By Kathy Kahn
With every state-West Virginia reported its first case—dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, Congress is poised to pass a $2.2 trillion stimulus package Friday morning, March 27, to help the staggering American economy get back on its feet before it falls flat on its face.
Back on January 31, 2020, President Donald Trump clamped down on foreign nationals who had visited China and put them and Americans who had travelled to The People’s Republic under quarantine, prompted by major airlines forced to suspend air service between mainland China and the U.S. due to the coronavirus raging in Wuhan Province.
Less than a month later, America found the coronavirus had arrived on its shores, though many who had flu-like symptoms prior to the virus’s arrival had gone to hospitals and been sent home when they tested negative for influenza.
New York, California and the state of Washington—major points of entry for foreign visitors –appear to have been the hardest hit, with the numbers continuing to climb now that testing ability can confirm the virus is active in people banging on health care doors.
President Donald Trump on Thursday evening, March 26, spoke to the American people from the White House, where he praised health care workers and first responders, “some of whom we have lost to this terrible virus,” and went on to advise listeners that Congress was on verge of signing a $2.3 trillion Stimulus Package to bolster the sagging economy and help millions of workers laid off and businesses shuttered—perhaps permanently—due to the virus’ s spread.
Two Navy hospital ships–U.S.S. Comfort and U.S.S. Mercy –are expected to arrive at New York’s Pier 90 on Monday, March 30, to ease the caseload of COVID patients overwhelming hospitals in the metro area. The NYS Health Dept. has reported a drastic uptick in cases In Orange, Rockland, Westchester, New York City and Long Island —primarily due to increased ability to test patients for the virus at both hospitals and emergency mobile facilities that have been set up across the region.
More than 3.2 million workers have applied for unemployment benefits after their places of business have been shut down. As part of the proposed Stimulus Package, people who have been laid off during the pandemic will be entitled to collect up to $600 more per week than current state guidelines allow-enough to represent a week’s wages.
The $2.3 trillion infusion into the U.S. economy will help Americans who have been sidelined from work due to the outbreak of illness and the subsequent shutdown of America’s most populous and popular workplaces and tourism venues, as well as the small business owner with ten or less employees.
$250 billion will go to American families as a direct payment, while $250 billion will be set aside for unemployment insurance benefits. $500 billion will be set aside in loans for companies floundering under mandated closures. $180 billion will help shore up hospitals, healthcare facilities. Large corporate employers—airlines, factories and others—will be eligible for low- or no-interest loans to help them reopen and get back to work. Small business will be aided with no- or low-interest loans and encouraged to hire back employees as quickly as possible. The nearly 900-page Stimulus Bill will be easier to decipher once both Houses of Congress send it to Trump for his signature.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who holds constant briefings on the coronavirus and has been getting a fair share of mass media attention, has also bolstered speculation that his baseball cap and “plain talk” non-stop on television and radio is a segue to his jumping into the 2020 Democratic Primary and picking up where former Mayor Michael Bloomberg left off.
Cuomo has already lamented the amount of money New York will receive under the proposed package in Congress, saying $3.8 billion is “not enough” to make the state–already strangled by its own $6 billion deficit–whole again. The nearly $4 billion New York will receive was approved by the Senate 59-1, with both NYS Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand voting aye for its passage.
In the meantime, Trump, who expressed hope that America would be able to celebrate Easter with the economy reopened, said it may take little longer, but “America is a country that has a strong work ethic…and wants to go back to work as soon as possible.”