Coronavirus Government Response Update—Congress Considers Smaller Relief Packages

August 25, 2020

Welcome to the ISSA Coronavirus Government Response Update. This information is intended to keep our members up to date on government affairs related to the cleaning industry and COVID-19. Today’s update touches on U.S. congressional members considering smaller pandemic relief packages, jobless claims rising above one million, sources for small businesses to procure loans, and more.

House, Senate Consider Smaller Pandemic Relief Packages
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are discussing the idea of a narrower pandemic relief package as the chamber returned to Congress to vote on legislation to support the U.S. Postal Service, according to NBC News. Republicans in the U.S. Senate also started circulating a draft of a smaller COVID-19 relief package that would provide Americans added unemployment benefits at half the earlier level, protect businesses from COVID-19-related lawsuits, and provide funding for schools and coronavirus testing.

American Initial Jobless Claims Rise above One Million Again
Another 1.1 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis, dashing economists’ hopes for a second-straight week with fewer than one million claims. Economists were optimistic that the U.S. jobs market would be on a steady trajectory toward recovery, according to CNN. But recent claims exceeded forecasts after the previous week’s report was the first below one million since March, the U.S. Department of Labor reported.

With PPP on Pause, Where Can Small Businesses Get Loans?
Since the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) stopped taking applications on August 8, small businesses struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are left with few options for additional financial assistance. The US$521 billion disbursed via the PPP attracted more than five million applicants, largely due to potential loan forgiveness if the funds were used for eligible expenses like payroll and rent. Yet nearly half of PPP loan borrowers anticipate requiring additional financial support over the next year, according to a National Federation of Independent Business Research Center survey.

When Is It Safe to Open Schools? States Have Varying Answers
As schools across the U.S. decide whether to reopen this fall, many are left wondering how to know if it is safe. Public health experts say virus rates in the community should be low before schools reopen, but there’s little consensus on a specific threshold or even a measurement, AP reports. The federal government has largely left it to state and local governments to decide when it is safe to bring students back to the classroom. The result is a patchwork of polices that vary widely by state and county.

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