United Church of Christ – Wider Church Ministries
Humanitarian Development Team
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Daily Briefing
Barbara T. Baylor, MPH – Temporary Health Liaison
March 30, 2020
Congress Passes CARES - Coronavirus (COVID-19) Stimulus Package
The Centers for Disease Control continue to respond to the pandemic of respiratory disease is spreading from person to person, called the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.
The United States now leads the world with more than 140,000 confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. Cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans grew as hot spots on Saturday, while New York remained the hardest-hit U.S. city.
President Trump has extended “Guidelines for Social Distancing” until April 30.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a global health crisis but also an economic crisis. Travel has been restricted. Businesses across the country have been ordered to close and workers face layoff. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has passed several Public Health Emergency stimulus packages:
The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-123), which passed with near unanimous support in both the House and Senate, was signed into law by the President on March 6, 2020. The bill provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law. This law provides:
- Full cost of COVID-19 testing for all Americans, including those uninsured. It does not cover treatment.
- Two weeks of paid sick leave for workers at companies with 500 or fewer employees.
- $1 billion to maintain federal nutrition assistance, such as subsidized lunches for low-income children, food banks, and meals for eligible seniors.
- $1 billion to help states process and cover unemployment insurance claims.
On Friday, March 27, 2020, the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) was signed into law with unanimous support in both houses of Congress and provides nearly $2 trillion of support to families, American workers and businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Highlights of this bill include:
- $1,200 one-time payments to many Americans who earn less than $75,000 per year. Married couples earning less than $150,000 will get $2,000 and families with children will receive an additional $500 for each child. The stimulus checks are based on your 2019 or 2018 tax return. Payments are tax free and checks are expected to be processed in the next two weeks.
- People receiving Social Security checks, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans benefits are eligible for the stimulus checks.
- A $500 billion fund to help struggling industries such as airlines
- $377 billion for aid to small businesses
- Boosts the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week for four months
- $100 billion for hospitals and health care systems
- $30 billion for education
Many high school seniors, college students and adult children living at home don't provide more than half of their own support. However, if they rely on their parents to pay expenses, including healthcare, they are considered a dependent. Click here to view qualifying criteria for a child.
How does this legislation affect churches and small nonprofits?
Churches, nonprofits and Christian schools that are 501(c)(3) (as well as most small businesses) with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for the $367 billion in Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guarantees and subsidies. This legislation expands allowable uses for such loans to include employee salaries, insurance premiums, mortgage payments, payroll support (including paid sick or medical leave), and other debt obligations.
For almost all churches, the loan amount they can receive will be equal to their total average monthly payroll costs for the preceding 12 months (March 2019 to February 2020) multiplied by 2.5. For example, a church that has an average monthly payroll cost of $50,000 would be eligible for a loan of $125,000.
The loan requires a “good faith” certification that the funds will be used to support ongoing operations, retain workers, and/or maintain payroll or make mortgage, lease and utility payments. Since the loan comes from the SBA, most churches will want to contact the bank they currently use for information on how to apply for this program. This loan program ends on December 31, 2020.
For more information on this topic:
Q&A: How churches, pastors are eligible for relief in stimulus package
Both the House and the Senate are considering another round of legislation aimed at businesses and workers after they return from recess on April 20.
U.S. Response to Coronavirus: Summary of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020
Lawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after $2T package