Yesterday, the Senate passed a new bipartisan stimulus package that allocates over $300 billion for small business aid. For many businesses, the money can’t come soon enough. The $349 billion allocated to the Paycheck Protection Program in the last stimulus package ran out in weeks. Many small businesses didn’t apply in time, and many that did are in limbo as they wait for the money to arrive. As funds get tighter, many of these businesses are forced to confront big existential questions.
Uli Nasibova is the owner of Gelateria Uli, which has two locations in downtown Los Angeles. She’s got a lot on her mind as she faces the daily challenges of the pandemic and looks down the uncertain road ahead. Her stores are open for pickup and delivery, but she struggles to find the balance between protecting employees and protecting jobs.
“My job, as I see it, is to say ‘I’m giving you the hours regardless of business being able to bring in the revenue or not, because of GoFundMe/ government assistance,'” Nasibova said. “So what do I do when people say, ‘I don’t want to get my family member sick. It is irresponsible of me to go into work right now.’ I can’t force people work. And I’m not going to.”
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COVID-19 Economy FAQs
What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?
Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.
How has the pandemic changed scientific research?
Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.
What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?
Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”
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