The congressional Democrats and the White House maybe close to an agreement for an additional relief package. This one would be targeted toward replenishing the emergency fund for small businesses, also known as the Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of the initial $349 billion it received this past Thursday. In addition, it would include provisions for providing assistance to hospitals and increasing COVID-19 testing across the country.
While the numbers aren’t final yet, it’s thought to come in around $450 billion. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the breakdown would be $300 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, $50 billion for the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief fund, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing. Mr. Mnuchin did say that the money for hospitals and testing was as a result of Democrats pushing for them to be included. In this package, they also wanted have more money for states and cities as well, but Mr. Mnuchin implied that this would be included in a future relief package.
While government officials are scrambling to get funds to those who need it the most, President Trump has been facing increasing criticism over the lack of swabs available. The lack of swabs directly impacts the number of tests that have been able to be completed. Many governors across the country have expressed concern that we don’t have enough testing to safely consider opening the country any time soon. This resulted in Trump issuing a statement during a press conference today saying that he was planning to use the Defense Production Act to require an increase in production of test swabs to over 20 million per month. When this would take place and where the swabs would be produced are unclear.