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AARP Coronavirus Tele-Town Halls

Experts answer your questions related to COVID-19

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 telephone town hall in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. [Repeated in Spanish.] AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership 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.

Across the country, the rate of vaccination’s improving, with over 85 percent of adults 65 and older having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The progress has prompted the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to relax mask-wearing mandates and social distancing requirements for those who are fully vaccinated. Yet, it has also stirred confusion about when it’s okay to go maskless and when it isn’t, what we can do safely and what we can’t. And even as concerns about the pandemic are beginning to ease, many older adults are still struggling financially. And as the housing market continues to heat up, millions more are working hard to stay in their homes. Today, we’ll hear from an impressive panel of experts about these issues and more.

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 keypad 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.

Hello, if you’re just joining, I’m Bill Walsh with AARP, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion on the global coronavirus pandemic. We’re talking with leading experts and taking your questions live. To ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad, and if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments.

We have some outstanding guests joining us today, including a health expert from Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and financial experts from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Apex Financial Services. We’ll also be joined by my AARP colleague Kevin Craiglow, 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. Again, to ask your question, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member, or if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, place your question in the comments.

Now I’d like to welcome our guests. Mark Rupp, M.D., is professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Welcome back to the program, Dr. Rupp.

Mark Rupp: Yes, I’m glad to be with you. Thanks, Bill.

Bill Walsh: All right, we’re glad to have you. Next up is Dave Uejio, acting director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Welcome, Dave.

Dave Uejio: Great, thanks so much. I’m excited to join you.

Bill Walsh: Okay. And finally, Lee Baker is the owner and president of Apex Financial Services. Welcome back, Lee.

Lee Baker: Hey, happy to be back with you today, Bill.

Bill Walsh: All right. Happy to have you. Let’s go ahead and get started with the discussion and just a reminder, to ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad or drop it in the comments section on Facebook or YouTube. Dr. Rupp, let’s start with you. There’s still some confusion about wearing masks and the CDC guidance. Are there situations where a mask is necessary?

Mark Rupp: Well, you know, there is still some circumstances where masks are necessary, but I think the really good news is that the relaxation of the masking and distancing requirements for people who are vaccinated are really a reflection of the tremendous effectiveness of vaccination. And so, you know as you said in the lead-in to the story, 85 percent of folks over 65 have been fully vaccinated. Those folks should feel pretty secure in not wearing their masks in most situations. You know, there, there is no change in the regulations for people who are unvaccinated, and I think that that’s an important thing to really continue to emphasize. If folks haven’t been vaccinated, they need to continue to wear a mask, they need to continue to do what we call the non-pharmacologic interventions and keep their distancing. But for vaccinated folks, most of them can go back to pre-pandemic activities.

The only exceptions would be public transportation— so if you’re going to get on an airplane or a bus or a train, you’ll probably be asked to put on a mask— and then you have to obey any other sort of local rules and regulations. So businesses can still require people to wear masks, certain localities continue to have a mask mandate. And then, I think there’s some personal situations where you might want to continue to wear a mask as well. So if you’re immunosuppressed, you’re on immunosuppressive drugs, you’ve had an organ transplant, you’re getting cancer chemotherapy, the vaccine may not have worked as well as if you had a robust immune system. And so in order to protect yourself, you may want to continue to go ahead and wear a mask.

Bill Walsh: Okay, and now for fully vaccinated people, I know that some are apprehensive about not wearing a mask in public or to recreational activities. What’s your advice about that?

Mark Rupp: Well, I think it depends, you know, if you’re going in with a group of people that you’re confident that everybody has been vaccinated, I think you should feel very, very safe in, in not wearing a mask. On the other hand, if you’re in mixed company where there are some folks who have been unvaccinated, you know, as long as they’re wearing a mask, you’re probably pretty safe to not to wear a mask. But if you, if you feel uncomfortable, you know, it’s going to take some time yet for the rates to hopefully continue to go down, and if you’re feeling uncomfortable, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So if you want to wear a mask, I don’t think anybody is going to indict you for that nowadays. And hopefully the rates will continue to come down to the point that all of us will feel very safe and very confident in taking our masks down and, you know, start to enjoy people’s presence in a face-to-face manner.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks for that. Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about the vaccine efficacy. The rates seemed quite high when they were first authorized by the FDA. What can we say about, now that we’ve had the vaccines in market so long, what can we say about vaccine efficacy, and what do you think about the need for a booster shot later on this year?

Mark Rupp: Yeah, well, Bill, now that we’re in baseball season, it’s appropriate to use baseball analogy. I mean this, the vaccines are really a home run. They are tremendously effective, and they are very safe, and people should feel, you know, very, very good about going in and getting their vaccine and getting protection. And so, in the studies that were done, as you alluded to, large phase 3 trials, rigorously performed, tens of thousands of persons involved, the efficacy was 90, 95 percent or higher. Now that’s in a study situation. So the question has been asked, you know, how are they going to perform in the real world? And we have been very, very gratified to see how well they work when they’ve been used now in, in hundreds of millions of doses given. They are tremendously effective in real-world settings. And so what I mean by that is, you know, when you look at groups, in communities, in health care facilities, in fact, in whole countries — Israel, Denmark, Sweden, the United States— the rates really plummet as the rate of vaccination goes up. They are tremendously effective and maintain that effectiveness in all settings really where they’ve been looked at.

You know, we continue to have some questions around the vaccine. You already alluded to one of those questions, when and if are we going to need a booster dose? Nobody really knows the answer to that question. You know, the longer we go, the better these vaccines look. And so we’re out now six to eight months and the protection levels look like they are very well preserved. I’m hopeful that the need for a booster is going to be measured in years rather than months. But you know, that’s pretty conjectural on my part.

We continue to have some questions around variants. And so even though we’re doing well in the United States, other parts of the world are not doing so well. And so it is possible that a vaccine escape mutant could emerge, a variant could emerge and, you know, could set us back, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that that doesn’t happen. To date, the vaccine looks very effective against the variants where it’s been tested.

As I already mentioned earlier, you know, we do have some questions around the vaccine efficacy in immunosuppressed patients. And so if you have persons in the audience today that fit that category, we just don’t know how well the vaccine is going to work in that group. And so those folks should probably continue to wear masks and be careful until we really get herd immunity established. So, the bottom line is, after hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine have been given, very, very effective and also, reassuringly, I would tell people that they’re very safe. We know what this side-effect profile looks like, and I don’t think we’re going to have any, you know, mysteries coming out of this at this point.

Bill Walsh: Okay, Dr. Rupp, thanks so much for that. Dave, let’s shift to you. We know the pandemic has had a negative impact on people’s finances, particularly in the area of housing. Can you tell us how bad the situation is?

Dave Uejio: Sure, and I think it’s a particularly excellent question given that it looks like we are turning the corner on the public health emergency, as Dr. Rupp just mentioned. You know, I think for borrowers and homeowners, renters, this is a particularly critical time from the perspective of those of us in consumer financial protection. You know, so just to give you a sense of the magnitude, more borrowers are behind on their mortgage today than at any time since the height of the Great Recession. In addition, an estimated 10.7 million adults living in rental housing, which is about 15 percent of adult renters, are not caught up on their rent. Now notably, communities of color have been hit hard by the pandemic, and the latest data say that many borrowers are still hurting from the effects. So it seems to me that safe, affordable and stable housing are really the foundation for people’s well-being, you know, their financial well-being and otherwise. When people lose their homes, their lives and their health and their finances are all disrupted. So from our perspective at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we’re really going to continue to seek to actively respond to developments in the marketplace and do everything in our power to help families stay in their homes post-pandemic, you know, as we keep an eye towards what is hopefully an equitable recovery.

And with respect to your specific audience, it’s worth noting that the challenges are particularly pronounced in some ways for Americans who are 55 years and older. Eighteen percent of renters who recently reported that they will likely be evicted in the next two months were 55 and older. One in 3 homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments — it’s about 2.1 million adults — were 55 and older. And 42 percent of homeowners that reported that it was likely they will leave their homes due to foreclosure in the next two months, are 55 and older.

So I think for us, you know, we are obviously carefully considering and I will say, quite concerned about the way in which the precarious situation people find themselves in might play out absent some really concerted interventions. And there’s been a number of things we’ve done at CFPB to try and safeguard against that. You know, the good news is that I think to date both the public and private sector have admirably responded to keep people in their homes during the pandemic. But, you know, as I think is worth noting, some of these legal protections are set to expire this month, whether that is the CDC’s eviction moratorium or the existing governmental, government-wide moratorium on foreclosures, and so we’re carefully monitoring that as a source of potential risk. So really, it’s a thing to be vigilant about if you’re a homeowner or a renter alike right now, but it’s also worth noting that there’s a lot of opportunities out there to safeguard your financial well-being [inaudible].

Bill Walsh: Right. Thanks for that, Dave. And we’re going to be talking about those issues later on in the program. Lee, let me shift to you. Some of the lowest wage earners have struggled in the pandemic and there’s a widening wealth gap, especially among Blacks and Latinos. For someone who’s still trying to sort it all out and stay afloat, what are their options? Are there additional programs through the American Rescue Plan Act that people can take advantage of?

Lee Baker: Yeah, so, yeah, that’s an excellent question, you know, and I had a conversation a while back online with someone, and they asked whether or not I thought that the pandemic had changed the job picture in, the working picture in the U.S. And I think more accurately, it exposed the landscape as it relates to jobs here in this country. You know, Blacks, Latinos, women were more hurt economically as a result of the pandemic. And, you know, this segues nicely from what Dave was talking about; one of the major underpinnings of wealth in America has been homeownership. And so when you have a segment of the population that is hurt more significantly then, yeah, by definition, that’s going to cause the wealth gap to widen for those members of those communities.

Now, that being said, you know, if you’re, you’re saying, Hey, listen, I’m trying to sort this all out and stay afloat. What can I do, what resources are available? You know, everybody’s heard, you know, about the belt tightening and those sorts of things, and that’s important and you’ve got to do it. But when we talk about the American Rescue Plan Act, you know, the first thing that comes to mind for everybody is again, by definition, the economic impact payments. More frequently people talk about getting their stimulus checks, and that’s the big thing that most people are interested in, but that act also had large chunks of money available to state and local entities to help with things along the lines of, you know, homeowner assistance fund, rental funds.

And so what I would say for the people on the line with us today, one big thing that if you’ve not tried to take advantage of yet, is to look wherever you are, the county or local level, and find out, hey, listen, what entity is it that received those funds that was a part of this act that’s intended to help those people from a housing perspective. Because again, as Dave mentioned, the CDC moratorium expires at the end of this month, and people are clearly concerned about being evicted. So look into those resources again, that are a part of the American Rescue Plan, but also most importantly, just be proactive about your situation. We’ve all been in this pandemic together. Now we’ve been affected differently, but everybody gets it. There’s no shame in picking up the phone and calling your landlord, calling the mortgage company, explaining where you are candidly. You know, from what we’ve experienced and heard and in talking to people, you don’t really even need to explain. Everybody knows what’s going on. And so, you just have to pick up the phone and call to get that assistance.

Bill Walsh: Yeah. Great advice: Be your own advocate. Let me, let me follow up on that, Lee. You mentioned the stimulus payments. What do people need to know about the most recent round of stimulus, and where are we in issuing the payments for this third round?

Lee Baker: Yeah. So for most people, as it relates to the stimulus payments, you really don’t have to do anything, right? So, the government is using, you know, the tax records. So if you filed your tax return of late, you really don’t need to do anything. If you have typically gotten a refund, a lot of those people, those disbursements have hit their accounts already. And so that money has already started going out.

Now there are some changes included in the act — and this is more specific to people that have children — things like the child tax credit, the amounts have been changed. And one thing that’s a little different this time around that has been the case in the past, is specifically again, as it relates to the child tax credit, is that instead of this coming sort of in the form of a rebate for 2021, you’re actually going to be getting some of that between July 1 of this year and December 31 of this year. So again, if you’ve got someone, a child that’s 17 years and younger — and that’s been a change because it previously had been 16 — that’s an additional thing to keep an eye open for. And also the fact that, you know, for 2021 instead of looking in the rearview mirror and waiting until next year when it’s time to file taxes, as it relates to the child tax credit, you will be able to see some of that benefit in the second half of this year.

Bill Walsh: Okay, all right, thank you. Let’s go to another one of our experts. And as a reminder, to ask your question, please press *3. We’re going to get to your live questions soon, but before we do, I want to bring in Megan O’Reilly. Megan is the vice president for health and family advocacy at AARP. Welcome, Megan.

Megan O’Reilly: It’s really good to be with you, Bill.

Bill Walsh: All right. Megan, today we’re talking about COVID-19’s impact on our finances and housing, in particular. What has AARP been fighting for on this front?

Megan O’Reilly: You know, we know the pandemic has really hit older adults hard. We’ve been really pleased that recent efforts have made strides to address that economic fallout. First of all, the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act, some of which we’ve talked about already today, included several AARP priorities. This included delivering payments to millions of older adults and expanding paid-leave tax credits, and the child tax credit as well. Second, we’re pleased that the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] recently took steps through the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, known as EBB, to help make high-speed internet more affordable for Americans who are struggling to afford it during the pandemic. COVID-19 has shown us that access to high-speed internet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity, and people without it are being left behind when it comes to their health care, work, connecting with family and friends, and education. AARP is encouraging all eligible Americans to enroll in this program. For resources and more information about EBB visit aarp.org/ebb, or you can call 1-833-511-0311.

Finally, this past year has put a very bright spotlight on the financial challenges that millions of family caregivers are facing every day. On average, family caregivers spend close to $700,000 a year on care-related expenses, which can be a significant percentage of their annual income. In response to that, we are very pleased to report that last week the Credit for Caring Act was introduced in both houses of Congress. This bipartisan bill would create a tax credit for eligible family caregivers that can help offset some of these expenses. We know that this legislation would make a meaningful difference for millions of family caregivers, and AARP will be fighting to get this bill through Congress.

Bill Walsh: Okay, Megan, thanks for the update. The pandemic continues to have an impact on our health of course. Where is AARP focusing moving forward?

Megan O’Reilly: You know, since the start of this pandemic, AARP has been fighting for big investments in research around treatments and vaccines for the virus, and once the vaccines were available, we worked hard with the Trump administration and the Biden administration, and in every single state to make sure older people are a priority. We’ve also published online guides for every state to explain how to get the vaccine where you live. You can find those guides at aarp.org/vaccineinfo. And we made sure that the American Rescue Plan included provisions critical to our members like supporting the expansion of COVID vaccine efforts, providing an expansion of subsidies that will make coverage more affordable under the Affordable Care Act, improving infection control in nursing homes, and much more.

Because of our work, governments are prioritizing long-term care facilities and older Americans and, as we talked about earlier in the program, more than 86 percent of people 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. There is still a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine can access it. AARP State Offices across the country are hard at work to reach older adults, especially in communities where access to the vaccine has been an issue. And our teams are continuing to advocate on your behalf by working with governors and state legislators to allocate funding provided to states in ways that continue to address the needs of the 50-plus. Congress is also working on an infrastructure plan, and AARP will continue to fight for older adults by pushing for continued access to vaccines and taking action to lower the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs that continue to cripple family budgets. To stay up to date on all of these efforts, please visit aarp.org/coronavirus.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks so much for joining us, Megan. We appreciate the update. Now it’s time to address your questions about the coronavirus with Dr. Mark Rupp, Dave Uejio, Lee Baker. Please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member to share your question. And if you’d like to listen in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. [Repeated in Spanish.] I’d now like to bring in my AARP colleague Kevin Craiglow to help facilitate your calls. Welcome, Kevin.

Kevin Craiglow: Thanks, Bill. Happy to be here for this important conversation.

Bill Walsh: All right, who do we have first on the line?

Kevin Craiglow: Our first caller is Ara from Georgia.

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

Ara: Well, excuse me. I’m 81, and my son is 66, and he has a home health aide that comes to see him, and she says she will not take the vaccine. And I had, I tell her to wear a mask, but she will put it on while I’m there, but then I go in there, she doesn’t have on a mask, and I want to know is, my son and I have had both our shots, and I would like to know if she keeps coming around without, you know, and not wearing a mask, if she come around period, are we in danger of getting the virus?

Bill Walsh: Right, no, I understand the concern. Let’s ask Dr. Rupp about that. Dr. Rupp what can Ara do?

Mark Rupp: Ara, thank you very much for your question and the situation that you’re in. And unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult. It’s really unfortunate that the home health aide that’s coming out to your home is not fully vaccinated. And I think you’re very wise to relate that if that person’s not fully vaccinated, that they should be wearing a mask when they come into your home. And I would suggest that you give the agency a call where that home health aide is staffing from and relate that, you know, you’re pretty upset that they’re not vaccinated. I think you would be well within your rights to request somebody who is vaccinated and, at the very least, that they should comply with your request to wear a mask when they’re in your home. Now having said that, because you and your son are both fully vaccinated, you do have a pretty good level of protection, but no vaccine is 100 percent effective, and there is going to continue to be some risk involved when unvaccinated persons come into your home.

Bill Walsh: Okay, Dr. Rupp, thanks so much for that advice. Kevin, who is our next caller?

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, our next caller is Carmen from New York.

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

Carmen: Yes, in 2020, the government suspended the minimum withdrawal for us retirees who were over 70½, but in 2021, they didn’t suspend it. And I’m just wondering why they didn’t continue it.

