CHARLESTON — The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has swept through our nation and hit other countries around the world particularly hard.
While West Virginia was the last state to report confirmed cases, we knew this day would come eventually, which is why Congress moved quickly to make sure states—including West Virginia—were prepared and equipped with the resources needed to meet this virus head-on.
To date, Congress has responded to the coronavirus in three phases:
The first phase was largely targeted toward additional support for vaccine research and new treatments, while also providing more resources to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to state health departments to help advance testing—an issue I’ve pressed hard with the administration.
The second phase provides important resources for those impacted by the virus, including individuals, families, and small businesses. Nutrition programs like SNAP, WIC, and senior citizen food programs like Meals on Wheels and others are included in this package. Additionally, the package supports our health professionals who have been working around-the-clock, allows for expansion of testing capabilities and health supplies, while providing aid to small businesses, those who are losing their jobs, or those who have had their hours cut.
Passing the first two phases was absolutely an important step, but it’s not the only step we needed to take. I was one of the members involved in the task force negotiations, which resulted in a landmark third phase of legislation call the CARES Act, and I made sure our state’s priorities were reflected in the final product.
One of the areas that has taken a big hit throughout this has been our small businesses. This is why the federal government has made it a point to support our economy during this time by putting more money back in the pockets of hardworking West Virginians and Americans that have been impacted by COVID-19.
This is exactly what the CARES Act aims to accomplish, and West Virginia will see immediate results.
Here’s a few ways how the CARES Act will help West Virginians:
Direct payments: In the near future, if you made $75,000 or less ($150,000 for a married couple), you are going to receive a direct deposit or check for $1,200 ($2,400 for a married couple) from the federal government, with an extra $500 for every child you have. Above those income levels, smaller checks will be issued to singles with incomes between $75,000 and $99,000 or couples earning between $150,000 and $198,000.
If you filed a 2018 tax return or have already filed a 2019 tax return, these payments will be sent automatically.
Small businesses: Included in the CARES Act is a small businesses loan forgiveness program that will provide a lifeline to businesses threatened by no fault of their own. Businesses—depending on their size—would be allowed to obtain a loan of up to $10 million. Loan forgiveness can be available to cover payroll expenses for up to 8 weeks, plus expenses like rent, mortgage interest and utilities but only if workers are kept on the payroll. This vital provision will help save small businesses and help workers keep their paychecks.
For more information about how to apply to access these funds, please visit the COVID-19 constituent resource webpage on my website at: www.capito.senate.gov/coronavirus
Hospitals and other health care providers: The bill provides $100 billion for hospitals, community health centers and other providers to assist with their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is designed to be flexible, so that medical providers can use it to prepare and to respond to the current emergency. Separate funding of $16 billion will help replenish our National Strategic Stockpile of vital items like personal protective equipment (PPE) and respirators. And, $11 billion will be used to research vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
These are just a few ways this package will quickly help West Virginians.
Supporting our economy, small businesses, hospitals and their workers, and others are the goals of the CARES Act, which is why these measures have been included since the legislation was first introduced.
West Virginians and Americans across the country desperately need this relief, and I am glad that Congress and the Trump administration were able to come together and take decisive action.