdad?

 

Donna Benton: Sí, es posible que no sepamos cómo reaccionar en el póquer. Pero comencemos con Go Fish.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, bueno, Lou no me sonaba como un jugador de Go Fish. Pero ahí está, tienes ese consejo. Bueno, gracias a todos. Esta ha sido una discusión realmente informativa. Quiero agradecerles a todos ustedes por responder a nuestras preguntas. Y gracias a nuestros socios, voluntarios y oyentes de AARP por participar en esta discusión hoy.

 

AARP, una organización sin fines de lucro y no partidista, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los estadounidenses mayores durante más de 60 años. Frente a esta crisis, estamos brindando información y recursos para ayudar a los adultos mayores y a quienes los cuidan a protegerse del virus y evitar que se propague a otras personas mientras se cuidan. Todos los recursos a los que se hizo referencia hoy, incluida una grabación del evento de preguntas y respuestas de hoy, se pueden encontrar en www.AARP.org/coronavirus, a partir del 12 de marzo, mañana. Una vez más, esa dirección es www.AARP.org/coronavirus. Ve allí si tu pregunta no fue respondida, y encontrarás las últimas actualizaciones, así como información creada específicamente para adultos mayores y cuidadores familiares.

 

Esperamos que hayas aprendido algo hoy que pueda ayudarte a ti y a tus seres queridos a mantenerse a salvo. Únete a nosotros nuevamente esta noche a las 7:00 p.m., hora del este para un evento especial en vivo con la experta en finanzas personales Suze Orman y la directora ejecutiva de AARP, Jo Ann Jenkins, en el que discutirán el impacto de la COVID-19 en sus finanzas e impuestos. Gracias y que tengan un buen día.

 

Con esto concluye nuestra llamada.

 

One Year of the Coronavirus Pandemic: Vaccines, Staying Safe and Caring for Loved Ones

Listen to a replay of the live event above.

Falling on the one-year milestone of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus a global pandemic, this live Q&A event addressed the challenges we’re still experiencing. Experts provided information on how federal, state and local governments are distributing the vaccine to older adults, people living and working in nursing homes, people of color, and those with underlying medical conditions.

The Experts:

  • Thomas Campbell, M.D.
    Professor of Medicine,
    Division of Infectious Diseases,
    University of Colorado School of Medicine,
    Anschutz Medical Campus Multidisciplinary Center on Aging

  • Adriane Casalotti
    Chief of Government and Public Affairs,
    National Association of County and City Health Officials

  • Donna Benton, Ph.D.
    Director of the Family Caregiver Support Center,
    University of Southern California

  • Bill Sweeney
    Sr. Vice President,
    Government Affairs, AARP

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, go to AARP.org/coronavirus.


Replay previous AARP Coronavirus Tele-Town Halls

  • April 1Coronavirus and The Black Community: Your Vaccine Questions Answered
  • March 25Coronavirus: The Stimulus, Taxes and Vaccine
  • March 11 - One Year of the Pandemic and Managing Personal Finances and Taxes
  • February 25Coronavirus Vaccines and You
  • February 11 - Coronavirus Vaccines: Your Questions Answered`
  • January 7 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Stimulus & Staying Safe
  • January 14 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Staying Safe & Coping and Prevention, Vaccines & the Black Community
  • January 28 - Coronavirus: Vaccine Distribution and Protecting Yourself
    & A Virtual World Awaits: Finding Fun, Community and Connections
  • Dec 3 - Coronavirus: Staying Safe & Coping This Winter
  • Nov 19 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Staying and A Caregiver's Thanksgiving
  • Nov 12 - Coronavirus: Coping and Maintaining Your Well-Being
  • Oct 1 - Coronavirus: Vaccines & Coping During the Pandemic
  • Sept 17 - Coronavirus: Prevention, Treatments, Vaccines & Avoiding Scams
  • Sept 3 - Coronavirus: Your Finances, Health & Family (6 months in)
  • Aug 20 - Your Health and Staying Protected
  • Aug 6 - Coronavirus: Answering Your Most Frequent Questions
  • July 23 - Coronavirus: Navigating the New Normal
  • July 16 - The Health and Financial Security of Latinos
  • July 9 - Coronavirus: Your Most Frequently Asked Questions
  • June 18 and 20 - Strengthening Relationships Over Time and  LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Protections
  • June 11 – Coronavirus: Personal Resilience in the New Normal