President Donald Trump signed into law a coronavirus relief package on Wednesday. The law was passed by the Senate earlier in the day.
Stimulus measures to combat COVID-19’s economic fallout are being considered and enacted worldwide.
US To Provide Relief To Workers, Elderly, Vulnerable
The legislation signed by Trump includes some of the following components, according to Reuters:
COVID-19 Testing For All
The relief law envisages free COVID-19 testing for anyone who needs it. Private health care insurers would be required to pay for all testing for those who are insured. Beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid would also be able to obtain free testing. The bill earmarks $1 billion to cover the costs of testing for those who are uninsured.
Sick, Emergency Leave
Governments and private businesses with fewer than 500 employees would be required to provide paid sick leave for up to two weeks.
This sick leave is also available to employees taking care of sick family members; 10 weeks' leave at two-thirds pay will be provided as well. Companies with fewer than 50 workers can claim exemptions. These measures will not apply to larger companies.
Employment Benefits To Increase
The law asks states to extend unemployment benefits for six additional months beyond the existing six-month limit. States will be able to obtain interest-free loans if they need to cover associated costs.
The benefit will only be given to those states where unemployment rates rise by a minimum of 10%. Employers are to be encouraged to reduce hours instead of laying off workers.
Food, Medical Assistance To Low-Income Americans
Schools will provide free breakfasts and lunches to low-income students. $250 million will be allocated for home-delivery meals for seniors. $400 million is earmarked for food banks and $500 million to help feed young children and mothers. Work requirements for the “food stamp” program will be suspended. The funding for Medicaid will be increased under the relief provisions of the new law.
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European Central Bank Starts Quantitative Easing
The European Central Bank announced a quantitive easing program Wednesday that would involve spending 750 billion euros ($821 billion) for the purchase of debt and private securities before the end of 2020.
The measures are intended to inject liquidity into the European economies. The measures follow the increased bond purchases of 120 billion euros ($134.8 billion) in additional bonds in 2020, with the goal of aiding Europe’s financial system to overcome the setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The ECB said it will explore "all options and all contingencies to support the economy through this shock.”
The ECB will also purchase commercial paper from private companies and waive existing eligibility requirements for the purchase of Greek debt.
Japan To Handout Cash To Citizens
In Japan, the government is considering handing out 12,000 yen per citizen as a part of its stimulus package, according to The Mainichi, a Japanese newspaper.
The move is aimed at addressing the sagging consumer spending compounded by a consumption tax increase in October of last year. The overall economic package would amount to 15 trillion yen ($137.53 billion).
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus on Tuesday. White House photo by Shealah Craighead.
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