What’s in the COVID-19 emergency aid bill for Arizona?




The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 emergency bill that President Donald Trump has signed, but what money and benefits will Arizonans see from the bill? 

Arizona will get $2.8 billion in direct economic stimulus as part of a Coronavirus Relief Fund that can be used for expenses taken on by the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, 45% of which is set aside for local governments with a population over 500,000. 

Tribal governments in Arizona should expect to see money from the bill, as well, as $8 billion was set aside for tribal governments across the United States. 

The most direct impact Arizonans will likely notice from the package will come in the form of direct payments to individuals. 

Lower and middle income Americans can expect to have checks mailed to them by April 6. 

People with an adjusted gross income less than $75,000 can expect to get a check of $1,200. Married couples making less than $150,000 can expect a check of $2,400. Households with dependents will also receive $500 per child. 

Any person making more than $99,000 a year and any couple making more than $198,000 a year will not get a check. 

The Washington Post created a stimulus payment calculator

The bill allocates $140 billion to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with the majority of it – $100 billion – going to hospitals. Some $16 billion of that money is going to the Strategic National Stockpile to help procure ventilators and personal protective equipment. 

States have already been receiving expired personal protective gear, and reporting by the Center for Public Integrity found that there are only 16,600 ventilators in the federal government’s strategic stockpile of ventilators.  

The bill also allocates $250 million to improve the capacity of facilities in order to respond to the pandemic. That could be a boon to Arizona, which is facing a steep shortfall in hospital beds to respond to the growing number of COVID-19 patients. 

The Department of Labor will be receiving $360 million to invest in programs that provide training and services for those impacted by the pandemic, as well as allowing them to implement new paid leave and unemployment insurance benefits. 

The labor department will also expand unemployment insurance from three to four months and will provide temporary unemployment compensation of $600 per week on top of state and federal benefits. Part-time, self-employed and gig economy workers will now have access to these benefits, as well. Arizona’s unemployment benefits are a paltry $240 a week, 50th out of 51 in the nation, including the District of Colombia.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will be receiving $19.6 billion for equipment, tests and support services, which will help the 1 in 10 Arizona adults who are veterans

The Community Development Block Grant program will be receiving $5 billion in funding. CDBG funds help food banks, child care centers and community health facilities, and Gov. Doug Ducey has already had to deploy the National Guard to help restock grocery stores and food banks in the state. The funds could aid in replenishing those supplies. 

The Small Business Administration is receiving $10 billion in funding for grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for operating costs for affected businesses. Arizona has already been granted emergency loans through the agency

The bill also creates a $500 billion lending fund for business, cities and states. Ducey and other GOP governors this week signed a letter calling for that aid to states.

The bill secures $30.8 billion for an Education Stabilization fund for states, $13.5 billion of which will go to elementary and secondary schools. 

Those funds are to be used for coordinating activities during long-term school closures, purchasing educational equipment and supporting online learning. Each state will get a share of $3 billion to share with local education agencies and institutions that have been affected the most. 

Another $14.3 billion will go to higher education and will provide emergency financial aid that will help with covering students costs of food, housing and helping transition to a more online form of teaching. 

With Arizona public and private schools remaining closed until April 10, this funding could help with continued learning as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

As of March 27 there are 665 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona and 13 deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services

How you can tell if you might have been impacted

Symptoms of coronavirus resemble that of the flu. So, if you’re experiencing coughing, fever, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath, you should consider getting checked out. Call your primary care physician or visit an urgent care center or emergency room — but call the health care provider before you go so they can be prepared for your arrival. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is taking COVID-19 calls: 1-844-542-8201

How COVID-19 spreads

  • Through the air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it

How to prevent spreading COVID-19

  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Don’t use your hands.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including counter tops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  • Contain: If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better. Once symptoms are gone experts recommend staying home an additional 72 hours.