Bill Walsh: Lee Baker, I wonder if you could take a stab at that, and Dave, if you want to weigh in, go ahead as well.

Lee Baker: Yeah, sure, I’ll take a stab at it. You know, I like trying to read the minds of our elected representatives but, you know, some of the rationale in their arguments about the wisdom of having done that is simply the fact that you had a situation where, you know, it was all hands on deck and sort of, OMG, what do we want to do, let’s make things as, let’s make things as consumer-friendly as possible. Now here’s the cynical side of a financial adviser coming along. Those required minimum distributions are a way for the government to generate revenue. So as those dollars come out of our retirement accounts, for the vast majority those dollars are taxable revenue. And so for multiple reasons last year, 2020, the government had a revenue hit, and we’re in 2021. Now it’s time to get the revenue coming back into the Treasury.

Bill Walsh: Okay.

Lee Baker: And an aside, also the RMD, the age was changed. So forever it had been 70½, it’s now 72. So just keep that in mind.

Bill Walsh: Okay, Lee, thanks so much. Kevin, let’s take another call.

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, our next question is an online question from Silvetta, who asks us, “I would like to hear how to manage my finances, and how one can get access to rent through the government rent relief package?”

Bill Walsh: Hmm, that’s a good question. Dave, can you handle that one?

Dave Uejio: More than happy to take a stab at that. So, you know, I think it’s, again, an unusual time given that in some respects there are programs in place where people may not be paying and for very good reasons. You know, if you are a homeowner, you may be benefiting from a moratorium on foreclosures. If you have a student loan debt, there’s been a virtual moratorium on student lending. And I think that that’s, you know, entirely defensible and appropriate and was a good thing. But we are entering a period now where some of those things might change. So I think it’s a really timely question from the audience. [Inaudible.] Let’s start with the rent relief question. So, as the questioner has noted, there is tremendous money available through the Treasury for rental assistance. And one great place you can go to get information about that is consumerfinance.gov/housing. This is particularly useful because each of the states is distributing this money in a different way. And the money was designed, you know, and allocated by Congress to be spent out by the states. And so depending on where you live, the way you access those funds will differ. But if you want to start it with our housing portal, and that’s the government-wide housing portal, that will give you information specifically about how to access those funds.

Now, in addition to that, and as Lee had mentioned earlier, there are both potentially additional sources of funding coming in, and as I was referring to, some additional expenses that might restart. So I would really encourage your audience that if you have any questions specific to housing, you can go to our housing hub, you can get connected to a HUD-certified housing counselor who can really help you manage your own balance sheet and answer some of these questions based on where you live. We also have a lot of great resources more broadly about managing your finances in light of the pandemic at consumerfinance.gov. So I would really encourage the audience to peruse those resources as they think about how to manage both the restarting of new expenses, as well as the possibility of new income coming in as a result of some of this legislation.

Bill Walsh: Okay, consumerfinance.gov. All right, thank you very much, Dave. Appreciate it. Kevin, let’s go back to the lines.

Kevin Craiglow: Our next caller is Lynn from Oklahoma.

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

Lynn: Yes, I am fully vaccinated, but I have a compromised immune system, and I’ve read that people like me would have a reduced immune response to the vaccine. And I wanted to know what that meant and how safe I am in crowds or, like, on a cruise ship.

Bill Walsh: Okay, Lynn, thanks very much. Dr. Rupp, can you help Lynn?

Mark Rupp: Yeah, Lynn, that is a great question, and it’s one of those things that we still don’t have fully answered. We do know that there are groups of persons who are immunosuppressed who have been fully vaccinated that don’t respond in as robust a manner as people with intact immune systems. And I’ve seen some data, for instance, in organ transplant patients where, you know, maybe only a third of those patients develop protective levels of antibody response in response to the vaccine. So depending upon the reason why you’re immunosuppressed, whether it be from medications or cancer chemotherapy, or organ transplantation, you know, you may have a variable response to the vaccine. I think the safest thing for you right now if you have those concerns, is to go ahead and continue to be cautious and prudent and careful; wear a mask when you’re out in public, try to avoid those risky situations that would primarily be indoor, shared airspaces. And then, you know, hopefully everybody in society will do the right thing and get vaccinated. And if we all did our part, if we all rolled up our sleeves and received the vaccine, then we would have a protective level of herd immunity for folks like yourself who may not respond to the vaccine. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m urging everybody on the call to get vaccinated, to urge your family members to get vaccinated, to do the right thing to protect yourselves, to protect your family and to protect people like Lynn who may not respond to the vaccine. Thank you.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thank you, Dr. Rupp, appreciate that, and thanks to all our experts. And thank you all, for all your questions. We’re going to take more of your questions shortly. Remember, if you’d like to ask a question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad, and if you’d like to listen in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. [Repeated in Spanish.]

Now it’s time to turn back to our experts. Dave, how do the structural inequities contribute to the problems we’re facing? What additional steps can be taken to support Black and Latino households?

Dave Uejio: This is such a timely and important question. You know, many Black and Hispanic communities had not even fully recovered from the last financial crisis when the pandemic hit. And those same communities are, once again, bearing a disproportionate financial and health burden during the pandemic through really no fault of their own. And just to size that out for you a little bit, you know, in a recent Census survey, renters of color, minority renters, were more likely to report that their household was not caught up on rent. You know, and so I think it’s pretty clear that there is a very clear perpetuation of structural inequities at play here that again is falling disproportionally on, in many cases, Black and Hispanic households, who are also sort of simultaneously the same households where our essential workers have come, folks who have had less choice about being on the frontline, and have, as a result, been more exposed to the virus.

So, you know, we at the bureau have really thought about how to center the experience of those consumers as we’re addressing some of these challenges. So whether that’s thinking about how to assist and ensure that people are not being illegally evicted or whether it is the bureau’s work to both develop strong protections against foreclosure as well as resources that are in the correct terminology but also in the right languages, I think for communities that have been traditionally marginalized, we have really taken to heart this need to focus aggressively in protecting and reaching those individuals who are most at risk given longstanding historical inequities.

Bill Walsh: Well let’s get some practical advice out there for people who are on the line. What programs and services are available for homeowners and renters? Let’s say somebody needs help, like mortgage forbearance, rental assistance, or help with past-due utilities, whom did they contact?

Dave Uejio: Yeah, no, I mean, and this really, I think echoes the point that Lee made. Certainly, I would encourage all of those individuals, if you need any help at all with housing, to go to consumerfinance.gov/housing, that’s the government-wide housing portal, and that applies if you are a homeowner who is encountering challenges with forbearance, or if you are a renter who is encountering challenges with potential eviction. We also have resources there that will connect you to the rental assistance programs through the Treasury that I mentioned earlier. Now, in addition to that, if you need an additional layer of help, two things I would advise: One, you are absolutely entitled to, and I certainly encourage you to work to find a HUD-certified housing counselor. You can call (800) 569-4287 to do that, or just visit consumerfinance.gov/housing, and if you feel like at all uncomfortable, if you feel like you’re encountering challenges, your servicer might not be responding or your landlord might be telling you something that conflicts with what you have read, please feel free to come to consumerfinance.gov and file a complaint. You can just go straight to the main website; we read them all and we act upon them generally within 15 days. So we’re certainly on your side. I know this can be a confusing time for folks, but we are here to help.

Bill Walsh: Okay, and just give us that phone number again in case folks didn’t catch it.

Dave Uejio: You bet. The number to get a housing counselor is 1-800-569-4287, and all that information is available at consumerfinance.gov/housing.

Bill Walsh: Great, thanks so much, Dave. Lee, let’s turn back to you. The pandemic has changed spending habits for many Americans. Which new habits should we be keeping as we resume our activities?

Lee Baker: Yeah, so here’s a few of the habits that I’ve seen that have changed and I think will change and will remain changed. For a lot of people, that’s driving habits. You know, we went in many areas around the country from getting in our cars, driving in every day, to either, you know, 100 percent working remotely to kind of a hybrid. And as I hear from more and more entities, you know, large and small, I think we’re going to remain in sort of a hybrid mode. Well, what that means for many of us is that we’re not spending as much money as we had been on fuel. You know, literally, and I’ll say this for my own home, you know, the pandemic has resulted in hundreds of dollars per month in fuel savings, just because of not commuting every day, and then some of the riding around we did on the weekend. So to the extent that you have the type of job that is going to allow for remote or some sort of hybrid work, that’s one thing that should remain in place, and can be a source of savings as we talk about habits.

Some people have changed the way they shop for groceries. There’s no reason to give that up, if you’ve found some ways to save monies during the pandemic. Another thing, candidly, many people have found the benefit of entertaining themselves for free and remote. Now, I’m not suggesting that by any stretch of the imagination you remain remote forever, but there are some things that we learned to do that are good moves going forward. You know, anywhere from virtual tours of different places around the world, and just learning to spend time with each other, taking walks in the park. You know, a lot of those habits which candidly have contributed to health. My wife and I, you know, in the throes of the pandemic since we weren’t getting up and commuting going to work anymore, literally we got up every morning, went walking, would walk over to the lake in the neighborhood, go around the lake a few times and, you know, get some sunshine and see all the critters in the neighborhood. So a lot of habits along those lines I think are the kinds of things that we should carry out into the future.

Bill Walsh: Well, let’s get practical. What resources do you recommend to develop a plan of action, if people have debt or dealing with unplanned expenses?

Lee Baker: Yeah, so as far as that’s concerned, AARP has always been a good resource for those kinds of things. And if you’re looking for tools on how to manage your debt, go in to aarp.org and look for those things. If it’s debt, unplanned expenses, there’s ways to do that. Now, if you are one of the people that, if you’re in a situation where you’re getting a stimulus payment or an economic impact payment and it is something that you do not have to use in order to keep a roof over your head or keep the lights on, be smart about that money. You know, if you did not have an emergency fund or a rainy-day fund or cash on hand, however you want to refer to it, utilize those resources to do that. If you’re one of the people that, you know, again, you didn’t have any emergency fund in order to be able to handle unplanned-for expenses, that money that you save from not having to put gas in your car every week to go back and forth to work, save some of that, so that the next time something happens, and you do have an unexplained, excuse me, unplanned-for expense, you’ll have a little cash on hand to take care of that.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks so much for that, Lee. And one of the AARP resources he may have been thinking about is our Money Map program to help people deal with debt. You can access that at moneymap.aarp.org. Thanks so much, Lee.

Dr. Rupp, very quickly, you know family gatherings and travel remain two of the most popular questions that we get on this program. What are your recommendations for family events? You know, assuming not everyone is vaccinated, how adventurous can we be when it comes to travel?

Mark Rupp: Yeah, Bill, thanks for that question. You know, I think it’s also appropriate before we get into that, for people just to reflect how far we’ve come. And if you think back last year at this time, we were just getting ready to ride that second hump of the pandemic. And then after that, a third hump, and just think how far we’ve come in the last year. We’re at a point now where we really can start now to think about how we can safely have family gatherings and how to travel. I think if you’re fully vaccinated, you know, traveling pretty widely domestically is, is safe. You will be asked to be, to wear a mask when you’re on public transport. Also you can take your private vehicle and travel very safely throughout the United States. I think this is a great time of the year when many, many people are starting to think about holiday gatherings, family reunions, how to do that safely. Where people are vaccinated, obviously that’s going to be a very, very safe. Where you have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated persons, if you can have that activity outdoors, it’s obviously going to become a much safer event. I think it’s okay to ask people who are unvaccinated to continue to wear a mask. And as we’ve already talked about on the program, if you fit into one of those categories where you may not have responded to your vaccine, likewise it’s probably prudent to continue to wear a mask. Anything you can do outdoors is going to be better than indoors and so that I think would be probably one of the best tips that I could give people.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks so much for that, Dr. Rupp. Before we take questions from our members, we want to address an important issue. We know that some of you are still having challenges getting access to the vaccine due to transportation or mobility issues. AARP wants to help. The AARP Vaccine Finders Support Team is available to try to connect you to community resources that can transport you to your vaccine appointment or come to your home. So if you’re listening today and can’t get vaccinated because of transportation or mobility issues, please press 1 to be added to a list to receive a phone call from an AARP staff member to assist you. Again, if you’re listening today and you cannot get a vaccine because of that, please press 1 to be added to a list to receive a call from an AARP staff member who will help with those transportation and mobility issues. When you hit 1, you’ll listen to a brief message and then be returned to this call.

Now it’s time to address more of your questions with Dr. Mark Rupp, Dave Uejio and Lee Baker. Please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member. Kevin who’s next in the queue?

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, our next caller is Ann from Alabama.

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

Ann: Yes, my question is my daughter was evicted from her apartment. She received the eviction notice and so she filed it, and she was 10 days late with her rent, and so she filed it in court. So the judge ruled that they would, she and the landlord would work it out when she would make the overdue payments. Of course, she had to pay the cost of court, too, which I think the total was $1,700, when she would start paying on her, on the back payment that she owed. So it was set to pay in July, so she paid it on July the 1st, but then, and around July the 16th, they came and evicted her out of the apartment. So she was evicted, and she filled out an application for a government apartment. And they told her because she had been evicted, that she could not receive, because she had been evicted in the last two years, that she couldn’t receive a government apartment. But she contacted another city and filled out an application. They didn’t have a government apartment available, but they told her once they get one, she could receive one and they wasn’t holding that eviction against her. She hasn’t had one before. She wasn’t in a government apartment, but she filed an application, filled out an application, too, if she could live in one until she could do better.

Bill Walsh: So, Ann, what’s the question you wanted to ask about that?

Ann: The question is, is that the law or what?

Bill Walsh: And what recourse—

Ann: That’s a law that you receive eviction, but you couldn’t get a government apartment. That’s what they was built for.

Bill Walsh: Right. Okay, well, let’s ask David Uejio from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about that situation. And, Dave, you had mentioned a toll-free number earlier for folks who are facing housing and rent issues. Perhaps you can mention that as well.

Dave Uejio: Yeah, you bet. And I’m very sorry to hear about this situation. I think, you know, frankly, we at the bureau have been very concerned about precisely this sort of situation. And so a couple of pieces of advice that might be helpful to the caller. You know, one, you know, your question as to whether this is all legal, I think is one that I also share in hearing your story. And so a few things: I think it would be helpful for you and your family to connect with a state-based local legal aide. I think in, you know, based on what I have heard across the country, anytime people are engaging the eviction system in court these days, particularly given that the CDC’s eviction moratorium should convey some modicum of protection based on the circumstances, particularly for non-payment of rent, you’re going to want to have a lawyer that’s available to defend your interests. So there’s a way that you can do that. You know, if you go to consumerfinance.gov/housing, there is a search tool available to find local legal aid services that I think would be very helpful for you to take advantage of. And then on the other side of the ledger, ’cause I heard you also say that you were experiencing challenges with government or publicly subsidized housing, a HUD-based housing counselor is really going to be able to help you navigate that situation. And so, again, the number to call there is 800-569-4287. And those individuals should be standing by to help you navigate the kind of local government-subsidized housing landscape in Alabama where you are. But again, certainly, my thoughts and empathy with this situation and hopefully those resources are of help to you.

Bill Walsh: Okay, very good. Thanks, Dave, and just for Ann, legal aid in Alabama is (256) 536-9645, (256) 536-9645. Kevin, let’s take another call.

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, our next caller is Robin from Illinois.

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

Robin: Hi, I can’t believe I got in, I’ve been trying for weeks.

Bill Walsh: Oh, welcome.

Robin: What I wanted to ask is about the strains, the different strains. I heard a lot about India, but I never heard what strain it was. And now I’ve heard that there’s another new strain, I don’t remember if it was South America or where it was. But I was wondering about how the vaccine is affected by that, or how it’s affected by the vaccine, and what the strain in India actually is, which one that was.

Bill Walsh: Okay, Dr. Rupp. I wonder if you could take Robin’s question and also talk about how the vaccines have been doing against the strains we’ve seen in this country.

Mark Rupp: Yeah, Robin, thank you for this really astute question. And so what I would first mention is that the development of viral variants is completely expected. So this virus undergoes mutational events over time, and it’s going to, it’s going to morph over time. And so these variants that have emerged that you’ve been hearing about, most people have heard of the U.K. variant, the 1.1.7 variant, or perhaps variants that are named after where they’re first described in Brazil or in South Africa, but we’ve also had some of these same variants arrive in the United States that have emerged from the U.S. There’s one that’s known from California, another one from New York. This most recent one that you’re referring to is from India, it’s known as a 1.617 variant. It also seems worrisome, much like some of these other variants, and appears to be more transmissible than the wild type of viral strain. Now the fortunate thing is that the vaccine appears to be highly protective against these variants that are emerging; maybe not quite as protective as the wild type, but it appears that it is protective enough to prevent some of the disease manifestations and the transmission. So that’s the really good news, and it’s just one more reason why everybody needs to get vaccinated to help prevent these variants from number one, emerging, and number two, from being transmitted from person to person in the United States.

So, again, a strong reason why everybody should get vaccinated. It’s also a strong reason why people should have a real world view of this pandemic. You know it’s great that here in the United States we have a wide availability of vaccination. That’s not true everywhere in the world, and so we need to be powerful voices for both altruistic reasons, so we need to protect people around the world because it’s the right thing to do, but it also helps protect us. And so it’s in our best interest to have a vaccine being distributed throughout the world. So thanks for that astute question. We’re going to continue to keep our eyes on these variants as they emerge. Luckily, to date, the vaccine continues to be highly protective against them.

