Most of us have never seen anything like the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. A tiny contagious virus has taken a tragic human toll and shut down much of the world’s economy. The way back won’t be easy, but Congress quickly pushed through major legislation designed to keep U.S. families, businesses, and healthcare providers afloat.
Passed at the end of March, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act set aside trillions of dollars in relief in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. Along with some companion legislation, the CARES Act is meant to address various aspects of the financial harm triggered by the virus by providing assistance to:
Individuals – One of the most notable elements of the CARES Act is the money authorized for individual relief. This includes an expansion on traditional unemployment benefits and cash payments to people who fall under a certain income level. Distribution of stimulus direct deposits and checks started on April 15, with payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 for each child aged 17 and under. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program supplements state payments and offer benefits to gig workers and other independent contractors.
Small businesses – The CARES Act fosters two different types of small business loans. Under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), employers have access to loans that can be forgiven as long as the funds are used to retain employees or for another necessary purpose defined by the statute. COVID-19 also prompted Congress to revise the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Now, businesses can ask for up to $10,000 as an advance on the loan, which does not have to be repaid, and should be approved even if the underlying application is eventually denied.
Healthcare providers – Our healthcare system and the people within it have been arguably hit the hardest by the pandemic. Individual hospitals are struggling under the weight of patients, desperately scouring local and online sources to find protective gear for their staff, and have lost access to much of the lucrative elective medical treatment that keeps the lights on. The CARES Act sets aside $100 billion for hospitals, and billions more for community health centers, drug research, telehealth, medical supplies, and veterans’ care.
It won’t be easy for individuals and businesses to try to pick up where they left off. Many people will have to rebuild financial stability after being furloughed, laid off, or forced to close a business entirely. As with most large government programs, red tape and delays are to be expected, and if you are having difficulty getting the relief you need, consider consulting with an attorney about your legal options.
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