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COVID-19 Federal Relief Update

News from the office of Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante
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Dear <<First Name>>,

With the U.S. Senate having now voted on the COVID-19 relief package, I want to give you a brief update on the contents of that legislation. Please remember that this bill still needs to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed by the president before this legislation takes effect. Also, it is important to note that this is emergency relief, not a stimulus, as there may be a proper stimulus package coming in the future.

Direct economic relief will be provided to individuals and families. Taxpayers earning under $75,000 annually or $150,000 for a married couple filing jointly would receive $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. A smaller benefit will be available for individuals earning between $75,000 and $90,000. Eligibility will be determined on the taxpayer's 2018 or 2019 tax returns, with checks or direct deposits based on the taxpayer's filing information coming in a few weeks at the earliest.

Unemployment insurance benefits will be boosted with an additional $260 billion nationwide. Unemployment would be extended by 13 weeks and benefits would increase by $600 on top of the current average of $300 for four months. Unemployment insurance will also be extended to freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors, self-employed, and to people who may not have been fired but are unable to work as a result of COVID-19.

Small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees will have access to $377 billion in emergency aid in the form of zero-interest loans, with a maximum loan of $10 million. A portion of the loans may be forgiven if they are used for covering employee salaries, rent, paid leave, utility payments, health insurance premiums or other necessities or worker protections. Loans given to firms with tipped employees may also be forgiven if they are used to provide additional wages to their employees. 

For our fishermen, the relief bill includes $300 million to help fishermen around the country struggling due to disappearing economic markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishermen, as well as aquaculture farmers, are all eligible for the disaster assistance. For our shoreside businesses that are also impacted, we encourage them to apply for emergency loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration as they are taking applications immediately.

Assistance for large businesses in severely distressed industries will be included, primarily through loans and loan guarantees allocated by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. This includes grants and loans for specific industries as well as a larger $425 billion fund to be administered through the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities. The legislation includes restrictions on companies receiving assistance through the fund, such as restrictions on salary increases for executives and stock buybacks.

Hospitals will receive money from a $100 billion fund that can be used for protective gear for health care workers, testing supplies, emergency operation centers, and other necessities. An additional $80 billion is available for increased community health center funding, Medicare payments, telehealth and home service, and public health agencies such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

State and local governments will receive $150 billion, with each state receiving a minimum of $1.5 billion, to assist with decreasing tax revenues and increases in residents seeking additional public assistance. An additional $25 billion will be made available in the form of infrastructure grants for states around the country.

Also included in the legislation is $45 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund, $31 billion to support local schools and colleges, $25 billion for the nation’s transit systems, and $25 billion for SNAP funding and local food pantries like The Open Door.

Again, this bill still needs to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed by the president before it takes effect. If you have questions about any part of this federal legislation, please reach out to the offices of Senator Elizabeth WarrenSenator Ed Markey, and Congressman Seth Moulton.

Please remember to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams at this uncertain time. We have been hearing about various attempted scams related to COVID-19. The government will not call or email you for your bank account information, social security number, or other financial information in order to receive relief funds. If you do receive a call or email and are unsure of whether it is legitimate or not, return the call to a phone number or email listed on an official website.

See our past newsletters if you haven't had a chance to read them already for more relevant guidance and directives following Governor Baker's declaration of a state of emergency on March 10th. Visit Mass.gov for complete information, check the municipal websites for Gloucester, Rockport, and Essex for local guidance, and text "COVIDMA" to 888-777 to receive COVID-19 text message alerts straight to your phone.

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Copyright © 2020 Ann-Margaret Ferrante, All rights reserved.


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