On Wednesday, March 25th, the United States Senate approved an historic 2 trillion dollar stimulus package. The vote received an overwhelming bipartisan vote, 96-0. The legislation represents the largest emergency aid package in US history and the most significant legislative action taken to address the rapidly intensifying and ever-changing environment created by the COVID-19 crisis pandemic.
President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign the measure and tweeted his congratulations after it cleared the Senate.
The key elements of the proposal are $250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
Under the plan, individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400 -- and an additional $500 per each child. The payment would scale down by income, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.
In addition, the bill would provide a major amount of funding for hard-hit hospitals, to the tune of $130 billion -- as well as $150 billion for state and local governments that are cash-strapped due to their response to coronavirus, coupled with economical loss due to the cancellation of events.
The bill also has a provision that would block President Trump and his family, as well as other top government officials and members of Congress, from getting loans or investments from Treasury programs in the stimulus, according to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office.
The COVID-19 virus is expected to cost the world economy $2 trillion. It has costs the United States billions of dollars. Cities such as Austin were dealt crippling blows with the cancellation of South By Southwest (SXSW). The annual music event brought in $355 million in 2019.
A crisis has not enveloped so much of the economy so quickly since 9/11. Broadway is dark. The college basketball tournaments are canceled and professional sports are on indefinite hold. Conferences, concerts and St. Patrick’s Day parades and other events have been called off or postponed. Last year wagering on March Madness alone totaled over $400 million. National parks such as Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains have closed. There is not one aspect of life that has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was cancelled, costing the cities hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year the event brought in 2.1 million visitors and contributed almost $400 million dollars to the local economy.
Hospitals are at the epicenter of the virus outbreak in more ways than one. Not only is every hospital in the state preparing for a surge in cases, they’re also losing money due to governor Abbott cancelling all elective surgeries. Hospitals are losing billions while preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. The reduction in surgeries along with the cancellation of appointments with primary care doctors and specialists have forced hospitals to cut the hours of some staff members. In San Angelo, Shannon Medical Center has cut the hours for some staff to 24 hours per week, including some nursing staff. There have been 2 COVID-19 cases reported in San Angelo. The situation with the COVID-19 virus is fluid and changes are occurring on a daily basis as hospitals try to determine how best to deal with the loss of revenue while preparing for a worst-case scenario.
In the end, while the $2 trillion dollars will certainly help the economy get back on track, it will be a year or more until the 6,146 hospitals in the United States are even close to economic recovery from the pandemic. The specialists from the CDC don’t believe that the US has peaked out on cases yet. On March 27th the United States took the lead from Italy and Spain in new COVID-19 cases. According to the website, www.worldometer.info, the 24-hour period from March 26th – March 27th saw 8,990 new cases of COVID-19 reported. That brought the number of active cases in the United States to 94,549 with a total of 1,429 deaths. There were 134 new deaths in the US during that 24-hour period.
According to Worldometer, Italy is in 2nd place with 66,414 cases and Spain is in 3rd place with 49,768 active cases, followed by Germany with 43,367 cases. The concentration of the cases based on the populations of the countries shows that the US has 285 cases per 1,000,000 population, with 4 deaths per 1,000,000 population. In contrast, Italy has 1,431 cases per 1,000,000 population, with 151 deaths per million. Spain has 1,370 cases with 106 deaths per 1,000,000 population. One of the countries that has been hit hardest recently is Switzerland. While they have 11,183 cases, they have 1,422 per 1,000,000 population, with 27 deaths per 1,000,000. The small microstate enclave of the Republic of San Marino, which is surrounded by the country of Italy, is suffering 619 deaths per 1,000,000 population.
Regardless of when the pandemic ends the entire world economy has been critically affected by the outbreak. Ultimately, a $2 trillion stimulus package for the US is a truly historic bill but in the end it may take another stimulus package to aid in the economic recovery of the country.