Elected officials scramble for COVID-19 aid

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Elected officials scramble  for COVID-19 aidElected officials at every level of government are in the process of negotiating relief for communities suffering from negative impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic. But when it will come, who will qualify, and what it will look like remains largely undefined.

While healthcare officials brace for the anticipated surge in treatment for those infected with coronavirus, businesses and individuals are struggling to manage the financial impacts of social-distancing — which is keeping millions of Americans home from work as well as other businesses that depend on their patronization.

Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin proposed a $1 trillion (yes, with a “T”) economic stimulus package that would include direct cash payments to Americans in the coming weeks.

Other relief is being proposed in the form of loans, tax deferments and subsidization of hospitality and airline industries.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who represents the IWV as well as Kern County, noted that the top priority is the health and safety of Americans.

“This legislation also includes paid emergency leave throughout this crisis while also giving America’s small businesses the flexibility they need to keep millions of Americans employed during this outbreak,” said McCarthy.

He called on Americans to come unite in overcoming the crisis.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a public servant, a healthcare professional or restocking store shelves, our case is clear — we will defeat this virus together.”

The California legislature also announced support for Golden State residents through Senate Bill 117.

“With these widespread school closures, it is clear that COVID-19 is impacting the daily lives of families and students and that quick legislative action is warranted,” said State Sen. Shannon Grove.

The leader of Republican senators said that the caucus supports funding for first-responders, medical professionals, public health officers “and others who are on the front lines helping to take care of vulnerable Californians.” She said the bill is only a first step, but that the needs of businesses, employees and independent contractors will continue to be addressed.

“All Californians play a vital role in mitigating this public health emergency. [This week’s] legislative action is just a small piece of a complicated puzzle and we must remain united in our supportive efforts.”

“There is no doubt that we are living through challenging times right now,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong.

“I know there is anxiety and concern, but we will get through this together.”

He invited his constituents to reach out to his office, who was standing by to assist in getting questions answered by state agencies. He can be reached at 661-395-2995 or assemblymember.fong@assembly.ca.gov.

Story First Published: 2020-03-20