What’s The Government Response to the Pandemic Crisis

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government is considering a slew of legislation and executive orders to respond to a crisis that has upended life in the United States and countries around the world.

The federal government is announcing new policies each day, and specifics are changing quickly. But here’s what is being considered or implemented so far for individuals.

Financial Relief

At a press conference Tuesday, Mnuchin said the government is “looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” perhaps as soon as the next two weeks. “The president has instructed me that we have to do this now,” Mnuchin said.

A fact sheet from Treasury says there would be two rounds of direct payments to individual taxpayers, issued beginning April 6 and May 18. “Payment amount would be fixed and tiered based on income level and family size,” reads the fact sheet.

Paid Sick Leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was passed by the House on Saturday with major changes made to the bill Monday, requires some employers to provide full-time workers with 10 days (two weeks) of paid leave if they get sick from the virus. 

The provision expires at the end of the year. It also requires some employers to provide “up to three months of paid family and medical leave for people forced to quarantine due to the virus or care for children or family members because of the outbreak,” 

Food Assistance

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act also addresses some food insecurity issues. Here are a few ways it is helping:

  • Provides $500 million in food assistance for low-income mothers with young children and pregnant women
  • Puts $400 million into food banks and $250 million into a senior nutrition program
  • Suspends work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for the duration of the crisis

Unemployment Benefits

The U.S. Department of Labor announced last week that states can provide unemployment benefits in situations of temporary unemployment related to the coronavirus. People who are quarantined and can’t go to work can also receive benefits, as can those who leave a job to care for infected family members.

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