Is that light at the end of this pandemic tunnel? After days of intense negotiations Senate leaders have struck a historic deal, the largest rescue package in American history. This package will add about $2 trillion in aid in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the deal's key provisions:
The act will inject financial assistance to Americans with direct checks to households in the middle class and in lower income levels. Amounts have said to be about $1,200 to most American adults.
Unemployment insurance on steroids. A program that will extend benefits to laid-off workers that will allow for four months of full pay rather than three months for most. It would also raise the maximum unemployment insurance benefit by $600. It will apply to traditional workers for small and large businesses as well as those who are self-employed and workers in the gig economy.
$150 billion into the healthcare system, including funding for hospitals, research, treatment and the Strategic National Stockpile to raise supplies of ventilators, masks and other equipment.
$150 billion to state and local governments to address spending shortages related to the coronavirus pandemic.
$350 billion for small businesses impacted by the pandemic in the form of loans and some of those loans could be forgiven.
Listening to many national leaders, there have been talks about “when businesses open back up.” We will defer to public health officials for that but we hope that day comes sooner rather than later. I would guess that reopening will vary from place to place just as closures have been different around the country. In the meantime, we will continue to abide by the recommendations of social distancing and hope that we come back quicker because of those efforts.
Meanwhile, the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce will continue helping business succeed. Focus has been on our most important asset, our people and keeping employees connected to their employer. That is why the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce has been so focused on assistance programs that provide aid to businesses to help them keep paying their employees and the birth of our the Kearney Area Employee Emergency Relief Fund, as we bridge this standstill in business.
Neel Kashkari, President of the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis, said in a 60 minutes interview on Sunday night that, “and importantly, keeping their workers employed. That’s much better because once people are lost in to the sidelines, it just takes a long time to get them back. We hope that the KAEER Fund helps with this. On day one, we were able to grant money to about 70 individuals totaling over $5000.
If you haven’t looked into the Short Term Compensation Program, I would suggest you do. While unemployment insurance provides critical support as well for those who do lose their jobs, our goal should be to keep as many Kearney area people employed as possible during this crisis. That is not only good for workers, it is good for employers. Maintaining your existing workforce makes it easier to reopen when we get the all clear. Having to go out and rehire workers only creates more friction and delays getting back to work.
I am so proud of our community. Kearney Strong is more than a cool graphic, more than a hashtag, it’s our resilient community. We will continue to work for you during this crisis.