Bill Walsh: Okay, very good Dr. Rupp. Kevin, who do we have next on the line?

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, our next caller is Desiree from New Jersey.

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

Desiree: Yes, hi, good afternoon. I am a retired widow, and I have a rental property that I’m using to help me to bring in income. And I’ve rented to a family who I know both husband and wife have been working during the pandemic, but they have not been paying their rent, and they’re in arrears by about $25,000, and I’m wondering what to do, how to proceed with this matter.

Bill Walsh: Okay, well, let’s ask our experts about that. Dave, maybe you can take it first, and Lee, if you have something to add, you can jump in as well.

Dave Uejio: Yeah, I’d be happy to. I’m really sorry to hear about this situation. You know, it’s clear to us that the pandemic has been difficult for consumers, but certainly for landlords like yourself and, you know, I think the best way to address this situation is to pursue rental assistance through your state because it’s really meant to help both landlords and renters. So if you check out consumerfinance.gov/housing, that’ll help you get connected to New Jersey’s rental assistance program. As I mentioned previously, Congress has set aside something like $50 billion to make sure that renters but, obviously, ultimately landlords like yourself are compensated for this nonpayment of rent during the pandemic. And so I would really encourage you to reach out to those resources first to help with your situation.

Bill Walsh: Okay. Lee, do you have any advice for landlords like Desiree?

Lee Baker: Candidly, it’s exactly the same thing that Dave said. You know, to lay all cards face up on the table. I’m a landlord myself and working with my property manager, that’s exactly what he did on my behalf. So the tenant was, in fact, laid off initially, then went back to work. But, you know, candidly, because of the moratorium, there are many people that simply just didn’t pay, even though they had some ability to pay. But our property manager has been working with the tenant and submitted the information to the appropriate agency here in, in Georgia. Now, things are moving slow, right, and so, I think the paperwork was initially submitted in February or perhaps March, and we’re still trying to fight through that process. But it is exactly that; go to the consumerfinance.gov and, you know, reach out to the appropriate agency there in New Jersey. Now I know here in Georgia, there was a window at the beginning where you had to at least apply in order to be eligible for the funds. So you also want to make sure you check to see if there’s any sort of window for getting an application in there in, in New Jersey.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks so much for that. Kevin, let’s do, let’s do another one.

Kevin Craiglow: Hey Bill, our last call comes from Anne from Illinois.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Anne, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question. Hey, Anne, go ahead with your question. We seem to have lost Anne.

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, we can go to another call. We have Carol from New York.

Bill Walsh: All right, Carol, go ahead.

Carol: Yes. Oh, yes, hi.

Bill Walsh: Hey, there. Go ahead with your question.

Carol: Oh, oh, okay. My question was about the workplace, and as a senior, before the pandemic, I worked with an agency. It was a health facility with young people from birth to age, I think, 21. And so now they’re asking if I want to come back to work. I’m fully vaccinated, but I’m told that some of the staff are not, are refusing vaccinations, and although all the staff are required to wear masks, the children in the facility are not, and they’re not required to be vaccinated. So I’m 70 years old, I’m concerned about going back into that environment given the fact that there are, you don’t know who’s vaccinated, who’s not, and if the young people are not wearing masks, although I’ve been fully vaccinated, I’m still concerned. And my question is just, can you speak about that in terms of the safety issue for seniors?

Bill Walsh: Sure, that’s a great question. Thank you, Carol. Dr. Rupp, can you give us a quick answer on that one?

Mark Rupp: Sure, Carol. Obviously it’s a pretty complex question and a lot to unpack there. You know, part of it depends upon your situation and how much you need to work. The other aspects of it that are more medically related are that if you’re otherwise healthy, even though you’re 70, if you’ve received the vaccination, you’re going to be very highly protected. And so it is very, very effective. You know, even if you do contract the illness, it’s likely that you would have a mild case, that you wouldn’t shed very much virus and spread it to other people in your household. And that it’s very likely that you would not get so sick that you ended up having to be hospitalized or lose your life. So, that’s somewhat reassuring. Obviously, I think workplaces need to continue to be, you know, careful and conscientious to protect everybody at the work site. They should be requiring people who are unvaccinated to wear a mask. They should continue to take some precautions as far as distancing and perhaps some things with regard to environmental cleanliness and then certainly, if they can improve their air-handling system, all those things are going to make it safer for everybody in the workplace. So I think that, again, if you’ve been fully vaccinated, you probably have a pretty high level of protection, if you’re otherwise healthy.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thank you, Dr. Rupp, and thank you to all of our experts. It’s been a really informative discussion. I want to thank each of you for answering our questions and thank you, our AARP members, our volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership 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, 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 founded at aarp.org/coronavirus beginning tomorrow, June 4th. 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 that can help keep you and your loved ones healthy. Please join us on June 17th at 1 p.m. Eastern time for another live event, answering your questions about the coronavirus. Until then, we look forward to hearing you then. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

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 telephone town hall in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. [Repeated in Spanish.] AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership 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.

[00:00:42] Across the country, the rate of vaccination’s improving, with over 85 percent of adults 65 and older having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The progress has prompted the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to relax mask-wearing mandates and social distancing requirements for those who are fully vaccinated. Yet, it has also stirred confusion about when it’s okay to go maskless and when it isn’t, what we can do safely and what we can’t. And even as concerns about the pandemic are beginning to ease, many older adults are still struggling financially. And as the housing market continues to heat up, millions more are working hard to stay in their homes. Today, we’ll hear from an impressive panel of experts about these issues and more.

[00:01:30] 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 keypad 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.

[00:02:02] Hello, if you’re just joining, I’m Bill Walsh with AARP, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion on the global coronavirus pandemic. We’re talking with leading experts and taking your questions live. To ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad, and if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments.

[00:02:24] We have some outstanding guests joining us today, including a health expert from Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and financial experts from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Apex Financial Services. We’ll also be joined by my AARP colleague Kevin Craiglow, 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. Again, to ask your question, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member, or if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, place your question in the comments.

[00:03:12] Now I’d like to welcome our guests. Mark Rupp, M.D., is professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Welcome back to the program, Dr. Rupp.

[00:03:27]Mark Rupp:  Yes, I’m glad to be with you. Thanks, Bill.

[00:03:30]Bill Walsh:  All right, we’re glad to have you. Next up is Dave Uejio, acting director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Welcome, Dave.

[00:03:39]Dave Uejio:  Great, thanks so much. I’m excited to join you.

[00:03:41]Bill Walsh:  Okay. And finally, Lee Baker is the owner and president of Apex Financial Services. Welcome back, Lee.

[00:03:49]Lee Baker:  Hey, happy to be back with you today, Bill.

[00:03:51]Bill Walsh:  All right. Happy to have you. Let’s go ahead and get started with the discussion and just a reminder, to ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad or drop it in the comments section on Facebook or YouTube. Dr. Rupp, let’s start with you. There’s still some confusion about wearing masks and the CDC guidance. Are there situations where a mask is necessary?

[00:04:15]Mark Rupp:  Well, you know, there is still some circumstances where masks are necessary, but I think the really good news is that the relaxation of the masking and distancing requirements for people who are vaccinated are really a reflection of the tremendous effectiveness of vaccination. And so, you know as you said in the lead-in to the story, 85 percent of folks over 65 have been fully vaccinated. Those folks should feel pretty secure in not wearing their masks in most situations. You know, there, there is no change in the regulations for people who are unvaccinated, and I think that that’s an important thing to really continue to emphasize. If folks haven’t been vaccinated, they need to continue to wear a mask, they need to continue to do what we call the non-pharmacologic interventions and keep their distancing. But for vaccinated folks, most of them can go back to pre-pandemic activities.

[00:05:11] The only exceptions would be public transportation— so if you’re going to get on an airplane or a bus or a train, you’ll probably be asked to put on a mask— and then you have to obey any other sort of local rules and regulations. So businesses can still require people to wear masks, certain localities continue to have a mask mandate. And then, I think there’s some personal situations where you might want to continue to wear a mask as well. So if you’re immunosuppressed, you’re on immunosuppressive drugs, you’ve had an organ transplant, you’re getting cancer chemotherapy, the vaccine may not have worked as well as if you had a robust immune system. And so in order to protect yourself, you may want to continue to go ahead and wear a mask.

[00:05:52]Bill Walsh:  Okay, and now for fully vaccinated people, I know that some are apprehensive about not wearing a mask in public or to recreational activities. What’s your advice about that?

[00:06:05]Mark Rupp:  Well, I think it depends, you know, if you’re going in with a group of people that you’re confident that everybody has been vaccinated, I think you should feel very, very safe in, in not wearing a mask. On the other hand, if you’re in mixed company where there are some folks who have been unvaccinated, you know, as long as they’re wearing a mask, you’re probably pretty safe to not to wear a mask. But if you, if you feel uncomfortable, you know, it’s going to take some time yet for the rates to hopefully continue to go down, and if you’re feeling uncomfortable, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So if you want to wear a mask, I don’t think anybody is going to indict you for that nowadays. And hopefully the rates will continue to come down to the point that all of us will feel very safe and very confident in taking our masks down and, you know, start to enjoy people’s presence in a face-to-face manner.

[00:06:56]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thanks for that. Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about the vaccine efficacy. The rates seemed quite high when they were first authorized by the FDA. What can we say about, now that we’ve had the vaccines in market so long, what can we say about vaccine efficacy, and what do you think about the need for a booster shot later on this year?

[00:07:21]Mark Rupp:  Yeah, well, Bill, now that we’re in baseball season, it’s appropriate to use baseball analogy. I mean this, the vaccines are really a home run. They are tremendously effective, and they are very safe, and people should feel, you know, very, very good about going in and getting their vaccine and getting protection. And so, in the studies that were done, as you alluded to, large phase 3 trials, rigorously performed, tens of thousands of persons involved, the efficacy was 90, 95 percent or higher. Now that’s in a study situation. So the question has been asked, you know, how are they going to perform in the real world? And we have been very, very gratified to see how well they work when they’ve been used now in, in hundreds of millions of doses given. They are tremendously effective in real-world settings. And so what I mean by that is, you know, when you look at groups, in communities, in health care facilities, in fact, in whole countries — Israel, Denmark, Sweden, the United States— the rates really plummet as the rate of vaccination goes up. They are tremendously effective and maintain that effectiveness in all settings really where they’ve been looked at.

[00:08:33] You know, we continue to have some questions around the vaccine. You already alluded to one of those questions, when and if are we going to need a booster dose? Nobody really knows the answer to that question. You know, the longer we go, the better these vaccines look. And so we’re out now six to eight months and the protection levels look like they are very well preserved. I’m hopeful that the need for a booster is going to be measured in years rather than months. But you know, that’s pretty conjectural on my part.

[00:09:07] We continue to have some questions around variants. And so even though we’re doing well in the United States, other parts of the world are not doing so well. And so it is possible that a vaccine escape mutant could emerge, a variant could emerge and, you know, could set us back, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that that doesn’t happen. To date, the vaccine looks very effective against the variants where it’s been tested.

[00:09:32] As I already mentioned earlier, you know, we do have some questions around the vaccine efficacy in immunosuppressed patients. And so if you have persons in the audience today that fit that category, we just don’t know how well the vaccine is going to work in that group. And so those folks should probably continue to wear masks and be careful until we really get herd immunity established. So, the bottom line is, after hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine have been given, very, very effective and also, reassuringly, I would tell people that they’re very safe. We know what this side-effect profile looks like, and I don’t think we’re going to have any, you know, mysteries coming out of this at this point.

[00:10:14]Bill Walsh:  Okay, Dr. Rupp, thanks so much for that. Dave, let’s shift to you. We know the pandemic has had a negative impact on people’s finances, particularly in the area of housing. Can you tell us how bad the situation is?

[00:10:28]Dave Uejio:  Sure, and I think it’s a particularly excellent question given that it looks like we are turning the corner on the public health emergency, as Dr. Rupp just mentioned. You know, I think for borrowers and homeowners, renters, this is a particularly critical time from the perspective of those of us in consumer financial protection. You know, so just to give you a sense of the magnitude, more borrowers are behind on their mortgage today than at any time since the height of the Great Recession. In addition, an estimated 10.7 million adults living in rental housing, which is about 15 percent of adult renters, are not caught up on their rent. Now notably, communities of color have been hit hard by the pandemic, and the latest data say that many borrowers are still hurting from the effects. So it seems to me that safe, affordable and stable housing are really the foundation for people’s well-being, you know, their financial well-being and otherwise. When people lose their homes, their lives and their health and their finances are all disrupted. So from our perspective at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we’re really going to continue to seek to actively respond to developments in the marketplace and do everything in our power to help families stay in their homes post-pandemic, you know, as we keep an eye towards what is hopefully an equitable recovery.

[00:11:54] And with respect to your specific audience, it’s worth noting that the challenges are particularly pronounced in some ways for Americans who are 55 years and older. Eighteen percent of renters who recently reported that they will likely be evicted in the next two months were 55 and older. One in 3 homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments — it’s about 2.1 million adults — were 55 and older. And 42 percent of homeowners that reported that it was likely they will leave their homes due to foreclosure in the next two months, are 55 and older.

[00:12:30] So I think for us, you know, we are obviously carefully considering and I will say, quite concerned about the way in which the precarious situation people find themselves in might play out absent some really concerted interventions. And there’s been a number of things we’ve done at CFPB to try and safeguard against that. You know, the good news is that I think to date both the public and private sector have admirably responded to keep people in their homes during the pandemic. But, you know, as I think is worth noting, some of these legal protections are set to expire this month, whether that is the CDC’s eviction moratorium or the existing governmental, government-wide moratorium on foreclosures, and so we’re carefully monitoring that as a source of potential risk. So really, it’s a thing to be vigilant about if you’re a homeowner or a renter alike right now, but it’s also worth noting that there’s a lot of opportunities out there to safeguard your financial well-being [inaudible] .

[00:13:35]Bill Walsh:  Right. Thanks for that, Dave. And we’re going to be talking about those issues later on in the program. Lee, let me shift to you. Some of the lowest wage earners have struggled in the pandemic and there’s a widening wealth gap, especially among Blacks and Latinos. For someone who’s still trying to sort it all out and stay afloat, what are their options? Are there additional programs through the American Rescue Plan Act that people can take advantage of?

[00:14:02]Lee Baker:  Yeah, so, yeah, that’s an excellent question, you know, and I had a conversation a while back online with someone, and they asked whether or not I thought that the pandemic had changed the job picture in, the working picture in the U.S. And I think more accurately, it exposed the landscape as it relates to jobs here in this country. You know, Blacks, Latinos, women were more hurt economically as a result of the pandemic. And, you know, this segues nicely from what Dave was talking about; one of the major underpinnings of wealth in America has been homeownership. And so when you have a segment of the population that is hurt more significantly then, yeah, by definition, that’s going to cause the wealth gap to widen for those members of those communities.

[00:15:01] Now, that being said, you know, if you’re, you’re saying, Hey, listen, I’m trying to sort this all out and stay afloat. What can I do, what resources are available? You know, everybody’s heard, you know, about the belt tightening and those sorts of things, and that’s important and you’ve got to do it. But when we talk about the American Rescue Plan Act, you know, the first thing that comes to mind for everybody is again, by definition, the economic impact payments. More frequently people talk about getting their stimulus checks, and that’s the big thing that most people are interested in, but that act also had large chunks of money available to state and local entities to help with things along the lines of, you know, homeowner assistance fund, rental funds.

[00:15:49] And so what I would say for the people on the line with us today, one big thing that if you’ve not tried to take advantage of yet, is to look wherever you are, the county or local level, and find out, hey, listen, what entity is it that received those funds that was a part of this act that’s intended to help those people from a housing perspective. Because again, as Dave mentioned, the CDC moratorium expires at the end of this month, and people are clearly concerned about being evicted. So look into those resources again, that are a part of the American Rescue Plan, but also most importantly, just be proactive about your situation. We’ve all been in this pandemic together. Now we’ve been affected differently, but everybody gets it. There’s no shame in picking up the phone and calling your landlord, calling the mortgage company, explaining where you are candidly. You know, from what we’ve experienced and heard and in talking to people, you don’t really even need to explain. Everybody knows what’s going on. And so, you just have to pick up the phone and call to get that assistance.

[00:17:03]Bill Walsh:  Yeah. Great advice: Be your own advocate. Let me, let me follow up on that, Lee. You mentioned the stimulus payments. What do people need to know about the most recent round of stimulus, and where are we in issuing the payments for this third round?

[00:17:19]Lee Baker:  Yeah. So for most people, as it relates to the stimulus payments, you really don’t have to do anything, right? So, the government is using, you know, the tax records. So if you filed your tax return of late, you really don’t need to do anything. If you have typically gotten a refund, a lot of those people, those disbursements have hit their accounts already. And so that money has already started going out.

[00:17:46] Now there are some changes included in the act — and this is more specific to people that have children — things like the child tax credit, the amounts have been changed. And one thing that’s a little different this time around that has been the case in the past, is specifically again, as it relates to the child tax credit, is that instead of this coming sort of in the form of a rebate for 2021, you’re actually going to be getting some of that between July 1 of this year and December 31 of this year. So again, if you’ve got someone, a child that’s 17 years and younger — and that’s been a change because it previously had been 16 — that’s an additional thing to keep an eye open for. And also the fact that, you know, for 2021 instead of looking in the rearview mirror and waiting until next year when it’s time to file taxes, as it relates to the child tax credit, you will be able to see some of that benefit in the second half of this year.

