Congress has passed the CARES Act, a $2 Trillion stimulus package in response to the devastation caused by COVID-19 pandemic. The package provides relief to businesses of all sizes, the healthcare and education systems, as well as directly to American families.
While the list below is not exhaustive, it covers high points of the package likely to be of interest to our members and community. The CARES Act includes:
$350 billion to support small business relief
- Small Business Emergency grants: $10 billion for grants of up to $10,000 are included to provide emergency funds to small businesses to cover immediate operating costs.
- Forgivable loans: The Small Business Administration will receive $350 billion to provide loans of up to $10 million per business. Any loan funds used to maintain payroll, keep workers on the books or pay for rent, mortgage and existing debt could be forgiven, as long as workers stay employed through June 30.
- Existing SBA Loan Relief: There is $17 billion to cover six months of payments for small businesses already using SBA loans
- Tax Credits: The bill provides for a fully refundable tax credit for businesses of all sizes to help them keep workers on the payroll. The goal is to get those employees hired back or put on paid furlough to make sure they have jobs to return to. The credit covers up to 50 percent of payroll on the first $10,000 of compensation for each employee. Employers with more than 100 full-time employees may receive the credit for wages paid to employees when they are not providing services because of COVID-19. Eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees could use the deduction whether or not they are closed because of COVID-19.
$500 billion for large corporations
- Airlines: $58 billion is provided to help keep airlines open and operating. Some of those funds are set aside to help cover employee wages, salaries and benefits divided up as up to $25 billion for passenger air carriers, up to $4 billion for cargo air carriers, and up to $3 billion for airline contractors.
- Other loans and assistance: The bill includes about $440 billion for other large business loans, which would have to be paid back to the government and would be subject to public disclosure and other requirements. Companies would be prohibited from making stock buy backs for the term of the loan plus one year.
- Oversight: The bill creates a special inspector general to oversee pandemic recovery. Along with a special committee, that individual would oversee all loans and other pandemic-related uses of taxpayer dollars.
- Tax Credits: The bill provides for a fully refundable tax credit for businesses of all sizes to help them keep workers on the payroll. The goal is to get those employees hired back or put on paid furlough to make sure they have jobs to return to. Employers with more than 100 full-time employees may receive the credit for wages paid to employees when they are not providing services because of COVID-19. Eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees could use the deduction whether or not they are closed because of COVID-19.
339.8 billion for state and local governments
- COVID-19 Response: The bill provides $274 billion for specific COVID-19 response efforts. $150 billion in direct aid is included for those state and local governments running out of cash due to infection rates.
- Community Development Block Grants: The bill includes $5 billion for community development block grants, $13 billion for K-12 schools, $14 billion for higher education and $5.3 billion for programs for children and families, including child care center assistance.
$153.5 billion to support public health
- Hospitals: The bill provides for $100 billion in support for hospitals responding to COVID-19.
- Medicine and supplies: The bill provides $16 billion to the Strategic National Stockpile to increase availability of equipment, such as masks and ventilators. It also strengthens health care hiring during the pandemic and accelerates vaccine development, treatments and diagnostics.
- Community Medical Centers: The bill provides $1.32 billion in immediate additional funding for community centers that provide health care services.
- Drug access: For diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. the bill provides $11 billion. Also included is $80 million for the Food and Drug Administration to prioritize and expedite approval of new drugs.
- Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): $4.3 billion will go to CDC programs and response efforts.
- Veterans' Healthcare: $20 billion is allocated to healthcare programs and assistance for veterans.
- Telehealth: The bill includes funds to extend the reach of virtual doctors appointments.
$560 billion for individuals:
- Direct Cash Payments: American people and families will receive direct cash payments estimated to total $300 billion. Most people who earn less than $75,000 can expect a one-time cash payment of $1,200. Married couples would each receive a check and families would get $500 per child. That means a family of four earning less than $150,000 can expect $3,400.The checks start to phase down after that and disappear completely for people making more than $99,000 and couples making more than $198,000.
- Extra unemployment payments: Related expenses are predicted to total $260 billion but may change based on the number of people who ultimately file. The bill increases the benefits and widens the net for who is eligible to receive them. The bill adds $600/week in federal funds to whatever the state provides, which varies from state to state in amount and duration. Florida provides up to $250 per week, which means out of work individuals in Florida would receive $850/week.
- Help for Gig Workers: Gig workers will have access to a new, temporary pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that would pay the same $600/week through the end of this year that would be received by traditionally unemployed workers. Funds would be available to help people who lose work as a direct result of the public health emergency
- Student Loan Assistance: The bill provides for employers to provide up to $5,250 in tax-free student loan repayment benefits to workers, who would not have to include the money as income or pay taxes on it.
- Free Testing: The bill requires all private insurance plans to cover COVID-19 treatments and vaccine and makes all COVID-19 tests free.
$47 billion for education and related programs
- Workforce Response: The bill grants local workforce boards added flexibility to expend funds under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to meet administrative costs, including the provision of online resources. States will have added flexibility to deploy reserved workforce funding for statewide rapid response activities related to the COVID-19 emergency.
- Education Stabilization Fund: The bill provides $30.75 billion for relief efforts for higher education, K-12 education and states. It makes $3 billion in grants available to governors of states that apply. To cover the costs of closure or delivery of instruction, the bill makes $14.25 billion available to universities and colleges via a Higher Education Relief fund, and $13.5 billion available to K-12 schools via an Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund.
- Safe Schools and Citizenship Education: The bill provides another $100 million in funding to help K-12 schools and universities clean and disinfect affected schools and assist in counseling, distance learning, and associated costs.
- Relief for Graduates: The bill defers all loan and interest payments through Sept. 30 with no penalty to the borrower for any federally owned student loan.
- Relief for Students: The bill allows schools to convert unused work-study funds into grants and continue paying work study wages while schools are suspended.
- Other aid for students: There is a long list of benefits for students, including those who are forced to drop out, such as forgiveness for loans they have already received and ensuring their dropping out doesn't count against them if they apply for additional student loans or grants in the future.
$26 billion for safety net programs
- Food banks: The bill provides $450 million in additional funds for food banks and other community food distribution programs.
- School Meals: The bill provides $8.8 billion for schools to provide additional meals for students.
- Food Stamps: $15.5 billion will go toward Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to cover the cost of new applications to the program resulting from COVID-19.
This package is unlikely to be the last federal stimulus in response to COVID-19. We will keep you updated on further federal relief efforts.
Your Chamber Team
Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce
300 E. University Ave., Ste. 100
Gainesville, FL 32601