Columns

Blaine’s Bulletin: Coronavirus Update Part IV

Washington, April 3, 2020

There has been a lot of talk about the CARES Act, the bill was signed into law last week. News about what is in it, or not it, is coming at us 24 hours a day. The headlines about checks from the Treasury or billions of dollars of loans to businesses sheds some light on what the new law entails, but people I talk to here in Missouri want to know: how does this bill help your family and where can you go to get real details – real answers. 

The IRS will be issuing Economic Impact Payments in the form of a check directly from the U.S. Treasury Department to every American making under $99,000 a year. Individuals who make under $75,000 will receive $1,200. Couples who collectively make under $150,000 will receive $2,400.  They will also receive $500 for each dependent child in the household.  Individuals who make between $75,000 and $99,000 will also receive money but the value declines as a person’s income increases.  

Most of you will not have to do anything to receive the check, as the IRS will directly deposit the check like they would a tax return. If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, the Treasury Department is building a web-based system that should be available soon for you to provide that information to the IRS. To make sure you qualify or for more details visit the IRS’s website at IRS.gov/coronavirus

Another tool I wish the IRS did not have to make available -- but is unfortunately necessary -- is a page warning of the scams criminals are running to take advantage of the current situation.  Before you sign up for anything, it might be worth your time to visit this page to keep yourself safe from fraud: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-issues-warning-about-coronavirus-related-scams-watch-out-for-schemes-tied-to-economic-impact-payments

While many people are adhering to social distancing guidelines, medical professionals and first responders are standing steadily on the front lines. They are running toward sick patients and putting their health on the line in order to fight the spread. We often think of “doctors” and “first responders” as impenetrable units we can count on to protect us -- and they do protect us very well. But it’s important to remember these are individuals with families and friends, and they are just as susceptible as the rest of us. When they go to work every day, they’re not just putting themselves in harm’s way, their families also must face any ramifications. Saying thank you isn’t enough, but I hope we all take every opportunity that we can to do it.   

Through the CARES Act, Congress appropriated $27 billion for the purchase and distribution of additional personal protection equipment, often called PPE, as well as the development of vaccines. $100 billion will go to hospitals and providers to aid in the fight against coronavirus and another $250 million is available for hospital preparedness grants. And $4.3 billion in new funding is going to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for preparedness and response efforts. The CDC is working directly with states to coordinate and aid in their efforts on the ground. 

Small businesses are the number one job creator in our nation and a major part of the heart of Missouri Communities. Because so many Missourians work for small businesses, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) loan programs are going to be critical to our area. SBA is offering multiple programs to assist businesses that have been hit hard by the economic downturn. Your local SBA office can help you figure out which program best suits your business and can be found at sba.gov/content/find-local-sba-office. Details on all of the programs can be found on their website: https://www.sba.gov/coronavirus

One available program is for Economic Injury Disaster Loans which are designed for businesses that have suffered a substantial economic loss and need help with general operating expenses to weather the storm. These loans can be up to $2 million with an advance of up to $10,000. To apply for an Economic Injury Loan, go to covid19relief.sba.gov/

Another option is the Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to encourage businesses – with 500 employees or less – to keep employees on staff as Missouri continues to deal with coronavirus. Eligible recipients can qualify for loans up to $10 million with payments deferred for six months. Portions of the loans used to cover payroll and certain other expense can also be completely forgiven in order to keep businesses running and workers employed. Applications for the Payment Protection Program are being accepted as of today, April 3rd and can be found here:sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program

This is an unprecedented situation, but America will come together and get through this. Amidst the chaos, it has been so encouraging to see so the acts of goodwill taking place throughout the country and our state. Businesses are using their facilities and resources to make PPE equipment, people are organizing meal deliveries for our health care workers from local restaurants to help support their businesses, and families and strangers alike are visiting the elderly from afar at this potentially lonely time with a sign of encouragement or a wave. America is united and we will get through this. In the meantime, please remember the Missouri Coronavirus Hotline (1-877-435-8411) and follow the CDC.gov guidelines for staying healthy. I have also created a list of Missouri specific resources at Luetkemeyer.house.gov/coronavirus. Please feel free to call my office with any questions or concerns you may have, and please stay healthy.