Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he anticipates the Senate stimulus package will keep the economy afloat for about three months, as the nation deals with the catastrophic economic fallout from the novel coronavirus. Senate leaders of both parties have agreed on a sweeping $2 trillion financial relief package to help American workers, businesses and the strained health care system survive the virus outbreak, although some senators are threatening to delay the bill.
Mnuchin told reporters at the Coronavirus Task Force briefing Wednesday that small business retention loans would cover roughly 50% of private payroll, making loans that would supply eight weeks of salaries, as long as they keep workers employed, and overhead. The loans would be forgiven at the end of the eight-week period if the businesses keep their employees.
President Trump said he will sign the bill “immediately” after it reaches his desk. But it’s not yet completely clear when those payments to Americans will reach their wallets. Mnuchin said that in next three weeks direct payments would make it into most Americans’ bank accounts if they have direct deposit. For the rest, the checks will be mailed. A Senate Democratic aide confirmed to CBS News that Americans could end up waiting as long as four months for relief if they don’t have their direct deposit information on file with the IRS. The IRS can only mail roughly 20 million checks per month.
“Our expectation is this bill passes tonight and gets to the House tomorrow and they pass it,” Mnuchin said of the massive relief bill.
Trump gives coronavirus update: “We commit to social distancing”
During the task force briefing, Mr. Trump predicted the country will soon open up “like a rocket ship,” as he eyes an Easter deadline for restoring a normal existence for the country. On Tuesday, the president said he could see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country continues to rise dramatically. Mr. Trump on Wednesday touted his administration’s response to the virus in providing tests, ventilators and other needed equipment, as governors plead for more equipment.
“It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing. That I can tell you,” the president said of his administration’s response to the crisis.
Mr. Trump’s impatience with the widespread closures is running up against an outbreak that continues to grow at a rapid pace. In the U.S., more than 61,000 people have tested positive and over 890 have died of the disease. The World Health Organization warned Tuesday that the U.S. could become the new epicenter in the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx warned Americans that more cycles of this virus are coming.
“I know we’ll be successful in putting this down now. But we really need to be prepared for another cycle,” Fauci said.