[00:18:52]Bill Walsh:  Okay, all right, thank you. Let’s go to another one of our experts. And as a reminder, to ask your question, please press *3. We’re going to get to your live questions soon, but before we do, I want to bring in Megan O’Reilly. Megan is the vice president for health and family advocacy at AARP. Welcome, Megan.

[00:19:16] Megan O’Reilly: It’s really good to be with you, Bill.

[00:19:19] All right. Megan, today we’re talking about COVID-19’s impact on our finances and housing, in particular. What has AARP been fighting for on this front?

[00:19:30] Megan O’Reilly: You know, we know the pandemic has really hit older adults hard. We’ve been really pleased that recent efforts have made strides to address that economic fallout. First of all, the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act, some of which we’ve talked about already today, included several AARP priorities. This included delivering payments to millions of older adults and expanding paid-leave tax credits, and the child tax credit as well. Second, we’re pleased that the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] recently took steps through the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, known as EBB, to help make high-speed internet more affordable for Americans who are struggling to afford it during the pandemic. COVID-19 has shown us that access to high-speed internet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity, and people without it are being left behind when it comes to their health care, work, connecting with family and friends, and education. AARP is encouraging all eligible Americans to enroll in this program. For resources and more information about EBB visit aarp.org/ebb, or you can call 1-833-511-0311.

[00:20:43] Finally, this past year has put a very bright spotlight on the financial challenges that millions of family caregivers are facing every day. On average, family caregivers spend close to $700,000 a year on care-related expenses, which can be a significant percentage of their annual income. In response to that, we are very pleased to report that last week the Credit for Caring Act was introduced in both houses of Congress. This bipartisan bill would create a tax credit for eligible family caregivers that can help offset some of these expenses. We know that this legislation would make a meaningful difference for millions of family caregivers, and AARP will be fighting to get this bill through Congress.

[00:21:25] Okay, Megan, thanks for the update. The pandemic continues to have an impact on our health of course. Where is AARP focusing moving forward?

[00:21:34] Megan O’Reilly: You know, since the start of this pandemic, AARP has been fighting for big investments in research around treatments and vaccines for the virus, and once the vaccines were available, we worked hard with the Trump administration and the Biden administration, and in every single state to make sure older people are a priority. We’ve also published online guides for every state to explain how to get the vaccine where you live. You can find those guides at aarp.org/vaccineinfo. And we made sure that the American Rescue Plan included provisions critical to our members like supporting the expansion of COVID vaccine efforts, providing an expansion of subsidies that will make coverage more affordable under the Affordable Care Act, improving infection control in nursing homes, and much more.

[00:22:24] Because of our work, governments are prioritizing long-term care facilities and older Americans and, as we talked about earlier in the program, more than 86 percent of people 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. There is still a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine can access it. AARP State Offices across the country are hard at work to reach older adults, especially in communities where access to the vaccine has been an issue. And our teams are continuing to advocate on your behalf by working with governors and state legislators to allocate funding provided to states in ways that continue to address the needs of the 50-plus. Congress is also working on an infrastructure plan, and AARP will continue to fight for older adults by pushing for continued access to vaccines and taking action to lower the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs that continue to cripple family budgets. To stay up to date on all of these efforts, please visit aarp.org/coronavirus.

[00:23:30] Okay, thanks so much for joining us, Megan. We appreciate the update. Now it’s time to address your questions about the coronavirus with Dr. Mark Rupp, Dave Uejio, Lee Baker. Please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member to share your question. And if you’d like to listen in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. [Repeated in Spanish.] I’d now like to bring in my AARP colleague Kevin Craiglow to help facilitate your calls. Welcome, Kevin.

[00:24:09]Kevin Craiglow:  Thanks, Bill. Happy to be here for this important conversation.

[00:24:12]Bill Walsh:  All right, who do we have first on the line?

[00:24:16]Kevin Craiglow:  Our first caller is Ara from Georgia.

[00:24:20]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Ara, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:24:24]Ara:  Well, excuse me. I’m 81, and my son is 66, and he has a home health aide that comes to see him, and she says she will not take the vaccine. And I had, I tell her to wear a mask, but she will put it on while I’m there, but then I go in there, she doesn’t have on a mask, and I want to know is, my son and I have had both our shots, and I would like to know if she keeps coming around without, you know, and not wearing a mask, if she come around period, are we in danger of getting the virus?

[00:25:35]Bill Walsh:  Right, no, I understand the concern. Let’s ask Dr. Rupp about that. Dr. Rupp what can Ara do?

[00:25:41]Mark Rupp:  Ara, thank you very much for your question and the situation that you’re in. And unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult. It’s really unfortunate that the home health aide that’s coming out to your home is not fully vaccinated. And I think you’re very wise to relate that if that person’s not fully vaccinated, that they should be wearing a mask when they come into your home. And I would suggest that you give the agency a call where that home health aide is staffing from and relate that, you know, you’re pretty upset that they’re not vaccinated. I think you would be well within your rights to request somebody who is vaccinated and, at the very least, that they should comply with your request to wear a mask when they’re in your home. Now having said that, because you and your son are both fully vaccinated, you do have a pretty good level of protection, but no vaccine is 100 percent effective, and there is going to continue to be some risk involved when unvaccinated persons come into your home.

[00:26:44]Bill Walsh:  Okay, Dr. Rupp, thanks so much for that advice. Kevin, who is our next caller?

[00:26:50]Kevin Craiglow:  Bill, our next caller is Carmen from New York.

[00:26:54]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Carmen, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:26:58]Carmen:  Yes, in 2020, the government suspended the minimum withdrawal for us retirees who were over 70½, but in 2021, they didn’t suspend it. And I’m just wondering why they didn’t continue it.

[00:27:14]Bill Walsh:  Lee Baker, I wonder if you could take a stab at that, and Dave, if you want to weigh in, go ahead as well.

[00:27:21]Lee Baker:  Yeah, sure, I’ll take a stab at it. You know, I like trying to read the minds of our elected representatives but, you know, some of the rationale in their arguments about the wisdom of having done that is simply the fact that you had a situation where, you know, it was all hands on deck and sort of, OMG, what do we want to do, let’s make things as, let’s make things as consumer-friendly as possible. Now here’s the cynical side of a financial adviser coming along. Those required minimum distributions are a way for the government to generate revenue. So as those dollars come out of our retirement accounts, for the vast majority those dollars are taxable revenue. And so for multiple reasons last year, 2020, the government had a revenue hit, and we’re in 2021. Now it’s time to get the revenue coming back into the Treasury.

[00:28:31]Bill Walsh:  Okay.

[00:28:33]Lee Baker:  And an aside, also the RMD, the age was changed. So forever it had been 70½, it’s now 72. So just keep that in mind.

[00:28:44]Bill Walsh:  Okay, Lee, thanks so much. Kevin, let’s take another call.

[00:28:49]Kevin Craiglow:  Bill, our next question is an online question from Silvetta, who asks us, “I would like to hear how to manage my finances, and how one can get access to rent through the government rent relief package?”

[00:29:03]Bill Walsh:  Hmm, that’s a good question. Dave, can you handle that one?

[00:29:07]Dave Uejio:  More than happy to take a stab at that. So, you know, I think it’s, again, an unusual time given that in some respects there are programs in place where people may not be paying and for very good reasons. You know, if you are a homeowner, you may be benefiting from a moratorium on foreclosures. If you have a student loan debt, there’s been a virtual moratorium on student lending. And I think that that’s, you know, entirely defensible and appropriate and was a good thing. But we are entering a period now where some of those things might change. So I think it’s a really timely question from the audience. [Inaudible.] Let’s start with the rent relief question. So, as the questioner has noted, there is tremendous money available through the Treasury for rental assistance. And one great place you can go to get information about that is consumerfinance.gov/housing. This is particularly useful because each of the states is distributing this money in a different way. And the money was designed, you know, and allocated by Congress to be spent out by the states. And so depending on where you live, the way you access those funds will differ. But if you want to start it with our housing portal, and that’s the government-wide housing portal, that will give you information specifically about how to access those funds.

[00:30:34] Now, in addition to that, and as Lee had mentioned earlier, there are both potentially additional sources of funding coming in, and as I was referring to, some additional expenses that might restart. So I would really encourage your audience that if you have any questions specific to housing, you can go to our housing hub, you can get connected to a HUD-certified housing counselor who can really help you manage your own balance sheet and answer some of these questions based on where you live. We also have a lot of great resources more broadly about managing your finances in light of the pandemic at consumerfinance.gov. So I would really encourage the audience to peruse those resources as they think about how to manage both the restarting of new expenses, as well as the possibility of new income coming in as a result of some of this legislation.

[00:31:27]Bill Walsh:  Okay, consumerfinance.gov. All right, thank you very much, Dave. Appreciate it. Kevin, let’s go back to the lines.

[00:31:36]Kevin Craiglow:  Our next caller is Lynn from Oklahoma.

[00:31:39]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Lynn, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:31:44]Lynn:  Yes, I am fully vaccinated, but I have a compromised immune system, and I’ve read that people like me would have a reduced immune response to the vaccine. And I wanted to know what that meant and how safe I am in crowds or, like, on a cruise ship.

[00:32:05]Bill Walsh:  Okay, Lynn, thanks very much. Dr. Rupp, can you help Lynn?

[00:32:09]Mark Rupp:  Yeah, Lynn, that is a great question, and it’s one of those things that we still don’t have fully answered. We do know that there are groups of persons who are immunosuppressed who have been fully vaccinated that don’t respond in as robust a manner as people with intact immune systems. And I’ve seen some data, for instance, in organ transplant patients where, you know, maybe only a third of those patients develop protective levels of antibody response in response to the vaccine. So depending upon the reason why you’re immunosuppressed, whether it be from medications or cancer chemotherapy, or organ transplantation, you know, you may have a variable response to the vaccine. I think the safest thing for you right now if you have those concerns, is to go ahead and continue to be cautious and prudent and careful; wear a mask when you’re out in public, try to avoid those risky situations that would primarily be indoor, shared airspaces. And then, you know, hopefully everybody in society will do the right thing and get vaccinated. And if we all did our part, if we all rolled up our sleeves and received the vaccine, then we would have a protective level of herd immunity for folks like yourself who may not respond to the vaccine. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m urging everybody on the call to get vaccinated, to urge your family members to get vaccinated, to do the right thing to protect yourselves, to protect your family and to protect people like Lynn who may not respond to the vaccine. Thank you.

[00:33:51]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thank you, Dr. Rupp, appreciate that, and thanks to all our experts. And thank you all, for all your questions. We’re going to take more of your questions shortly. Remember, if you’d like to ask a question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad, and if you’d like to listen in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. [Repeated in Spanish.]

[00:34:18] Now it’s time to turn back to our experts. Dave, how do the structural inequities contribute to the problems we’re facing? What additional steps can be taken to support Black and Latino households?

[00:34:32]Dave Uejio:  This is such a timely and important question. You know, many Black and Hispanic communities had not even fully recovered from the last financial crisis when the pandemic hit. And those same communities are, once again, bearing a disproportionate financial and health burden during the pandemic through really no fault of their own. And just to size that out for you a little bit, you know, in a recent Census survey, renters of color, minority renters, were more likely to report that their household was not caught up on rent. You know, and so I think it’s pretty clear that there is a very clear perpetuation of structural inequities at play here that again is falling disproportionally on, in many cases, Black and Hispanic households, who are also sort of simultaneously the same households where our essential workers have come, folks who have had less choice about being on the frontline, and have, as a result, been more exposed to the virus.

[00:35:29] So, you know, we at the bureau have really thought about how to center the experience of those consumers as we’re addressing some of these challenges. So whether that’s thinking about how to assist and ensure that people are not being illegally evicted or whether it is the bureau’s work to both develop strong protections against foreclosure as well as resources that are in the correct terminology but also in the right languages, I think for communities that have been traditionally marginalized, we have really taken to heart this need to focus aggressively in protecting and reaching those individuals who are most at risk given longstanding historical inequities.

[00:36:16]Bill Walsh:  Well let’s get some practical advice out there for people who are on the line. What programs and services are available for homeowners and renters? Let’s say somebody needs help, like mortgage forbearance, rental assistance, or help with past-due utilities, whom did they contact?

[00:36:35]Dave Uejio:  Yeah, no, I mean, and this really, I think echoes the point that Lee made. Certainly, I would encourage all of those individuals, if you need any help at all with housing, to go to consumerfinance.gov/housing, that’s the government-wide housing portal, and that applies if you are a homeowner who is encountering challenges with forbearance, or if you are a renter who is encountering challenges with potential eviction. We also have resources there that will connect you to the rental assistance programs through the Treasury that I mentioned earlier. Now, in addition to that, if you need an additional layer of help, two things I would advise: One, you are absolutely entitled to, and I certainly encourage you to work to find a HUD-certified housing counselor. You can call [800] 569-4287 to do that, or just visit consumerfinance.gov/housing, and if you feel like at all uncomfortable, if you feel like you’re encountering challenges, your servicer might not be responding or your landlord might be telling you something that conflicts with what you have read, please feel free to come to consumerfinance.gov and file a complaint. You can just go straight to the main website; we read them all and we act upon them generally within 15 days. So we’re certainly on your side. I know this can be a confusing time for folks, but we are here to help.

[00:37:59]Bill Walsh:  Okay, and just give us that phone number again in case folks didn’t catch it.

[00:38:03]Dave Uejio:  You bet. The number to get a housing counselor is 1-800-569-4287, and all that information is available at consumerfinance.gov/housing.

[00:38:18]Bill Walsh:  Great, thanks so much, Dave. Lee, let’s turn back to you. The pandemic has changed spending habits for many Americans. Which new habits should we be keeping as we resume our activities?

[00:38:31]Lee Baker:  Yeah, so here’s a few of the habits that I’ve seen that have changed and I think will change and will remain changed. For a lot of people, that’s driving habits. You know, we went in many areas around the country from getting in our cars, driving in every day, to either, you know, 100 percent working remotely to kind of a hybrid. And as I hear from more and more entities, you know, large and small, I think we’re going to remain in sort of a hybrid mode. Well, what that means for many of us is that we’re not spending as much money as we had been on fuel. You know, literally, and I’ll say this for my own home, you know, the pandemic has resulted in hundreds of dollars per month in fuel savings, just because of not commuting every day, and then some of the riding around we did on the weekend. So to the extent that you have the type of job that is going to allow for remote or some sort of hybrid work, that’s one thing that should remain in place, and can be a source of savings as we talk about habits.

[00:39:45] Some people have changed the way they shop for groceries. There’s no reason to give that up, if you’ve found some ways to save monies during the pandemic. Another thing, candidly, many people have found the benefit of entertaining themselves for free and remote. Now, I’m not suggesting that by any stretch of the imagination you remain remote forever, but there are some things that we learned to do that are good moves going forward. You know, anywhere from virtual tours of different places around the world, and just learning to spend time with each other, taking walks in the park. You know, a lot of those habits which candidly have contributed to health. My wife and I, you know, in the throes of the pandemic since we weren’t getting up and commuting going to work anymore, literally we got up every morning, went walking, would walk over to the lake in the neighborhood, go around the lake a few times and, you know, get some sunshine and see all the critters in the neighborhood. So a lot of habits along those lines I think are the kinds of things that we should carry out into the future.

[00:40:57]Bill Walsh:  Well, let’s get practical. What resources do you recommend to develop a plan of action, if people have debt or dealing with unplanned expenses?

[00:41:06]Lee Baker:  Yeah, so as far as that’s concerned, AARP has always been a good resource for those kinds of things. And if you’re looking for tools on how to manage your debt, go in to aarp.org and look for those things. If it’s debt, unplanned expenses, there’s ways to do that. Now, if you are one of the people that, if you’re in a situation where you’re getting a stimulus payment or an economic impact payment and it is something that you do not have to use in order to keep a roof over your head or keep the lights on, be smart about that money. You know, if you did not have an emergency fund or a rainy-day fund or cash on hand, however you want to refer to it, utilize those resources to do that. If you’re one of the people that, you know, again, you didn’t have any emergency fund in order to be able to handle unplanned-for expenses, that money that you save from not having to put gas in your car every week to go back and forth to work, save some of that, so that the next time something happens, and you do have an unexplained, excuse me, unplanned-for expense, you’ll have a little cash on hand to take care of that.

[00:42:22]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thanks so much for that, Lee. And one of the AARP resources he may have been thinking about is our Money Map program to help people deal with debt. You can access that at moneymap.aarp.org. Thanks so much, Lee.

[00:42:42] Dr. Rupp, very quickly, you know family gatherings and travel remain two of the most popular questions that we get on this program. What are your recommendations for family events? You know, assuming not everyone is vaccinated, how adventurous can we be when it comes to travel?

[00:42:59]Mark Rupp:  Yeah, Bill, thanks for that question. You know, I think it’s also appropriate before we get into that, for people just to reflect how far we’ve come. And if you think back last year at this time, we were just getting ready to ride that second hump of the pandemic. And then after that, a third hump, and just think how far we’ve come in the last year. We’re at a point now where we really can start now to think about how we can safely have family gatherings and how to travel. I think if you’re fully vaccinated, you know, traveling pretty widely domestically is, is safe. You will be asked to be, to wear a mask when you’re on public transport. Also you can take your private vehicle and travel very safely throughout the United States. I think this is a great time of the year when many, many people are starting to think about holiday gatherings, family reunions, how to do that safely. Where people are vaccinated, obviously that’s going to be a very, very safe. Where you have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated persons, if you can have that activity outdoors, it’s obviously going to become a much safer event. I think it’s okay to ask people who are unvaccinated to continue to wear a mask. And as we’ve already talked about on the program, if you fit into one of those categories where you may not have responded to your vaccine, likewise it’s probably prudent to continue to wear a mask. Anything you can do outdoors is going to be better than indoors and so that I think would be probably one of the best tips that I could give people.

