Coronavirus Update: March 26th
Thursday, March 26, 2020
I wanted to provide you with regular updates on the coronavirus.
The coronavirus pandemic is developing very quickly, and I know many people have questions. I will try to answer some of them below.
Congress has acted on three emergency relief bills related to the coronavirus. More on each of them are below:
On Wednesday, March 25, the U.S. Senate passed S. 3548, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, by a unanimous 96-0 vote. Now that the U.S. Senate has acted, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on this bipartisan legislation Friday, March 27th. I will support this legislation—while it is not perfect, is goes a long way to helping to provide immediate economic relief to workers, small businesses and our frontline hospitals and health care workers. A helpful frequently asked questions page on how this bill could help your family is here. The bill includes:
- Direct payments to taxpayers: The bill will provide $1,200 in direct payments to taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 per year before starting to phase out and ending altogether for those earning more than $99,000. Parents would receive an additional $500 per child. Seniors, including on Social Security, as well as non-tax filers and those on SSDI and SSI will also be eligible for this assistance.
- Expanded Unemployment Benefits: The bill would significantly extend jobless insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month, $600 increase in benefits. House Democrats are successfully fought to expand unemployment insurance benefits for self-employed and so-called “gig” workers.
- Support for Hospitals, Health Care Workers: The bill provides $150 billion to support hospitals and frontline health care workers. Also, Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Centers will be able to bill directly for telehealth services during the coronavirus crisis.
- Additional Small Business Grants: Small businesses will receive additional help, in the form of emergency loans and grants. The bill provides federally-guaranteed support, through community banks, to small businesses, including loans that can be forgiven if businesses keep workers on the payroll, instead of laying workers off.
- Loans for Large Businesses: Larger companies can apply for loans through the Federal Reserve, including the airline industry. House Democrats successfully negotiated that any large company that receives loans through the federal government will have to take additional steps to keep their workers on the payroll, limit executive bonuses, and ban stock buybacks. The loans will also have to be paid back to the federal government.
On March 18, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was signed into law. The legislation creates paid sick and family leave, strengthens food assistance and ensure anyone who gets tested for coronavirus will not charge. For more information, visit here.
On March 6, H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, was signed into law. The legislation provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding to fully address the coronavirus and protect Americans from this public health crisis. For more information, visit here.
Map of Coronavirus Cases in Michigan: An up-to-date map of coronavirus cases in Michigan, provided by the Michigan State Police, can be viewed here.
Stay At Home Order: "Stay at Home, Say Safe” Order: Effective today through April 13, Governor Whitmer’s executive order to all Michigan businesses and operations temporarily suspends in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The executive order will be effective at midnight from Tuesday, March 24 and be in effect for at least the next three weeks.
Flint Mass Transit Authority: According to the Flint MTA, they are considered an essential service and will continue operations despite the Stay at Home Order.
Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services (STARS): STARS announced they will be stopping all fixed bus routes.
Help With Consumers Energy Bill: If you are having trouble paying for your Consumers Energy bill, they have set up a webpage to help understand your options. You can also call 1-800-477-5050. Small Businesses can reach out to email@example.com
New IRS Filing Season Guidelines: In response to the coronavirus crisis, the IRS has announced it will move the national income tax filing day to July 15, three months after the normal deadline. If you still cannot file a return by that date, you can request an extension by filing out the Form 4868, for an automatic extension until October 15, 2020.
New IRS Information Regarding Coronavirus: The IRS now has a live page on IRS.gov with tips for taxpayers, including information on available assistance due to the impacts of coronavirus.
Help for Small Businesses: The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) is providing disaster relief loans of up to $2 million to small businesses, agricultural cooperatives and non-profits that have suffered substantial economic injury from the coronavirus. Visit www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19 or call SBA’s national disaster relief line at 1-800-659-2955 for more information.
Click here for a FAQ sheet created by the House Small Business Committee for more information about what the House of Representatives is doing to help small businesses.
Foreclosure Freeze: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be granted a two month reprieve from foreclosures. This includes owners of multifamily properties, who will be allowed to fall behind on their mortgages in exchange for not evicting tenants that cannot make their monthly rent due to the coronavirus.
Federal Student Loans: On March 20, the U.S. Department of Education announced students with federally held student loans will not accrue interest for at least 60 days and do not have to make payments on their loans for at least two months. Borrowers can find more information on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits: The governor has expanded the criteria for those who can file unemployment benefits. This applies to those out of work caring for family members who are sick or because of school closures; workers who are “sick, quarantined or immunocompromised” and don’t have paid family and medical leave; workers who have been laid off; and first responders who became sick or quarantined. Those eligible for these benefits should apply online at www.Michigan.gov/UIA or call 866-500-0017. I am working with the state and federal government to make sure that everyone has access to these benefits.
Unemployment Offices are Closed: Governor Whitmer has announced Michigan’s unemployment insurance agency will stop in-person transaction unless an individual has an appointment to help stem the spread of coronavirus. Those eligible for unemployment benefits should apply online at www.michigan.gov/UIA or call 866-500-0017.
K-12 Schools: Governor Whitmer closed all Michigan schools until April 6th. I support her decision to close schools to keep our families safe, but I know that many students depend on schools for nutritious meals. Here is an interactive map where you can find meals for children during school closures.