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What’s included in the new $484 billion COVID-19 relief package
Congress has approved a nearly $500 billion COVID-19 relief package, which will now head to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.
The House approved the measure in a 388-5 vote today, following Senate approval on Tuesday.
The package includes more than $320 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans to small businesses.
The government initially gave about $350 billion to the program, which drew criticism after major companies received loans. Publicly traded companies got more than $500 million in small business loans, in aggregate, according to an analysis from the Wall Street Journal.
In response to the backlash, the Small Business Administration released new guidance today stating that public companies will have until May 7 to return aid. Some companies have already returned the funds, like Shake Shack, which received $10 million in loans.
According to the SBA statement, borrowers will have to demonstrate “that their PPP loan request is necessary.”
“It is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith,” the SBA said in its frequently asked questions section.
As part of the relief package, $75 billion will go to hospitals, $60 billion will be earmarked for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and $25 billion will fund COVID-19 testing.
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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