[00:44:25]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thanks so much for that, Dr. Rupp. Before we take questions from our members, we want to address an important issue. We know that some of you are still having challenges getting access to the vaccine due to transportation or mobility issues. AARP wants to help. The AARP Vaccine Finders Support Team is available to try to connect you to community resources that can transport you to your vaccine appointment or come to your home. So if you’re listening today and can’t get vaccinated because of transportation or mobility issues, please press 1 to be added to a list to receive a phone call from an AARP staff member to assist you. Again, if you’re listening today and you cannot get a vaccine because of that, please press 1 to be added to a list to receive a call from an AARP staff member who will help with those transportation and mobility issues. When you hit 1, you’ll listen to a brief message and then be returned to this call.

[00:45:28] Now it’s time to address more of your questions with Dr. Mark Rupp, Dave Uejio and Lee Baker. Please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member. Kevin who’s next in the queue?

[00:45:45]Kevin Craiglow:  Bill, our next caller is Ann from Alabama.

[00:45:48]Bill Walsh:  Hey Ann. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:45:52]Ann:  Yes, my question is my daughter was evicted from her apartment. She received the eviction notice and so she filed it, and she was 10 days late with her rent, and so she filed it in court. So the judge ruled that they would, she and the landlord would work it out when she would make the overdue payments. Of course, she had to pay the cost of court, too, which I think the total was $1,700, when she would start paying on her, on the back payment that she owed. So it was set to pay in July, so she paid it on July the 1st, but then, and around July the 16th, they came and evicted her out of the apartment. So she was evicted, and she filled out an application for a government apartment. And they told her because she had been evicted, that she could not receive, because she had been evicted in the last two years, that she couldn’t receive a government apartment. But she contacted another city and filled out an application. They didn’t have a government apartment available, but they told her once they get one, she could receive one and they wasn’t holding that eviction against her. She hasn’t had one before. She wasn’t in a government apartment, but she filed an application, filled out an application, too, if she could live in one until she could do better.

[00:47:33]Bill Walsh:  So, Ann, what’s the question you wanted to ask about that?

[00:47:37]Ann:  The question is, is that the law or what?

[00:47:43]Bill Walsh:  And what recourse—

[00:47:44]Ann:  That’s a law that you receive eviction, but you couldn’t get a government apartment. That’s what they was built for.

[00:47:51]Bill Walsh:  Right. Okay, well, let’s ask David Uejio from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about that situation. And, Dave, you had mentioned a toll-free number earlier for folks who are facing housing and rent issues. Perhaps you can mention that as well.

[00:48:06]Dave Uejio:  Yeah, you bet. And I’m very sorry to hear about this situation. I think, you know, frankly, we at the bureau have been very concerned about precisely this sort of situation. And so a couple of pieces of advice that might be helpful to the caller. You know, one, you know, your question as to whether this is all legal, I think is one that I also share in hearing your story. And so a few things: I think it would be helpful for you and your family to connect with a state-based local legal aide. I think in, you know, based on what I have heard across the country, anytime people are engaging the eviction system in court these days, particularly given that the CDC’s eviction moratorium should convey some modicum of protection based on the circumstances, particularly for non-payment of rent, you’re going to want to have a lawyer that’s available to defend your interests. So there’s a way that you can do that. You know, if you go to consumerfinance.gov/housing, there is a search tool available to find local legal aid services that I think would be very helpful for you to take advantage of. And then on the other side of the ledger, ’cause I heard you also say that you were experiencing challenges with government or publicly subsidized housing, a HUD-based housing counselor is really going to be able to help you navigate that situation. And so, again, the number to call there is 800-569-4287. And those individuals should be standing by to help you navigate the kind of local government-subsidized housing landscape in Alabama where you are. But again, certainly, my thoughts and empathy with this situation and hopefully those resources are of help to you.

[00:50:05]Bill Walsh:  Okay, very good. Thanks, Dave, and just for Ann, legal aid in Alabama is [256] 536-9645, [256] 536-9645. Kevin, let’s take another call.

[00:50:25]Kevin Craiglow:  Bill, our next caller is Robin from Illinois.

[00:50:29]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Robin. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:50:32]Robin:  Hi, I can’t believe I got in, I’ve been trying for weeks.

[00:50:36]Bill Walsh:  Oh, welcome.

[00:50:37]Robin:  What I wanted to ask is about the strains, the different strains. I heard a lot about India, but I never heard what strain it was. And now I’ve heard that there’s another new strain, I don’t remember if it was South America or where it was. But I was wondering about how the vaccine is affected by that, or how it’s affected by the vaccine, and what the strain in India actually is, which one that was.

[00:51:10]Bill Walsh:  Okay, Dr. Rupp. I wonder if you could take Robin’s question and also talk about how the vaccines have been doing against the strains we’ve seen in this country.

[00:51:19]Mark Rupp:  Yeah, Robin, thank you for this really astute question. And so what I would first mention is that the development of viral variants is completely expected. So this virus undergoes mutational events over time, and it’s going to, it’s going to morph over time. And so these variants that have emerged that you’ve been hearing about, most people have heard of the U.K. variant, the 1.1.7 variant, or perhaps variants that are named after where they’re first described in Brazil or in South Africa, but we’ve also had some of these same variants arrive in the United States that have emerged from the U.S. There’s one that’s known from California, another one from New York. This most recent one that you’re referring to is from India, it’s known as a 1.617 variant. It also seems worrisome, much like some of these other variants, and appears to be more transmissible than the wild type of viral strain. Now the fortunate thing is that the vaccine appears to be highly protective against these variants that are emerging; maybe not quite as protective as the wild type, but it appears that it is protective enough to prevent some of the disease manifestations and the transmission. So that’s the really good news, and it’s just one more reason why everybody needs to get vaccinated to help prevent these variants from number one, emerging, and number two, from being transmitted from person to person in the United States.

[00:52:59] So, again, a strong reason why everybody should get vaccinated. It’s also a strong reason why people should have a real world view of this pandemic. You know it’s great that here in the United States we have a wide availability of vaccination. That’s not true everywhere in the world, and so we need to be powerful voices for both altruistic reasons, so we need to protect people around the world because it’s the right thing to do, but it also helps protect us. And so it’s in our best interest to have a vaccine being distributed throughout the world. So thanks for that astute question. We’re going to continue to keep our eyes on these variants as they emerge. Luckily, to date, the vaccine continues to be highly protective against them.

[00:53:42]Bill Walsh:  Okay, very good Dr. Rupp. Kevin, who do we have next on the line?

[00:53:49]Kevin Craiglow:  Bill, our next caller is Desiree from New Jersey.

[00:53:53]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Desiree, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:53:57]Desiree:  Yes, hi, good afternoon. I am a retired widow, and I have a rental property that I’m using to help me to bring in income. And I’ve rented to a family who I know both husband and wife have been working during the pandemic, but they have not been paying their rent, and they’re in arrears by about $25,000, and I’m wondering what to do, how to proceed with this matter.

[00:54:29]Bill Walsh:  Okay, well, let’s ask our experts about that. Dave, maybe you can take it first, and Lee, if you have something to add, you can jump in as well.

[00:54:37]Dave Uejio:  Yeah, I’d be happy to. I’m really sorry to hear about this situation. You know, it’s clear to us that the pandemic has been difficult for consumers, but certainly for landlords like yourself and, you know, I think the best way to address this situation is to pursue rental assistance through your state because it’s really meant to help both landlords and renters. So if you check out consumerfinance.gov/housing, that’ll help you get connected to New Jersey’s rental assistance program. As I mentioned previously, Congress has set aside something like $50 billion to make sure that renters but, obviously, ultimately landlords like yourself are compensated for this nonpayment of rent during the pandemic. And so I would really encourage you to reach out to those resources first to help with your situation.

[00:55:32]Bill Walsh:  Okay. Lee, do you have any advice for landlords like Desiree?

[00:55:37]Lee Baker:  Candidly, it’s exactly the same thing that Dave said. You know, to lay all cards face up on the table. I’m a landlord myself and working with my property manager, that’s exactly what he did on my behalf. So the tenant was, in fact, laid off initially, then went back to work. But, you know, candidly, because of the moratorium, there are many people that simply just didn’t pay, even though they had some ability to pay. But our property manager has been working with the tenant and submitted the information to the appropriate agency here in, in Georgia. Now, things are moving slow, right, and so, I think the paperwork was initially submitted in February or perhaps March, and we’re still trying to fight through that process. But it is exactly that; go to the consumerfinance.gov and, you know, reach out to the appropriate agency there in New Jersey. Now I know here in Georgia, there was a window at the beginning where you had to at least apply in order to be eligible for the funds. So you also want to make sure you check to see if there’s any sort of window for getting an application in there in, in New Jersey.

[00:56:56]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thanks so much for that. Kevin, let’s do, let’s do another one.

[00:57:02]Kevin Craiglow:  Hey Bill, our last call comes from Anne from Illinois.

[00:57:07]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Anne, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question. Hey, Anne, go ahead with your question. We seem to have lost Anne.

[00:57:23]Kevin Craiglow:  Bill, we can go to another call. We have Carol from New York.

[00:57:29]Bill Walsh:  All right, Carol, go ahead.

[00:57:30]Carol:  Yes. Oh, yes, hi.

[00:57:33]Bill Walsh:  Hey, there. Go ahead with your question.

[00:57:35]Carol:  Oh, oh, okay. My question was about the workplace, and as a senior, before the pandemic, I worked with an agency. It was a health facility with young people from birth to age, I think, 21. And so now they’re asking if I want to come back to work. I’m fully vaccinated, but I’m told that some of the staff are not, are refusing vaccinations, and although all the staff are required to wear masks, the children in the facility are not, and they’re not required to be vaccinated. So I’m 70 years old, I’m concerned about going back into that environment given the fact that there are, you don’t know who’s vaccinated, who’s not, and if the young people are not wearing masks, although I’ve been fully vaccinated, I’m still concerned. And my question is just, can you speak about that in terms of the safety issue for seniors?

[00:58:47]Bill Walsh:  Sure, that’s a great question. Thank you, Carol. Dr. Rupp, can you give us a quick answer on that one?

[00:58:53]Mark Rupp:  Sure, Carol. Obviously it’s a pretty complex question and a lot to unpack there. You know, part of it depends upon your situation and how much you need to work. The other aspects of it that are more medically related are that if you’re otherwise healthy, even though you’re 70, if you’ve received the vaccination, you’re going to be very highly protected. And so it is very, very effective. You know, even if you do contract the illness, it’s likely that you would have a mild case, that you wouldn’t shed very much virus and spread it to other people in your household. And that it’s very likely that you would not get so sick that you ended up having to be hospitalized or lose your life. So, that’s somewhat reassuring. Obviously, I think workplaces need to continue to be, you know, careful and conscientious to protect everybody at the work site. They should be requiring people who are unvaccinated to wear a mask. They should continue to take some precautions as far as distancing and perhaps some things with regard to environmental cleanliness and then certainly, if they can improve their air-handling system, all those things are going to make it safer for everybody in the workplace. So I think that, again, if you’ve been fully vaccinated, you probably have a pretty high level of protection, if you’re otherwise healthy.

[01:00:15]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thank you, Dr. Rupp, and thank you to all of our experts. It’s been a really informative discussion. I want to thank each of you for answering our questions and thank you, our AARP members, our volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership 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, 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 founded at aarp.org/coronavirus beginning tomorrow, June 4th. 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 that can help keep you and your loved ones healthy. Please join us on June 17th at 1 p.m. Eastern time for another live event, answering your questions about the coronavirus. Until then, we look forward to hearing you then. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

[01:01:45]

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 desean escuchar esta teleasamblea en español, presionen * 0 en el teclado de su teléfono ahora.

 

Si desea escuchar en español, presione * y 0 en su teléfono ahora.

 

Bill Walsh: AARP, una organización compuesta de miembros, sin fines de lucro y sin afiliación política, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores en el país desde hace 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.

 

En todo el país, la tasa de vacunaciones está mejorando con más del 85% de los adultos de 65 años o más que han recibido al menos una dosis de la vacuna contra la COVID-19. El progreso ha llevado a los CDC a relajar los mandatos de uso de mascarillas y los requisitos de distanciamiento social para aquellos que están completamente vacunados.

 

Sin embargo, también ha generado confusión sobre cuándo está bien usar mascarilla y cuándo no. Qué podemos hacer con seguridad y qué no. E incluso mientras las preocupaciones sobre la pandemia comienzan a disminuir, muchos adultos mayores todavía tienen dificultades financieras y, a medida que el mercado de la vivienda continúa en conflicto, millones más están haciendo un esfuerzo para quedarse en su hogar.

 

Hoy, escucharemos a un impresionante panel de expertos hablar sobre estos temas y otros. Si ya has participado en alguna de nuestras teleasambleas, sabes que esto es similar a un programa de entrevistas de radio y tienes la oportunidad de hacer tus preguntas en vivo.

 

Para aquellos de ustedes que nos acompañan al teléfono, si desean hacer una pregunta sobre la pandemia de coronavirus, presionen * 3 en el teclado de su teléfono para comunicarse con un miembro del personal de AARP que anotará su nombre y pregunta y los ubicará en una lista para hacer esa pregunta en vivo. Si se unen a través de Facebook o YouTube, pueden publicar su pregunta en la sección de comentarios.

 

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

 

Tenemos algunos invitados sobresalientes que nos acompañan hoy, incluido un experto en medicina interna y enfermedades infecciosas del Centro Médico de University of Nebraska y expertos financieros de la Oficina de Protección Financiera del Consumidor y Apex Financial Services. También nos acompañará mi colega de AARP, Kevin Craiglow, quien ayudará a facilitar sus llamadas hoy.

 

Este evento está siendo grabado y se podrá acceder a la grabación en 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 estás uniendo a través de Facebook o YouTube, coloca tu pregunta en los comentarios.

 

Ahora, me gustaría dar la bienvenida a nuestros invitados. Mark Rupp, M.D. es profesor en el Departamento de Medicina Interna y Jefe de la División de Enfermedades Infecciosas del Centro Médico de la Universidad de Nebraska. Bienvenido de nuevo al programa Dr. Rupp.

 

Mark Rupp: Sí, me alegro de estar contigo, gracias, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, nos alegra tenerte. El siguiente es Dave Uejio, director interino de la Oficina de Protección Financiera del Consumidor. Bienvenido, Dave.

 

Dave Uejio: Genial, muchas gracias, feliz de unirme a ustedes.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Y finalmente, Lee Baker es el propietario y presidente de Apex Financial Services, bienvenido de nuevo, Lee.

 

Lee Baker: Hola, feliz de estar de vuelta con ustedes hoy, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, feliz de tenerte, comencemos con la discusión y solo un recordatorio, para hacer una pregunta, presiona * 3 en el teclado de tu teléfono o déjala en la sección de comentarios en Facebook o YouTube.

 

Dr. Rupp, empecemos por usted. Todavía existe cierta confusión sobre el uso de mascarillas y la guía de los CDC. ¿Hay situaciones en las que sea necesaria una mascarilla?

 

Mark Rupp: Bueno, ya sabes, todavía hay algunas circunstancias en las que las mascarillas son necesarias, pero creo que la muy buena noticia es que la relajación de los requisitos de uso de mascarilla y distanciamiento para las personas que están vacunadas son realmente un reflejo de la tremenda efectividad de la vacunación y, como dijiste al principio del programa, el 85% de las personas mayores de 65 años se han vacunado por completo.

 

Esas personas deberían sentirse bastante seguras al no usar su mascarilla en la mayoría de las situaciones. No hay cambios en las regulaciones para las personas que no están vacunadas, y creo que eso es algo importante que realmente debemos seguir enfatizando. Si las personas no han sido vacunadas, deben continuar usando mascarilla, deben continuar haciendo lo que llamamos intervenciones no farmacológicas y mantener su distanciamiento, pero para las personas vacunadas, la mayoría de ellas pueden volver a sus actividades prepandémicas.

 

Las únicas excepciones serían los transportes públicos. Por lo tanto, si vas a subirte a un avión, un autobús o un tren, probablemente se te pedirá que te pongas una mascarilla y luego tendrás que obedecer cualquier otro tipo de reglas y regulaciones locales. Las empresas aún pueden exigir que las personas usen mascarillas. Ciertas localidades continúan solicitando el uso de mascarillas, y luego, creo que hay algunas situaciones personales en las que es posible que también quieras seguir usando una mascarilla.

 

Si uno está inmunodeprimido, está tomando medicamentos inmunosupresores, ha tenido un trasplante de órganos, o está recibiendo quimioterapia contra el cáncer, es posible que la vacuna no haya funcionado tan bien como lo haría si tuviera un sistema inmunitario fuerte. Por lo tanto, para protegerse, es posible que desee continuar usando una mascarilla.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, ahora, para las personas completamente vacunadas. Sé que a algunos les preocupa no usar una mascarilla en público o en actividades recreativas, ¿cuál es su consejo al respecto?

