It’s no secret that the need for social distancing and the stay-at-home orders from multiple state governors are causing damage to the economy. Non-essential businesses have been forced to shut down, people are unable to perform their jobs, and the economy has come to a screeching halt in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.
This morning, the federal government released the latest jobs report, and it was worse than the reports during the Great Recession in 2009. The government is currently reporting that 3.28 million Americans have recently applied for unemployment benefits.
To put this number in perspective, the highest unemployment number during the Recession was 665,000 in 2009, and the highest unemployment number ever recorded was 695,000 in 1982.
We’re even seeing job loss and struggle in our own community. At Channel 27 News, we’ve been receiving many messages from our fellow Grant County residents about how their places of employment have decided to handle the coronavirus pandemic.
People have told us about how they’ve been laid off, had their wages and hours cut, or just flat-out lost their job because of the coronavirus and the orders sent by our governor that shuts down all non-essential work. Everyone is feeling the impact right now, including those of us in Grant County.
We’ve also seen the stock market tumble as the coronavirus has spread across the country. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen stocks fall at a unprecedented rates, wiping out all gains that had been made during the last three years of the Trump presidency, which at one point had been setting new record highs.
While the latest jobs information and stock market lows are hard to swallow, there is some hope on the horizon.
As of Thursday morning, the Senate has passed a piece of legislation to bring aid to both the American people and American businesses during this coronavirus pandemic. The bill is now heading to the House of Representatives on Friday.
So what kind of help can Americans expect to see from this latest coronavirus relief bill?
An article by CNN describes the bill as having “$250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.”
The government will be sending checks to American citizens, based on either their 2018 tax filings or their 2019 taxes, if they’ve already been filed.
Single Americans who make less than $75,000 a year will receive a check from the government for $1200.
Married couples who report less than $150,000 on their joint tax filings will receive $2400.
Parents will receive an additional $500 for every child claimed on their taxes.
People who receive their yearly tax returns through direct deposit should have these amounts sent directly to their checking accounts. People who usually receive their tax return as a paper check might see a delay by about four months before they see their government stimulus check, though that exact amount of time has not yet been set in stone.
Small businesses will be able to receive low-interest loans to help them continue operating during the pandemic. The bill also “provides additional funding for grants and technical assistance.”
The bill passed by the Senate addresses taxes, as well, by saying it
- establishes special rules for certain tax-favored withdrawals from retirement plans;
- delays due dates for employer payroll taxes and estimated tax payments for corporations; and
- revises other provisions, including those related to losses, charitable deductions, and business interest.
People with federal student loans will find that their payments are temporarily delayed with this bill, which will have a huge impact on American lives, given that about 45 million people currently have outstanding student loans.
Americans also wouldn’t have to worry about the price of getting tested for the coronavirus (COVID-19), because this bill would address many issues currently being faced in the health industry.
A summary from the Senate says that the bill
- provides additional funding for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19;
- limits liability for volunteer health care professionals;
- prioritizes Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of certain drugs;
- allows emergency use of certain diagnostic tests that are not approved by the FDA;
- expands health-insurance coverage for diagnostic testing and requires coverage for preventative services and vaccines;
- revises other provisions, including those regarding the medical supply chain, the national stockpile, the health care workforce, the Healthy Start program, telehealth services, nutrition services, Medicare, and Medicaid.
This Senate bill, which passed with bipartisan support, 96-0, includes a total of $2 trillion worth of spending to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus. The House of Representatives has announced that it will consider the bill at 9:00 AM Friday morning, and they hope to pass the bill with a voice vote, that way it can move swiftly to the President, who already says he will immediately sign the bill into law.