On Sunday, U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch reviewed the varied components of America’s $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.
In a telephone town hall, Deutch, a Democrat who represents south Palm Beach and north Broward Counties in Washington, outlined key parts of the stimulus package. Passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed by President Trump, the bill provides direct financial assistance of $1,200 to individuals with adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 and $2,400 for married couples with adjusted gross incomes up to $150,000. Those with children will receive $500 per child.
“For a crisis of this scale, Americans simply need cash assistance now to help keep food on the table and keep bills paid,” Deutch said. “I have advocated strongly that this be more than a one-time payment since it is clear this is going to go on for more than one month. It’s a really critical first step and I’m glad Congress was able to come together to do it.”
Deutch was joined on the call by Victoria Guerrero, South Florida Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, Kathleen Cannon, CEO of Broward County United Way, Dr. William Jaquis, M.D., President of the American College of Emergency Physicians and Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, President/CEO of Children’s Services Council of Broward County. The congressman also answered questions from constituents.
As of Sunday evening, there were 122,653 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,112 deaths in the United States.
“Right now the only way to stop the spread of the disease is by social distancing measures,” Jaquis said. “We are quite a way from a vaccine and quite a way from having any really good treatment.”
South Florida, Jaquis said, is on the upslope of the coronavirus curve.
“The next few weeks are crucial,” Jaquis said.
Florida had 4,950 cases as of Sunday evening with 60 deaths. Deutch said it is past time Governor Ron DeSantis took action.
“There is still a significant step that I have urged him to take which is a statewide stay at home order, a policy that I believe is imperative to stop the silent spread of this virus,” Deutch said.
In Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, where outbreaks of the virus have occured, local officials have issued stay at home orders.
“We need clear direction at the state level to help us maximize the effort to flatten the curve and prevent the huge crush on our health care system,” Deutch said.
Deutch said he asked DeSantis to order all utilities in the state to suspend shut-offs during the crisis. Florida, Deutch said, should receive $8 billion in coronavirus relief with 45% going to local governments.
The bill strengthens unemployment benefits, giving $600 per week to those who lost their job.
“This is a big deal in Florida especially because our state level unemployment insurance benefits are shamefully low,” Deutch said.
All federal student loan payments and interest will be deferred through Sept. 30. There is a prohibition of evictions through mid April and waivers and forbearance programs could be options for credit cards and automobile loans, Deutch said.
The congressman also emphasized the need for quicker test results, more test sites and more personal protective equipment.