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Negotiations continue today over the next round of federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congress and the White House already signed off on $8.3 billion in emergency funding for COVID-19 response. House Democrats are proposing a raft of measures to provide an economic backstop to this health crisis.
Round 2 of federal coronavirus response is set to include a variety of provisions making it easier for people to stay home when they are sick.
“It allows people to take two weeks of paid sick days,” said Eileen Appelbaum, co-director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “If you are a small employer, the Treasury will reimburse you. Otherwise, the employer pays for that.”
The plan also includes money for the states to cover an expected spike in unemployment claims.
“For those who are required to stay at home, or not going to work, I think maybe in some cases not being paid, then this is a way of addressing it,” said Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Hoagland says this particular package is designed more to help individual workers and families.
“I think later on, we will see maybe more direct assistance as it relates to businesses,” he said.
But first, the White House and the Democrats have to agree on what to do now.
Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?
Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.
How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?
Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.
How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?
As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.
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