About the federal relief package

Published 10:04 pm Friday, April 3, 2020

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By Congressman A. Donald McEachin

These are incredibly challenging and scary times. We are all having to make great sacrifices to ensure that we defeat COVID-19 as quickly as possible. This means some parents are out of work, children are home from school, and families are isolating from one another to conquer this viral enemy. I want you to know that while my staff and I are working remotely, we are all still hard at work, and we are still here for you.

Most importantly, I want to update you on the legislation Congress recently passed to help people across the country during this pandemic. I was so pleased to be part of advocating for and passing the stimulus bill to help American families and business owners.

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Our goal for this legislation — my goal — is to help people. Unfortunately, many Virginians are out of work, some are ill, and small business owners are trying to figure out how to make sure their business survives this pandemic. This bill will make a real difference to struggling families, suffering small businesses, and our overwhelmed health care system. This legislation will:

  • Give hospitals money to help them purchase desperately needed equipment and pay for free testing, which is desperately needed across the country.
  • Provide almost $400 billion for small businesses to survive these trying times. Businesses that maintain employees will be able to turn loans into grants, which will both help businesses stay afloat and keep more workers on the job.
  • Provide $260 billion for unemployment benefits so that out-of-work Americans will know they can pay rent and bills while they must stay home. The unemployment benefits include part time workers and gig workers and increases the benefits currently available. To apply for this, contact the Virginia Unemployment office. Their telephone number is 1-866-832-2363, and they are available 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. More information is available on their website: www.vec.virginia.gov.
  • Provide direct stimulus money to the vast majority of Americans. Individuals making less than $75,000 annually will receive $1,200, and couples who file jointly and make under $150,000 combined income, will receive $2,400. Families will receive $500 for each child. Those who make between $75,000 and $99,000 annually will receive a diminished amount on a sliding scale. This money will allow for folks to buy groceries, pay bills and hopefully ease some of the financial burden this outbreak has placed on individuals.

Our goal is to protect American families, keep Americans safe, while doing what we can to stimulate the economy. Please know that this is not the end. We recognize this is going to be a long haul, and we will be vigilant. Protecting the future of this great nation and all Americans is our singular goal. I expect we will see additional legislation to help Americans and to ensure our economy comes back.

Additionally, researchers all over this country and around the world are working diligently to find a vaccine to offer protection from the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, that is a prolonged process, as vaccines require 12 to 18 months of development and testing. We certainly do not want to inject a healthy person with medication that could be harmful. At the same time, research is ongoing for therapeutics that will address the virus, mitigate its impacts, and diminish its severity. Because those medications are given to persons already quite ill and struggling, they do not require as much testing to be approved. When an individual is quite ill, taking a chance on a novel drug is the compassionate and humane course if it can potentially save a life or ameliorate the outcome.

I want to thank all the health care professionals, first responders, grocery and pharmacy workers, mail deliverers, garbage collectors, and all the others who continue to diligently do their jobs for the sake of all Virginians.

Lastly, let me reiterate that my office and I are here to help. If you need help with a federal agency or have a question about the bill, please go to my website at mceachin.house.gov.

Congressman A. Donald McEachin represents Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.