COVID-19

What we know about the latest plan for more COVID relief

David Brancaccio, Rose Conlon, Erika Soderstrom, and Alex Schroeder Dec 18, 2020
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"What we really need in this package is a bridge to when the weather is warmer and the vaccines are disseminated," says Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

What we know about the latest plan for more COVID relief

David Brancaccio, Rose Conlon, Erika Soderstrom, and Alex Schroeder Dec 18, 2020
Heard on:
"What we really need in this package is a bridge to when the weather is warmer and the vaccines are disseminated," says Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
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Because Republicans and Democrats plan to get back to negotiations Friday, we can’t tell you exactly what is in the $900 billion coronavirus relief package that might or might not coalesce in the coming hours. It won’t address funding for cash-strapped state and local governments or stop business from getting sued over their handling of the virus.

But there would be money sent to people through various routes.

Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, spoke with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio about this, and the following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Marc Goldwein: Well, there are still ongoing negotiations, but it sounds like the [direct payment] checks portion could be $600 a person, $700 per person. The president has been asking for $1,200 to $2,000. But it sounds like the negotiators are closer to that $600 range.

David Brancaccio: And then the feds might top up the state unemployment benefits again, but just not quite at the level they were?

Goldwein: So remember back during the CARES Act, for a period of time, unemployed benefits had an extra $600 a week. That was really quite massive. This time, they’re talking about more like an extra $300 a week.

Brancaccio: And not forever. For 10 weeks, possibly?

Goldwein: First we heard 16 weeks, then we heard 10 weeks. Negotiations are ongoing, but it sounds like into March or possibly into April.

Brancaccio: You think 10 weeks is, what, maybe a little short?

Goldwein: Well, what we really need in this package is a bridge to when the weather is warmer and the vaccines are disseminated. Which, your guess is as good as mine, but I think it’s probably into April or possibly the beginning of May. Not when everyone is vaccinated, but when things are at least going in the right direction in terms of normalizing. And, so yeah, I’m looking for a package that could get us to April or May.

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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