U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi returns to her office after the start of the vote on the latest stimulus package. Win McNamee/Getty Images
COVID-19

What’s included in the new $484 billion COVID-19 relief package

Janet Nguyen Apr 23, 2020
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi returns to her office after the start of the vote on the latest stimulus package. Win McNamee/Getty Images

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

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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