 

Mark Rupp: Bueno, creo que depende. ¿Sabes? Si vas con un grupo de personas en las que estás seguro de que todos han sido vacunados, creo que debes sentirte muy, muy seguro al no usar una mascarilla. Por otro lado, si estás en compañía de un grupo mixto donde hay algunas personas que no han sido vacunadas, ya sabes, siempre que ellos usen una mascarilla, probablemente sea bastante seguro no usar una mascarilla, pero si te sientes incómodo, será necesario que pase un tiempo para que los números sigan bajando, y si te siente incómodo, siempre es mejor prevenir que lamentar.

 

Por lo tanto, si quieres usar una mascarilla, no creo que nadie vaya a acusarte por eso hoy en día, y espero que las tasas sigan bajando para que todos nos sintamos muy seguros y muy confiados al quitarnos la mascarilla y empecemos a disfrutar de la presencia de las personas cara a cara.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias. Cambiemos de tema un poco y hablemos de la eficacia de la vacuna. Las tasas parecían bastante altas cuando fueron autorizadas por primera vez por la FDA. Ahora que tenemos las vacunas en el mercado hace tanto tiempo, ¿qué podemos decir sobre la eficacia de la vacuna y qué piensa usted sobre la necesidad de una vacuna de refuerzo a finales de este año?

 

Mark Rupp: Sí, bueno, Bill, ahora que estamos en la temporada de béisbol, es apropiado usar la analogía del béisbol. Las vacunas son realmente un jonrón. Son tremendamente efectivas y muy seguras, y la gente debe sentirse muy, muy bien de ir a vacunarse y protegerse.

 

Bueno, en los estudios que se realizaron, como mencionas, grandes ensayos de fase tres, realizados rigurosamente, con decenas de miles de personas involucradas, la eficacia fue del 90-95% o más. Ahora, eso es en una situación de estudio. Entonces, se ha hecho la pregunta, cómo se van a desempeñar en el mundo real, y nos ha complacido mucho ver lo bien que funcionaron cuando se han usado ahora en cientos de millones de dosis administradas.

 

Son tremendamente efectivas en entornos del mundo real, así que lo que quiero decir con eso es, cuando miras grupos, comunidades e instalaciones de atención médica, de hecho, en países enteros, Israel, Dinamarca, Suecia, Estados Unidos, las tasas realmente bajan a medida que aumenta la tasa de vacunación.

 

Son tremendamente efectivas y mantienen esa efectividad en todos los entornos en los que se han examinado. Ya sabes, seguimos teniendo algunas preguntas sobre la vacuna, ya sabes, ya aludiste a una de esas preguntas: si vamos a necesitar una dosis de refuerzo y cuándo. Nadie sabe realmente la respuesta a esa pregunta.

 

Ya sabes, cuanto más tiempo pasemos, mejor se verán estas vacunas, por ahora van de 6 a 8 meses y los niveles de protección parecen estar muy bien conservados. Tengo la esperanza de que la necesidad de un refuerzo se medirá en años, en lugar de meses, pero eso es bastante congruente de mi parte.

 

Seguimos teniendo algunas incógnitas sobre las variantes. Entonces, aunque vamos bien en Estados Unidos, a otras partes del mundo no les está yendo tan bien. Por lo tanto, es posible que pueda surgir una variante que escape a la vacuna y podría hacernos retroceder, pero cruzaremos los dedos y esperamos que no suceda.

 

Hasta la fecha, la vacuna parece muy eficaz contra las variantes en las que se ha probado. Como ya mencioné anteriormente, tenemos algunas preguntas sobre la eficacia de la vacuna en pacientes inmunosuprimidos. Entonces, si hay personas en la audiencia de hoy que están en esa categoría, simplemente no sabemos qué tan bien funcionará la vacuna en ese grupo.

 

Entonces, esas personas probablemente deberían continuar usando mascarillas y tener cuidado hasta que realmente establezcamos la inmunidad colectiva. Entonces, la conclusión es que, después de que se han administrado cientos de millones de dosis de la vacuna, es muy, muy eficaz. Y también, de manera tranquilizadora, le diría a la gente que están muy a salvo. Sabemos cómo se ve este perfil de efectos secundarios y no creo que vayamos a tener ningún misterio que surja de esto en este momento.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Dr. Rupp, muchas gracias por eso. Dave, pasemos a ti; sabemos que la pandemia ha tenido un impacto negativo en las finanzas de las personas. Particularmente en el ámbito de la vivienda, ¿puede decirnos qué tan grave es esta situación?

 

Dave Uejio: Claro, y creo que es una pregunta particularmente excelente, dado que parece que estamos a la vuelta de la esquina de la emergencia de salud pública como acaba de mencionar el Dr. Rupp. Sabes, creo que para los prestatarios y propietarios de viviendas, inquilinos, este es un momento particularmente crítico desde la perspectiva de aquellos de nosotros en la protección financiera del consumidor.

 

Entonces, solo para darles una idea de la magnitud, más prestatarios están atrasados ​ con sus hipotecas hoy que en cualquier otro momento desde el apogeo de la Gran Recesión. Además, se estima que de 10.7 millones de adultos que alquilan, aproximadamente el 15% de los inquilinos adultos no están al día con su alquiler.

 

Ahora, en particular, las comunidades de color se han visto muy afectadas por la pandemia y los datos más recientes dicen que muchos prestatarios siguen sufriendo los efectos de [corte de audio]. Entonces, me parece que la vivienda segura, asequible y estable es realmente la base para el bienestar de las personas, ya sea en el bienestar financiero como en otros...

 

Cuando las personas pierden su hogar, su vida, su salud y sus finanzas se ven afectadas. Entonces, desde nuestra perspectiva, desde la Oficina de Protección Financiera del Consumidor, realmente vamos a continuar buscando responder activamente a los desarrollos en el mercado y hacer todo lo que esté a nuestro alcance para ayudar a las familias a permanecer en su hogar después de la pandemia. Ya sabes, mientras estamos atentos a lo que esperamos sea una recuperación equitativa.

 

Y con respecto a su audiencia específica, vale la pena señalar que los desafíos son particularmente pronunciados de alguna manera para las personas de 55 años o más en Estados Unidos. El 18% de los inquilinos que informaron recientemente que probablemente serían desalojados en los próximos dos meses tenían 55 años o más. Uno de cada tres propietarios que están atrasados ​​en sus pagos hipotecarios, son 2.1 millones de adultos mayores de 55 años, y el 42% de los propietarios que informaron que era probable que dejen su casa debido a una ejecución hipotecaria en los próximos dos meses tienen 55 años o más.

 

Creo que para nosotros, obviamente, estamos considerando detenidamente, y diré, bastante preocupados, la forma en que podría desarrollarse la situación precaria en que se encuentran las personas, sin algunas intervenciones realmente concertadas. Y ha habido una serie de cosas que hemos hecho en el CFPB para tratar de protegernos contra eso.

 

Sabes, la buena noticia es que creo que hoy, tanto el sector público como el privado, habían respondido admirablemente para mantener a las personas en sus hogares durante la pandemia, pero sabes, creo que vale la pena señalar, algunas de estas protecciones legales está establecido que expirarán este mes, ya sea la moratoria en los desalojos, de los CDC o la moratoria gubernamental existente en todo el Gobierno sobre ejecuciones hipotecarias.

 

Por lo tanto, lo estamos monitoreando cuidadosamente como una fuente de riesgo potencial. Por lo tanto, es importante estar atento si eres propietario o inquilino por igual, en este momento, pero también vale la pena señalar que existen muchas oportunidades para salvaguardar su bienestar financiero [inaudible].

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias, Dave. Hablaremos de esos temas más adelante en el programa. Lee, déjame pasar a ti. Algunas de las personas con bajo salario han tenido problemas durante la pandemia y hay una brecha de riqueza cada vez mayor, especialmente entre los negros y los latinos. Para alguien que todavía está tratando de resolver todo eso y mantenerse a flote, ¿cuáles son sus opciones? ¿Existen programas adicionales a través de la Ley del Plan de Rescate de Estados Unidos que las personas puedan aprovechar?

 

Lee Baker: Sí. Esa es una excelente pregunta. Y tuve una conversación hace un tiempo en línea con alguien y me preguntaron si pensaba o no que la pandemia había cambiado la imagen del trabajo y la imagen del trabajo en EE.UU. Creo que con más precisión, expuso el panorama en lo que se refiere a trabajos en este país. Ya saben, los negros, los latinos, las mujeres resultaron más perjudicados económicamente como resultado de la pandemia y, ya saben, esto es muy diferente de lo que Dave estaba hablando.

 

Uno de los principales fundamentos de la riqueza en Estados Unidos ha sido la propiedad de vivienda. Entonces, cuando hay un segmento de la población que se ve más afectado de manera significativa, entonces sí, por definición, eso hará que la brecha de riqueza se amplíe para los miembros de esas comunidades. Ahora, dicho esto, ya sabes, si me dice: "Oye, estoy tratando de solucionar todo esto y mantenerme a flote, ¿qué puedo hacer? ¿Qué recursos hay disponibles?". Todo el mundo ha oído hablar de apretarse el cinturón y ese tipo de cosas y eso es importante, y tienes que hacerlo.

 

Pero cuando hablamos de la Ley del Plan de Rescate de Estados Unidos, lo primero que nos viene a la mente a todos, nuevamente, por definición, los pagos por impacto económico. Con mayor frecuencia, la gente habla de obtener sus cheques de estímulo y eso es lo más importante que le interesa a la mayoría de las personas, pero esa ley también tenía grandes cantidades de dinero disponibles para las entidades estatales y locales para ayudar con cosas como, ya sabes, asistencia al propietario, fondos de alquiler.

 

Entonces, lo que le diría a las personas que están en la línea con nosotros hoy, una cosa, si aún no han intentado aprovechar, es mirar donde sea que estés, a nivel del condado o local y averiguar, "Oye, ¿qué entidad fue la que recibió esos fondos? Fue parte de este acto que tenía como objetivo ayudar a esas personas desde la perspectiva de la vivienda".

 

Porque nuevamente, como mencionó Dave, la moratoria de los CDC vence a fines de este mes y la gente está claramente preocupada por ser desalojada. Entonces, fijarse en esos recursos, nuevamente, que son parte del Plan de Rescate de Estados Unidos, pero también, lo más importante, simplemente ser proactivo con respecto a tu situación.

 

Todos hemos estado juntos en esta pandemia y nos ha afectado de manera diferente, pero todos lo entienden. No hay que avergonzarse de levantar el teléfono y llamar al propietario, llamara la compañía hipotecaria y explicarle tu situación. Ya sabes, sinceramente, por lo que hemos experimentado y escuchado al hablar con la gente, ni siquiera necesitas explicarlo. Todo el mundo sabe lo que está pasando, por lo que solo tienes que levantar el teléfono y llamar para obtener esa ayuda.

 

Bill Walsh: Buen consejo, Oficina del Defensor. Déjame seguir con eso, Lee. Mencionaste estos pagos de estímulo. ¿Qué necesitan saber las personas sobre la ronda de estímulos más reciente? ¿Y dónde estamos en la emisión de los pagos de esta tercera ronda?

 

Lee Baker: Para la mayoría de las personas, en lo que respecta a los pagos de estímulo, realmente no tienes que hacer nada. ¿De acuerdo? El Gobierno está usando los registros de impuestos, por lo que si has presentado tus declaraciones de impuestos recientemente, realmente no necesitas hacer nada. Si normalmente has recibido un reembolso, muchas de esas personas, esos desembolsos ya han llegado a sus cuentas. Entonces, ese dinero ya comenzó a salir.

 

Ahora, hay algunos cambios incluidos en la ley y esto es más específico para las personas que tienen hijos, cosas como el crédito fiscal por hijos. Los montos han cambiado, y una cosa que es un poco diferente esta vez y ha sido el caso en el pasado, específicamente de nuevo, en lo que se refiere al crédito tributario por hijos es que, en lugar de que esto venga en forma de reembolso, para el 2021, en realidad recibirás algo de eso entre el 1.° de julio de este año y el 31 de diciembre de este año.

 

Entonces, nuevamente, si tienes a alguien, un niño que tiene 17 años o menos, y eso ha sido un cambio porque anteriormente tenía 16, eso es algo adicional a lo que hay que estar atento, y también el hecho de que, ya sabes, para el 2021, en lugar de mirar por el espejo retrovisor y esperar hasta el próximo año cuando sea el momento de presentar los impuestos, en lo que respecta al crédito tributario por hijos, podrá ver parte de ese beneficio en la segunda mitad de este año.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, de acuerdo. Gracias. Vayamos con otro de nuestros expertos y, como recordatorio, para hacer una pregunta, presiona * 3. Pronto llegaremos a sus preguntas en vivo, pero antes de hacerlo, ¿por qué no traemos a Megan O'Reilly? Megan es la vicepresidenta de defensa de la salud y la familia en AARP. Bienvenida, Megan.

 

Megan O'Reilly: Me alegro de estar contigo, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Megan, hoy estamos hablando del impacto de la COVID-19 en nuestras finanzas y vivienda, en particular. ¿Por qué cosas ha estado luchando AARP en este frente?

 

Megan O'Reilly: Sabemos que la pandemia realmente ha afectado mucho a los adultos mayores. Estamos muy contentos de que los esfuerzos recientes hayan logrado grandes avances para abordar esas consecuencias económicas. En primer lugar, la Ley del Plan de Rescate de Estados Unidos recientemente promulgada, de lo cual ya hemos hablado en parte hoy, incluía varias prioridades de AARP.

 

Esto incluyó la entrega de pagos a millones de adultos mayores y la ampliación de los créditos fiscales por vacaciones pagadas y también del crédito fiscal por hijos. En segundo lugar, nos complace que la FCC haya tomado medidas recientemente a través del programa de beneficios de banda ancha de emergencia conocido como EBB, para ayudar a que el internet de alta velocidad sea más asequible para las personas que luchan por pagarlo durante la pandemia.

 

La COVID-19 nos ha demostrado que el acceso a internet de alta velocidad no es un lujo, es una necesidad y sin él las personas se están quedando atrás en lo que respecta a su atención médica, trabajo, conexión con familiares y amigos y educación. AARP anima a todas las personas que reúnan los requisitos a inscribirse en este programa. Para obtener recursos y más información sobre EBB, visiten aarp.org/ebb o pueden llamar al 1833-511-0311.

 

Finalmente, el año pasado ha puesto un foco de atención en los desafíos financieros que millones de cuidadores familiares enfrentan todos los días. En promedio, los cuidadores familiares gastan cerca de $7,000 al año en gastos relacionados con el cuidado, que pueden representar un porcentaje significativo de sus ingresos anuales.

 

En respuesta a eso, nos complace mucho informar que la semana pasada se introdujo la Ley de crédito para cuidadores en ambas cámaras del Congreso. Este proyecto de ley bipartidista crearía un crédito fiscal para los cuidadores familiares que reúnan ciertos requisitos, que puede ayudar a compensar algunos de estos gastos. Sabemos que esta legislación marcaría una diferencia significativa para millones de cuidadores familiares y AARP luchará para que este proyecto de ley sea aprobado por el Congreso.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Megan, gracias por la actualización. La pandemia continúa teniendo un impacto en nuestra salud, por supuesto, ¿en qué se estará enfocando AARP ahora?

 

Megan O'Reilly: Desde el inicio de esta pandemia, AARP ha estado luchando por lograr grandes inversiones e investigación sobre tratamientos y vacunas contra el virus, y una vez que las vacunas estuvieron disponibles, trabajamos duro con la Administración Trump y la Administración Biden y en todos los estados para asegurarnos de que las personas mayores sean una prioridad. También hemos publicado una guía en línea para cada estado para explicar cómo obtener la vacuna en el lugar donde vives. Puedes encontrar esas guías en aarp.org/infovacunas.

 

Y nos aseguramos de que el Plan de Rescate de Estados Unidos incluyera disposiciones críticas para nuestros miembros, como apoyar la expansión de los esfuerzos de vacunas contra la COVID-19, proporcionar una expansión de los subsidios que harán que la cobertura sea más asequible bajo la Ley del Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio, mejorar el control de infecciones en hogares de ancianos y mucho más.

 

Debido a nuestro trabajo, los Gobiernos están dando prioridad a los centros de atención a largo plazo y a los adultos mayores y, como mencionamos anteriormente en el programa, más del 86% de las personas de 65 años o más han recibido al menos una dosis de la vacuna. Todavía queda mucho trabajo por hacer para garantizar que todos los que quieran una vacuna puedan acceder a ella.

 

Las oficinas estatales de AARP en todo el país están trabajando arduamente para llegar a los adultos mayores, especialmente en comunidades donde el acceso a la vacuna ha sido un problema. Y nuestros equipos continúan abogando en su nombre, trabajando con los gobernadores y legisladores estatales para asignar los fondos proporcionados a los estados de manera que continúen abordando las necesidades de las personas mayores de 50 años.

 

El Congreso también está trabajando en un plan de infraestructura y AARP continuará luchando por los adultos mayores presionando por el acceso continuo a las vacunas y tomando medidas para reducir el precio vertiginoso de los medicamentos recetados que continúan paralizando los presupuestos familiares. Para mantenerse actualizado sobre todos estos esfuerzos, visita aarp.org/coronavirus.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias por acompañarnos, Megan. Agradecemos la actualización. Ahora es el momento de abordar sus preguntas sobre el coronavirus con el Dr. Mark Rupp, Dave Uejio y Lee Baker. Presionen * 3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para comunicarse con un miembro del personal de AARP para compartir su pregunta. Y si deseas escuchar en español, presiona * 0 en el teclado de tu teléfono ahora.

