COVID-19 Update (March 27, 2020)

COVID-19 RESOURCES
For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus and how best to protect yourself and your family, please check the following:
Georgia Department of Public Health
Centers for Disease Prevention & Control 

GA Department of Public Health hotline: 1-844-442-2681 

To view my past updates on Georgia’s response to COVID-19, please visit my website here.

Congress set to pass COVID-19 stimulus package today

Late Wednesday evening, the U.S. Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion economic rescue plan—the largest relief package in U.S. history. The U.S. House is expected to quickly pass the bill today and send it to President Trump for his signature.

The bill provides for a payment of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 for every child under 16 based on your 2018 adjusted gross income (or 2019 if you’ve already filed your return). Single adults earning $99k or higher and married people earning $198k or higher will not receive a payment. Those with annual incomes between $75k and $99k (single) or $150k and $198k (married without children) would receive decreased payments. Checks are expected to be mailed by April 6th.

This New York Times article provides a great analysis on the finer details of the payments, as well as answers many questions dealing with unemployment benefits, student loans, retirement accounts, charitable contributions, and protections for home renters.

What can we expect Georgia and local governments to receive from the stimulus package?

  • $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund paid directly to state and local governments to use for expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 in the face of revenue declines;
    • Georgia is expected to get about $4.1 billion;
    • 45% of Georgia’s funds ($1.85 billion) is earmarked to be provided directly to local governments with populations greater than 500k (only 4 counties: Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, and DeKalb; and only the City of Atlanta would qualify)
  • $30 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs related to the coronavirus;
  • $45 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund for the immediate needs of state and local governments to protect citizens and help them respond and recover from the overwhelming effects of COVID-19;
  • Provides an additional $4.3 billion, thorough the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to support federal, state and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus; and
  • Provides $400 million in election security grants to states to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus in the 2020 federal election cycle.

The stimulus package also:

  • Expands unemployment insurance from three to four months, and provides temporary unemployment compensation of $600 per week, which is in addition to and the same time as regular state and federal UI benefits;
  • Establishes a $500 billion lending fund for businesses, cities and states;
  • $45 million in grants to states for child welfare services;
  • $1 billion to the Community Services Block Grant to help local community-based organizations that provide a wide range of social services and emergency assistance for those with the highest need;
  • $25 billion in grants and $25 billion in loans to the airline industry managed through the Treasury Department. Assistance includes requirements on airlines that would place limits on certain financial actions until loans are repaid;
  • $3 billion to airline contractors who provide ground staff and catering support to airlines;
  • $4 billion to cargo carriers; and
  • $10 billion in grants to air carriers and contractors ensure continued operation during a likely sustained decline in air travel.

For a more detailed analysis on how the relief funds will be allocated and more information about what’s in the stimulus package, click here.

Update on local shutdowns

Many cities in North Atlanta have taken steps to dramatically restrict public gatherings and business operations. For the most up-to-date information, please check the following websites for our local governments:

Public schools closed through Friday, April 24

Yesterday, Gov. Kemp ordered public schools to remain closed through April 24, at which time he will consider whether students could return to school for in-person instruction as early as Monday, April 27.

The University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia will remain closed for in-person instruction through the rest of the semester since students have already transitioned to all online learning.

Possible postponement of May 19 Georgia Primary?

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia’s Secretary of State announced that he will mail an absentee ballot request application to all 6.9 million “active” registered voters for the May 19th primary election. Essentially, the Secretary of State will encourage a “vote-by-mail” election heading into May 19th. 

Given this, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston on Thursday called on the Secretary of State to push back the May 19th primary to June 23rd or later both to provide additional time for the pandemic to run its course and to allow the General Assembly time to weigh in on any changes needing to be made to the election. 

Of course, as currently stands, the May 19 primary also includes the March 24 Presidential Preference Primary and local ballot measures for those who have not already voted in the March 24 election. Stay tuned!

POLL: Should we push back the May 19th election?

Wishing you a safe, restful weekend,
Matthew