[COVID-19 UPDATES] Experts: Social Distancing Is Working; Young Not Immune

Unemployment Claims Skyrocketing, A Grim Death Count & More

March 26, 2020
Social Distancing

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GENERIC COVID-19 UPDATES:

  • The coronavirus pandemic has hit a grim milestone in the U.S. NBC News reports more than a thousand people in this country have now died from the virus. There have been more than 68-thousand cases reported in the U.S. since the outbreak began.
  • Get ready for a shock today as analysts see unemployment claims skyrocketing amid the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.  The experts are forecasting more than a million first-time claims for jobless benefits when the numbers come out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
  • The Department of Justice says intentionally spreading coronavirus could violate anti-terrorism laws.  The department sent a memo to the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys this week, and to the heads of federal law enforcement agencies, giving details on how to crack down on the intentional spreading of Covid-19.  Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said such acts "could implicate the nation's terrorism-related statutes."
  • The coronavirus is cutting into breakfast at McDonald's.  The fast-food giant said Wednesday it's temporarily pulling its all-day breakfast menu to streamline operations as the pandemic strains the chain's operations.  McDonald's said in a statement it's going to focus on serving its most popular items.
  • Starbucks is giving away free coffee to coronavirus workers.  The coffee chain says everyone from first responders to doctors, nurses, and researchers can get a free coffee through May 3rd.  Starbucks has shut down nearly all of its cafes because of the pandemic.  Drive-thrus are still open, as are Starbucks inside hospitals.
  • The Army is calling on retired soldiers with medical experience to come back and help fight the coronavirus, and that includes former doctors and medics.  The Army sent out emails calling it a voluntary recall.
  • A doctor's group says pink eye could be an early warning sign of coronavirus.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology issued an alert Tuesday, stating the pathogen could cause red, itchy and teary eyes.  People with allergies get the same symptoms, so ophthalmologists say you also have to watch for a fever and respiratory symptoms.
  • THE YOUNG ARE NOT IMMUNE: If you’re young and feeling invincible, snap out of it. About 38 percent of all of those hospitalized due to coronavirus are between the ages of 20 and 54, according to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is true that people who are elderly and have pre-existing conditions are more likely to die of the virus, but people of all ages have been getting very sick.
  • SOCIAL DISTANCING IS WORKING: There’s some evidence that social distancing is working to slow the spread of coronavirus. Kinsa, which sells digital thermometers that collect data on more than a million users, says that instances of fevers and other symptoms began dropping almost immediately after social distancing was widely implemented. “When you shut down schools and businesses, you are breaking the chain of infections,” Kinsa CEO Iner Singh told USAToday. “The data are showing it is working.”

Senate Passes $2 Trillion Stimulus Bill

  • The two-trillion dollar coronavirus stimulus package has been passed by the Senate.
  • The bill provides money for businesses and individuals hit hard by the pandemic to help keep the economy going.
  • Most Americans who make less than 75-thousand a year will get a check for 12-hundred-dollars.
  • The bill now goes to the House.

Payments to Taxpayers:

  • Direct payments will be received by most taxpayers. The numbers are: $1,200 for individuals with adjusted gross incomes up to $75,000 (up to $112,500 for heads of households and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly.) 
  • An additional $500 will be paid for each child in a family.
  • Smaller payments will go to people above those levels. The amount will decrease by $5 for every $100 of adjusted gross income.
  • The payments will be based on taxpayer returns for 2018 or for 2019 for those who have already filed their returns.
  • The White House says it will aim to deliver the checks three weeks after the bill is signed.

Benefits for Unemployed Workers

  • Unemployment benefits will be extended by 13 weeks and payment amounts will be increased by up to $600 per week for 16 weeks. Eligibility is expanded to include gig workers and freelancers.

Assistance for Businesses

  • Federally guaranteed loans for small businesses if they commit to not laying off workers.
  • A total $500 billion to be loaned to corporations.
  • A total $100 billion to hospitals to pay for personnel, supplies and new construction.
  • A special provision bans any funds from being awarded to businesses controlled by President Trump and his family, members of Congress or Cabinet secretaries.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: The bill next goes to the U.S. House of Representatives, which is expected to pass it as early as the end of this week. President Donald Trump has said he will immediately sign it. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has promised that the checks will be sent about three weeks later.

TIME OUT FROM STUDENT LOAN DEBT COLLECTION:

  • The federal government has stopped seizing wages, tax refunds and any other federal benefits from people who are in default on their student loans, Politico reports.
  • The Education Department also has ordered collection agencies to stop pestering borrowers until further notice.