 

Si desea escuchar en español, presione * y 0 en su teléfono ahora.

 

Bill Walsh: Ahora me gustaría traer a mi colega de AARP Kevin Craiglow para ayudar a facilitar sus llamadas. Bienvenido, Kevin.

 

Kevin Craiglow: Gracias, Bill. Un placer estar aquí para esta importante conversación.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, ¿a quién tenemos primero en la línea?

 

Kevin Craiglow: Nuestra primera llamada es Era de Georgia.

 

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

 

Era: Bueno, perdón. Tengo 81 años y mi hijo 66 y él tiene una asistente de salud en el hogar que viene a verlo y dice que no se pondrá la vacuna. Y le digo que use una mascarilla, pero ella se la pone mientras yo esté allí, pero luego entro y no tiene la mascarilla puesta, y quiero saber: mi hijo y yo hemos tenido las dos vacunas. Y me gustaría saber si sigue viniendo y no usa mascarilla, si viene y punto, ¿corremos peligro de contraer el virus?

 

Bill Walsh: Correcto, no. Entiendo la preocupación. Preguntémosle al Dr. Rupp sobre eso. Dr. Rupp, ¿qué puede hacer Era?

 

Mark Rupp: Era, muchas gracias por tu pregunta y la situación en la que te encuentras, lamentablemente, es algo difícil. Es realmente lamentable que el asistente de salud en el hogar que va a tu casa no esté completamente vacunado y creo que eres muy inteligente al transmitir que si esa persona no está completamente vacunada, debe usar mascarilla cuando ingrese a tu hogar, y te sugiero que llames a la agencia de donde trabaja ese asistente de salud en el hogar y le cuentes que estás bastante molesta por que no está vacunado.

 

Creo que estás en tu derecho de solicitar a alguien que esté vacunado y, como mínimo, que cumpla con tu solicitud de usar una mascarilla cuando esté en tu casa. Ahora, habiendo dicho eso, debido a que tú y tu hijo están completamente vacunados, tienen un nivel de protección bastante bueno, pero ninguna vacuna es 100% efectiva y seguirá existiendo algún riesgo cuando ingresen a tu hogar personas que no estén vacunadas.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Dr. Rupp. Muchas gracias por ese consejo. Kevin, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima llamada?

 

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, nuestra próxima llamada es Carmen de Nueva York.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Carmen. Bienvenida al programa, continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Carmen: Sí, en el 2020, el Gobierno suspendió el retiro mínimo para los jubilados que tenemos más de 70 y medio, pero en 2021 no lo suspendieron y me pregunto por qué no lo continuaron.

 

Bill Walsh: Lee Baker, me pregunto si podrías responder y Dave, si quieres opinar, adelante también.

 

Lee Baker: Sí, claro, lo intentaré. Me gusta tratar de leer la mente de nuestros representantes electos, pero, ya sabes, parte del fundamento de sus argumentos sobre la sabiduría de haber hecho eso es simplemente el hecho de que tuviste una situación en la que, ya sabes, fue todo manos a la obra y algo así como, "Dios mío, ¿qué queremos hacer? Hagamos las cosas lo más amigables posible para el consumidor". Ahora, aquí está el lado cínico de un asesor financiero.

 

Esas distribuciones mínimas requeridas son una forma de que el Gobierno genere ingresos. Entonces, como esos dólares salen de nuestras cuentas de jubilación, para la gran mayoría, esos dólares son ingresos sujetos a impuestos. Entonces, por múltiples razones, el año pasado, 2020, el Gobierno tuvo un impacto en los ingresos. Y estamos en el 2021, ahora es el momento de que los ingresos vuelvan a la tesorería. Y aparte, también, el RMD, se cambió la edad. Entonces, siempre ha sido 70 y medio, ahora es 72. Así que, ténganlo en cuenta.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Lee. Muchas gracias. Kevin, tomemos otra llamada.

 

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, nuestra siguiente pregunta es en línea de Sylvetta, quien nos preguntó: "Me gustaría saber cómo administrar mis finanzas y cómo se puede acceder al alquiler a través del paquete de ayuda para el alquiler del Gobierno".

 

Bill Walsh: Esa es una buena pregunta, Dave, ¿puedes responderla?

 

Dave Uejio: Más que feliz de intentarlo. Entonces, creo que, nuevamente, es un momento inusual dado que, en algunos aspectos, existen programas en los que la gente puede no estar pagando y por muy buenas razones. Ya sabes, si uno es propietario de una vivienda, puede beneficiarse de una moratoria sobre las ejecuciones hipotecarias, si se tiene deudas por préstamos estudiantiles, ha habido una moratoria sobre los préstamos estudiantiles. Y creo que eso es completamente defendible y apropiado y fue algo bueno.

 

Pero ahora estamos entrando en un período en el que algunas de esas cosas podrían cambiar. Entonces, creo que es una pregunta muy oportuna de la audiencia. Entonces, ya sabes, comencemos con la pregunta sobre el alivio del alquiler. Como ha señalado el interlocutor, existe una enorme cantidad de dinero disponible a través de la tesorería para asistencia de alquiler. Y un buen lugar al que puedes ir para obtener información al respecto es consumerfinance.gov/housing.

 

Esto es particularmente útil porque cada uno de los estados está distribuyendo este dinero de una manera diferente, y el dinero fue diseñado, asignado por el Congreso para que lo gasten los estados. Entonces, dependiendo de dónde vivas, la forma en que se accede a esos fondos será diferente, pero si deseas comenzar con nuestro portal de vivienda, y ese es el portal de vivienda para todo el Gobierno, eso te dará información específicamente sobre cómo acceder a esos fondos.

 

Además de eso, y como Lee mencionó anteriormente, existen esas fuentes de financiamiento potencialmente adicionales y, como me refería, algunos gastos adicionales que podrían reiniciarse. Entonces, realmente animaría a la audiencia a que si tienen alguna pregunta específica sobre la vivienda visiten nuestro centro de vivienda. Puedes conectarte con un asesor de vivienda certificado por HUD que realmente puede ayudarte a administrar tu propio balance general y responder algunas de estas preguntas según el lugar donde vives.

 

También tenemos una gran cantidad de recursos excelentes en términos más generales sobre cómo administrar sus finanzas a la luz de la pandemia en consumerfinance.gov. Por lo tanto, realmente animaría a la audiencia a examinar esos recursos mientras piensan en cómo gestionar tanto la reanudación de nuevos gastos como la posibilidad de nuevos ingresos como resultado de parte de esta legislación.

 

Bill Walsh: De acuerdo, consumerfinance.gov. Muy bien, muchas gracias, Dave, te lo agradezco. Kevin, volvamos a las líneas.

 

Kevin Craiglow: Nuestra próxima llamada es de Lynn de Oklahoma.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Lynn. Bienvenida al programa. Continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Lynn: Sí, estoy completamente vacunada, pero tengo un sistema inmunitario comprometido y he leído que personas como yo tendrían una respuesta inmunitaria reducida a la vacuna. Y quería saber qué significaba eso y qué tan segura estoy entre multitudes o en un crucero.

 

Bill Walsh: De acuerdo, Lynn, muchas gracias. Dr. Rupp, ¿puede ayudar a Lynn?

 

Mark Rupp: Sí, Lynn. Esa es una gran pregunta y es una de esas cosas a la que todavía no tenemos una respuesta completa. Sabemos que hay grupos de personas inmunodeprimidas que han sido completamente vacunadas y que no responden de una manera tan sólida como las personas con el sistema inmunitario intacto.

 

He visto algunos datos, por ejemplo, en pacientes con trasplantes de órganos en los que, ya sabes, tal vez solo 1/3 de esos pacientes desarrollan niveles protectores de respuesta de anticuerpos en reacción a la vacuna. Entonces, dependiendo de la razón por la que uno esté inmunodeprimido, ya sea por medicamentos o quimioterapia contra el cáncer, o por trasplante de órganos, es posible que tenga una respuesta muy variable a la vacuna.

 

Creo que lo más seguro para ti en este momento, si tienes esas inquietudes, es continuar siendo cautelosa, prudente y cuidadosa. Usa mascarilla cuando estés en público, trata de evitar esas situaciones de riesgo que serían principalmente espacios donde se comparte el aire en interiores, y luego, es cuestión de esperar que todos en la sociedad hagan lo correcto y se vacunen.

 

Y si todos hiciéramos nuestra parte, si todos nos arremangáramos y recibiéramos la vacuna, entonces tendríamos un nivel de protección de inmunidad colectiva para personas como tú, que tal vez no respondan a la vacuna. Entonces, esa es una de las razones por las que insto a todos los que están en la llamada a que se vacunen. Instar a los miembros de su familia a que se vacunen. Hacer lo correcto para protegerse uno, proteger a su familia y proteger a personas como Lynn, que pueden no responder a la vacuna. Gracias.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias Dr. Rupp. Se lo agradezco y agradezco a todos nuestros expertos. Y gracias por todas tus preguntas. Vamos a atender más de sus preguntas en breve, recuerda, si deseas hacer una pregunta, presiona * 3 en el teclado de tu teléfono y si deseas escuchar en español, presiona * 0 en el teclado de tu teléfono ahora.

 

Si desea escuchar en español, presione * y 0 en su teléfono ahora.

 

Bill Walsh: Ahora es el momento de volver a nuestros expertos. Dave, ¿cómo contribuyen las desigualdades estructurales a los problemas que enfrentamos? ¿Qué pasos adicionales se pueden tomar para apoyar a los hogares negros y latinos?

 

Dave Uejio: Esta es una pregunta muy importante y oportuna. Muchas comunidades negras e hispanas ni siquiera se han recuperado por completo de la última crisis financiera cuando ocurrió la pandemia. Y esas mismas comunidades una vez más están soportando una carga financiera y de salud desproporcionada durante la pandemia, en realidad, no es culpa suya y se los explicaré un poco.

 

En una encuesta reciente del censo, los inquilinos de color, los inquilinos de minorías, eran más propensos a informar que su hogar no estaba al día con el alquiler. Entonces, creo que está bastante claro que hay una perpetuación muy clara de las desigualdades estructurales en juego aquí que nuevamente están cayendo desproporcionadamente, en muchos casos, hogares negros e hispanos que también son, al mismo tiempo, los mismos hogares de donde provienen nuestros trabajadores esenciales; personas que han tenido menos opciones de estar en primera línea y, como resultado, han estado más expuestas al virus.

 

Entonces, en la oficina realmente hemos pensado en cómo centrar la experiencia de esos consumidores al abordar algunos de estos desafíos. Ya sea pensando en cómo ayudar y garantizar que las personas no sean desalojadas ilegalmente, o si le corresponde a la oficina desarrollar protecciones sólidas contra la ejecución hipotecaria.

 

Además, recursos que están en la terminología correcta, pero también en los idiomas correctos. Creo que para las comunidades que han sido tradicionalmente marginadas, realmente nos hemos tomado en serio esta necesidad de enfocarnos agresivamente en proteger y llegar a las personas que están en mayor riesgo, dadas las desigualdades históricas de larga data.

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, obtengamos algunos consejos prácticos para las personas que están en línea, ¿qué programas y servicios están disponibles para propietarios e inquilinos? Supongamos que alguien necesita ayuda, como indulgencia hipotecaria, asistencia para el alquiler o ayuda con los servicios públicos vencidos. ¿Con quién se ponen en contacto?

 

Dave Uejio: Sí, y esto realmente, creo, se hace eco del punto que dijo Lee. Ciertamente, animaría a todas esas personas, si necesitan ayuda con la vivienda, a que vayan a consumerfinance.gov/housing. Ese es el portal de vivienda para todo el Gobierno y eso se aplica si uno es un propietario que enfrenta desafíos con la indulgencia o si es un inquilino que enfrenta desafíos con un posible desalojo.

 

También tenemos recursos allí que lo conectarán con los programas de asistencia de alquiler a través de la tesorería que mencioné anteriormente. Ahora, además de eso, si necesitas un nivel adicional de ayuda, te aconsejaría dos cosas. Uno, tienes todo el derecho y ciertamente te animo a trabajar para encontrar un consejero de vivienda certificado por HUD, puedes llamar al 800-569-4287 para hacerlo o simplemente visitar consumerfinance.gov/housing.

 

Y si te sientes algo incómodo, si sientes que estás enfrentando desafíos, quizás tu administrador no esté respondiendo o tu arrendador te esté diciendo algo que esté en conflicto con lo que has leído, no dudes en visitar consumerfinance.gov y presentar una queja. Puedes ir directamente al sitio web principal, las leemos todas y actuamos en consecuencia, generalmente en un plazo de 15 días. Entonces, ciertamente estamos de tu lado. Sé que este puede ser un momento confuso para la gente, pero estamos aquí para ayudar.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien y danos ese número de teléfono nuevamente, en caso de que la gente no lo haya anotado.

 

Dave Uejio: ¡Claro! El número para conseguir un asesor de vivienda es 1-800-569-4287 y toda esa información está disponible en consumerfinance.gov/housing.

 

Bill Walsh: Genial, muchas gracias, Dave. Lee, volvamos a ti. La pandemia ha cambiado los hábitos de gasto de muchas personas en Estados Unidos, ¿qué nuevo hábito debemos mantener al reanudar nuestras actividades?

 

Lee Baker: Sí, hay algunos hábitos que he visto que han cambiado, y creo que cambiarán y permanecerán cambiados para muchas personas que son hábitos de impulso. En muchas áreas del país, pasamos de subirnos a nuestro auto, conducir todos los días, a trabajar 100% de forma remota a una especie de híbrido, y según escucho de más y más entidades, grandes y pequeñas, creo que vamos a permanecer en una especie de modo híbrido.

 

Bueno, lo que eso significa para muchos de nosotros es que no estamos gastando tanto dinero como antes en combustible. Sabes, literalmente, y lo diré desde mi propia casa, la pandemia ha resultado en cientos de dólares por mes en ahorro de combustible. Solo por no viajar todos los días y luego algunos de los paseos que hacíamos los fines de semana.

 

Entonces, en la medida en que tengas el tipo de empleo que permitirá el trabajo remoto o algún tipo de trabajo híbrido, eso es algo que debe permanecer en su lugar y puede ser una fuente de ahorro cuando hablamos de hábitos. Algunas personas han cambiado la forma en que compran alimentos. No hay razón para renunciar a eso si has encontrado algunas formas de ahorrar dinero durante la pandemia.

 

Otra cosa, sinceramente, muchas personas han encontrado el beneficio de entretenerse de forma gratuita y remota. Ahora, no estoy sugiriendo para nada que permanezca remoto para siempre, pero hay algunas cosas que aprendemos a hacer que son buenas para el futuro. Ya sabes, desde recorridos virtuales por diferentes lugares del mundo y simplemente aprender a pasar tiempo juntos. Pasear por el parque, ya sabes, muchos de esos hábitos que sinceramente han contribuido a la salud.

 

Mi esposa y yo, en medio de la pandemia, ya que no nos levantábamos y no íbamos a trabajar, literalmente, nos levantábamos todas las mañanas y salíamos a caminar. Caminábamos hasta el lago en el vecindario, dábamos la vuelta al lago un par de veces, tomábamos un poco de sol y veíamos todas las criaturas del vecindario. Entonces, muchos hábitos en ese sentido, creo que son el tipo de cosas que deberíamos mantener en el futuro.

 

Bill Walsh: Seamos prácticos, ¿qué recursos recomiendan para desarrollar un plan de acción, si las personas tienen deudas o lidian con gastos no planificados?

 

Lee Baker: Sí, en lo que a eso respecta, AARP siempre ha sido un buen recurso para ese tipo de cosas y si están buscando herramientas sobre cómo administrar sus deudas, vayan a aarp.org y busquen esas cosas si se trata de deudas, gastos no planificados, hay formas de hacerlo. Ahora, si usted es una de las personas, si se encuentra en una situación en la que está recibiendo un pago de estímulo o un pago de impacto económico y es algo que no tiene que usar para mantener un techo sobre su cabeza o mantener las luces encendidas, sea inteligente con ese dinero.

 

Si no tenía un fondo de emergencia o dinero en efectivo disponible, como sea que quiera llamarlo, utilice esos recursos para hacerlo. Si usted es una de las personas que, nuevamente, sabe que no tenía ningún fondo de emergencia para poder manejar gastos no planificados, ese dinero que ahorra al no tener que poner gasolina en su automóvil todas las semanas para ir y volver al trabajo, guarde algo de eso para que la próxima vez que suceda algo y tenga un gasto no planeado, tenga un poco de efectivo a mano para hacerse cargo de eso.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias por eso, Lee. Y uno de los recursos de AARP en el que quizás haya estado pensando es nuestro programa Money Map para ayudar a las personas a lidiar con las deudas. Pueden acceder a él en moneymap.aarp.org. Muchas gracias, Lee.

 

Dr. Rupp, muy rápidamente, las reuniones familiares y los viajes siguen siendo dos de las preguntas más populares que recibimos en este programa. ¿Cuáles son sus recomendaciones para eventos familiares? Ya sabe, suponiendo que no todo el mundo está vacunado, ¿qué tan aventureros podemos ser cuando se trata de viajar?

