The House of Representatives is expected to pass new COVID-19 relief money that got through the Senate Tuesday. Among other things, the roughly $484 billion bill would replenish the program to help small businesses avoid laying people off, a program that has run dry.
It’s a lot of money: $310 billion goes toward loans for small businesses, the Paycheck Protection Program. There’s $60 billion set aside for small lenders, and another $60 billion for Small Business Administration disaster assistance loans and grants. There’s also $100 billion for hospitals and testing.
After the House votes Thursday, as it’s expected to, President Donald Trump says he’ll sign the bill, and that’ll get the new Paycheck Protection loan money flowing.
But it’ll be used up quickly, according to David Pommerehn, general counsel for the Consumer Bankers Association.
“We expect that those funds will help. We expect that they’ll get into the hands of the borrowers that need them, but they’re going to go very quickly,” Pommerehn said. “Most likely, that funding will likely be depleted within 48 to 72 hours.”
Congressional leaders say there will be another aid bill after this one. They’re not saying how much could be in it for small business loans. But Democrats say they’ll insist on more money for state and local governments.
President Trump has tweeted his support for that, saying some of the money could go toward infrastructure, things like bridges, tunnels and broadband.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
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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