Information & resources on coronavirus
Here in Congress, we have been working very hard to address the outbreak of COVID-19, or the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. In the face of this crisis, our responsibilities range from providing supplies to a strained health care system to enhancing programs for struggling workers to reversing an economic downturn. With many Americans practicing social distancing - and rightfully so - the economy is facing an unprecedented challenge as a result of this public health crisis. I am working tirelessly to provide much-needed support to those most impacted by this pandemic.
As of today, we have passed three major pieces of legislation to help address this outbreak. With funding totaling over $2 trillion to support families, workers, and businesses feeling the economic toll, first responders and public health experts working on the front lines, and scientists racing to find vaccines and treatment options, we have made great strides to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, but our work is not finished. Please read about our progress below and stay tuned to this page for more legislative updates!
Became Law on March 6, 2020
This was the first federal funding package to address the outbreak of COVID-19 following the first confirmed cases within the United States. It provides $8.3 billion to combat the outbreak, ensure preparedness in the health care system, and aid small businesses. The emergency funding bill includes:
- More than $3 billion dedicated to the research and development of vaccines, as well as therapeutics and diagnostics;
- $2.2 billion in public health funding to aid in prevention and response;
- Nearly $1 billion for medical supplies, health-care preparedness, Community Health Centers and medical surge capacity;
- $1.25 billion to address the coronavirus overseas; and
- Additional funding for states to aid in preparedness, prevention, and response efforts. Delaware specifically would receive over $4.5 million in additional funding for CDC assistance.
Became Law on March 18, 2020
This second package of COVID-19 relief focused on supporting families, workers, health care providers, and small business owners. I have very rarely seen a bill of this size, scope, and magnitude be taken up and passed in such a short time frame. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act allocates over $104 billion in spending and includes:
- Free coronavirus testing for anyone who needs a test. Private health insurers and government programs are mandated to cover the cost of not only testing, but also emergency room visits and doctor fees related to COVID-19. This also includes the uninsured;
- 2 weeks of paid sick leave for many workers. See here for more details;
- An expansion of family and medical leave (FMLA) to 12 weeks of leave related to a public health emergency, ensuring job protection during that time;
- Tax Credits for nonprofits and for-profit companies with 500 or fewer employees, including self-employed individuals, to compensate for required paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave;
- $1 billion to state unemployment insurance programs. $500 million would be made available to states that have a 10% increase in Unemployment Compensation claims. This is an important first step to help affected workers;
- $1 billion to expand and strengthen food security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals, senior nutrition, food banks, and the emergency food assistance program. Additionally, for students whose school has been closed for at least 5 consecutive days, the law allows the Department of Agriculture to approve state plans to provide emergency SNAP assistance to households with children who would have received free or reduced-price meals if their school was not closed due to COVID-19
- A requirement that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) develop an exposure control plan for health care workers and other workers who are in contact with those who have been exposed or are responsible for cleaning at-risk places;
- Increased federal funds for Medicaid, as states face increased costs, which will provide $100 million to Delaware.
Became Law on March 27, 2020
Congress worked to compromise on the CARES Act, a $2 trillion dollar package that fights the COVID-19 pandemic and provides economic relief across the country. The things that Democrats stood firm for – expanding unemployment insurance, helping states and counties, investing in hospitals, and transparency on a $500 billion fund for business relief – were ultimately included in the final package. The largest stimulus package in American history includes:
- A dramatic expansion and reform of the unemployment insurance (UI) program. The extended UI program increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week and ensures that laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months. It ensures that all workers are protected whether they work for businesses small, medium or large, along with self-employed and workers in the gig economy;
- $150 billion for state, local, and tribal governments that are propping up local health systems on their own, with a small state floor that guarantees that Delaware receives at least $1.25 billion;
- A Marshall Plan for hospitals and medical needs of $150 billion. This includes investments in personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increasing workforce and training, new construction to house patients, an increase for the Strategic National Stockpile, medical research into COVID-19, and Medicare payment increases to all hospitals treating COVID-19 patients to ensure they receive the funding they need during this pandemic;
- $377 billion in capital to small businesses that desperately need support to make payroll and cover expenses. This bill provides cash-flow sustenance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to employers. If employers maintain or rehire their workers, the loans will be forgiven to a large extent, which will help workers to remain employed and help small businesses quickly snap back after this crisis. This funding also includes Senator Coons’ $17 billion Small Business Debt Relief Act and his MEP Crisis Response Act. Senator Coons also secured $10 billion in federal grants to serve the most severely impacted businesses and nonprofits;
- $500 billion in industry support, with enhanced transparency and accountability. Every loan document will be public;
- Direct financial support to American working families. This bill provides $1,200 in direct payments that would apply equally to workers with incomes up to $75,000 per year ($150,000 for married couples) before phasing out and ending altogether for those earning more than $99,000 ($198,000 for couples). Families will receive an additional $500 per child;
- $400 million for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections. Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and increase the safety of voting in person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll workers;
- $100 million for Assistance to Firefighters Grants and a $45 billion infusion into FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to ensure that firefighters and first responders can purchase the equipment and tools they will need to protect themselves and our communities throughout this crisis;
- $1.018 billion to help cover Amtrak’s operating losses during the unprecedented drop in ridership levels. Of that, $492 million is for the Northeast Corridor;
- $80 million to support a new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. This committee will ensure that all spending in this legislation is transparent to the public and to conduct effective oversight of the funds provided to guard against waste, fraud, and abuse;
- $3.5 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus;
- $30.75 billion in emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions, which will include millions in grants to the University of Delaware and Delaware State University; and
- Protections for AmeriCorps members whose terms of service are interrupted so that they can continue to receive their Segal Education Awards.