 

Mark Rupp: Sí, Bill. Gracias por esa pregunta. Sabes, creo que también es apropiado antes de entrar en eso para que la gente solo piense en lo lejos que hemos llegado y, si lo recuerdas, el año pasado en este momento, nos estábamos preparando para montar esa segunda ola de la pandemia y luego, después de eso, una tercera ola, y solo piensa en lo lejos que hemos llegado en el último año.

 

Ahora estamos en un punto en el que realmente podemos comenzar a pensar en cómo podemos tener reuniones familiares de manera segura y cómo viajar. Creo que si estás completamente vacunado, viajar a nivel nacional es bastante seguro. Se te pedirá que uses una mascarilla cuando estés en transporte público. Además, puedes tomar tu vehículo privado y viajar con mucha seguridad por todo Estados Unidos. Creo que esta es una gran época del año en la que muchas, muchas personas están empezando a pensar en reuniones navideñas, reuniones familiares, cómo hacerlo de forma segura. Donde la gente esté vacunada, obviamente, será muy, muy seguro.

 

Donde haya una mezcla de personas vacunadas y no vacunadas, si se puede realizar esa actividad al aire libre, obviamente se convertirá en un evento mucho más seguro. Creo que está bien pedirle a las personas que no están vacunadas que continúen usando una mascarilla y, como ya hemos hablado de ello en el programa, si encajas en una de esas categorías en las que es posible que no hayas respondido a tu vacuna, de la misma manera, probablemente sea prudente seguir usando una mascarilla. Todo lo que puedas hacer al aire libre será mejor que en el interior y, por lo tanto, creo que probablemente sea uno de los mejores consejos que puedo dar a la gente.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias por eso, Dr. Rupp. Antes de que respondamos las preguntas de nuestros miembros, queremos abordar un tema importante. Sabemos que algunos de ustedes todavía tienen dificultades para acceder a la vacuna debido a problemas de transporte o movilidad. AARP quiere ayudar.

 

El equipo de apoyo de AARP Vaccine Finder está disponible para tratar de conectarlos con recursos comunitarios que pueden transportarlos a su cita de vacunación o ir a su hogar. Por lo tanto, si estás escuchando hoy y no puedes vacunarte debido a problemas de transporte o movilidad, presiona 1 para agregarte a una lista y recibir una llamada telefónica de un miembro del personal de AARP que te ayude.

 

Nuevamente, si estás escuchando hoy y no puedes recibir una vacuna debido a eso, presiona 1 para ser agregado a una lista y recibir una llamada de un miembro del personal de AARP que te ayudará con esos problemas de transporte y movilidad. Cuando marques 1, escucharás un breve mensaje y luego volverás a esta llamada.

 

Ahora es el momento de abordar más preguntas con el Dr. Mark Rupp, Dave Uejio y Lee Baker. Presiona * 3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de tu teléfono para conectarte con un miembro del personal de AARP. Kevin, ¿quién es el siguiente en la lista?

 

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, nuestra próxima llamada es Anne de Alabama.

 

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

 

Anne: Sí, mi pregunta es, mi hija fue desalojada de su apartamento. Recibió un aviso de desalojo. Tenía 10 días de atraso en el pago del alquiler y, por lo tanto, lo presentó en la corte. Entonces, el juez dictaminó que ella y el propietario resolverían cuándo haría los pagos vencidos porque ella también tenía que pagar el costo de la corte, que creo que el total era de $1,700, cuándo comenzaría a pagar el pago atrasado que le debía. Estaba programado que pagara en julio. Lo pagó el 1.° de julio, pero luego el 16 de julio vinieron y la desalojaron del apartamento.

 

Entonces, fue desalojada y llenó una solicitud para un apartamento del Gobierno y le dijeron que como había sido desalojada en los últimos dos años, que no podía recibir un apartamento del Gobierno. Entonces, se puso en contacto con otra ciudad y llenó una solicitud; no tenían un apartamento del Gobierno disponible, pero le dijeron que una vez que consiguiera uno, podría recibirlo y que no usarían ese desalojo en su contra. No había tenido uno antes, no estaba en un apartamento del Gobierno, pero presentó una solicitud y llenó una solicitud para ver si podía vivir en uno hasta que pudiera mejorar.

 

Bill Walsh: Entonces, Anne, ¿cuál es la pregunta que quieres hacer al respecto?

 

Anne: La pregunta es: ¿es esa la ley o qué? ¿Es esa la ley? Que si recibes un desalojo, no podrás obtener un apartamento del Gobierno. En eso se basaron.

 

Bill Walsh: Correcto. Bueno, preguntémosle a Dave Uejio de la Oficina de Protección Financiera del Consumidor sobre esa situación y Dave, habías mencionado anteriormente un número gratuito para personas que enfrentaban problemas de vivienda y alquiler, tal vez también puedas mencionar eso.

 

Dave Uejio: Sí, claro y lamento mucho escuchar sobre esta situación. Creo que, francamente, en la Oficina hemos estado muy preocupados precisamente por este tipo de situación y daré un par de consejos que podrían ser útiles para la persona que llama.

 

Tu pregunta sobre si todo esto es legal, creo que es una que también comparto cuando escucho tu historia, y así, algunas cosas. Creo que sería útil para ti y tu familia conectarse con ayuda legal local y estatal. Creo que en base a lo que he escuchado en todo el país, cuando la gente se comunica con el sistema de desalojo en los tribunales en estos días, particularmente dado que la moratoria de desalojo de los CDC debería brindar cierta protección dadas las circunstancias, especialmente por impago del alquiler, deben tener un abogado que esté disponible para defender sus intereses.

 

Hay una forma en la que puedes hacer eso, si vas a consumerfinance.gov/housing, hay una herramienta de búsqueda disponible para encontrar servicios de ayuda legal local, que creo que sería muy útil aprovecharla. Y luego, por otro lado, porque escuché que también dice que están experimentando desafíos con el Gobierno y la vivienda subvencionada públicamente, un asesor de vivienda de HUD realmente podrá ayudar a navegar esa situación.

 

Entonces, nuevamente, el número para llamar allí es 800-569-4287 y esas personas deberían estar listas para ayudarte a navegar el tipo de vivienda. El Gobierno subsidió la vivienda en Alabama donde se encuentran, ciertamente, mis pensamientos y empatía con esta situación y, con suerte, esos recursos te serán de ayuda.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, muy bien. Gracias, Dave y para Anne, El número de teléfono de asistencia legal en Alabama es el 256-536-9645. Kevin, tomemos otra llamada.

 

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, nuestra próxima llamada es Robyn de Illinois.

 

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

 

Robyn: Hola, no puedo creer que entré. Lo he intentado durante semanas.

 

Bill Walsh: Bienvenida.

 

Robyn: Lo que quería preguntar es sobre las cepas. Las diferentes cepas. Escuché mucho sobre India, pero nunca escuché qué variedad era y ahora escuché que hay otra nueva variedad. No recuerdo si era América del Sur o dónde estaba, pero me preguntaba cómo afecta a la vacuna, o cómo la vacuna la afecta y cuál es realmente la cepa en la India.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Dr. Rupp, me pregunto si podría tomar la pregunta de Robyn y también hablar sobre cómo les ha ido a las vacunas contra las cepas que hemos visto en este país.

 

Mark Rupp: Sí, Robyn, gracias por esta pregunta realmente astuta y lo que mencionaría primero es que el desarrollo de la variante viral es completamente esperado. Este virus sufre eventos mutacionales y se va a transformar con el tiempo. Entonces, estas variantes que han surgido, de las que se ha estado escuchando, la mayoría de la gente ha oído hablar de la variante del Reino Unido, la variante 117 o quizás variantes que llevan el nombre de donde se descubrieron por primera vez en Brasil o en Sudáfrica.

 

Pero también hemos tenido algunas de estas mismas variantes que han llegado a Estados Unidos, que han surgido de EE.UU. Hay una que se conoce de California y otra de Nueva York. La más reciente a la que te refieres es de India, se conoce como variante 1.617. También parece preocupante, al igual que algunas de estas otras variantes, y parece ser más transmisible que el tipo salvaje de cepa viral. Ahora, lo afortunado es que la vacuna parece ser altamente protectora contra estas variantes que están surgiendo.

 

Tal vez no sea tan protectora como con el tipo salvaje, pero parece que es lo suficientemente protectora como para prevenir algunas de las manifestaciones de la enfermedad y la transmisión. Así que esa es la muy buena noticia, y es solo una razón más por la que todo el mundo necesita vacunarse para ayudar a prevenir que estas variantes surjan, en primer lugar, y en segundo lugar, que se transmitan de persona a persona en Estados Unidos.

 

Entonces, nuevamente, una razón poderosa por la que todos deberían vacunarse. También es una razón importante por la que las personas deberían tener una visión de la realidad mundial de esta pandemia. Sabes, es genial que aquí en Estados Unidos tengamos una amplia disponibilidad de vacunación. Eso no ocurre en todas partes del mundo. Entonces, necesitamos ser voces poderosas por ambas razones altruistas.

 

Debemos proteger a las personas de todo el mundo porque es lo correcto, pero también nos ayuda a protegernos. Entonces, nos conviene que la vacuna se distribuya en todo el mundo. Entonces, gracias por esa astuta pregunta, continuaremos vigilando estas variantes a medida que surjan. Afortunadamente, hasta la fecha, la vacuna sigue siendo muy protectora contra ellas.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, Dr. Rupp. Kevin, ¿a quién tenemos ahora en la línea?

 

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, nuestra próxima llamada es Desirae de Nueva Jersey.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Desirae. Bienvenida al programa, continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Desirae: Sí, hola. Buenas tardes. Soy una viuda jubilada y tengo una propiedad en alquiler que estoy usando para ayudarme a generar ingresos y la alquilé a una familia que sé que tanto el marido como la mujer han estado trabajando durante la pandemia, pero no han estado pagando su alquiler, y están en mora. Entonces, yo [inaudible] $25,000 y me pregunto qué hacer. ¿Cómo proceder con este asunto?

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, preguntémosle a nuestros expertos sobre eso. Dave, tal vez puedas tomar la palabra primero y Lee, si tienes algo que agregar, tal vez puedas participar también.

 

Dave Uejio: Sí, con gusto. Lamento mucho oír hablar de esta situación. Para nosotros está claro que la pandemia ha sido difícil para los consumidores, pero ciertamente para los propietarios como tú, creo que la mejor manera de abordar la situación es buscar asistencia para el alquiler a través del estado, porque en realidad está destinada a ayudar tanto a los propietarios como a los inquilinos.

 

Por lo tanto, si visitas consumerfinance.gov/housing, eso te ayudará a conectarte con el programa de asistencia de alquiler de Nueva Jersey. Como mencioné anteriormente, el Congreso ha reservado algo así como $50,000 millones para asegurarse de que los inquilinos, pero obviamente, a fin de cuentas, los propietarios como tú sean compensados ​​por esta falta de pago de la renta durante la pandemia. Entonces, realmente te animo a que busques esos recursos primero para ayudar con tu situación.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, Lee, ¿tienes algún consejo para propietarios como Desirae?

 

Lee Baker: Sinceramente, es exactamente lo mismo que dijo Dave. Que ponga todas las cartas boca arriba sobre la mesa. Yo mismo soy propietario y, trabajando con el administrador de mi propiedad, eso es exactamente lo que hizo en mi nombre. De hecho, el inquilino fue despedido inicialmente, luego volvió a trabajar, pero sinceramente, debido a la moratoria, hay muchas personas que simplemente no pagaron a pesar de que tenían alguna capacidad de pago, pero nuestro administrador de la propiedad ha estado trabajando con el inquilino y envió la información a la agencia apropiada aquí en Georgia.

 

Ahora, las cosas avanzan lentamente. ¿De acuerdo? Entonces, creo que la documentación se envió inicialmente en febrero o quizás en marzo, y todavía estamos tratando de luchar por ese proceso, pero es exactamente eso. Ve a consumerfinance.gov y comunícate con la agencia correspondiente en Nueva Jersey. Ahora, sé que aquí en Georgia había una ventana al principio en la que al menos tenías que presentar una solicitud para poder recibir los fondos. Por lo tanto, también debes asegurarte de verificar si hay algún tipo de oportunidad para obtener una solicitud allí, en Nueva Jersey.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias por eso. Kevin, hagamos otra.

 

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, nuestra última llamada proviene de Anne de Illinois.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Anne, bienvenida al programa. Continúa con tu pregunta. Hola, Anne. Continúa con tu pregunta. Parece que hemos perdido a Anne. Bueno.

 

Kevin Craiglow: Bill, podemos ir a otra llamada. Tenemos a Carol de Nueva York.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, Carol. Adelante.

 

Carol: Oh, sí. Oh sí, hola.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola.

 

Carol: Hola. De acuerdo, mi pregunta es sobre el lugar de trabajo. Como persona mayor antes de la pandemia, trabajé con una agencia, era un centro de salud con jóvenes desde recién nacidos hasta la edad, creo, de 21 años. Así que ahora me preguntan si quiero volver a trabajar. Estoy completamente vacunada, pero me dijeron que algunos miembros del personal se niegan a recibir vacunas, aunque todo el personal debe usar mascarillas.

 

Los niños en la instalación no, y no se requiere que estén vacunados. Entonces, tengo 70 años, me preocupa volver a ese ambiente dado que no sabes quién está vacunado, quién no y si los jóvenes no usan mascarillas. Aunque me han vacunado por completo, todavía estoy preocupada y mi pregunta es, ¿pueden hablar de eso en términos de seguridad para las personas mayores?

 

Bill Walsh: Claro, esa es una buena pregunta. Gracias Carol. Dr. Rupp, ¿puede darnos una respuesta rápida a eso?

 

Mark Rupp: Claro, Carol. Obviamente, es una pregunta bastante compleja y hay mucho que desentrañar allí. Sabes, parte de esto depende de tu situación y de cuánto necesitas trabajar. Los otros aspectos que están más relacionados con la medicina son que si estás sana, aunque tengas 70 años, si has recibido la vacuna, estarás muy protegida y es muy, muy eficaz.

 

Sabes, incluso si contraes la enfermedad, es probable que tengas un caso leve, que no esparcirás mucho virus ni se lo contagiarás a otras personas en tu hogar y que es muy probable que no te contagies tanto que termines teniendo que ser hospitalizada o pierdas la vida. Entonces, eso es algo reconfortante.

 

Obviamente, creo que los lugares de trabajo deben seguir siendo cuidadosos y concienzudos para proteger a todos en el lugar de trabajo. Deberían exigir que las personas que no están vacunadas usen una mascarilla, deberían seguir tomando algunas precauciones en cuanto a distanciamiento y quizás algunas cosas con respecto a la limpieza ambiental, y luego ciertamente si pueden mejorar su sistema de manejo de aire.

 

Todas esas cosas harán que sea más seguro para todos en el lugar de trabajo. Entonces, creo que, nuevamente, si has sido completamente vacunada, probablemente tengas un nivel bastante alto de protección si en lo demás estás sana.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Gracias, Dr. Rupp, y gracias a todos nuestros expertos. Esta ha sido una discusión realmente informativa. Quiero agradecerle a cada uno de ustedes por responder a nuestras preguntas y agradecerles a ustedes, nuestros socios de AARP, nuestros voluntarios y oyentes por participar en esta discusión.

 

AARP, una organización con membresía sin fines de lucro y no partidista, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores en Estados Unidos 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 prevenir su propagación 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, se podrán encontrar en aarp.org/coronavirus, a partir de mañana, 4 de junio. Una vez más, esa dirección web es 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 hayan aprendido algo hoy que pueda ayudarlos a ustedes y a sus seres queridos a mantenerse saludables. Acompáñennos el 17 de junio a la 1 p.m. hora del este para otro evento en vivo en el que responderemos sus preguntas sobre el coronavirus. Hasta entonces, esperamos contar con ustedes en ese momento. Gracias y que tengan un buen día. Con esto concluye nuestra llamada.

 

Coronavirus: Your Health, Finances & Housing

Thursday, June 3, at 1 p.m. ET

Listen to a replay of the the live event above.

Although vaccination rates are on the rise and the CDC has relaxed some masking and social distancing requirements, many older adults are still struggling financially. This live Q&A event addressed how to manage your income, credit and savings in a challenging economy. The experts shared how to access housing assistance and services if you’re struggling to pay the rent.

The experts:

  • Mark Rupp, M.D.
    Professor, Department of Internal Medicine,
    Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases,
    University of Nebraska Medical Center

  • Dave Uejio
    Acting Director,
    Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

  • Lee Baker
    Owner and President,
    Apex Financial Solutions

  • Megan O’Reilly
    Vice President,
    Federal Health and Family, Government Affairs at AARP

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, go to AARP.org/coronavirus.


Replay previous AARP Coronavirus Tele-Town Halls

  • June 24 - The State of LGBTQ Equality in the COVID Era
  • June 17 - Coronavirus: Vaccines And Staying Safe During “Reopening”
  • June 3 - Coronavirus: Your Health, Finances & Housing
  • May 20 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Variants and Coping
  • May 6 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Variants and Coping
  • April 22 - Your Vaccine Questions Answered and Coronavirus: Vaccines and Asian American and Pacific Islanders
  • April 8 - Coronavirus and Latinos: Safety, Protection and Prevention and Vaccines and Caring for Grandkids and Loved Ones
  • 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 28 - Coronavirus: Vaccine Distribution and Protecting Yourself
    & A Virtual World Awaits: Finding Fun, Community and Connections
  • January 14 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Staying Safe & Coping and Prevention, Vaccines & the Black Community
  • January 7 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Stimulus & Staying Safe
  • 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