Federal authorities propose relief measures to combat COVID-19 impact

Michaella Huck and Alyssa Durant

The White House has voiced full support in various crisis measures as an effort to relieve Americans from the economic and medical stressors rooted in the COVID-19 outbreak.

Taxpayers impacted by the ongoing pandemic are eligible to receive a $1,000 grant from the federal government as part of the White House’s coronavirus stimulus plan, if passed.

During a press conference Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin detailed his department’s proposed remedies to COVID-19’s impending fiscal influence.

The U.S. Treasury will deliver two rounds of equally-valued electronic direct deposits on April 6 and May 18, as long as the recipient has filed their 2019 federal tax forms.

“Payment amounts would be fixed and tiered based on income level and family size,” the Treasury department wrote in its proposal. “Treasury is modeling specific options.”

Meantime, due to the pandemic’s hit on business revenue, California’s Franchise Tax Board has extended the state’s tax return deadline from April 15 to June 15. The IRS will not take similar relief measures, but instead will issue the electronic bonuses nationwide.

If the situation is not handled properly, Mnuchin calculated that the United States could see a hypothetical 20% unemployment rate.

“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said at Tuesday’s press conference. “And I mean now, in the next two weeks.”

The Treasury Department sent the proposal to lawmakers on Wednesday, which outlined the $500 billion grant package.

Mnuchin also announced that he plans to utilize the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund to loan money to the airline industry, as cargo and commercial travel has been directly affected in efforts to stall the global spread of COVID-19.

Efforts to limit economic strain from the pandemic does not stop there.

As of Wednesday, President Trump signed a $100 billion coronavirus aid bill that ensures free testing and paid sick emergency leave for workers who fell ill.

The bill calls for free testing for any person who is recommended by a doctor. No deductibles or copayments are required and those who are uninsured are able to receive screenings through federal programs.

It also increases benefits for family and medical leave within companies with fewer than 500 employees. Those who have been impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to receive up to two-thirds of their average monthly pay for up to 12 weeks. However, those who are employed by companies with over 500 employees do not qualify.

For states that have a 10% rise in unemployment, additional funding will be required and there will be looser eligibility requirements to receive unemployment benefits.

“Pleased the #COVID-19 response package passed the Senate in a bipartisan manner. Now, we must urgently act on additional measures to provide economic relief for working Americans & families, protect health workers & patients, boost small businesses, and help secure our economy,” Sen. Mitt Romney stated in a tweet on Wednesday.